By Yokota Fritz
Orange Beach, Alabama is a Gulf Coast resort town on the Alabama / Florida border. I was watching this police video in which a drunk 11-year-old girl in her mom's Monte Carlo leads police on a 100 mph chase down Perdido Beach Boulevard. The chase ended like many high speed chases do, with the pursued losing control and flipping the car.
What was interesting to me, though, was the miles of pristine bike lanes along that seaside boulevard clearly visible in the night-time police video. While there was plenty of other traffic on the road, I didn't see any bikes but those freshly painted white stripes sure looked pretty.
Just to keep things on topic: Ken Kifer lived in Alabama. Maude here is a Bama blogging bicyclist. Most Alabama visitors to Cyclelicious come from Huntsville or Birmingham, but there are a handful of cyclists down in that southwest bump (is it big enough to be called a panhandle?) of Alabama. If you see this note let us know what it's like to cycle in the Heart of Dixie.
Bicycle Orange Beach Alabama
My cycling pal bought his first car while attending grad school in Huntsville. He didn't enjoy the beer bottles thrown at him while he rode. :-(
I grew up in Alabama, so I have much experience riding in the state. Truth be told, I miss some of those long rural rides on isolated country roads. I remember doing a few club centuries about 20 years ago on a course with almost no traffic. We would pass a few farm trucks over the course of 100 miles, but that was about it. That was a long time ago, and those rural routes are probably busier now. Overall though, I still would say that Alabama has some pretty nice places to ride. I guess you could probably say the same about any state.
As it happens, I'll be cycling in Alabama this coming weekend. Usually, when I visit my parents in Birmingham, I take my mountain bike because Oak Mountain is one of my favorite trails in the southeast (for reference, I now live near Tsali, Pisgah, DuPont and the other well known WNC trail systems). This weekend I will be in south Alabama, so I plan on taking my road bike to get in some miles on those nice quiet country roads.
Despite what the previous commenter said, I have not found drivers in Alabama to be all that different from drivers in other places I have ridden. Occasionally you may run into a jerk, but the vast majority of drivers in the state are friendly and are not in a hurry. Of course, Huntsville could be another story. I hear those NASA guys at the Marshall Space Flight Center are known for chucking bottles at cyclists to blow off steam after work ;)
First off, I have to point out and agree with James; there are a@#hole drivers everywhere. Hell, I was never once hit by a car growing up in Alabama... but I've been hit far too many times here in Bike-Friendly California.
And, yes, riding in Alabama can be some of the best anywhere. I grew up near Orange Beach. I've been on Perdido Beach Blvd many, many times- my grandparents kept their boat in Orange Beach. I rode countless miles from my home in Fairhope to the old Civil War fort, Fort Morgan. The round trip, via country roads, was nearly 140 miles (when I was 14-16 years old). I can honestly say, it still remains some of the best riding of my life. One of the highlights was crossing over the Intercoastal Canal Bridge. That thing went straight up and straight down. The view from the top was awesome... and the descent was hair raising!
My dad still lives near Birmingham, about an hour north, and I spent summers with him and would ride the wonderful country roads there. Again, as good as anything I've ridden out here in SoCal. I honestly would love to go back and ride some of those old training routes again- even though I'm not nearly the same climber. Many of those roads were nothing but hills.
I'd love to see more comments from current Bama riders. How are things there these days? I have to admit, I haven't ridden back there since probably 1988. I'm sure things are at least a little different now.