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All Bicyclists Welcome. No Spandex Required

Le Tour de Ham, a weekly bicycle gathering, keeps people of all ages moving Birmingham, Alabama

Cyclists of all ages gather for Le Tour de Ham social bicycle ride in Birmingham, Alabama

Photo by Gregory J. Harber

Cyclists of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities gather for the weekly Le Tour de Ham.

Described by its organizers as a "social bicycle ride for the sheer fun of it," Le Tour de Ham is a cycling outing for people of all ages. "All bicycles and abilities welcome. No spandex required."

A relatively slow biking group that travels at speeds of 10 to 12 mph at most, the biweekly bicycle ride does a 10-mile, largely flat loop around Birmingham and promises not to leave any rider behind. Tuesdays the cyclists gather at 6 p.m. and wheels are rolling by 6:15. Saturday mornings’ slower, beginner-paced ride meets at 10 a.m. and sets off at 10:30.

As an "unsanctioned and unsupported event," states the tour' NextDoor participants ride at their own risk and are expected to come equipped, a spare tire tube, lights and a safely functional bike. The ride ends with food, drinks and fun at a local eatery, often with discounts for the Tour de Hammers.

This widely known and celebrated event was created in 2012 by friends Stan Palla and Veronique Vanblaere. Palla imagined the ride as a way to bring people together, especially bicyclists and artists. He didn’t expect that families, retirees and all sorts of locals and even tourists would join the fun.

"At first three people, four people would show up. Six at the most," Vanblaere told a reporter.

"And then one day we were at 150." As Le Tour de Ham's Facebook page declares, "Invite your friends."

This article is an excerpt from the "Community Engagement" chapter of the AARP book Where We Live: Communities for All Ages — 100+ Inspiring Ideas From America’s Community Leaders. Download or order your free copy.

Book published June 2017 

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