Cyclists come to Troy

Published 11:15 pm Thursday, March 5, 2009

You never know what’s lurking in them-thar hills. Could be a bunch of Yankees on the rise.

Actually, it’s a bunch of Mid-Western cyclers and they’re about the friendliest bunch of folks you’ve ever seen. In fact, you might think they were Southerners if they didn’t talk so funny.

At this time every year, once a week, a bunch of “snow-cyclers” descend on rural South Alabama and they flock to Byrd Drugs in search of good Southern food and a heavy dose of Southern hospitality.

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The group of cyclers that took a lunch break at Byrd’s Wednesday was following an ol’ tradition that originated out of appreciation for the good ol’ days, no matter what section of the country one calls home.

J.T. Hill, a co-director of Alabama Cycling Camp in Ramer, said Byrd Drugs was discovered about six years ago when the camp opened and trails were blazed for the eight weeklong-camps that attract bicycle enthusiasts from across the country.

Hill said Byrd Drugs is a step back in time and some of the best road riding grub anywhere in the country.

“As for the camp, this part of Alabama is an ideal location to have an early season cycling camp,” Hill said.

“The winter weather is mild and there are many beautifully paved roads with little traffic and dozens of quiet scenic routes. Alabama has rolling hills that make for easy riding and beautiful views.”

“The air is fresh and all of Ramer’s amenities are in a short walking distance – a bank, store, post office and library.”

Hill said the camp is ideal for the serious racer or casual rider.

“It’s a cyclist’s dream getaway,” he said.

During the week, the cyclists will ride about 55 miles each day and have the option of attending nightly educational lectures on time trailing, racing strategies, climbing, speed training, base mile, recovery and nutrition.

“Other than that, we eat and sleep,” Hill said laughing.

For many of the cyclists who participate in the Alabama Cycling Camp, Alabama is a whole new experience and, for the most part, the experience is most enjoyable.

The cyclist-campers who enjoyed milk shakes, chicken salad and pimento cheese sandwiches at Byrd’s on Wednesday were from Michigan and Illinois and all rode “expensive bikes” and most were “racers.”

To a man and a woman, they said Alabama really is, as the slogan says, “the beautiful.”

“It’s beautiful and it’s culturally different,” the cyclists agreed.

“People in the South are very friendly and the hospitality is unbelievable. Coming here gives us insight into how different America is. Our country is not the same and that’s good.”