Now in its 45th year, Birmingham Bicycle Club’s Annual Century ride is raising money for Melanoma research and awareness, providing free sunscreen to volunteers and participants

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Wayne Spooner with the fundraising team from BBC and members from UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. Photo via BBC

This will be the forty-fifth year of Birmingham Bicycle Club’s (BBC) Annual Century, the BBC 100. The BBC 100 is a ride that begins in Ashville, Alabama, and has route options ranging from 14 miles to 127 miles. Due to this range, the ride will be accessible to all cycling levels.

Raising Funds for Melanoma Research 

This year marks the second anniversary that 100% of the profits from the ride will go to specifically support melanoma research at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. Prior to last year, the proceeds from the event were set aside for cycling road  signs for our roadways. The motivating factor for a fundraiser benefiting melanoma research and awareness stemmed from Ride Director Wayne Spooner’s diagnosis of a later stage melanoma in 2016.

As a result of a car accident and related cancer issues, Spooner lost use of most of his right side. His motivation to ride again was the driving force behind his rehab, first with walking and then with cycling. With determination and hard work, he was able to get back on a modified recumbent bike in time to prepare and successfully complete RAGBRAI, a bicycle ride across the state of Iowa, this summer in the company of close friends. Spooner rides several times a week and his attitude and outlook has inspired members of the Birmingham cycling community with his continued participation in club rides and events.

Chris Cole with the custom frame from Four Corners Gallery. The shadow box frame will be given to one lucky winner from the Alabama Backroads Century Series. Photo by Lauren Bedford for Bham Now

Not Just A Biking Club, But A True Community

“It’s that sense of community — it makes such a difference.” 

– Karen Clanton

What some know but many may not is that the cycling community in Birmingham is strong and far-reaching. The Birmingham Bicycle Club sees as many as 120 people show up in Avondale for their Sunday rides, and that is just a fraction of the total membership. Club members are like family and often help each other with new rides and routes.

Member Spotlights 

Karen Clanton, who works at Four Corners Gallery, is a member of the BBC, but she wasn’t always a cyclist. She learned about cycling from one coworker, and after borrowing a bike from a previous coworker, she trained for her first fundraising ride. Since then, members of the club have become like her family.

Chris Cole and Bo Bozeman help Mandy Nichols up the hill at one of the Alabama Backroads Century Rides. Photo by Jeffrey White for BBC

Another member of the club, Mandy Nichols, picked up riding again and decided to join for health reasons. In 2017, she set the very ambitious goal of completing all 13 of the Alabama Backroads Century Series bike rides and was able to accomplish it. Two living examples of the BBC’s support system are members Chris Cole and Bo Bozeman, who took it upon themselves to not only encourage Nichols, but to swap riding with her at the events to assist her in achieving her goal as they completed all 13, too. Sometimes they were simply offering words of encouragement, and sometimes giving her a push up the hills when she needed help.

Chris Cole, President of BBC

Chris Cole, current President of the BBC, is an advanced cyclist and is one of the two that helped Mandy complete a lot of her past rides. Cole, like Nichols, started cycling for health reasons — he was diagnosed with asthma at age 13. He has been cycling since then and now rides around 200 miles per week.

Chris Cole, President of the BBC. Photo by Lauren Bedford for Bham Now

He notes that one of the best things about the cycling club is the community that it has and the way that each member rallies around others to help with goals — be it fundraising, finishing a ride, or just needing a bike to get started on.

“I am very focused on helping riders achieve their own targets, educating riders in riding on the road or achieving their first 100. Seeing the success of someone else’s accomplishment is very rewarding.”

– Chris Cole

Making Waves for Melanoma Awareness 

These are just small examples of the strong community that drives the BBC. The cyclists are so dedicated to both their craft and their peers, it inspires positive change.

The club has rallied around Spooner and raised funds that will go towards melanoma research. Wayne Spooner’s diagnosis has created waves of awareness throughout the BBC, prompting many of the members to see their own doctors and get their skin checked. So far, at least three people have been able to catch spots before they became something dangerous. That’s potentially three lives saved right there.

As a nod to promoting melanoma awareness, the Birmingham Bicycle Club will be providing complimentary sunscreen to everyone who participates in the Annual Century Ride this year. You can find sunscreen along with food and water a rest stop every 15 miles through the ride. The BBC is making a strong push to make sure sunscreen is available and easily accessible to all cyclists to prevent future melanoma diagnoses.

Are You Interested In Cycling?

Cycling is a sport that is accessible to just about everyone. Whether you decide cycle competitively or just for fun, you will be doing a service to yourself and our planet. Cole is a firm believer in all the positives of cycling, and shared a few of his top aspects with me:

“Not only is cycling great for you mind, your body, and your soul, it’s also relaxing. It is one of the most low-impact sports. It’s a great way to meet new people and also a good way to see more of your environment. You are able to see and enjoy more scenes and views on a bike than you are if you are in a car.”

If any of those positive aspects of cycling speak to you, consider joining the BBC for a ride around town. The club is full of members of all levels, from casual riders to serious riders, so there is a place for you. Check out the BBC here.

Carla Hamilton and Karen Clanton of Four Corners work on a custom frame for a customer. Four Corners Gallery offers specialty and custom printing and framing, as well as art for sale. Photo by Lauren Bedford for Bham Now

Four Corners Gallery, a Proud Sponsor

Four Corners Gallery is a proud sponsor of the Alabama Backroads Century Series. If a cyclist completes 10 of the 13 events they are a Series Champion and one lucky winner from this group will win a beautifully framed shadowbox to commemorate their dedication and hard work. They’ll have the option to replicate this display that includes a bike chain ring and event medals from each of the 100 plus miles completed on each ride. The custom-made frame is truly a one-of-a-kind piece of art inspired by the series.

The team at Four Corners and Chris Cole with the custom frame that will be given as a prize at the Alabama Backroads Century Series. The frame features all the medals from the century rides and is styled to look like a bike wheel. Photo by Lauren Bedford for Bham Now

The gallery also offers custom framing and many ways of printing. The gallery’s team can print to archival-quality paper, canvas, acrylic, metal, and more. In addition, they have a selection of art for sale.

How You Can Help

If you are interested in cycling or are a cyclist already, sign up for the ride on September 29! It will be a fun event with beginner, intermediate, and advanced route options, so it is accessible to all. Sign up here.

If you are not a cyclist but would like to donate to support Melanoma research, you can donate here.

Interested in more cycling news from the Magic City? Check out great bike photos from Birmingham Instagrammers here and more on the BBC here.