This group not sitting, spinning their wheels

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 5, 2002

They call themselves “The Greatest Generation Bicycle Club.”

The name is taken from Tom Brokaw’s recent best-selling book,which highlights America’s citizen heroes and heroines who came ofage during the Great Depression and the Second World War. It wasthose citizens who went on to build modern America.

They get together every other week or so to enjoy some fun andfellowship on the Longleaf Trace, a 10-foot wide asphalt trail thatwinds 41 miles between Prentiss and Hattiesburg.

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This particular day, the combined age of the group is 749.

On the bikes were C.L. King, 80, Jim Swager, 76, Tom Moak, 80,and Al Holmes, 75. Enjoying the scenery from golf carts were PaulJackson, 77, L.J. McBride, 77, Bill Miller, 71, Doc Hayle, 81,Gerald Moak, 66, and Bobby Hudson, 66. Count the reporter whooccupied the front passenger seat of one of the carts and thecombined age jumps to 795.

They meet in the parking lot of First Baptist Church in downtownBrookhaven to load the bikes onto a trailer and prepare for thetrip to Sumrall, where golf carts are rented at the SumrallDepot.

The first leg of their journey on the Longleaf Trace is fromSumrall to Epley, or 3.8 miles. From there it’s on to the ClydeDepot, another 3.9 miles.

Sitting around picnic tables at the Clyde Depot for a shortrest, the air is filled with stories, good-natured jokes andlaughter. Fun.

“We have a good time together,” said Jackson. “This is somegreat fellowship, and it’s a beautiful park.”

The trip back to Sumrall is non-stop. That means the bikerspedaled more than seven miles without a break. It took them about40 minutes.

The Greatest Generation Bicycle Club is among the growing numberof Longleaf Trace fans. The trace is being called SouthMississippi’s premier running, biking, hiking and equestriantrail.

The scenery is beautiful along the linear park, which is fairlyflat due to its rails-to-trails conversion. Plans are now underwayto extend the trace to the USM campus, and there’s talk of going todowntown Hattiesburg. Some say that someday the Longleaf could alsobe extended from Prentiss to Natchez where it would connect to theNatchez Trace.

Word of the Longleaf Trace is spreading. On this day, otherwalkers, joggers, riders and roller bladers were enjoying the coolmorning shade.

What a great way for friends to be together. Just ask “TheGreatest Generation Bicycle Club.”

Do you know of a great ‘Day Trip’ — an interesting place tovisit that’s not too far from home? If so, call Lifestyles EditorCassandra Johnson at 833-6961, ext. 118.