David Freeze: Smooth sailing and then a rough ending

Published 12:05 am Thursday, August 26, 2021

Day 30:

Some days are just crammed full, and this was one of them. My room at the All Star Inn in Bunkie, Louisiana, was perfect — except for lacking convenience store. Imagine my surprise when I left out and spotted another one only a quarter mile away. A whole bag of chocolate chip cookies and two pints of ice cream did OK.

One reader asked if I was worried about my weight getting too low on these trips. Actually, my weight had gotten too low before the trip and I think was probably the lowest at the start of any of my trips. I don’t worry as long as I feel strong, and I do feel great at the moment.

I started on S.R. 29 and rode through Evergreen first and then on to Cottonport. I stopped at the Bayou Express and met a couple of customers and staff members Debra and Vanessa. All were amazed at what I was doing and Debra made a couple breakfast biscuits to order. They got my day off to a good start, right before I made a wrong turn. I somehow lost S.R. 29 and got on S.R. 107 by mistake. A guy mowing his yard helped me connect by using S.R. 1185 on the way Moreauville. Next came Hamburg and an even worse road on Old Highway 1.

On this pothole-packed road, the highlight was seeing two crop duster planes being readied for work, propellers running and nobody in them while the pilots were loading chemicals and water.

I crossed over the Atchafalaya River, a big bridge over a big river. I was low on water and it was hot, so I stopped at a crab shack in hopes of getting ice and water. Lots of trucks were there but no one came to the door.

I started riding on S.R. 417 and stopped by two churches to get outside water that didn’t taste the best. Then I was surprised to find Burns Stop N’ Shop, just as I needed something cold. Tanisha took my card and plans to start a memory board of all the cyclists who stop by.

Next came S.R. 418 to Batchelor, one of the prettiest roads of the trip but with multiple dog chases. I was dragging some by the time I turned onto S.R. 1 and the long trip through Morganza. I made it into New Roads, where I am spending the night. I found Port Breeze Motel, which is on a huge lake called the False River. The suite of rooms and four beds came at a great price and all the good food stores were within a couple tenths of a mile.

Total mileage today was 75, and it does end the fifth series of maps. Series 6 looks challenging to start, but I will get my first sighting of the Mississippi River in the morning. I saw several levees blocking sight of the mighty river from a distance, but plan to ride over it early. Then I have to be creative to get a full day in with lodging at the end. I will report on how the day develops.

Thanks to Luann and Gary Fesperman for supporting my trips the last few years. And David Post as well.

The heat was on today, topping out again near 100 but a big storm that just missed me cooled things off pretty well here at New Roads. The forecast calls for cooler days, so I hope you all will keeping riding along!


Day 31: A great start, and then trouble

I had a wonderful evening on the False River in New Roads, Louisiana, all except for one thing. I was concerned about the route and the weather forecast. I wanted to be able to cover some decent miles, see some things and be inside for the night if the predicted rainy forecast came true.

So I tweaked the planned route and decided to finish in Amite City, which is pronounced A-meet. That sounded odd to me and Siri. Anyway, I didn’t think I could do near 100 miles and was going to settle for 71, especially since some rolling climbing was part of the day’s route.

I took S.R. 10 for the first 12 miles or so and crossed the Mississippi River on the beautiful Audubon Bridge. Then my route included S.R.s 61, 954, 964, 412, 959, 63 and 16. That last one is where the trouble started.

Earlier, I had a couple of light showers and the temperature had cooled considerably. S.R. 16 was my final road for the day as earlier planned, but I was rolling pretty well and kicked around the idea of going on to Franklinton to complete a 97-mile day.

S.R. 16 had a wonderful asphalt road, but the bike and breakdown lane were terrible. They use a reddish brown pavement and rough is the best way to describe it. But still, I was pretty sure I could make Franklinton and still complete this story on time to get in the paper. I noticed a thumping on the rear tire and it became worse even on the smooth cement pavement near bridges. I stopped and saw immediately that the back tire was going flat.

I fixed the tire or thought I did, but then it blew again. Plus, I had struggled to get the gears working and had more trouble with that too. After 90 minutes and running out of good light, I tried Uber with no luck. No taxis either, and finally I decided to see if the police or sheriff’s department could get me to the nearby motel so I could work on the bike there.

And they did just that. Deputy Nolan Bryant came first, but we couldn’t get the bike in his car even with the front tire off. Alex from the fire rescue brought a truck and took me and the dissembled bike to the motel. I got some food, wolfed it down and went right to work on this update.

I am going to start on the bike in a few minutes and see what I can do. If not, I will call Eric from Skinny Wheels and discuss the problem. Either way, it looks like another late night. There are no bike shops on the route until Mobile, Alabama. Plus the gulf hurricane scenario is being discussed today, especially by Nolan and Alex. I need to be making miles to the east quickly.

I am anxious to get started on working on bike repairs, but will take time to thank new sponsors Mindi Fires and Wayne Cobb. If things weren’t already interesting enough, several scenarios are ramping up. Let’s get together again tomorrow and see how it all works out — and send those prayers along. They are always appreciated!