Remember the Underground Railroad--that secret path that was once used by slaves to escape to freedom? This part of American history has been preserved by way of a bike path--a 2,028-mile bike path that takes the rider along the same route American slaves took before and during the Civil War.
The path follows secret routes and safe houses used by the "freedom seekers" who dared to risk their lives to escape slavery. The Underground Railroad Bicycle Route, as it's called today, takes the rider past points of interest and historic sites between Alabama and Ontario, where the free slaves created a settlement in 1857.
If this isn't one of the better reasons to ride a bike--to learn and live this history, and see for yourself what it means to overcome--I don't know what is. Not only can the power behind the pedal lead to good physical and mental health, but it can teach you first-hand what it means to become free of your bondage--however that may be defined.
To me, this path is so symbolic of what our trials and tribulations in life can do to us. Yes, they can chain us down, but faith proves there's always a way out. With faith, you find a way. And this bike path testifies to the power behind that faith. It may take physical power, such as pedaling a bike for as long as it takes to reach your destination, but if you believe in yourself, faith says you'll get there.
I'd love to do this tour some day.
Recently, the groups that created this adventurous ride, Adventure Cycling and the Center for Minority Health, received an award at the National Trails Symposium. To that, I say congratulations!