one thing that remains true on any really hard adventure is struggles that almost have nothing to do with the adventure itself. I learned with the ironman that it wasn’t the event itself that was so hard (although it is), or even the incredible amount of hours spent training, it’s the what you have to say no to in order to make the time. it’s the sacrifices you ask others to make so its possible to do this one selfish thing. this adventure hasn’t been any different, but in some ways surprising still.
jon and I continue to struggle to find a way to do this trip together in a way that works for both of us. this essentially came to a head yesterday friday morning and I am not sure we have figured out the best way to solve for everyone’s needs. it was like a sad couples retreat at the best western inn’s breakfast as we essentially bitched at each other over fresh waffles and raison bran (I with the waffles, ew on the bran). words like I don’t think you are hearing me and that’s how I feel were prevalent through out. classic. the net is this partnership has to work for both of us and we will figure it out. we left it exactly like that and hit the road to get miles in and let it rest. who knew the pedaling would be the easiest part to figure out.
today’s route took us through baton rouge and on to a town called opelousas. unfortunately much like the mood the pavement sucked. chip seal for miles and then into baton rouge, which had one redeeming quality (at least when we first rolled into the city) – the mississippi river. the black muddy waters of the river are awesome and you can see why this is, even in present day is still a major city in the south.
the route takes us through the city on scenic drive, which again shows the massive discrepancies between a map and the reality. the route first takes you through likely some of the poorest parts of the city and then on to a long stretch which looks close to the river, but in fact runs along miles of refineries. beautiful, which is why the dude in classic addidas kicks on a horse choose this route as well.
the route winds and then asks us (which shows a walking path on bing maps) to jump over the river via hwy 190. no problem, until we get there. it is a 4 lane road, that sends you up a steep grade, cars and a ton of trucks going 60mi an hour and with about 3 inches of shoulder mostly covered in glass, debris and left over tires. jon literally is convinced there is a mistake, another way around, a path on the other side. nope. so with adrenaline running, cars blazing we pedal. up on top we look back and there is a car following us, emergency blinkers on and escorts us all the way down (big river = long bridge) the other side. a nice road angel.
after surviving I celebrated with a peanut butter cup – what up reese’s. nothing sweeter than chocolate well deserved. the rest of the day ticked by with the exception of the danger at each turn. I have started to classify them into the following categories.
- stupid if you die. these are ones that can be easily avoided, but if you are not on top of it could still likely end badly. such as rumble strips (literally can shake the bike apart – safety my ass), hitting debris on the road way (including armadillos which apparently make the tires super slick), or my personal favorite – gravel. there are literally sand castles in some places that like a sneaky chameleon blend into the chip seal and are mainly caused by the number of unpaved roads that merge to major highways.
- likely to end in death. more than anything else this is weather, especially wind, but I would put rain here as well. the conditions can change the handling of the bike which means likely you are not always in control and if combined with stupid if you die, ends more likely in well could likely to end in death quickly.
- never saw it coming. my last category has really only one type – drivers. I want to emphasize that overwhelmingly I have been amazed how kind folks are. most drivers go out of their way to enter the other lane, at times patiently waiting for you as oncoming traffic takes the right of way. the driver angel on the bridge is the best example of these. however about 1 in 100 is an ass and with so many cars passing you it invariably means that you see 10s of these each day. they come in ignorant (likely doesn’t know – as in the truck with the trailer wider than his truck or the RV rentals that almost clip you with their mirror); passive (which means they just don’t make a enough concession – this is obvious when you are both in a single lane – no shoulder for me – so we literally share the lane); and finally the kind of pissed you are in spandex type and I have to witness it (first I apologize, but chaffing sucks; second there are literally people that pull up honk, swerve to the shoulder and come with in inches as was the case yesterday w/ a cadillac which literally came onto the rumble strip and with in inches of us). any one of these types results in a never saw it coming special. fun times.
one last note from yesterday food. we are now in real cajun country, the bayous tell us that, the swamp tours confirm it, but most enjoyable is the food. mmm cajun food. I had for the first time two classic cajun dishes at a road side dinner just short of opelousas. first was boudin (don’t ask me to pronounce it since everyone has tried, I fail, and I swear they each do it different but with conviction). boudin is a type of sausage (or deep fried ball – had to try both) filled with essentially left over parts of animals, rice and spice. its awesome. second is kracklin – which is thick chunks of pork belly (imagine a 1inch cube) deep fried. its considered health food. both were awesome.
we arrived at the hotel, and today is going to be a rest day likely filled with trying to figure out how to road clean my drive train and get the sand from biloxi out of the bike. awesome.