Adventure Cycling’s Innovative Underground Railroad Bicycle Route is Ready to Ride

After three years of research and planning, Adventure Cycling Association, North America's largest bicycling organization, and the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Minority Health are pleased to unveil the newly completed 2,058 mile Underground Railroad Bicycle Route (UGRR).

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Released February 16, 2007 by Adventure Cycling
 
Missoula, Montana — After three years of research and planning, Adventure Cycling Association, North America's largest bicycling organization, and the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Minority Health are pleased to unveil the newly completed 2,058 mile Underground Railroad Bicycle Route (UGRR). A breakthrough in both historically-infused adventure travel and active-living outreach to the African-American community, the UGRR promises to introduce people of all cultural backgrounds to the adventure and health benefits of cycling and bicycle travel.

"The Underground Railroad Route has to be one of the most historically important bicycle journeys ever created — plus it's fantastic riding," said Jim Sayer, Adventure Cycling Association's Executive Director.

"Cyclists can ride from the Deep South all the way to Ontario, Canada — nearly 2,100 miles," says Carla Majernik, Adventure Cycling's Director of Routes and Mapping. "Or they can take short rides on any portion of the route, which is filled with historic Underground Railroad stops and lots of excellent cycling through beautiful scenery."

This unique bicycle route honors the bravery of freedom seekers and those that provided shelter, by following the most storied trek to freedom in American history. According to Adventure Cycling, more people than ever are traveling by bicycle and the UGRR, with its poignant stories and vibrant historical sites, adds new depth to the experience. It should appeal to history lovers, African Americans, and adventurous people looking for a great ride.

Adventure Cycling and the Center for Minority Health at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (CMH) partnered on the UGRR after seeing its potential to strengthen cross-cultural ties and promote lifelong health through cycling — a form of physical activity available to people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. According to the Centers for Disease Control, African Americans are disproportionately affected by heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke, and obesity. Bicycling is a fun, healthy activity that can help offset these potentially deadly health conditions.

"Today we must promote physical activity within the cultural context of African American history, including the struggle to freedom from bondage," says CMH director Dr. Stephen Thomas. "We are realizing the contributions we can make together toward the elimination of racial and ethnic health disparities by creating innovative healthy lifestyle options that are scientifically sound and culturally relevant."

Adventure Cycling's maps for the route steer cyclists along cycling-friendly, low-traffic roads, and feature elevation profiles, historical notes, and information on camping, lodging, and worthwhile historical sites along the way.

Starting in Mobile, Alabama, the route winds north through river valleys and wildlife refuges to Kentucky and Ohio, before reaching Lake Erie, Niagara Falls, and its end-point in Owen Sound, Ontario on Lake Huron's Georgian Bay, the final destination for many freedom seekers. Besides the lush green scenery and the many small towns the route passes through, a host of museums, historic parks, and visitor centers bring the history of this remarkable period alive.

"We've all heard the story of slaves who escaped to freedom," says Dennis Coello, a veteran photographer and writer who recently rode and photographed the route for Adventure Cycling, "but here's a chance to feel that story — and to experience a continent along the way."

The Underground Railroad Bicycle Route was created with generous financial support from Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), Bikes Belong, and the members of Adventure Cycling. Sally Jewell, the President and CEO of REI (America's leading outdoor gear retailer) says, "The Underground Railroad Route is a culturally engaging experience that links communities of cultural and historical significance with individuals, families, and cycling enthusiasts of all abilities. As a company that aspires to engage more individuals in human-powered recreation, we are proud to support the route."

For photos and other media materials, visit www.adventurecycling.org/ugrrmedia
To learn more about the route, visit www.adventurecycling.org/ugrr
Underground Railroad Bicycle Route maps can be viewed at www.adventurecycling.org/routes/undergroundrailroad.cfm
Adventure Cycling is leading a self-contained tour of the entire route in spring 2007 www.adventurecycling.org/tours/2007ugrr.cfm and a seven-day supported ride ending at the 145th Emancipation Celebration in Owen Sound, Ontario in August 2007 www.adventurecycling.org/tours/2007ugrrcelebration.cfm. Adventure Cycling also offers instructional courses for beginning bicycle travelers viewable at www.adventurecycling.org/tours/index.cfm?menu=EDU.

Adventure Cycling Association is the premier bicycle travel organization in North America with more than 43,000 members. A nonprofit organization, our mission is to inspire people of all ages to travel by bicycle. We produce routes and maps for cycling in North America, organize more than 30 tours annually, and publish the best bicycle travel information anywhere, including Adventure Cyclist magazine and The Cyclists' Yellow Pages. For information, call 800-755-BIKE (2453) or visit www.adventurecycling.org.

Established in 1994 with a generous grant from the R.K. Mellon Foundation, the Center for Minority Health at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health is committed to translating evidence-based research into community-based interventions and innovative outreach practices. CMH provides the infrastructure, among the University of Pittsburgh Schools of Health Sciences, for addressing health issues among ethnic and racial minorities and other vulnerable and underserved populations. For information, call 412-624-5665 or visit www.cmh.pitt.edu