Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2007-03-19

The third Old Howard 100 Bike Ride through Alabama's historic Black Belt is scheduled for Saturday, April 21. The annual event, with routes of 30, 55, 70 and 100 miles, is sponsored by Samford University's Howard College of Arts and Sciences.

Cyclists will depart at 9 a.m. from the front gate of Judson College in Marion, where Samford was founded as Howard College in 1841. The school moved to Birmingham in 1887.

The 100-mile route goes through the countryside to Newbern, site of Auburn University's Rural Studio project headquarters, on to Greensboro and Magnolia Grove plantation, into the Talladega National Forest, and back into Perry County for a final 30-mile loop through the Perry Lakes wetlands region. Riders on routes of lesser length will turn back to Marion at various points.

The ride is supported by SAG (Support and Gear) stops at historic points, which will be staffed by Samford volunteers and local hosts who will share historical information. The route is along mostly flat country roads with sparse traffic.

Now in its third year, the ride has attracted more riders each year, with some 200 bicyclists from four states signing on for the 2006 event. Participants represented various ages and degrees of biking experience.

Proceeds from the ride will benefit Sowing Seeds of Hope, a partnership between Perry County and Alabama Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. The effort seeks to improve the quality of life and work in Perry County through improved educational opportunities, health care, tourism, transportation and economic development.

Registration is $30 through April 15, or $40 after that date. The fee includes a tee-shirt and an after-ride meal that will be served at Judson from 3-5 p.m. Participants must wear helmets and sign a liability waiver.