Leg 6 was a tough, tough day. We could see that rain was coming in, but the forecast showed it peaking around 3 am. I hoped it would just rain during the night and leave us a good day to ride. Hopes were dashed.
I awoke about 5 am to the sound of rain and thunder. It was raining quite hard so there was nothing to do but to try to wait it out. I laid there about an hour and a half counting the seconds between lightning and thunder to see if we needed to make a run for it. At about 6:30, I got up and played a few games on my iPad. There was a close lightning strike at 7:00 that had me thinking one more and I run for the restrooms.
I yelled across to Daryl a couple of times, but we really couldn’t communicate with the noise from the rain. It dies down a bit and we decided to get up and move under cover. I got all my stuff up under the shelter at the restrooms. I cooked a bit of breakfast and we waited. It quit enough by 11:00 that we decided to make a run for it. It rained on us all but the last 15 or 20 miles. Not only that, but the wind had shifted to come from the west while we were riding southwest. Very strong wind in some spots where there were no trees. Oh, yeah. And it had turned cold; 52F.
About 10 miles in, we hit a stretch of very rough, gravel road. I guess we had 3 – 4 miles of that. That took quite some time to navigate.
We stopped at a convenience store at 15 miles in. At that point, we were asking ourselves whether or not we should try to wait out the rain. It was such a remote location that I didn’t want to stay there. Back on the road.
We were on highway 90 for at least 40 miles of the 55. A lot of it had shoulders protected by rumble strips, but much of the shoulders was covered with debris. We didn’t get a mug shot of us entering Louisiana, we never saw a sign. We figured it might have been while we were on that crappy back road.
Here’s the first sign I saw that said New Orleans. I don’t remember exactly where that was. But you can see the shoulder we were riding on and a little of the rumble strip in that photo.
At about mile 34, I got a flat tire. To be honest, the surprising thing is that we didn’t have one before that. 320 of 340 miles under our belt and then I flat. We had reached a bit of civilization and were able to pull into a neighborhood to fix it. The offender was a rusty staple; probably picked up on that debris-strewn shoulder. It took me about 10 to 15 minutes to get a new tube in and get it ready to ride. I was really, really cold by then.
At forty miles, we decided to stop for lunch (and to warm up). We were technically in New Orleans at that point, but it was still so desolate, you wouldn’t know it. We stopped at a place called Stan’s Truck Stop, which was worse than a dive; it was a dump. However, the special, fried catfish, was very good.
Back on the road, we began riding into New Orleans. The route brought us in from the east and this was a horrible part of town. Im pretty sure we rode through St. Bernard Parish that you heard so much about after the hurricane. Oddly enough, we picked up a bike lane. I’m not sure it is used much because a few people looked at us and realization of what that bike lane was for seemed to dawn on their face.
We had to cross the river to get into downtown New Orleans. The bridge had a pedestrian lane so we took it to stay out of traffic. Unfortunately, it was very narrow in spots and very creepy at the very top.
Five miles later, we rode up to our hotel. That was quite a journey. I’m really glad we did it, but I’ve been taking notes on what I’d do differently if I ever did it again. I’ll save that for another blog post (or two).
Done, done, and done.