Today I set out from my one day stop in Wiggins, Mississippi, and on towards Fairhope, Alabama. It was a Sunday so I was hoping for calm roads on the 105 mile ride. Leaving Mississippi, everything was calm. For a while.
As I approached the Alabama border traffic began to increase. Although the roads were taken care of (much better than the state of Louisiana), there was no shoulder. I stayed on Highway 98 for several hours which required intense focus on my rearview mirror. For about 40 miles or so the road was two ways and it required me at times to pull in the middle of the lane and putting my hand up high into the air – blocking large SUVs or Semi-Trucks from trying to “Thread the Needle” around me with uncoming traffic in the opposite lane. When that cleared I would wave them around and return to riding about 8 inches from the white line. This type of “defensive” driving was key to my success in passing through what is called by the locals as, “Bloody 98.” But the challenges weren’t over yet!
Getting off 98 I was directed to ride through Prichard, which is the most dangerous and poverty stricken part of Mobile. I was again hoping that the Sunday factor would be on my side and said a prayer before riding through project homes and abandoned buildings. I made it through only to find that I would be climbing the “Africatown Bridge” which did not have a clear pedestrian lane or proper guard rails.
When I came speeding down the otherside of the Bridge things were literally and metaphorically “downhill from there”. I rode through Daphne, and Fairhope down what was called “Scenic 98” far different from “Bloody 98”. When I arrived in Point Clear I saw bike paths, parks, and beautiful homes by the Bay. People were walking their dogs, running and riding bikes. I was home!