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Troy cyclist is riding through history

Part personal journey, part historical excursion, the trip that Troy cyclist Jordan Hart is on is the adventure of a lifetime.

Hart began his 2,007–mile journey along the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route on Oct. 17 in Owen Sound, Ontario. He plans to finish the trek on Nov. 19 in Mobile, Ala., following a route established by the Adventure Cycling Association.

Hart, 29, has been averaging 76 miles a day, cycling by day – rain or shine – and unpacking his sleeping bag and portable stove to camp at night. He recently stopped off in the area after logging 760 total miles and was soon back on the trail with about 1,300 miles yet to go.

“It’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Hart said. “I talked about it over the summer and here I am.”

Hooked on cycling

Hart got hooked on cycling as a teenager when his Boy Scout troop rode to Lake Erie.

“There were times when I complained, but it was a lot of fun,” he said.

He has logged countless miles since then, but this will be Hart’s longest ride to date. His previous longest journey was an 870-mile trip on the West Coast.

A 2,000-mile journey likely sounds intimidating to even some experienced cyclists, much less rookie riders. Starting small could be the key to success.

“Take a ride in the area — from your house to a park — spend a day on the trail and, then, a weekend,” Hart said. “Looking back, I had no idea when I got started that I’d be riding across the country – you can do it.”

Adventure Cycling Association

The Adventure Cycling Association makes it easy to get started.

The mission of the non-profit organization is to inspire and empower people to travel by bicycle. The organization, established in 1973, researches and produces cycling maps for the Adventure Cycling Route Network – an established cycling route network with 45,003 miles of routes throughout North America. The Adventure Cycling Route Network is used by thousands of cyclists each year for bicycle touring.

“The routes are all on great roads and the Adventure Cycling Association has great maps to follow,” Hart said.

Experience History

The Underground Railroad Bicycle Route offers more than a challenging ride, it memorializes the Underground Railroad, a network of clandestine routes by which freedom seekers attempted to escape slavery before and during the Civil War.

“It brought a lot of great attention to a dark part of our nation’s history,” said Ginny Sullivan, director of travel initiatives for the Adventure Cycling Association. “And it offers experiential learning, which is so wonderful.”

Hart agrees that the experience has been meaningful.

“The historical part is pretty cool,” he said. “You go through interesting places along the way.”

Among Hart’s stops was the Salem Chapel British Methodist Episcopal Church in St. Catharines, Ontario, a home base of sorts for Harriet Tubman and a final terminus for the Underground Railroad.

“A trip like this definitely gives you perspective,” he said.

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