Last Week Tonight in Bicycling

Madison County Cycling

We biked a respectable 35 miles on Saturday. It was a beautiful day, with crystal blue skies. Our sense of respectability comes with our goal, riding Cycle Zydeco in Louisiana. This four-day tour comes with a nominal 40 miles of biking each day. I feel that we’ve trained hard enough now to do it.

We each wore matchy-matchy bike jerseys and jackets. We certainly turned some heads with our fashion, which is easy to do with our ‘rapid’ closing speed. Anne’s coordinated orange helmet worked way better than my contrasting red one, but then she is the diva after all.

We’ll up our game for Zydeco and festoon ourselves with some of our ample supply of Mardi Gras beads and artificial flower leis. Other cyclists will have way more in decorations. Cycle Zydeco does bill itself as the best party on a bike. I’m confident with our biking abilities, but I’m now worried about our dancing. The ride’s bill reads biking by day and dancing at night, every night. There is a class offered in Zydeco dancing, which we plan on attending. I hope that our stamina holds out, because it sounds like a whole lot of fun.

Rain, Rain Go Away

Tank XING

4/21/82 – Cloudy and Cold with a late start, because of rain and TV, windy too. Fort Polk made me glad that I wasn’t in the army. Kind of a slow day, with no historical roadside markers, which we almost always stopped to read. Yesterday, at the state line, we read one that was about the Burr ferry. It was begun by Arron Burr’s brother. It served as the gateway to Texas and as a Civil War crossroads.

Leesburg County Courthouse

I took the photograph of the tank crossing, because it was unusual and while I’m not interested in being in the army, I am interested in the army. The courthouse photo was part of a series that we did of county courthouses. I’m pretty sure that Anne took the picture of the tree farm. There were a lot of them about in the Kisatchie National Forest. I guess we camped, but it doesn’t explicitly say. There were no camping or motel expenses listed. Maybe we camped for free?

One is not like the others

Bicycling Louisiana

Antebellum Plantation

37 years ago this month we bicycled across the state of Louisiana. The year was 1982. We were still in the first month of what would become a six month, 5,000 mile, self-supported bicycle tour that would circle the country and that we have subsequently dubbed the Great Adventure. As part of this trip we kept a daily journal. Really Anne did, but I helped. It was too early then to contemplate blogging about it at the time. We also took pictures, but because they were on film, there are only a few photos. This month we plan on revisiting Louisiana by bike as part of the tour, Cycle Zydeco, but that is a story that is not yet written. This post is drawn from that journal, those photos and our fuzzy memories.

We had launched the previous month from the Dallas Fort Worth area. My parents, with some trepidation, saw us off. We headed south to Houston and stayed with friends, Evelyn and Peter. After Houston, we visited Galveston and worked our way east and then north towards Beaumont. On our next to last night in Texas and through no fault of our own, we were accosted by the law. Honest, your Honor. It was all a misunderstanding that was soon cleared up. In another  two days, we crossed the Louisiana state line:

4/20/82 – Today was strange and draggy in the morning. After Jasper, TX, hill after hill after hill, under gray skies, very oppressive and boring. Then it started raining, a couple of miles before Burkeville. Visions of motels danced in our heads, but alas, the response in town to our request for a motel was, “In Burkeville?!?” There was a café, where we waited out the worst of the rain, then “pressed on regardless,” into the rain. Now we felt like martyrs and it made our complaining seem legitimate. It stopped raining about four miles short of Carney, where we found a good dinner ($10.83), laundry ($2) and lodging ($16.97) at the Catfish House Motel.

We mainly camped, except when it rained, like on that day, hauling our tent, the No-Tell Motel, sleeping bags and cook gear on the back of our bikes. Reviewing the seven days that it took us to ride to New Orleans, it rained a lot that week. I hope that this does not portend anything similar for our upcoming trip. We plan on camping for Cycle Zydeco, but they also offer indoor camping too. They will also haul our luggage. Such are a few of the amenities of a supported tour.

A Pedal in the Park

Boathouse Flotilla

I’ve mentioned before the little mystery of Forest Park Boathouse pedal boats appearing in the police pasture, on the south side of the park. At first there were only three of them and I could convince myself that they had been repurposed as horse troughs. Now, there are almost a dozen, plus a purpose-built horse trough was already there. In light of this deepening mystery, our only recourse was to head to its source. Near the end of our ride on Saturday, we headed over to the boathouse for a late lunch. While waiting for our table the mystery was solved, when we spied the new blue boats along the side of the venerable green ones that are being put out to pasture, sort-of-speak.

Cycle Zydeco is less than two-weeks away. Our bicycle training is beginning to feel like it is having an effect. We both feel stronger on the bike now. It is with some trepidation though that we hear the news from Louisiana. Last week’s church burnings have given way to this weekend’s deadly storms. Still, we will be accompanied by Saint Louis friends and this event appears well-organized.

I’ll leave you with another mystery story that was in yesterday’s paper. It comes from Oregon. There Police responded, guns drawn to a report of home invasion. Exercising restraint, while still under extreme duress, they faced an unknown danger behind a locked bathroom door. The suspect rejected repeated demands to surrender. Defiantly choosing to respond with “banging and rustling” noises. It was unclear if a hostage was involved. Even with three officers already on the scene, backup was called for. A detective and two canine officers responded from the nearby Beaverton Police Department. Repeated calls elicited no more response than the same banging and rustling, “Like a loud thud, thud, thud on glass.” Finally, after exhausting all avenues of negotiation, the moment came to bust down the door. There they encountered a most dastardly villain, a Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner. “Book ’em, Danno.”

Forest Parkour

New Signage

The weather yesterday was fantastic, which is good, since today’s forecast goes back to regular winter humbug. Anne and I got out on our bikes again and rode around the park. The bike path was a little drier than Wednesday and it was definitely warmer, what with a high in the sixties. Anne got to wear her new ¾ length tights. A strong south wind was the cause of this warmth and it was also the cause of more exertion on our part, giving us strong headwinds to battle.

This fancy new signage is at the Wells Drive entrance, just off Skinker. I’m glad that it is finished, because it was more than a year in construction. The work site caused a minor detour of the bike path. It looks nice, except that the spacing on the letters is a little funky. While I was lining up this shot, a guy walked into the frame. I thought that he was going to photo-bomb my picture, but he sat down on the benches that are on the other side of the wall.

This is the latest addition to the new signage that has been placed throughout the park. Hundreds of directional maps now make it easier for visitors to figure out where they are and where they want to go. There’s nary a straight road in the park and it is easy for people unfamiliar with it to get lost.

Forest Park Forever, a charity dedicated to park upkeep has shouldered most of the responsibility for doing park maintenance and improvements. On this day, like most days, they have more workers in the park than the city has. The city couldn’t afford to maintain Forest Park and had allowed it to fall into disrepair. Forest Park Forever had a crew out that was managing the savanna around Deer Lake, when we rode by. They were raking the forest. Anne had to laugh. This organization’s work has truly brought back this once decaying gem.

Before the 1904 World’s Fair the park’s land was known as Skinker’s swamp. There’s a reference to this in the movie, Meet Me in St. Louis. Speaking of which, we saw the new Loop trolley entering the park at the History museum. Clang, clang, clang went the trolley!

Back on the Bike

The Road to the Badlands

On our first full day back in Saint Louis, among chores of unpacking and doing laundry and such, I found time for a bicycle ride. Anne had her own errands to run, so I launched solo towards the park. I came upon two other cyclists, waiting at the light, at Wydown & Big Bend and had timed it to pass them, as the light turned green, when one of the bikers called out to me. It was Captain Chris of Team Kaldi, our Bike MS club. He and his son were headed to the park also, so I tagged along with them, at least the best that I could. I got dropped at the Science Center, but Chris waited for me by the zoo and told me that they were headed over to the DeMun Kaldi for lunch. Taking this as an invite, I eventually showed up too and we shared a patio repast. After lunch, they headed home and I headed towards the grocery store for some supper fixings and then home.

This was my first bicycle ride for the month and next month’s riding schedule looks even more doubtful. Still, I’ll have August to get into shape for the annual Bike MS ride. I lost ten pounds on our camping trip, which is odd, considering that we ate out most days. Still, we got lots of exercise in the mountains, lots of hiking, but no biking. When we were not dining at the [insert national park of choice here] lodge, we were doing our own rustic cooking. We have a Jet Boil stove that we used every morning to hot-up water for breakfast coffee and oatmeal and we usually cooked a dinner stew using a combination of fresh vegetables and canned goods. Lunch was mostly cold sandwiches, with veggies and fruit, which was fine, because most days warmed up quite nicely.