I met Erick Cedeno at Interbike a couple years ago. You meet a ton of people at the show, Erick wasn’t a buyer or shop employee, he was a lover of bicycle touring. When talking to Erick he shared some of the rides he did and the experiences they brought. The more you talk to Erick you realize he is just a cool guy, a person who you would want to do a tour with.
I found Erick on Instagram and got this great update from him below
Look out for the Erick Cedeno t-shirt in the future.
Over the past three years, I’ve traveled long distances on my bicycle: from Vancouver, Canada to Tijuana, Mexico; from St. Augustine, Fla., to New York City. But on August 27, I took a different kind of trip, measured not only by miles but also by history. I rode from New Orleans, La., to Niagara Falls, New York, along The Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad was a network of meeting points, secret routes, safe houses, and assistance provided by abolitionist sympathizers. The Route was not an easily defined line on a map; it was a network of many possible routes, developed and communicated in secret. The Adventure Cycling Association developed a route using a slave spiritual song “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” which relates directions for escaping to freedom by following the North Star. One known path followed waterways from Alabama north to the Ohio River — and this became the basis for my route. I decided to make the trip to learn and emerge myself in the history of the Freedom Trail. But the journey I thought I was taking started taking me immediately.
I decided to start my bicycle journey in Congo Square in New Orleans to pay homage to the city’s connection to the slave trade. The very next day, outside of the Big Easy, with 95-degree temperatures, I ran out of water on a lonely stretch of Highway 90. There was no place to replenish for another 15 miles, and suddenly a woman stopped and asked me, “Do you need water?” From that moment on, I encountered wholehearted people that helped me navigate throughout my journey, from providing food, shelter and support. It was similar to the vast network of people and places that helped fugitive slaves escaped to the North and to Canada. From New Orleans I rode 180 miles to Mobile, Ala., where the slave ships arrived in the port. I visited an Old Slave Market and AfricaTown — a small Mobile neighborhood established by many of the people who arrived on the Clotilda, the last documented slave ship to reach the United States. I rode north from Mobile and visited several tobacco and cotton plantations in Mississippi and Tennessee. I was even hosted by a family of the largest slave owners in Clarksville, Tenn., who showed me accounting ledgers from the 1850’s that showed the purchase of slaves and amount paid.
When I crossed the bridge into Indiana, I was taking a picture of the historical marker in New Albany, which was located next to the Second Baptist Church. The service let out, and I was introduced to the pastor, Reverend Leroy Marshall, who took me through a trap door, down to the basement and showed me secret rooms, doors and tunnels where previous freedom seekers were kept for safety and medical care accessible through tunnels connected to an Union Army Hospital.
The morning of September 29th, just 18 miles from Niagara Falls my bicycle was stolen in Buffalo, New York. I was able to finish my journey borrowing a bicycle from a local cyclist. I had ridden more than 2,100 miles to reach what was considered the Path to Freedom and did not want to finish short of my goal. It was important for me to continue regardless of any challenges I encountered; the same way previous Freedom seekers did to reach their goal. They didn’t stop regardless of the hardships they faced along the way, so why should I stop? I would not have been able to reach Niagara Falls, without the many people that helped me along my journey on the Freedom Trail — and I am grateful for the lessons I gained from riding along the Underground Railroad.