Bicyclists will gather in Fosters Saturday for a long-distance ride in memory of a beloved local man whose perseverance and strength inspired the community for years before his unexpected death last October.

Ride On, the Brian Smith Memorial Ride, kicks off Saturday at Braughton Park in Fosters, where participants will pedal 20, 37 or 63 miles, depending on the distance they choose.

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The inaugural event is in honor of Brian Smith, a computer specialist at the University of Alabama who died of a heart attack last October.

Smith was catastrophically injured as a passenger in a January 1995 car accident and spent nearly six months in a coma that few expected him to survive. He woke up, though, and despite his head injury went on to graduate high school, then earn a bachelor's degree and finally a master's degree.

And even though Smith could not walk or ride a traditional bicycle, he found he could operate a three-wheel recumbent bike in a more reclined position.

Smith pedaled almost 10,000 miles a year on rides throughout the southeast and was a regular sight moving around downtown Tuscaloosa with fellow members of Druid City Cycle Club and the Tuscaloosa Cycle Club, who organized the ride. According to his obituary, he logged almost 70,000 miles on the bike - close to three times the circumference of planet Earth.

Proceeds raised by the Saturday event in Smith's memory will benefit the Hank Poore Foundation, a local nonprofit that raises funds to provide people living with disabilities with equipment and experiences to which they might not otherwise have access.

The ride begins Saturday at 8 a.m., so there's not much time left to register, but cyclists looking for a long-distance ride for a good cause can learn more and sign up here.


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