MLK, Underground Railroad, & Lessons Learned

Jan 21, 2013

Today, as I take a moment to remember the life of  Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and reflect on the impact of his work on our society, I am again very grateful for the sacrifices that he, and those before him, made on my behalf.

Over the years,  I have learned that I can only truly be fulfilled as a person by cultivating an understanding of the past, deepening my respect for our myriad of cultures and my appreciation of the beauty surrounding us, and engaging in caring communities. Through cycling,  I have grown in all these areas.

Cycling around the U.S. makes a person physically strong, but also vulnerable to the weather and encounters with others. You meet people in their lives where they are; you can see and feel their joys and sorrows. My closest and longest lasting friendships have come from the people that I have met while traveling by bicycle. During these journeys, I have also seen spectacular scenery and learned a great deal of history as well.

This year, Adventure Cycling is offering an incredible tour that offers beautiful scenery, optional historic sites, and opportunities to interact with locals on the road, in a cafe, or perhaps in a local celebration. I think it is one of our best trips encompassing all there is to love about bicycle travel: the  Underground Railroad (UGRR): North to Niagara tour.

The Underground Railroad was a collection of secretive routes that freedom seekers used to escape the bondage of slavery. Adventure Cycling developed the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route to memorialize this historic corridor and provide the means for cyclists to experience this important chapter of our history up close.

On the UGRR: North to Niagara  van-supported tour, we have an easy ride through 300 years of history as we cycle past:

The USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park and Fort Blakeley

The Tombigbee River Valley

The Shiloh National Military Park 

Fort Donelson National Battlefield

Historic sites and museum exhibits honoring those associated with the Underground Railroad

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the Harriet Beecher Stowe House 

National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center at Wilberforce, Ohio

Cemeteries where notable abolitionists and freedom seekers are interred

Heritage Center and Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio 

If the history does not interest you, the Underground Railroad route is also filled with scenic views, awesome riding along quiet roads, recreation areas, rail-trails, and geologic wonders. You will encounter:

Mobile Bay on the Gulf of Mexico 

Tombigbee River Valley, with its massive black gum forests, bald cypress swamps, and wildlife refuges teeming with bird and animal life

Tennessee River Valley

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, which includes Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley

Little Miami Scenic Rail-Trail in Ohio

Ohio Amish country where some 40,000 Amish live amid the rolling hills of five Ohio counties

Oberlin, Ohio: a pleasant town with a beautiful college campus and famous Music Conservatory

The shore of Lake Erie in Pennsylvania and New York

Thundering Niagara Falls

The UGRR: North to Niagara tour is an experience that should not be missed! Our expert leaders, Joe Loviska and David Lynch, will even carry your gear for you on this van-supported adventure.

Happy Trails,

Arlen

Photo by Dennis Coello.

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ON THE ROAD is written by the tours team -- Mo, Paul, Madeline, and Arlen -- tours specialists and intrepid bicyclists, covering all things related to Adventure Cycling's tours Department. Check out our  2013 Tours!

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