Day 12

Tue 2013/06/04

Start mileage 5856.1 end 5900.0 Daily 43.88 Segment 85.7 Total 397.6

Route: Vivian to Springhill LA (Holiday motel).

I started a little late. The hotel did not have breakfast, so after getting loaded and a quarter mile ride, had breakfast at a nearby Sonic ~09:50 until 10:15.

The major worry for today’s ride is a rather intimidating bridge over the Red River. The road narrows down to 2 lanes with no shoulder, no sidewalk and no visibility to the other side of the bridge. If traffic from behind arrives at the same time as traffic from ahead, there is no escape route. I crossed this bridge by car on Sunday on the way down from Hot Springs, and I didn’t like it in the car. After waiting on immediate traffic from behind to clear, I pedaled up the steep bridge approach and I hope nothing arrives while I cross the bridge. At the edge of the bridge span, I also discover that there are some nasty expansion joints as well, and I get a flat tire (front) crossing the second one. The tire blows out immediately and I pedal as hard as I can to get to the other side, travelling ~25 mph with a flat tire on the front. Not an easy feeling but I survived the big concern of the day. On the other side of the bridge, there are open fields and no trees or shade. I change the tire in an open area at the end of the guard rail, with the hot 92 degree sun beating down on me.

When I get to Plain Dealing, LA, I hoped to travel highway 157, and start up that route and stop for a break about a half mile in.  A city police officer rolled up several minutes after my stop.  It turns out that the property owner next to where I stopped didn’t like me there and “called the law” on me.  The office was very nice and we had a good conversation for a few minutes.  He convinced me that highway 157 was very hilly from there to Springhill, and a better route would be highway 2 through Sarepta rather than highway 157.  The route is about 4 miles longer but much flatter.  I think he is right, and U-turn.  I make good progress for the first few miles on highway 2.

I don’t know why, but today is very hard on me.  The temperature is in mid-90s, and there is a at least a light headwind for the eastern portion of the trip. It is very hard riding and I have many breaks.  I hate to admit to this but it took almost all day (~09:45 until after dark) to get 43.9 miles.  I also had to baby some saddle sores which I was alarmed to see developing on day 2 of the ride.

Somehow, I managed to reset my bike computer during the ride, and have to back-calculate my mileage and the riding stats are only for the last part of the day’s ride.  Also, the battery on my GPS ran out and did a hard reset on the device (I don’t know yet if it lost any data from the day’s ride).

In my younger days, I used to live in South Louisiana, and noticed several unique things about the state.  The roads near where I lived were all very narrow, with no shoulders, meandering between all the little towns and country subdivisions.  I figured this was related to the history of the roads, perhaps originating in the days of horses, with the roads meandering between the large plantation properties of the area.  The quality of these roads left something to be desired, with many patches and pot holes, even on the busy roadways.  There is a distinct contrast between Texas and Louisiana country roads.  Later I will discover that Arkansas roads are also superior as well.  The people in Louisiana are also not as warm or forthcoming as people elsewhere either.  I noticed in my earlier days in Lafayette, LA that there was a lot of xenophobia and “us versus them” thinking in the locals.  A lot of distrust of outsiders or somebody who did something differently from you or even somebody from the next town had to go a long way to earn trust.  The civil war was still going on, at least in spirit.  People didn’t interact; if they saw something they didn’t like, they called the authorities to deal with any perceived problem.  Today’s ride took me back.

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