Spring in Alabama means many things. Among our favorites: snow-white dogwoods, crisp-weather hikes through trees in new leaf, and long bike rides with Bo Jackson.
Yep, that Bo Jackson: world-renowned football and baseball icon, ESPN’s Greatest Athlete of All Time, star of the “Bo Knows” Nike campaign , Heisman trophy winner, Auburn legend and much more. After hip surgery, Jackson took up cycling to stay in shape while being kind to his joints. Somewhere along the road to recovery, Jackson discovered that the bike is a great equalizer, a vehicle for change, and really fun way to get some exercise while socializing with friends. Don’t take our word for it: read what Bo has to say .
If you ever dreamed of meeting one of the most talented athletes of our time, this month you can have that chance. On Saturday, April 19, Bo Jackson returns for the third annual Bo Bikes Bama , a charity road ride that raises money for tornado relief in Alabama. You can meet him and other sports icons who chamois up a social ride along the country roads outside Auburn. Former MLB player Ken Griffey, Jr. and Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street will return for the third year, and a number of celebrity athletes will be making their debut.
Now based in Chicago, Jackson still considers Alabama home, and wanted to help his home state recover from the April 27, 2011 outbreak that unleashed more than 60 tornadoes on the state, killing 252 Alabamians. On the first anniversary of the storm, he rode 300 miles in 6 days through tornado-torn towns, raising money for the Alabama Governor’s Relief Fund, which has helped repair 400 homes and build 27 community storm shelters around the state.
Now in its third year, Bo Bikes Bama has raised more than $700,000 and attracted more than 800 cyclists from 24 states. Every rider comes with a story to share. Dan Pinson, a paraplegic athlete from the Garden State who rode nearly all 300 miles of the 2012 ride—pedaling with his arms. If you didn’t already feel inspired to ride, you will after getting to know “Jersey Dan.”
This year’s event features 22-mile and 62-mile routes beginning at Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art on the campus of Auburn University, where Jackson won the Heisman Trophy before launching a pro career in football and baseball. Jackson will lead the start of both routes, and will finish with the 62-milers.
The 62-mile ride costs $60 online, and $100 on the day of the ride. The 22-mile route is $40 if you book ahead, and $60 day-of. If you’re a huge Bo Jackson fan, consider a $100 ticket to the VIP event the evening before the ride, which includes hors d’oeuvres, beer, and wine, and the chance to bid in a silent auction. VIP tickets ($250) mean a private meet-and-greet with Jackson and other celebs. Register at BoBikesBama.com and even if you don’t ride, consider donating.