Thursday 16 April 2009

Following Pat on the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route

A long way to ride--a Reverse Snowbird!

A gentleman from Pensacola, Florida, is cycling the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route from his home to Owen Sound, Ontario. Pat Crawford is the Executive Director of the Pensacola public radio/television station, WUMF, and is raising money to help keep the station on the air and buy programming. He is doing daily updates of his ride, which began on April 7, and he is clearly becoming a serious long-distance cyclist as he can't stop writing about food en route--he was even allowed to spend one night locked in a dairy bar! He does regular telephone calls to a public school to tell the kids about his trip and is posting photos of the trip too.

Firehouse at Harper's Ferry

I was intrigued to learn about the URR trip when the Adventure Cycling Association came up with the route, and I understand it is now one of the organization's most popular trips. Having studied American history in university, I continue to be interested in the history of slavery in the U.S. and its repercussions, which of course extend to the present. Canada was important in the story of the Underground Railroad, although I am not familiar with Owen Sound's role in it. I do know that St. Catherines, Ontario, was a hotbed of abolitionism and that John Brown was there shortly before his raid on the Federal Armory at Harper's Ferry in October 1859. There will be events at Harper's Ferry marking the Raid and its controversial leader. I was last at Harper's Ferry during our wonderful C&O Canal Towpath bike trip in August 2007.

Pat is making very good time, having reached Tennessee already, but he will want to take a break before he crosses into Canada to be sure that he has some insect repellant as he will arrive just in time for the black fly season!

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