Thursday, August 30, 2018

Long distance bike ride brings cyclists, two churches together for a common, faith-filled cause

Long distance bike ride brings cyclists, two churches together for a common, faith-filled cause
By: Michael Lander

Darin Day, a member of Grace Bible Church in Olive Branch, Miss., conceived the idea of
doing a long distance bike ride, along with Trinity Baptist Church, to benefit a Christian
ministry, that he and his church have long supported.

Cyclists have any number of reasons why they like to ride a bike, but for about a half a dozen cyclists in around Memphis, one ride in late September, is for a higher purpose.

These cyclists, representing two Memphis area churches – Grace Bible Church in Olive, Branch, Miss. and Trinity Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., are joining forces not just to ride, but to do so for a Christian ministry that they both want to support.

Through faith and a unity of spirit and unity of love of Jesus Christ, these cyclists have been drawn together for an upcoming, one-day, 100-mile bike ride on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018 to help raise money for a Christian ministry known as the Mexican Indian Training Center (MITC) in Cordoba, Veracruz in central Mexico.

The MITC, for which these cyclists plan to ride, has been around for over 60 years, with a Bible school, missionaries, mission churches, and medical missions that, collectively, are focused on helping people and spreading the Gospel in rural areas of southern Mexico and beyond.

Darin Day, a member of Grace Bible Church, came up with the idea of this ride, finding the inspiration and motivation to do so from God's Holy Word and from his church.

“I wanted to apply my cycling to a cause that is greater than I am and I wanted to support MITC’s mission.  I also wanted to do this in memory of my pastor’s wife, Linda Webb.  MITC was an important Christian ministry that she faithfully committed herself to as has our church.  Linda worked especially hard, over the years, to provide a Vacation Bible School (VBS) program for the children in Mexico,” Day said.

Grace Bible Church has always been very involved, over the years, in mission work in Mexico, according to Day, and he would love nothing more than to see other churches come work alongside them, and to support them, like Trinity Baptist Church is doing, with this bike ride.

“Many villagers in the mountainous regions hear the Gospel, sometimes for the very first time, preached in their own language, from those who have been trained at MITC. It is for this reason, and all of the other important work being done there, that makes this bike ride that we are doing more than just any other ordinary bike ride,” Day said.

The 100-mile bike ride for MITC will begin at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, in New Albany, Miss. with a planned route, on the Tanglefoot Trail, to the south in and around Houston, Miss., and back to New Albany.  Friends and family of the cyclists will provide support for these cyclists throughout their ride.

Anyone wishing to support this ride for MITC, is asked to make a pledge for any amount that they wish to for each mile that the cyclists ride.  After the ride is over, they can make their checks out to MITC and then mail them to Grace Bible Church at 7145 Malone Rd., in Olive Branch, Miss.  38654.

For those interested in further information about this ride, they can contact Darin Day by email at:

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Bike ride from Memphis to Jackson, Miss. to help the poor, commemorate death of MLK, slated for April 4, 2018

Bike ride from Memphis to Jackson, Miss. to help the poor, commemorate death of MLK, slated for April 4, 2018
By:  Michael Lander

The Civil Rides 3-day event will take place on the 50th anniversary of Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination on April 4, 2018.  It will begin at the
National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and will end in Jackson, Miss., taking
cyclists through many poverty-stricken areas along the way.  Event organizers
are hoping for at least 100 participants, and for a great diversity among them,
who can come together to help those suffering from poverty in rural America.

He was a man with a dream who helped to awaken a nation,...... a nation, which had not yet fully extended to each and every individual the ideals of equality, justice, and freedom upon which it had been founded.

This man, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the iconic leaders of the Civil Rights movement and on April 4, 2018, a diverse group of people are coming together for a 3-day bike ride to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination.

This 3-day, 297-mile bike ride, in honor of Dr. King and his dream, known as “Civil Rides,” will begin at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and will end in Jackson, Miss. on Friday, April 6.

The ride is being done to raise awareness about the persistent poverty in rural America and the proceeds from this event will go to improve food delivery and in how communities and religious institutions address poverty issues in rural America.

The Civil Rides event will begin at the National Civil Rights
Museum, formerly known as the Lorraine Motel, in Memphis
on April 4, 2018.  The museum is currently one of four
organizations that have already endorsed this ride and its
mission to help the poor in rural America.

The ride is being hosted by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's, (CBF's), rural development coalition, Together for Hope, which works to alleviate poverty through asset-based community development, and Out Hunger, which is focused on ending hunger.  

Together for Hope works with local partners to strengthen communities from within and providing them with a true path out of poverty.

The ride is also endorsed by the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel, Simmons College, Memphis Brand Initiative, and The Angela Project, which is a three-year project commemorating the 400th anniversary of Black enslavement in America with the first African brought to the America’s as a slave in 1619.

There will be rest stops, full SAG (with mechanics, light gear, or a ride) meals, hotels, and evening events for those who wish to attend.

Participants will have the option of riding all or part of the route each day and there will be three main riding groups for slower, medium, and faster paced cyclists.

Civil Rides will begin at the National Civil Rights Museum
in Memphis, which first opened to the public on September
28, 1991.  Millions have visited it in the past 26 years.
The wreath on the second story balcony marks the
location of where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was
killed on April 4, 1968.

Riders have a $900 entry fee (for meals, hotels, SAG, etc.) and each has a co-responsibility to raise $1,500, altogether, that event organizers will assist them in reaching.

Click here to find out more about the ride and to register for it.

For many, poverty is a modern day Civil Rights issue that disproportionately impacts minorities in our country and it was a part of Dr. King’s mission with his Poor People’s Campaign in 1968.

Those who have this view often find inspiration from Dr. King, and his vision, and his belief that when any of our brothers and sisters suffer from inequity and the oppressiveness of poverty, we all suffer because, as he said, “an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.”

“With Dr. King’s emphasis in the Poor People’s Campaign, and the work being done in Together for Hope, which directly corresponds with his dream of ending poverty, the Civil Rides will raise awareness and money for our work across the country,” Rev. Dr. K. Jason Coker said.

This display, at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis,
depicts the Memphis Sanitation Worker's Strike that brought
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the city on April 3, 1968.  He
was killed the following day at the Lorraine Motel.

Rev. Dr. K. Jason Coker is the Field Coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in Mississippi and the National Director for Together for Hope.

“Our focus on alleviating persistent rural poverty is in keeping with so much of Dr. King’s teachings and, as we shift scale from the 20 poorest counties in America to the 301 counties of persistent rural poverty, efforts like Civil Rides will help us in our endeavor,” Coker said.

“We are working hard to have a diverse group of riders and are hopeful that the experience of this event will build real relationships and that it will honor Dr. King because it embodies his dream of coming together for a common cause and in an inextricable relationship of mutuality,” he said.

While Coker believes that Dr. King’s dream has not yet been completely fulfilled, he does see some hope and promise in events like Civil Rides.

“With a truly diverse group of people riding their bikes from Memphis to Jackson, Miss., following in the steps of Dr. King, in an attempt to raise money and to raise awareness about poverty, without any opposition, and the support of people across racial lines, it is a testimony to how Dr. King helped to change America,” Coker said.

Crippling poverty, especially in rural America, can often go
unnoticed or ignored, but there are some, like those who are
involved with the upcoming Civil Rides event, who are hoping
to bring attention to this issue and to help those who are
desperately in need of it.

Coker hopes with this ride, and other efforts, that it will bridge the gap between capacity and opportunity.

“The narrative of blaming the poor for being poor is not only tired and worn out, it is a lie.  That lie has piled insult on to injury for decades,” Coker said.

“People who live in poverty are the ones who have ideas about how to move forward.  They are human beings created and loved by God just like everyone else.  They just happen to have been born and live in rural places that the general public has forgotten, if not forsaken.  We ride for these brothers and sisters,” he said.

Those who wish to support or sponsor participants in Civil Rides, should contact the Founder and Executive Director of Out Hunger, Rand Jenkins, via email, at:

You can also keep up-to-date on any news or developments about the ride by either liking Out Hunger on facebook or by following them on twitter.  

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Everyone should see Ireland and one of the better ways to do that is on a bicycle

Everyone should see Ireland and one of the better ways to do that is on a bicycle
By:  Michael Lander

Cyclists are a common sight throughout many parts of Ireland.  This
cyclist is riding on English Street, which leads to Down Cathedral in
Downpatrick and to the grave of St. Patrick.

Ireland…… It has been called the Emerald Isle and this green jewel in the North Atlantic is an enchanting and captivating land with an incomparable charm and an unparalleled beauty that is unlike any other place in the world.

There is so much to see and do and to experience in Ireland, whether it is in one of the cities or towns that dot the landscape, the scenic shorelines and cliffs, the rugged mountains, or the picturesque countryside. 

And, one of the better ways to see and to explore one or more of these places is to do so on a bicycle.

Cyclists are a common sight throughout both the north (
Northern Ireland) and in the south (the Republic of Ireland) and the popularity of cycling is clearly evident, especially in the bigger cities.
Cycling in Ireland can be made all the more fun
with friends and family and getting to see sites
like the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary County are
an added bonus.

Part of the popularity of cycling is due, at least in part, to some
tax credits and other incentives that are given to those who are willing to ride their bikes, and there are laws to ensure that cyclists have equal access, but also certain restrictions as motorists do, on the roadways. 

For those who would rather ride a bike than drive a car, there are plenty of
bicycle rental businesses to be found, and there are also bike share programs in some of the larger cities like Belfast, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, and Cork. 

The only challenge for most, especially those coming from places like the U.S., is that all vehicles and cyclists ride on the opposite (left-hand) side of the road.

Cyclists are often treated to some beautiful views like this one on the
Northeastern coast, but they get a challenging workout on some of
the steep climbs in this region.
Those who are not accustomed to this, or who are apprehensive about it, should consider riding with a larger group, led by those who are more acclimated and experienced in doing this and
guided bicycle tours offer a nice alternative as well.

For those looking to venture out on their own, other than doing some preparation and pre-planning, for either a multiple day bike tour or just a few one-day trips, there may no better way to see all that Ireland has to offer at a slower, more leisurely pace.

For those who wish to combine bike riding with mass transit options, you can always take the
Irish Rail to get around even better or you can get on one of the ferries to ride or hike on a nearby island.

Ireland offers up some scenic views that aren't seen in many other
places and there may not be a better way to take it all in.  This
photo was taken in the Glens of Antrim.

Click here for the
Top 6 and the Top 10 cycling routes and the Seven (7) places best seen from a bicycle in Ireland.

Those who want to ride a bike on the Emerald Isle, should come prepared for riding a bike on some rather steep hills, some small, narrow roads with little or no signage, and some occasional strong winds and
rain, too. 

While Ireland’s climate is mild and often lacks temperature extremes, thanks to its location and the moderating presence of the
Gulf Stream, it does see a fair share of rain, but when it does rain, precipitation levels are generally light.

The average number of wet days, with more than 1 mm, (.03 inches) is about 150 days a year along the eastern and southeastern coasts to about 225 days a year in the western parts of the island.

This Belfast cyclist is one of thousands who regularly commute on
a daily basis in and around the city.  The school of Computer
Science for Trinity College is the colorful building in the

In the eastern half, there is a yearly average of 750 to 1000 mm, (29.52 to 39.37 inches).  In the west it is 1000 to 1400 mm, (39.37 to 55.11 inches), and there is at least 2000 mm, (78.74 inches), in the more mountainous regions. 

Should you overcome the issue of riding on the opposite side of the road, and the rain does not deter you, you will be rewarded with one of the better ways to sightsee and to experience Ireland.

Aside from the magnificent and breathtakingly beautiful scenery, Ireland has so much to draw you in and to help you fall in love with it.

The Irish are seen as being some of the
friendliest people in the world and they, their heritage, their history, their  traditional music, dance, and so much more will leave you wanting even more.

These cyclists in County Clare are among several hundred riding
in a cycling event on a rainy mid-October day.  Even though it
frequently rains in many parts of Ireland, rainfall amounts are
not as great as many people might think.

Ireland may be best known for its
Celtic and Gaelic origins, its love of its stouts, ales, and lagers and the potato, which has been a big part of the diet for the island’s inhabitants from the 17th century through today.

For most people around the world, Ireland, more often than not, is most commonly associated with one of the most widely known
Christian missionaries that the world has ever known – St. Patrick. 

It was St. Patrick who contributed the most in bringing
Christianity to the island and infusing Celtic Spirituality into Christian traditions.

What may be lesser known about Ireland is its rich, ancient history and how it played a pivotal role in shaping our world and making it what it is today.  If it had not been for the Irish, author
Thomas Cahill contends in his book, entitled “How the Irish Saved Civilization,” the world and western civilization would not exist as we know it today.

Bike Share is very popular and it is a viable
and a much more economic alternative in
transportation in cities like Dublin that
tourists can also enjoy as well.

For those who are fortunate enough to visit Ireland, they are more than likely to find that it is a very special place that few leave without the hope of one day returning.

To learn more about bicycling in Ireland, 
click here.
Click here to see more photos of cyclists in Ireland and here to see scenic photos of Ireland.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

North Mississippi welcomes everyone to explore and enjoy one of its not-so-hidden treasures

North Mississippi welcomes everyone to explore and enjoy one of its not-so-hidden treasures
By:  Michael Lander

North Mississippi is known for its rural scenery with many
farms and charming small towns.

There may not be a lot of things that are as exciting and as exhilarating as finding a hidden treasure, but not all treasures are hidden, and some are just sitting right out in the open.

One such treasure in the
Mid-South, that some people might not even know about, is located in North Mississippi, roughly 80 miles southeast of Memphis.

This treasure, that an estimated 20,000 or more people, from the local area, and from around the U.S. and beyond enjoy each year, is known as
Tanglefoot Trail.

Pastural scenes like this are a common sight toward the
southern half of Tanglefoot Trail.

The 44.5 mile paved trail runs from New Albany to Houston, Mississippi and there may be few, if any, trails that offer its visitors a completely non-urbanized landscape that is almost entirely made up of wooded, pastural, and rural scenery.

Those who walk, run, or ride their bike on Tanglefoot, are treated to a trail that gives them an unique escape to nature at its very best and everything that comes along with that. 

There are a few lakes, streams, and some wetlands,
like this, on various parts of Tanglefoot.

The trail, itself, is also perfect for cyclists of varying degrees and abilities because it is relatively flat, straight, and it has very little, if any, vehicular traffic on the roadways that intersect it. 

“There are also many amenities on Tanglefoot that include six rest stops, six rain stops with roofs, four whistle stops that provide parking, rest rooms, water fountains, and covered area with picnic tables,” Don Locke said.

Locke is Tanglefoot’s Trail Manager who has been an integral part of the trail since its inception in 2003 and its opening on September 21, 2013.

A 2013 Mississippi State University survey
indicated that 79 percent of the visitors to
Tanglefoot were cyclists.  On the right of
this photo is one of the six rest stops on
this trail.

“We also have county deputies who patrol the trail in golf carts as an added safety and security measure.  Even though we have not ever had any criminal activity ever reported on the trail, the deputies serve as a deterrent and are helpful to trail users who may have a flat tire or some other non-emergency problem,” Locke said.

While most of the trail has rural scenery surrounding it, there is subtle changes throughout the length of it that give various stretches their own distinctive look and feel.

Tanglefoot Trail opened in September 2013.  This
rails-to-trails trail is the longest one in the State
of Mississippi and it has been extremely popular
with cyclists, of abilities, because it is
relatively flat and straight with many scenic
vistas along the way.

Leaving New Albany and heading south, Locke said, there is a mix of open pasture, hayfields, and forests. 

After that, for about 5 miles from the town of Ecru toward Pontotoc, there are croplands and then there is a tunnel of trees for about 3 miles before coming into Pontotoc. 

When approaching the town of Algoma from the south, there is about a mile of open pasture and hayfields bordering the trail with few trees.

From Pontotoc to Houston, Locke said, trail users go through hardwood forest, some wetlands, with pastures and hayfields in view through the trees.

In addition to the beautiful rural scenery, many
walkers, runners, and cyclists also enjoy the
peace and quiet and the cyclists often
appreciate the little to no vehicular traffic on
the roadways that intersect the trail.

Along the way, Locke said, that there is a chance that visitors to the trail could see a wide variety of wildlife that could include squirrels, rabbits, deer, armadillos, groundhogs, turtles, various other reptiles, and even possibly foxes, coyotes, bobcats, and beavers.

Some of the birds that are commonly seen flying around the trail include hawks, crows, indigo bunting, cardinals, bluebirds, mockingbirds, and herons and other water fowl in the swampy areas of the trail.

There are seven towns, that include the trailheads in New Albany and Houston.  In between these two, (from north to south), is Ingomar, Ecru, Pontotoc, Algoma, and New Houlka.

The 44.5 mile Tanglefoot Trail has a diversity consisting of
pastures, hayfields, wetlands, and forests that allows
visitors to get away from the urban environment and to
retreat and to escape into the natural beauty of Northern

There are historical attractions in some of these towns and in the surrounding area that may be worth a visit and there are restaurants, motels, hotels, bed and breakfasts, and a nearby campground for those who would like to spend one or more days on the trail.

Click here for lodging, food, and bicycle shops.

The Tanglefoot Trail is the longest rail-to-trail in the State of Mississippi, beating out the first rail-to-trail, the
Longleaf Trace Trail, from Hattiesburg to Prentiss, by about a mile.

Each season has its own special beauty and
it can and should be enjoyed throughout
the year.

Tanglefoot, located in the
Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area, preserves the abandoned railroad corridor that served a number of railroads with the first rail link coming to New Albany in 1887, which was 16 years after the Ripley Railroad was chartered and approved.

The great-grandfather of the Nobel Prize winning author, William Faulkner,
Col. William Clark Faulkner, began his quest to construct a narrow gauge railroad in order to connect his plantation interests in Ripley, Miss. with the Memphis and Charleston Railroad in Middleton, Tenn.

Click here for additional railroad history on Tanglefoot.

While the majority of visitors to Tanglefoot come from Mississippi, a
significant number, like this couple from Minneapolis, Minn. come
from all across the country and from around the world.

Tanglefoot is funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Mississippi Development Authority, the Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, and individual donors and business or corporate sponsors.

A portion of the taxes from Union, Pontotoc, and Chickasaw Counties, and the seven towns that the trail passes through, provide the funding for the maintenance and development of the trail. 

“Some of the future plans for Tanglefoot include a larger pavilion, with restrooms and water fountains for the Houston Gateway, which should be completed between March and September 2018,” Locke said.

Tanglefoot's Trail Manager, Don Locke, often likes to take his
recumbent bike out and hit the trail.  Cycling is a passion
that he shares with his wife.

Additionally, Locke said, the City of New Albany, has received a donation of land that will enable them to extend the trail through their city park and out to Mississippi Highway 30.  When this is completed, it will add approximately three miles to the trail.  A grant, he added, has been filed to partially fund this project as well.

Locke hopes that these and other efforts will further enhance the overall experience for those who visit Tanglefoot and that it will attract others to enjoy the beauty of the area and the hospitality of the people of North Mississippi.