Cyclists promote healthy lifestyle

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

Tina Smiley hasn&8217;t been a cyclist that long, but she feels she has to tell other people about her passion for the sport.

Her first step is the creation of a club that will get riders and potential riders to come together.

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Hearing her talk, it&8217;s hard to tell whether she loves riding more for the health aspect or because of its environmental benefits.

Whatever the reason, Smiley only sees good from the creation of the SEMO Cycling Club, so named because of the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail.

Smiley, a park ranger who works at the Lowndes Interpretative Center, rode the trail in 2 1/2 hours in April.

Smiley has been in rides in Atlanta and other places, although only riding seriously since last year. She said living in Hawaii and California for a while helped shape her view of fitness and nutrition.

Alabama perennially ranks second only to Mississippi in obesity and heart disease rates around the country. Dallas County contains one of the highest rates of obesity in the state.

Smiley and her family lived in Orange County, Calif., until 1998. Last year, Self magazine named the area the most fit in the country in regards to women&8217;s health.

Smiley has scheduled the first meeting of the SEMO Cycling Club for 7 p.m. Saturday at Zaxby&8217;s on Highland Avenue.

The club won&8217;t exclude people who want to get involved in environmental health in other ways.

Smiley also wants people to come together to keep the gateways to Selma clean.

Ideally, the creation of trails and bike lanes inside the city would aid the club&8217;s effort.