CAMBRIDGE - Nearly 200 bikers came together 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 Tubman on the Dorchester Courthouse lawn.
The 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 Tubman would have followed.
Inspired by Tubman’s 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.
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 Tubman’s original recipe.
This ride was one of the many efforts supporting the Harriet’s Journey Home Fund, coordinated by Alpha Genesis Community Development Corporation. Organizers hope to raise $250,000 to commission, purchase and permanently install a bronze statue of Harriet Tubman, as well as raise awareness of her enduring legacy and Dorchester County’s 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.”
The Bike the UGGR ride built on the success of a Bike the Underground Railroad Byway Youth Ride in May.
Sponsors of the event 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.
For information about how to donate for the Harriet’s Journey Home sculpture, visit alphagenesiscdc.org/harriets-journey-home.