Underground Railroad Bicycle Route Contender in Nat. Geo. and Ashoka's Changemakers' Geotourism Chal Cyclists' stories and comments sought to illustrate the route's impact on individuals and communities
Underground Railroad Bicycle Route Contender in National Geographic and Ashoka's Changemakers' Geotourism Challenge
Cyclists' stories and comments sought to illustrate the route's impact on individuals and communities
Missoula, Mont. — Adventure Cycling Association — North America's largest cycling membership organization — today announced that its newest heritage route, the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route (UGRR), is a featured entrant in the National Geographic and Ashoka's Changemakers' Geotourism Challenge. The Challenge is a global competition that seeks to uncover innovative tourism projects around the world that sustain, enhance, and preserve local culture and place.
Participation of those who have been affected by the innovation and online voting are key to each entry's success in the Challenge. Adventure Cycling hopes that cyclists (as well as residents, organizations, and businesses along the route) that have been involved in, or transformed by, the creation of the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route, will support its standing in the Challenge by submitting comments and stories, and if the route is chosen as a finalist, by voting beginning May 28, 2008.
Interested cyclists and others can read the Association's entry, Cycling the Road to Freedom: A Journey Along the Underground Railroad, on Ashoka's Changemakers' website and then submit their stories and comments.
A panel of expert judges will choose approximately a dozen finalists who demonstrate innovation, social impact, and sustainability. The finalists will have the opportunity to present their innovations at The Geotourism Challenge Summit this fall. Three winners will be chosen by online voting (beginning May 28) and receive $5,000 each.
Created by Adventure Cycling in 2007, the 2,028-mile Underground Railroad Bicycle Route honors the legendary flight to freedom many enslaved African American's took previous to the Civil War. The route traverses eight states, from Alabama to New York, and one Canadian province touching some of the major historical sites of this harrowing diaspora.
"The Underground Railroad Bicycle Route embodies perfectly the vision of the The Geotourism Challenge," says Ginny Sullivan, Adventure Cycling's new routes coordinator. "The route sprang from collaboration with hundreds of committed people and organizations. Many cyclists who have experienced it are transformed for life."
For cyclist Rodney McCoy, from Racine, Wisconsin, who participated in Adventure Cycling's inaugural tour, climbing a long, steep hill became a metaphor for the historic struggle to find freedom. "All of a sudden it became more of a cause than a challenge. I began to think about how mothers and fathers pushed themselves and their children into that river, determined to get across. Their determination overcame their fears. I began to picture them getting across that river, and I thought of those who didn't make it. I could have stopped. I could have walked, but I dedicated that climb to the people, my people, who did not make it over."
Last year National Geographic recognized the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route when they named it as one of the world's top 10 bicycle routes in National Geographic's travel guide, Journeys of Lifetime: 500 of the World's Greatest Trips. In this guide the route is highlighted along with many other fabulous destinations spanning the globe.
The public can celebrate this fabulous, historically rich cycling route by taking their own personal journey. For those interested in a self-guided cycling tour, Adventure Cycling offers a full map set for the route. They also offer a fully supported, eight-day tour (with luggage trucks and catering) beginning July 27, 2008. Departing from Buffalo, NY, a well known crossing point for freedom seekers going into Canada, the trip will take in tourist stops such as Niagara Falls and Underground Railroad history via evening performers, speakers, and site visits. The tour ends in Owen Sound, Ontario, on August 2, 2008 at the Annual Emancipation Day Celebration. Cyclists can read more about the tour and register online.
For more information about the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route, visit www.adventurecycling.org/ugrrmedia.