Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2009-02-12

The fifth annual Old Howard 100 Bike Ride through the countryside of Alabama's Black Belt is planned for Saturday, April 18.

The ride, sponsored by Samford University's Howard College of Arts and Sciences, will begin and end at Judson College in Marion, Ala. This year's route will include Selma, where the final rest stop will be at First Baptist Church, a few blocks from the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Riders will start en mass at 9 a.m. Routes of 30, 45, 75 and 100 miles through picturesque rural areas are available, with five Support and Gear stops at places of historic interest.

Last year's event drew 240 riders from eight states, including some veterans of all previous Old Howard 100 bike rides.

The 100-mile route will go from downtown Marion through the Perry County countryside into Hale County and downtown Greensboro, back to Marion, southward to the Perry Lakes wetlands region, and to Selma in Dallas County before returning to Marion. SAG stops will be at Auburn University's Rural Studio project in Newbern, Magnolia Grove in Greensboro, Holmstead Plantation in Folsom, a site in Suttle, and at First Baptist Church, Selma.

Proceeds from the ride will benefit Sowing Seeds of Hope, a partnership between Perry County and the 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.

The bike ride celebrates the rich history of Samford and the Black Belt, where the school was founded as Howard College in Marion in 1841. The school moved to the East Lake of Birmingham in 1881, and to its present location in Homewood in 1957.

Registration fee is $35 by April 10; or $45 after that date. Students may register for $15 and residents of Perry, Hale and Dallas counties may register for $10. Ride details and online registration is available at For information, contact Bridget Rose at or call Samford's Howard College of Arts and Sciences at (205) 726-2771.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.