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Some ideas have legs. Less than five months after John “Bobby” Shackelford, a 25-year-old New York City bicycle messenger, hatched a plan for a 1,100-mile ride paralleling the historic Underground Railroad, he arrived in Mobile, AL, ready to start pedaling. Along with four friends, his aim was larger than a self-indulgent sufferfest. Instead, the cohort planned to use their journey as a tool for awareness and activism.

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