Spring has officially arrived on the Alabama coast. What better time to enjoy a bicycle ride?
Fortunately, several major opportunities are coming up in the next few months. Hopefully, one will be right for you.

Cruise along the bay

On Saturday, April 2, the third annual Crepe Myrtle Trail Ride will take place. Organizers point out this is an historic opportunity to travel “Brookley by the Bay” with a trip down the east side of Mobile Aeroplex.

“The Crepe Myrtle Trail Ride is an important and easy way to connect Mobilians to their coast,” Jeff DeQuattro of the Delta Bike Project said. “Making this a permanent trail is our desire, and we’re happy … so many key partners are stepping up to help make it happen.”

Registration opens at 8 a.m., with the ride beginning at 8:30 at Arlington Park, located at 1814 15th St., South.

This ride, which is presented by Mobile United, provides a preview of the proposed Mobile Greenway Initiative. The multi-use course will link biking and running trails from Dog River north to Three Mile Creek and then west to Langan Park. Because of efforts by the Mobile Airport Authority, the University of South Alabama Foundation and Mobile Area Water & Sewer Service, access to the airport property and other portions of the trail was granted for this event.

(Photo courtesy of Ira Bates Photography)  The Crepe Myrtle Trail Ride along the western shore of Mobile Bay will provide a preview of the proposed Mobile Greenway Initiative.

(Photo courtesy of Ira Bates Photography) The Crepe Myrtle Trail Ride along the western shore of Mobile Bay will provide a preview of the proposed Mobile Greenway Initiative.

During last year’s 12-mile ride, more than 185 participants traveled along Mobile Bay. The ride is expected to last until 11 a.m., assuming an average speed of 8 to 12 mph.

Although there is no fee, registration is required. Riders may sign up online at www.CrepeMyrtleRide.com through March 31. Registration will also be available the morning of the ride. T-shirts cost $20 in advance and $25 the day of the race, subject to availability.

There is no age limit, but children should be experienced riders and able to complete the course. Bicycles with training wheels will not be allowed. Helmets are encouraged for all riders.

Other sponsors include Alabama Coastal Foundation, Keep Mobile Beautiful, Mobile Airport Authority, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Mobile Baykeeper, Partners for Environmental Progress, Dog River Clearwater Revival, Mobile County Health Department, Bicyclemobile.org, Downtown Mobile Alliance, USA Foundation, Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, National Park Service, MAWSS, The Peninsula of Mobile, Brookley by the Bay, the city of Mobile and Wrico Signs.

For additional details, call Casi Callaway, chairperson of Mobile United’s Natural Resources Committee, at 251-433-4229 or Katherine Pitman, Mobile United’s executive director, at 251-432-1638.

Rodeo riders get ready
To mark its 85th anniversary, the Junior League of Mobile is hosting a Bicycle Rodeo on Saturday, April 30. The Brookley Warehouse District will be the site for this event at 14 S. Broad St.

“It has been a dream of mine to have an event celebrating bicycles and encouraging bike safety because we love bicycles so much in our family,” Angie Gulledge, Junior League of Mobile president, said. “Riding bicycles is so good for you. And teaching children and families about proper bike safety is good for the community.”

The group’s focus area this year is on “Healthy Children: Hunger, Fitness and Nutrition.” The bicycle rodeo and accompanying family festival aim to help with the fitness aspect.

According to JLM’s website, the goal is to identify children from Mobile and Baldwin counties in need of the benefits bicycles can provide. At the festival, JLM hopes to present 850 bikes, along with helmets, locks and water bottles. While there, the children will be able to develop their riding skills and learn proper bicycle safety in a recreational setting.

While the event is free, organizers request families register at www.JLMKindnessChallenge.org so the staff can anticipate how many will participate. Among the sponsors are Volunteers of America Southeast, American Equity Underwriters, Mobile Airport Authority and WALA-TV 10.

JLM is still taking donations. For $85, they can provide a bike, lock, helmet and water bottle for one child. To receive more information, call co-chairs Stacy Wellborn at 251-533-2361 or Amy Carpenter at 251-533-8345.

State titles up for grabs
For the second straight year, the Mobile Sports Authority has secured a major event sanctioned by USA Cycling. The Tour de Bay will take place May 14 and 15, starting downtown at Bienville Square.

On that Saturday, the 2016 Alabama State Criterium Championship is scheduled. This will include a short-course road race through the Lower Dauphin Entertainment District. The course can be viewed at www.strava.com/routes/3788612. Riders try to make as many laps of the course as they can in a designated time period.

There are 15 different categories for ages and genders, with races starting at 9 a.m. and continuing to 4 p.m. Preregistration is open until midnight on May 12 at www.usacycling.org/register/2016-87. Medals or cash prizes will be awarded to top finishers.
“They are professionals that participate in this event. They’re out there racing for money and bragging rights,” Jessica Melton, an event organizer, said. “Those guys are banging handlebars and rubbing elbows.” 

The following day, the Century Ride is planned starting at 8 a.m. Varied courses through Mobile County will cover 100 kilometers (62 miles), 22 miles or 10 miles. The course can be viewed at www.strava.com/routes/3621121.

The entry fee for Criterium or the Century is $25 for each, but riders who enter both can do so for $40. After May 12, the fees increase to $30 and $50. Helmets are mandatory.

Team Share the Road is hosting along with the Mobile Sports Authority, while Hargrove Engineers + Constructors is presenting the event. For additional information call 251-725-1794 or send email to TourDeBay@gmail.com.