Day Twelve

Selma, AL to Demopolis, AL

It dawned cold in Selma, so I didn't leave quite as early as planned. Instead, I took care of some business and watched the video countdown on VH-1. The only reason I mention that is because I saw the Natalie Imbruglia video for   " Wrong Impression," which featured her riding an old ten-speed women's bike with turned up drop bars and " safety lever" brakes. No, I don't have any idea what that has to do with the song.

I still had plenty of time to wander around Selma. It was a pretty town with lots of old buildings and nice homes. It's hard to imagine that this town could have been the site of such ugly events in 1965. Although the National Voting Rights Museum was not open on Sunday, I did get to see the Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church and especially the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge. I also visited the new Bridge to Freedom Memorial Park. I could attempt to repeat the history, but it's better to offer a link. There were lots of other sights in Selma, so I decided to create a separate photo page.

Once I left Selma, my route was very simple: follow US 80 west to Demopolis. US 80 was four lanes almost the whole way, except, oddly, just east and west of Uniontown (it was four lanes through Uniontown). Traffic was fairly light, the sun was shining  and the north wind didn't slow me down much, so it was a good day.

In Uniontown, there were three men sitting on the  tailgate of a pick-up truck  next to a fireworks stand. One guy was maybe in his thirties and bigger the others looked to be in their early twenties. One held a hose and judging by the stuff in the back of the pick-up, this was an  open-air  car wash. The big one called out, " Where you going?"

I turned around and rode back to them. " Demopolis tonight," I said.

Thus began an entertaining interrogation. Some people are just totally flabberghasted by what I'm doing. " Demopolis? Where you come from?"

" Selma."

" Selma? You rode that bike here from Selma?... And you're gonna ride all the way to Demopolis?" I nodded. " Sheee-it. Hey, you guys believe he rode here from Selma? Heck, I couldn't ride a bike down to the end of the block." He paused a moment.  " What if you get a flat?"

" I've got tools, patches, spare tubes and a pump."

" How much does that thing weigh?"

" The bike and packs total about 100 pounds."

" You ever walk up hills?"

" Not yet, but we'll see when I get to the mountains."

" Where you sleep?"

" Motels."

" Where you eat?"

" Gas stations, convenience stores, cafes..."

" Where you from?"

" Chicago."

" You didn't ride down here from Chicago, did you?"

" No, I started from Savannah, Georgia."

" Savannah? You rode here from Savannah? When did you leave Savannah?"

" February 27th."

" Sheee-it. That must be a good bike. How much that bike cost you?"

Here I bluffed. I'd been advised by other touring cyclists that this is a question best left unanswered. I'd told Joe in Selma, but being a bike guy, he already had some idea anyway. I chuckled a bit. " Not much, I'm afraid." It wasn't the best answer I'd planned to give, but it was all I could think of. He probably knew I wasn't being straight, but I wasn't going to put a dollar value on it.

" That must be a good bike to carry all that weight."

I didn't volunteer anything more and he dropped it. " Selma to Demopolis! Man, that is something else."

An SUV pulled up. " Looks like you've got some business," I said.

" Sure hope so." He got up from the pick-up and came over to me, shook my hand and wished me luck.

The rest of Unionville was a bit of a disappointment. I'd been hoping for a decent place to grab some lunch, but all I saw were gas station mini-marts. There were a couple of restaurants, but since it was Sunday, they were closed. The most curious place was a " historic site" made up of brick pillars. There was a sign that said, " HISTORIC SITE DO NOT LOITER CITY ORD 83-2." The kicker was that nowhere to be found was a sign explaining just what made this site historic!

A few miles past Unionville, US 80 turned back into four lanes. The ride was pretty uneventful since 80 bypassed the tiny towns along the way. As I pedaled into town, I saw a sign that explained the Greek moniker: " Demopolis - City of the People." I checked into the Days Inn and went to my room. I had intended to go out for dinner, but I fell asleep instead. Two hours later I woke up and walked out into the darkness toward Mr. Waffle. US 80 in Demopolis was a creepy place to walk at night. There were few streetlights, and the occasional shady character passed by. It turned out that Mr. Waffle was worth the trip--I had a ham and cheese omelette so thick, I swear there was half a pig in it!

Totals for the day: 55.76 miles in 4:35:37 for an average of 12.1 mph. The average is a bit misleading because I only averaged 10 mph for the first hour while taking pictures in Selma.

Click here to see today's photos.

Copyright 2002-2013 David Johnsen. All rights reserved.