The Heart of Louisiana

Date: March 12th 2017

From/To: Krotz Springs, LA/Alexandria, LA

Daily Mileage: 80 miles

Total Mileage: 775 miles

Conditions: Overcast, mid 40s (cold) and wind from the northwest (the direction I was heading)

If you’re going through hell, keep going – Winston Churchill

Today was one of those days, a “one pedal stroke at a time” sort of day. It’s days like today that serve as a reminder why I’m doing this. It’s a challenge that’s meant to push me to limits I’ve never been to, and today was a day I would’ve taken Option B had there been one. I’m out here on my own, under my own willpower, with no outside support. When you find your way to the edge of discomfort, where you begin to question your abilities, that’s when you better yourself… keep going.

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Today’s route, from Krotz Springs, LA to Alexandria, LA.

I woke up around 7:30AM, daylight savings had thrown me off so I started a little behind schedule. The good news was I had an extra hour of sunlight to work with (Spring forward, right?) so I could factor that into my trek. I set off from the fire department around 8:30AM, with no particular destination in mind. I was planning to attempt a ride from my starting point in Krotz Springs to Winnfield, a 120 mile trek, which would make up for yesterdays lost day due to bad weather. I didn’t make it that far due to the strong headwinds and that ended up being a good thing. Today I rode through the heart of Louisiana. There wasn’t much to see, I passed through what seemed to be an endless road, dividing up farm plots, forrest, and fields on both sides. At certain points I thought I could see all the way to Texas from where I was, the road seemed to converge into a never ending point, far off in the distance, and seemingly unreachable. Mentally, this was a challenging part of the ride, however I found myself zoned in after a few hours.

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I was on the Hurricane Evacuation route for a majority of my ride, passing many signs like this one, directing people out of danger zones in Louisiana.

73 miles from Krotz Springs was Alexandria, my “checkpoint” city. I had an estimated arrival time around 3:00PM, and I was going to see if I could take on an additional 47 miles to Winnfield depending on how I felt when I arrived. As I mentioned, the weather took its toll and I felt the extra milage was out of my reach despite making good time to Alexandria. Battling headwind is arguably worse than climbing hills. For one it’s cold, two it changes direction and intensity without warning, and three it resists any synchronized progress you make by slowing you down in between pedal strokes. I have yet to meet the serious mountains out west, and I am sure I’ll have a lot to say about those encounters, but the wind is public enemy number 1 as of now. When I arrived to Alexandria, I found a coffee shop to hang out at and plan my next few days. My next major stop will be Dallas Texas, and I’d really like to make up for the lost time. I looked at the map to see what I could do. I noticed this…

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The way I had it drawn out in my original planner made little sense. I planned to stay a night in Alexandria, then Winnfield, then Mansfield. I noticed that from Alexandria to Winnfield was 50 miles, and from Winnfield to Mansfield was 84 miles. I then noticed that I could cut out a day by taking a 100 mile route from Alexandria to Mansfield directly, saving me not only time but unneeded milage. By the time I figured this out I still had some daylight, so I set myself up for a better start tomorrow by finding a cheap motel 5 miles northwest of Alexandria, scratching off a few miles from tomorrow’s trek. So there you have it, I found a way to get that lost day back. I like following my planner, it makes me feel like I actually know what I’m doing (it’s okay you can laugh at that). At times I have to realize there may be some errors, or better ways of doing things, and that’s perfectly fine. I made my way north along the Red River to an outskirt of Alexandria. I spent the night at a motel there, preparing for the long haul tomorrow to Mansfield, my final night in Louisiana.

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An overview of the Red River, from when I arrived in Alexandria this afternoon.

Enjoy The Ride,

-Matt

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