The Old Howard 100 is a ride through three counties in Alabama's Black Belt sponsored by Samford University's Howard College of Arts and Sciences. This year's route will include Selma, with the final rest stop at the Selma Public Library just a few blocks from the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge. Proceeds from the ride will benefit Sowing Seeds of Hope, a partnership between Perry County and Alabama Cooperative Baptist Fellowship that seeks to improve the quality of life and work in Perry County through improved educational opportunities, health care, tourism, transportation and economic development.
Proceeds assist Perry County residents who receive care through Samford’s year-round health programs. Students and faculty in Samford’s nursing, pharmacy, and exercise and sports medicine programs offer regular health-care screenings, evaluations and monitoring services. Sowing Seeds of Hope Executive Director Frances Ford notes that such funds fill a critical void in health-care distribution by providing medication or supplies to newly diagnosed patients.
Starting with the 2013 ride, the Old Howard 100 is part of the Alabama Backroads Cycling Century Series. The new series of 10 rides seeks to promote the growth and development of long-distance cycling in the state of Alabama, encourage participation in established Alabama century (100-mile) rides, recognize and reward individuals for their accomplishments, and benefit the charities and advocacy efforts supported by each of the events.
Directions to Marion (printer friendly version):
From Birmingham: Take I-59 South (or take I-459 and then I-59) toward Tuscaloosa (about 30 minutes) to Exit 97 (West Blocton) and turn left onto Hwy. 11/5. Just under three miles, turn left at People's Bank onto Hwy. 5. Go 44 miles and at the Judson College sign, turn right onto Lafayette Street; watch for Old Howard signs for parking on campus.
Riders begin at Judson College and ride through downtown Marion, past Marion Military Institute, former home of Howard College. Riders will head west for 17 miles through the Perry County countryside to Newbern, home to the Rural Studio project of Auburn University. Thirty-four-mile riders will return to Marion by the same route.
Proceeding north in Hale County, riders will pass through downtown Greensboro on the broad, tree-lined Main Street with its many homes of distinctive architecture—Greek Revival, Federal, Victorian, Gothic Revival—and onto the grounds of Magnolia Grove, built circa 1838 and the ancestral home of Admiral Richmond Hobson, hero of the Spanish-American War. All riders then return to Marion by way of a stop in Folsom at Holmstead, Alabama's longest continually running plantation, which has been in the same family since the early 1800s. The 43-mile route ends back at Judson.
Century and 75-mile riders continue through Marion and southward, across the Cahaba River and the Perry Lakes wetlands region to Suttle before splitting: either to return to Marion or to proceed into Dallas County for the final stop at the Selma Public Library. Century riders will be rewarded with views of historic structures, including the Edmund Pettus Bridge and cemeteries framed by live oak trees draped with Spanish moss. The return to Marion takes riders through sweeping farm and pasture land.
Routes of approximately 34, 43, 75 and 101 miles are available and are fully supported with five SAG stops at historic sites. SAG wagon provided by Cahaba Cycles.
Early Registration - $35
Late Registration (after April 12) - $45
Student Rate - $15
Perry, Hale and Dallas County Resident Rate - $10
Complete and include payment information and return to:
Old Howard 100 Bike Ride
Attn: Ken Kirby
800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, AL 35229
Or you may fax to: (205) 726-2112.
The Old Howard 100 is one of several recent Samford University initiatives to promote awareness of and appreciation for Alabama's Black Belt. The University was born there as Howard College, in the town of Marion, in 1841. The Baptist college, which took its name from the 18th-century English prison reformer John Howard, thrived in Marion thanks in large measure to the generosity of the town's citizens.
The magnificent antebellum homes still standing in Marion and throughout the Black Belt bear witness to the region's great wealth and cultural importance at the time of Howard's founding. But, after the Civil War, the region suddenly found itself in an economic freefall from which it has never fully recovered.
As fortunes waned, boosters from Birmingham, Marion's new industrial neighbor, offered generous incentives for Howard's relocation to the East Lake community. The Alabama State Baptist Convention accepted Birmingham's offer and moved the college to East Lake in 1887.
The college relocated to its current home in 1957 and became Samford University in 1965. Howard College of Arts and Sciences remains at the heart of Samford, and in recent years, the University has sought to repay the Black Belt's kindness and generosity.
Old Howard survived fires, wars, financial and cultural upheaval, relocations and renaming to become one of the top universities in the Southeastern United States. Now, it returns to its birthplace with volunteer tutors, health-care workers and community boosters. Its cycling friends will find natural beauty, rich history, cause for both concern and hope and above all, a warm welcome.
The Old Howard 100 would like to thank the following for their support: