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A spirit that is not afraid

Bo Bikes Bama returns to Auburn for 11th year

Bikers pass the starting line for Bo Bikes Bama on Saturday, April 27, 2019 in Auburn, Ala
Bikers pass the starting line for Bo Bikes Bama on Saturday, April 27, 2019 in Auburn, Ala

Arguably one of the biggest bike events in Alabama occurs every year on April 27 right here in Auburn. Bo Bikes Bama is the idea of two-sport athlete and Auburn legend, Bo Jackson. 

Jackson decided to start this event due to the impact of tornados that devastated Alabama in 2011. Jackson realized he was in a position where he could truly make a difference, and began the process of planning this event. All the proceeds go to the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund, which provides additional relief to those affected by natural disasters when they have exhausted all other means of relief. 

Over time the event has surpassed two million dollars raised and has riders from 31+ states joining each year. 

The route itself takes bikers through Auburn, Notasulga, and Tuskegee, for a total of 60 miles round trip. There is also a 20-mile ride that begins later. 

Though many bikers hail from other states, some such as participant Morgan McGehee are from all around Alabama. Driving to Auburn from Dothan, McGehee is using this event as part of her training for an even longer bike event. 

“I’m part of Pedal the Pacific,” McGehee said. “This week I was supposed to train for 60 miles, so it worked out that I did this!”

Pedal the Pacific is an organization that bikes to promote an end to sex trafficking in the US. They use the event to spread awareness, educate, and fundraise. Seven women bike from Seattle to San Diego, a collective distance of 1,700 miles, doing about 50 miles a day. 

“This is actually my first bike event,” McGehee said, having only started biking in January of this year. 

“The farthest I’ve ever done is 50 (miles),” McGehee said. “But when I finished I felt like I could keep going, so I’m confident.” 

One of the biggest sponsors of the event is the company Trek. Trek specializes in the design and manufacturing of bicycles, and collaborating with Auburn students. At the event, Industrial Design students from the College of Architecture, Design, and Construction were presenting their senior theses related to biking. 

Senior, Perry Sherwood partnered with Trek to “get more butts on bikes," Sherwood said. 

Her design features the accessibility of biking, and trying to overcome obstacles that might keep people from biking. She was also looking to work around car-centric infrastructure that is ever-present in cities. 

“One piece I could focus on was bike parking,” Sherwood said. "which pushes a lot of people away, they’re worried about the safety of their bike.” 

Sherwood designed a reliable system of bike parking that perfectly fits into the city it is placed in. Not only is it designed for bikers, but Sherwood’s rendering included spaces for local art to be displayed on the stand and a roof for local flora to be cultivated. 

“It's about encouraging the city to invest in solutions that are aesthetic and functional,” said Sherwood. 

Sherwood also spoke on how important the bike event was for all the theses that were presented, claiming it was very similar to doing market research. Many bikers were speaking to the students and giving them feedback on their designs. 

This is the 11th year of the Bo Bikes Bama event, and participants are already excited for next year’s bike ride. 

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Carrington Romanick | Community Writer

Carrington Romanick is a junior from Helena, Alabama majoring in law and justice. She joined The Plainsman in August 2023.

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