Thanks to the efforts of community action groups and government officials, Mobile County has become well known among bicycle enthusiasts for providing more opportunities to ride and for making those trips safe. There is no better example of this joint venture than the Crepe Myrtle Trail Ride.
Last year, more than 400 riders took advantage of the distinctive course. The next trek will be Saturday, April 1, with the starting point at Arlington Park (1814 15th St. S.). Onsite registration opens at 7:30 a.m.; the ride gets underway at 8:30 a.m.
Mobile United’s Natural Resource Committee organized the first outing in 2014 as a way to draw awareness to the proposed Crepe Myrtle Trail Bike and Pedestrian Path. The CMT would be the southern leg of the Mobile Greenway Initiative, a multi-use waterfront trail stretching from Langan Park in west Mobile along Three Mile Creek and then to Dog River.
This year’s bike ride, sponsored by Airbus and presented by Mobile United, offers the rare chance to travel along the western edge of Mobile Bay through the Aeroplex at Brookley and down the peninsula of Bayfront Road. The new turnaround spot is McNally Park.
The ride is the only time people on bikes have access to this portion of the proposed CMT. Special permission has been given by the Mobile Airport Authority and the USA Foundation for access.
“The Crepe Myrtle Trail Ride is a great opportunity for our community members to get outside and become connected to our natural resources,” Hanlon Walsh, one of the event’s organizers, told Lagniappe. “Riding through Brookley Field and along the western shore of Mobile Bay is truly a unique experience.
“Participating in this event is important because it supports the long-term vision of the Mobile Greenway Initiative — a healthier community and higher quality of life for residents of Mobile.”
Survey responses from last year’s riders have led to upgrades. The goal is to make the ride safer and more enjoyable while raising money that will go toward creation of the CMT. For the first time there will be a $10 registration fee for riders 13 and older until March 30. Registration on the day of the race will be $15. Riders aged 8-12 can participate for free.
“The energy and motivation that came from the 433 riders in 2016 inspired us to find out what makes this trail ride so important to them,” said Jeff DeQuattro, executive director of the Delta Bike Project and one of the ride’s organizers. “We surveyed the participants and found out that over 90 percent of the people that rode did so because they wanted to support the Mobile Greenway Initiative to build several miles of multi-use trails throughout the city of Mobile.
“Also, we asked people if they would be willing to pay to attend future rides if proceeds went towards the creation of a Crepe Myrtle Trail, and over 92 percent said they would. The cost this year is $10, which is very low compared to other specialty rides. And this is the only time of year that people get to ride bikes along Mobile Bay, continuously from Arlington Park to McNally Park, and back.”
DeQuattro said some comments from the survey suggested a sponsorship program be available for people not able to afford the entry fee. Limited scholarships are available, so please contact Mark Berte at mberte@joinACF.org before March 30 for more information.
The CMT Ride is again dedicated as the “Steve Perry Memorial Ride.” Perry passed away in 2016 at the age of 72 from injuries sustained when he was hit by a truck while riding his bicycle.
Helmets are now required for all persons in the CMT Ride, whether on a bike or in trailers and as tagalongs. No riders under age 8 are permitted unless they are in a trailer or riding as a tagalong. No training wheels are allowed on bikes. Children should be experienced riders and able to ride the full 10.6 miles.
Other partners in the CMT Ride are Alabama Coastal Foundation, Bicyclemobile.org, Brookley By the Bay, City of Mobile’s Parks and Recreation, Delta Bike Project, Dog River Clearwater Revival, Downtown Mobile Alliance, Mobile Airport Authority, Mobile Area Water & Sewer System, Mobile Baykeeper, Mobile County Health Department, Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, Partners for Environmental Progress, Team Share the Road, The Peninsula of Mobile and USA Foundation.
Riders may sign up online at www.CrepeMyrtleRide.com through March 30. The route can be viewed at www.strava.com/routes/7524111.
ATR reaches milestone
The Azalea Trail Run will celebrate its 40th anniversary on March 18. It is one of the premier 10K races in the United States. The schedule also includes a 10K wheelchair race, a 5K event and a 2K fun run. The action starts at 7:55 a.m.
Because much of the course is flat, fast times are common. In 1995, Joseph Kimani came within 2 seconds of setting a world record in the men’s open division (27:41). Then in 2001, Abraham Chebii (27:26) and Thomas Nyariki (27:30) ran the third and fourth fastest times ever in a 10K. Records have been set in the men’s masters and grandmasters divisions. For additional information, visit www.pcpacers.org/atr/index.html or call 251-473-7223.
• For the 14th consecutive year, Baldwin Bone & Joint is sponsoring the Many More Miles campaign. The effort collects shoes for the homeless outreach programs of Wings of Life and Discovery Ministries.
The first 200 pairs were donated in 2003; last year, the initiative collected 1,899 pairs. Elementary school students in Mobile and Baldwin counties again have the chance to collect shoes and earn money for their physical education programs.
Shoes can be donated at Baldwin Bone and Joint (1505 Daphne Ave., Daphne), Dr. Glenn Glass (1303 Main St., Daphne), McCoy Outdoor Co. (3498 Springhill Ave., Mobile) and USA’s Student Recreation Center. The final shoe drop-off will be at Saturday’s Azalea Trail Run. For more information, call 251-621-5387.