March 13, 2010

Time with Janet and Alex

So after I left Jeremys house. I headed towards the ferry. On the way there I met up with Janet and Alex, We waited for the ferry together to cross the Mississippi. The fog was thick that morning but the temps let us know that it was going to a hot one. Once we crossed the Mississippi we split up I needed to head into New Roads LA to pick up a spare tire and a couple of other things. Things on the West side of the Mississippi are different. It seems more green and lush. LA is a very friendly state. We rode for the day by ourselves. I didn't spend to much time in New Roads and was hoping to catch up with the two cyclist. We had talked of a possible camping spot before we split up and by the time I trudged up the Levee I saw their tent set up and Janet sitting at the picnic table. I rolled down and said hello. They had told the lady that I was coming, so we were able to split the cost between the three of us. As I set up we discussed what to do for dinner. We heard that down the Levee a bit was a bar restaurant that has a Steak night every Thursday. $20 for a huge Rib-eye and a couple sides. I thought about it and I haven't had a steak yet on this trip and was craving what was being talked about. I got cleaned up and got Coop situated in the tent. I can leave the bottom part unzipped for him and hook him up the the 20 foot lead and he can come in and out of the tent as he pleases. We headed down to the riverside eatery and order up some monster steaks. We sat outside on the deck and watched the sun set and talked of our time on the road. As we sat there I thought back to all the things I have seen and all the sunsets I have watched and it just makes me giggle with joy, living this way is incredible. I encourage all of you to try it sometime. Janet still wants to keep moving, but Alex is ready for this to wind down and get back to a "normal" life. They have been together for 6 years now and I wonder how this is going to be for their relationship. The people at the restaurant where all local and would come and ask us where we were from. The owner of the place asked if on his next newspaper ad he can put that I cycled over 3,000 miles to have his steak! We headed back to the camp and crawled in to sleep.
During the night a cold front moved in. The temps didn't drop to much but the wind picked up something fierce. So when I stepped out of the tent that morning I was blasted in the face by 15 mph winds. We all looked at each other wondering what the days ride would be like. We packed up and got to moving. We stayed pretty close to the Levee and on the Mississippi River Trail for awhile. And with every meandering turn of river road we seemed to have the wind in our faces. By lunch time I was pretty frustrated with it all. We had a discussion on what we would prefer, rain or wind. As much as I don't like to get wet I would take the rain over that wind any day. This thing is so wide that it felt like I was pedaling up hill all day. We made it to Simmesport LA that day and set up in a park at the edge of town. I made dinner for them because they picked up the tab on the Steaks. I threw a big 'ol pot of goodness together and we got down on a great meal.
The next morning we met even more wind in our faces. We have been sticking to the ACA route and I have really enjoyed the ride on the almost carless route. The only thing about it that I don't like is its indirectness. From point A to B on their maps takes about 30 miles or so, with my route of state highways with more cars it takes 15-20 miles to go from A to B. The fact that I am trying to do 10,000 miles I need to be as direct as possible. Its been nice riding with these two people they do about the same distance and speed as me and are very easy going. I can still see that I have some anger issues at times with things that are out of my control, such as wind, traffic, and a whining dog. That evening as the sun started to set we were having troubles trying to find a spot to camp. There was just enough houses and farms around to make it difficult to find a safe and secure spot to lay our heads. Finally we spotted a good area and made our way back. I had to get some help pushing this thing thru the mud, but we were hidden and off private property. We set up away from each other and made our own dinners. I have never rode with others before for multiple days so I'm not sure if this is normal. I feel that they were a little irritated with me, because all day I was bitching about the wind and was pushing every little spot I saw on them to stop for the night. I guess I don't realize how hard it is to pedal this thing until I am riding with others that make it look so easy. Sometimes I wish I could shrink Coop like that cowboy kid in Willy Wonka, and get a road bike. But then it wouldn't be called Rickshaw USA!
The next morning we woke to day light savings time. I have now been thur two savings times and 1 time zone change. We trudged our way thru the swamp back to the road and went for what seemed like a nice Sunday ride. The weather was great. 60 some, crisp clear blue sky, nice breeze keeping us cool, and the roads we where on were deserted. Everyday we have rode together someone new takes the lead. The First day it was Janet. She sets a nice pace and is very aware what is going on the road. The next day was Alex, he was more up front of the group and Janet stayed close behind me. They figured it was easier for a car or semi to pass us first and Alex next. He is a good navigator and plays the roll of forward observer, even pointing out a turtle on the side of the road that we all stopped and took a look at. I climbed up the levee and took some pictures and noticed the turtle path that he had dozed into the 8 inch tall grass. Its these things that most of you are missing, I'm not getting on you at all, I just wish you could all be here and see it with me. I have taken a lot of pictures but I am having problems with my external hard drive and need to call the company about it, next rain day. So now Sunday was my day to lead, we didn't ever discuss this leading thing it just kinda happened that way. So some of the day we were able to all ride side by side down these great county roads. Louisiana is a beautiful state. On the east side of the Mississippi and toward the gulf it is very swampy and in the swamp is dead trees. That's how we know where there is going to be good camping at now is by where there is live trees. So on the west side of the Miss it is very green, there is still dead trees in swamps but farther apart. I bet this place is pretty in the early summer right after the leaves come in and its not to hot yet. When a car would approach I would move to the front position and they would fall in behind me sometimes side by side or in a line. For the most part it was a easy ride. There was a 3 mile stretch on 21 that had no shoulder to speak of and had too much traffic for our liking. So I put it to the pedals and we did about 12 mph up a slight grade just to get off this stressful road. I think I surprised them on how much I could push this thing. Once I took off I looked back to see them struggling to keep up but once they where behind me the stayed with me. We pushed hard up this hill and it felt great leading the pack. As soon as we made our turn off this crazy road we slowed it back down to our Sunday ride pace. We turned down a nice long straight road that went thru the Crawdad fields. As we made our way we came across some people in the ditch. I stopped to see what the situation was and they pulled up a couple of their netted baskets for catching these delicious little critters. They spoke with a accent you can only find down here in Cajun country. I looked at the water in the field and the water in the ditch and I don't think I would want to eat something out of that ditch water but I might be wrong, they might be great. We were heading to Chicot State Park. The reason this is a area for a state park is because of the hills that it is made up of. No farming or Crawdad fields could be here. So as our days ride was coming to a end we were pushed to climb these hills. I had Alex and Janet get in front of me due to the fact a no legged man could walk up these hills faster than I can pedal up them. Once we arrived at he park office they went inside to claim our spot and I stayed with the pup, trying to get feeling back into my burning legs. Once they came out we made our way back to our camp site not knowing what hills lied ahead for us. It was a roller coaster of hills, up and down with some curves. As we approached the last hill I was putting some serious pressure on the pedals when all the sudden the chain snapped. This is a first for me and if it wouldn't of been for Alex I would of been stuck at the bottom of that hill fixing my chain but he was able to help me get it up over the hill and I coasted into our campsite. I was able to change out the busted links and get this thing back to operational condition. We collaborated on dinner that night and we all got a shower.
I plan on taking off this morning and keep moving. The weather is to nice not to push on. They are taking a couple days rest before they take off on their homeward stretch to Houston. I am only 100 miles from the LA, TX boarder and am excited to make it to the big state. I have decided that we will start doing some early morning riding now that it is getting hot out. I hope to get on the road by 4 am and pedal till about noon before stopping for the day. I thought of this because when I lived in Phoenix AZ for a summer I was framing houses and we would get to work at like 3 am and get done around noon to avoid the hot weather. I have got some reflective tape to put on the back plus all my lights so hopefully this will be enough for the cars to see me and not hit me.
It has been fun riding with this great couple and hope to met up with more riders along my travels. I wish them all the best and thank them for all the great memories. I hope that someday when I do this again I can bring along a special someone!

Till next time
Love and Licks
Sean and Cooper

1 comment:

Hailey Brouillette said...

It was really nice meeting you and cooper last saturday afternoon. My name is Hailey Brouillette and my friends that were with me when we met yall were Philip Pepiton,Hunter Firmin, and Trae Chatelain. my friends and I talked ab yall all afternoon. My friends say u are "the man" for riding a bike all the way from NYC to Dupont louisiana! Hope to hear more about you guys and maybe run into yall again oneday. Be safe and have a fun ride!