Johnny Ray Century Ride


Johnny Ray Century Ride

Cat Bobo
Auburn-Opelika Tourism Bureau

Time to gear up for the 2018 Johnny Ray Century Ride!

Mark your calendars for the Johnny Ray Century Ride coming up on September 22, 2018. This will be the 16th annual ride benefitting the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson's Disease and is a USAC sanctioned non-competitive event. Register now!

About the Ride:

Riders will journey through the rural roads of Lee, Chambers, and Randolph Counties in East Alabama choosing from a 20, 34, 60 or 102 mile routes. Road surfaces will vary from asphalt to chipseal. All riders will begin at the same time – 8 a.m.

New this year, a Packet Pickup Party will take place on Friday night, from 5-8 p.m. at Red Clay Brewing Company in downtown Opelika. Pick up your t'shirt, number, cue sheet, and map, and stick around for a local libation and a wood-fired pizza. 

Day of Schedule:

7 a.m.: Registration Opens
8 a.m.: Mass Start 
10 a.m.: Door Prize Drawing (Be sure to check in and check your number)
11 a.m.: Lunch Begins
4 p.m.: Course Swept and Closed.

Those whose routes lead them on the Johnny Ray Metric and Roanoke Express will ride over a World War II-era steel Bailey Bridge and a rare wood truss bridge. Riders on the Roanoke Express have the option to race the historic Johnny Ray train; check out the time tables here.

20 miles - Cusseta Commuter (map)                 
34 miles - Twin Silos Shuttle (map)                           
60 miles - (Detour) Lafayette Short Line (map)               
102 miles - (Detour) Johnny Ray Century (map)                 

The History of Johnny Ray:

“Some 75 years or so ago there was a passenger train that ran twice a day from Opelika to Lafayette and on to Roanoke and back. This train ran on a line that 'spurred' off the main track to West Point and Atlanta. This was back in the days when people, if they wanted to travel any distance at all, went by rail.

The engineer on this particular train was named Johnny Ray. He has been described as a real 'Chesterfield' of a fellow, which, I take to mean, that he was neatly dressed, dapper and carried himself with a certain air of aplomb. He became something of a local celebrity.

Once he was staying at the old Royal Hotel here in Opelika when it burned and he had to jump out the window to save his life. He broke his leg and it never healed properly and he walked with a limp the rest of his life.

Eventually the train itself came to be called the JOHNNY RAY. Finally passenger service was discontinued between Opelika and LaFayette, but I remember old timers still referring to the little 'pulp wood' train that came down to Opelika every morning as 'Johnny Ray.'

His son was just about as famous as he was. His name was C.H. Ray and he acquired the nickname of 'Peanut Ray' because he was a super salesman for the Tom's Toasted Peanut Company out of Columbus. For years he distributed sample packages of Tom's peanuts throughout this area- especially to the school children.

I have been told that he was, as a young man, pitcher for the Roanoke baseball team and that he had a 'wicked' curve ball.”

As told by Winston Smith T of Opelika, Alabama

The Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson's Disease:

The Davis Phinney Foundation provides essential information, practical tools and inspiration to people living with Parkinson's. They fund early-phase, innovative research that focuses on exercise, speech, movement and other factors that affect quality of life.

Davis Phinney is an Olympic Bronze medalist and Tour de France stage winner who has celebrated more victories than any cyclist in American history. In 2000, Phinney was diagnosed with Parkinson’s after many years of not feeling “quite right.” Hoping to improve the quality of his life as well as the life of others affected by the disease, he founded the Foundation.


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