Hot Hundred will return to campus

Proceeds will benefit mental health alliance

Hot Hundred will return to campus

Bikers participate in the annual Hot Hundred bike ride. (Photo Courtesy of Pixie Hicks)

The Hot Hundred bike ride, with its Tuscaloosa roots and university connections, will return to campus Saturday with discounted tickets available to students.

“Really anyone can come out to experience the excitement and fun of a large group ride like the Hot Hundred,” Ride Director Pixie Hicks said. “We have outstanding escort through campus and downtown Tuscaloosa by the TPD and also a local motorcycle club, the Dirty South Cruisers.”

Hicks said the ride, which headquarters at the University Recreation Center, has five distance options, six well-stocked rest stops and seven support vehicles. Riders, who can choose to ride 29, 36, 71 or 103 miles, have access to support teams and sports trainers.

The ride began 12 years ago as a fundraiser for the Tuscaloosa Mental Health Task Force and welcomes riders of all ages and abilities.“By 2011, the ride had grown to number over 300 and better facilities and parking space were needed. A proposal was made to George Brown, University Rec Executive Director, and the move was made to campus which allowed us to offer ample parking, showers, swimming and even the opportunity to pedal past Denny Chimes and Bryant Denny Stadium,” Hicks said. “Since the move, our numbers have more than doubled and we have become one of the largest bicycling events in the state.”

The Tuscaloosa Mental Health Task Force, now known as the Tuscaloosa Mental Health Alliance, has continued to fund grants from the ride’s registration fees and jersey sales.

“Grants awarded in the past have supported community Mental Health First Aid training classes, Bradford’s Recovery Month Celebration and a student incentive program at Special Programming for Achievement Network of Tuscaloosa, as well as partially covered expenses for mental health professionals pursuing higher education,” Kathryn Adams, administrative assistant at the TMHA, said.

The Hot Hundred, which reached 632 participants last year, is co-hosted by the Druid City Bicycle Club and is the fifth ride in a series of 10 rides that collectively make up the Alabama Backroads Century Series, now in its second year.

“The purpose of the Series is to encourage long-distance bicycling, such as the century option of each ride, and to increase fundraising efforts for the charities of each,” Hicks said.

In 2012, Hicks said the Hot Hundred invited and arranged hosting for Wounded Warrior Unit soldiers, many of whom are PTSD sufferers.

“We felt it was a great fit with our cause, and this year will welcome 20 soldiers from Forts Benning and Gordon,” she said.

University Programs has also partnered with the Hot Hundred to provide students with discounted tickets.

“The original price of one Hot Hundred ticket is $35, but University Programs is selling them for a discounted price of only $10,” Michelle Fowler, programming graduate assistant at UP, said.

Fowler said University Programs, which will next focus on Week of Welcome and monthly programming, was looking for a summer program, and the Hot Hundred fit the bill because it took place in Tuscaloosa and on campus.

“Hot Hundred will foster community by allowing participants to meet others they may have not met otherwise, as well as donate to the Tuscaloosa Mental Health Alliance through the registration fee,” she said.

An added benefit of bicycling, beyond physical fitness, is that it sharpens thinking and reduces stress, Hicks said.

“This is one of the reasons the Mental Health Alliance chose a bicycling event as their fundraiser,” she said. “Through both the bikehothundred.com and tuscaloosa.mha.org sites, we not only promote the ride, but also encourage people to seek help, provide them with a list of organizations within the Alliance who offer this help and remind them that ‘There was a time when mental illness meant no hope. Those days are gone. Mental illnesses are biological brain disorders, and treatment works.’”

Students can register at upua.tix.com.

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