Yesterday the riders finished 43 miles and had their first meeting at the University of Southern Alabama, Mobile. Over the past two days they have been riding right along the Gulf of Mexico, and the water has been in sight almost the whole time!
In southern Alabama the riders were able to stop at a University and see the Katrina damage that is still so visible. In particular, everyone noticed a large white building that stood next to an old tree. The gutted building that faces the water is still closed and waiting for renovation, despite the passage of time. The tree nearby is really old, and is called the friendship tree by locals. The riders were able to stop in front of the tree and have a quiet moment of reflection.
Becky says about the first meeting that "Three women from a new NOW chapter attended the meeting. They spoke a lot about how feminism is a dirty word in Alabama and how isolated they felt. One of the NOW members is a professor at the local college, and yet they still feel it is difficult to talk about women's health-care and rights. Even in the most progressive churches abortion is a dirty word and you just don't talk about it. They seemed really happy to see this group of people, and to get a chance to visit with all of these other women. One woman said at the end that she was so happy just to see these things out loud, because usually she's just saying these things in her head. They liked the idea of being connected to people from across the country. They also fed us!"
Today, Becky is the van driver and is responsible for keeping all of the riders on track (helping with directions), scouting ahead etc. and going to the store and putting together lunch.
There have already been several flat tires, and the bikers had to contend with a really dangerous tunnel situation today. Some of the riders are dealing with ongoing tire issues because of a construction zone they traveled through on Tuesday. They spent most of the day riding through the zone, and riders picked up glass, nails and other things along the way. Luckily, everyone seems to be doing well despite these less than stellar conditions and the ride is progressing nicely!
Tonight the riders will be stopping at a fishing camp in Alabama, and are planning a 50 mile ride for tomorrow. They will take Saturday off, and then have a really long day on Sunday.