Date: March 13th 2017
From/To: Alexandria, LA/Mansfield, LA
Daily Mileage: 95 miles
Total Mileage: 790 miles
Conditions: Overcast, cold headwinds, and rain
I don’t mind the rain. It cleans the salt off my face, it cools me down, and most importantly it distracts me from the usual day to day routine on the road. The rain is something different, it provides that feeling of endurance to push me forward. It’s me, the rain, and the gravel ahead. Something different.
I woke up this morning to low 40s, and overcast. I had a quick breakfast at the motel and made my way out to the highway. Today was a 100 mile day (or so I thought) and I needed every minute of daylight. I followed Highway 1 the entire way, running along the western bank of the Red River.
The day started off like any other, I was shooting for a 50 mile hull before I made a stop in Natchitoches for lunch, that all went according to plan. I made it there, by that point it was already raining, and on top of that I was sweating on the inside of my unventilated raincoat which didn’t help. It was difficult to take breaks because stopping cause my body heat to go down, leaving me in the cold, damp air. Starting after a break only added cold wind to the already cold damp feeling inside of my raincoat. I’m trying to say it wasn’t comfortable, and I thought that would be the worst part of my day.. just wait.
About 30 miles out from my expected destination, the rain was pouring and I was beginning to fatigue mentally. I was on a long stretch of road, the wind was blowing strong against me. It seemed like there was some force working against me, working to keep me from progressing through the ride. I don’t know how else to say this, but I wasn’t sure what else I could do; I was towards the point of stopping, and with no other option I let out a loud battle cry (we’ll call it that). I felt a burst of energy, most likely from releasing ,y frustration, and my legs started turning like pistons in an engine. “Right leg left leg right leg left leg” and so on. That went on for about 20 miles, nonstop. I’ve never felt that power before. I can’t tell you what harnessed it but it got me through my seemingly inevitable breakdown.
I took Highway 1 until I hit 84 West, which would take me right to Manfield if I was using my head. I took 84 until GoogleMaps told me to turn onto Mundy Road. Mundy Road is what they call a “parish road” around here. It’s basically an abandoned road, with pot holes, cracks, and rocky gravel. It also led me downhill into the middle of nowhere. I was battling my way through until I heard “PING! PING! PING! PING!” I pull off the abandoned road to see what the damage was. Four broken spokes. Great. I knew my options were limited. I was about 7 miles out from the De Soto Fire Country Station where I was planning to stay overnight. I was making great time, but that didn’t matter now. I was up the creek without a paddle, or in my case down Mundy Road without a working bike. The entire time I had been on that road, I hadn’t seen one car or house or anything for that matter. What was I thinking? Why did this seem like a good idea? The only answer I had was I wasn’t thinking, I was blindly following GoogleMaps. The bike setting on GoogleMaps had two primary focuses, most efficient time by bike, and least busy roads. That’s how it creates a route. Sometimes you have to be smarter than GoogleMaps, and realize that what it’s doing is not the rational way. I lost that battle today, and I could only blame myself for that. Too late to change anything, and when you’re stranded there’s only time to think about, “what now?” I was heading to the end of the road a few miles away when a brown pickup truck approached my back. I flagged him down and luckily he pulled off of what little road there was. I told him what happened and that I needed a ride into town and he gladly helped me out. I threw my bike in the back of the truck, and to took me over to the station. He was a technician at a local power plant, retiring in two days. I asked him what he was going to do with his retirement and he said he had no clue… off to a great start. I guess he was in a good mood and felt like picking up a hitchhiker on an abandoned road. Regardless, I made it to the Fire Station around 5:15. I met the Captain and the crew on shift that day. They were all intrigued by my story, and more importantly focused on helping me out of the bind I was in. They started calling up buddies, bikers, bike shops, and anyone else who could help. I asked where the nearest bike shop and Roy, one of the guys on shift, jokingly responded “You’re in redneck hell, there ain’t no bike shops around here.” I thought that was pretty funny, but it also didn’t help. He told me the nearest shop would be in Shreveport, and I would have to wait until tomorrow. Great. I couldn’t complain, I made it this far and I had a roof over my head. Shortly after my arrival, a paramedic by the name of Pat showed up to help me out and see the damage. Pat’s a big biker, and he’s planning a cross country trek soon so we clearly had a connection there. We talked for a while about tour biking and my trek thus far, he also mentioned he would give me a ride to the bike shop tomorrow in Shreveport to see what they could do. I couldn’t be luckier. It didn’t seem like I would be making it to Henderson Texas (my next stop) tomorrow, so it was a good thing I cut out the other stop through Winnfield yesterday. I was in good company with good people, we had some dinner and I hung around with some of the guys after, exchanging stories and laughs. I even had a chance to do laundry in their industrial washer and dryer. I slept in the main room on one of the recliners. I was out around 10:30, feeling unprepared for the spontaneity tomorrow would likely bring. That’s all part of it.
Enjoy The Ride,