Cycling unites like-minded people across Franklin
In a little over a week the Tour de France will be over, but for the cycling community in Franklin County, the ride doesn’t end.
According to cyclist Scott Stephenson, there isn’t a huge cycling community in Franklin County compared to larger areas, but there are several people in the county who partake in the sport. He said they often connect with the Shoals cycling community when they train.
“David Cumbie organizes training rides on Saturday mornings. We start at like 7 a.m. and, depending on the day, end somewhere between 10 a.m. and noon,” Stephenson said.
Starting early in the morning is a key component to getting in as many miles as Stephenson does. Since March of this year, Stephenson said he has biked around 1,100 miles, which equates to 76 hours and 27 minutes.
“I learned to make it a priority in my adult life,” he said.
Stephenson’s history in riding started when he was a child riding around with his friends.
“It was something I enjoyed as a kid,” he said. “I figured why not see if I still enjoy it as an adult, and I do. I love it.”
Cycling also serves as a way for Stephenson and others to give back to the community. At the beginning of June, he and Russellville High School’s Norman Lier participated in the Bike MS Century Ride, a charity ride that donates money toward the research of multiple sclerosis.
“MS research is necessary,” Stephenson said. “There’s still hope for a cure.”
The ride was a little more than 100 miles long, and Stephenson clocked it in about 6.5 hours. Stephenson said it was Lier’s idea to participate in the ride.
“I told him I was going to buy a bike earlier this year, and he said ‘Great, let’s do this ride,’” Stephenson said.
That supportive community between the cyclists is one thing that stands out to Stephenson.
“There’s a shared suffering and a joy to be found when you get that sense of accomplishment because you all got through the endurance of it,” he said.
The endurance that cycling requires has also boosted Stephenson’s fitness level. “My legs are constantly sore, but they’re freakishly toned,” he said.
Aside from the physical benefits, Stephenson said he also finds a mental peace in the sport.
“The world fades away, and you’re at peace,” he explained. “The sweat dripping onto the front railing of the bike is kind of like your problems just dripping away.”
Stephenson and other cyclists use the app Strava to record their data and keep up with each other and their progress.