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‘BAMA’ bicycle gang comes through

Troy as part of 2000 mile trip

By STEVEN G. WATSON

Sports Editor

You might have noticed that Troy was invaded yesterday, invaded by a horde of bikers. No, not a motorcycle gang, but a horde of bicyclist riding with Bicycle Across Magnificent Alabama, BAMA for short.

The group has hooked up with simular biking groups from Georgia, Florida, Virginia and North and South Carolina to form a 2000-mile biking route that started in Tallahassee, Florida and will eventually end in Charlottesville, Virginia.

This isn’t simply a sight-seeing trip either. While the cyclist will be the first to tell you the opportunities are outstanding to get a better look at the different states they might be riding through, they also want to let people know that biking is an important way of life and that motorist need to "Share the Road," as their motto dictates.

"Bicycles are a viable means of transportation," executive director of BAMA inc. and Huntsville native Morton Archibald said. "We’re have the same rights to use the roads as they do. Just because we don’t pollute, tear up the road as bad or take up as much parking space is no reason to drive us off the road. Our purpose is to promote people’s awareness and to teach people bike safety with motor vehicles. The legal laws give us equal rights to the word, but the physical laws definitely favor the motor vehicles."

Archibald says that he and the more than 300 riders participating in different parts of the 2000 mile trek form a type of bond that you might not find everywhere in today’s society.

"It’s like one big family," he said. "If one person has a problem then everybody pitches in and helps."

"One girl came over here to ride BAMA and the BRAG (Georgia ride) back to back and her bicycle got stolen in Georgia before the ride ever started," Archibald continued. "She wanted to go home after it. We made an announcement to all those participating and she had her choice of three bicycles the next day, five bikes the second day and by the third day someone had shipped her a bicycle down that was ideally suited for her from Atlanta. She wound up riding both states and went back home with a wonderful impression of Alabama."

The riders are of a wide variety as well. Young, old and from many different walks of life. They might not all be the most athletic or the most competitive, but the rides are not about competition as much as they are simply about being a part of something.

"We’ve had riders from two years old to 77," Archibald said. "The 77-year-old was one of the first ones in camp every night. We’ve got people that can’t walk that pedal with their hands. He’s going to ride 2000 miles from Tallahassee, Fla. to Charlottesville, Virginia.

"It’s an awareness, but it’s also a way to really see the states," he said of the BAMA leg of the ride itself. "Alabama is a magnificent state. It’s beautiful with a lot of natural beauty and developed beauty. From the gulf to the mountains, but that’s not the best about the state. The best thing about the state are the people. All the riders have been impressed and had a tremendously favorable impression of Alabama."

The Trip began on June 2 in Tallahasse, Florida and will last until July 7. They are scheduled to make stops Florala, Evergreen, Camden, Selma, Montgomery, Troy and Eufaula while in Alabama before continuing on to the next leg of the tour and ending up in Virginia.

The whole idea is to ride 2000 miles in the year 2000 while letting everyone know that the view from the seat of a bike isn’t all that bad.