Samford University's eighth annual Old Howard 100 Bike Ride through three Black Belt counties is set for Saturday, April 21. The ride, sponsored by Samford's Howard College of Arts and Sciences, will begin and end in Marion, Ala., where the university was founded as Howard College in 1841.The charity ride, on low-traffic roads through Perry, Hale, and Dallas counties, takes in some of the regions greatest scenic beauty. It will begin at 9 a.m. on the grounds of Judson College in Marion. Riders can choose routes of 30, 45, 75 and 100 miles or join the group at the ride start but turn back before the town of Newbern.
Rest stops will include the Auburn Rural Studio headquarters in Newbern, the ground of Magnolia Grove in Greensboro, the countryside near Folsom, the Suttle volunteer fire department and the Selma Public Library.
Last year's ride set a new participation record of 250 cyclists, with $4,000 raised for the Sowing Seeds of Hope ministry in Perry County, one of the state's most impoverished counties. Since the ride's founding in 2005, it has raised more than $15,000 to support the ministry, which seeks to improve the quality of life and work in the county through better education opportunities, health care, tourism, transportation and economic development.
The cotton economy of the Black Belt faded after the Civil War, transforming one of the wealthiest regions of the U.S. into one of the poorest. Howard College relocated to the young industrial city of Birmingham in 1887. The school relocated to its present campus in 1957 and became Samford University in 1965. Howard College of Arts and Sciences remains at the heart of the university, and stays in touch with its roots in part through the Old Howard 100. Samford also serves its home county through year-round health programs led by students and faculty in the university's nursing, pharmacy, and exercise and sports medicine programs.