Nearly 200 bikers came together on Saturday, Oct. 16, to ride the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, visiting iconic sites along the way and raising more than $12,000 for the installation of a sculpture honoring Harriet on the Dorchester Courthouse lawn.
Cyclists hailed from more than 60 cities throughout Maryland, as well as seven other nearby states, to experience some of the same routes and landscapes that Harriet Tubman would have followed.
Inspired by Harriet Tubman and her daring journeys to freedom on the Underground Railroad, the sold-out event featured 25- and 43-mile bike ride options following parts of the UGRR through scenic marshes and farmlands, with rest stops at historic sites.
“My feeling is that if Harriet can walk 100 miles, we can ride the 43,” said Susan Kirk of Silver Spring, Maryland.
The ride started and ended at Cambridge South Dorchester High School and offered rest stops at the Bucktown Village Store, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitors Center and Oak Grove South Church. When they finished, riders received star-shaped gingerbread cookies made from Harriet Tubman’s original recipe.
“I’m waiting to see if I can make it,” said Chrystina Gilgeous of Ellicott City, Maryland, shortly before the start. “I can’t wait to see the wonderful, wandering roads out here.”
This ride is one of the many community efforts, coordinated by Alpha Genesis Community Development Corporation, to raise $250,000 to commission, purchase and permanently install a bronze statue of Harriet Tubman, as well as raise awareness of Harriet Tubman’s enduring legacy and Dorchester County’s rich heritage.
“We are tremendously pleased with the participation and the money that was raised for the Harriet sculpture,” said Adrian Holmes, founder and president of Alpha Genesis. “But the event was much more than just a fundraiser. It inspired the community on so many different levels and brought together a diverse group of supporters.
“We have the committed volunteers who organized the ride and made it a success. We have the serious cyclists who appreciate Dorchester’s landscape for their rides. And we have the budding historians who are inspired by Harriet Tubman and the opportunity to learn more and follow the routes that she would have traveled in her day.”
Former Cambridge Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley served as honorary chair for the ride, and Amy Craig and Lynn Stewart were the chairs of the event. More than 40 volunteers provided support on the day of the ride.
“It was a joy to see so many riders, and the interest they showed in our local history and the inspiration of Harriett,” said Chris Wheedleton, one of the volunteers. “Many of them had never been down here. I suspect we better plan for a much bigger group next year. The word of mouth alone that they take home to their communities will draw a lot of interest as this was so well done!”
Sponsors included Simmons Center Market, Walmart, Food Lion, Ironman Maryland, Law Office of Christopher Robinson, Cambridge Multi-Sport, Baird, Emily’s Produce, Powell Realtors, TriCycle & Run, Dean and Nita Goodwin, and D & M Support.
The Bike the UGGR ride built on the success of a Bike the Underground Railroad Byway Youth Ride in May. The biking events are one more way that the Harriet’s Journey Home project is continuing to build connections for the local community, as well as for the thousands of visitors who come to Maryland to experience the most powerful Underground Railroad storytelling destination in the world.
For information about how to donate for the Harriet’s Journey Home sculpture, visit alphagenesiscdc.org/harriets-journey-home.
Photos by Jim Brady
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