Dozens of families from Cordova and surrounding communities turned out Saturday to cheer on Jackson and other cyclists participating in Bo Bikes Bama 2, a fundraiser for the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund.
The number of youth in the crowd and among the ranks of the cyclists was not lost on the two-sport athlete.
One young man in particular caught Jackson’s attention.
“After about the 20 or 30 mile mark, he got cranky, but he finished the race,” Jackson joked during the post-ride ceremony. “If we can start them young like that, we don’t have to worry about them 15 or 20 years down the road.”
Prior to the start of the 20-mile ride, Jackson took a moment to recognize a group of Birmingham youth representing Trips for Kids, a national nonprofit that introduces at-risk children to the world of cycling.
“It’s a foundation that is getting inner-city kids on bicycles and out of the house away from video games,” Jackson said to a round of applause.
In addition to stressing the importance of making exercise part of a child’s life , Jackson also expressed his hope that more adults in Alabama would learn to appreciate the sport of cycling.
“We need to make our state bike friendly,” he said to more cheers.
More than 300 people from 14 states registered for Bo Bikes Bama 2.
Two groups of cyclists followed Jackson through devastated downtown Cordova on Saturday morning.
As last year, Jackson was joined by several celebrities, but the majority of the cyclists were average citizens who came out to support tornado relief efforts.
Jackson encouraged the cyclists to enjoy each other’s company as they made their way through either the 20-mile or 60-mile route.
“It’s not a race; it’s a ride. Get to know the riders beside you, behind you and in front of you,” he said.
In his closing remarks, Jackson called Bo Bikes Bama 2 “a great success.”
Jackson, whose day included riding with both the 20-mile and 60-mile participants as well as a frenzy of photo ops and autographs, got a sympathetic response from the weariest cyclists when he said that he was looking forward to resting in his hotel room.
“I may not even shower. I’m going to turn that air down to ice cube, lay across the bed and get some sleep,” Jackson said.
“I hear ya, man,” one cyclist yelled back to a chorus of laughter.
Last year’s ride covered more than 300 miles of the hardest-hit areas in north Alabama. Its successor was contained entirely within Walker County.
After asking for a show of hands of how many people had participated in both rides, Jackson hinted that there might be a Bo Bikes 3 next year.
“Let’s do this again,” Jackson told the crowd before boarding a bus back to Birmingham.