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January 17, 2016

By meriwether, Jan 26 2016 01:37PM

Greetings from Vinton, LA, about 4 miles from the Texas border,

Five Thousand Miles and five months on the road - I left Toledo on August 17 when my odometer read 6,808; today on January 17 it read 11,808. I guess that’s some sort of milestone. If so, I’ve reached it. To put things in perspective, it’s like driving New York to Los Angeles, and then turning around and making tracks back to St. Louis. Approximately 1,400,000 revolutions of my peddles. I must admit though, I did have my doubts whether I would make it through the first five days!

I’ve had a number of people express the wish that they could be doing what I’m doing. A day like Friday might make you think otherwise. Friday was preceded by the previous day’s drenching conclusion - the last 10 miles ridden in your typical Louisiana downpour. But Friday's forecast gave me hope - bright and sunny with temperatures in the upper 60’s - ideal conditions for me to negotiate the 60 miles to Lake Arthur, LA. And it WAS that. But it was also a day with 15 to 20 mph headwinds, which can make even the sunniest of days a marathon of exertion - 7 to 8 hours of constant grinding away at my cranks - never a letup - much like a 7 hour workout on a stationary bicycle. The miles creep by ever so slowly as the wind buffets you, first head-on, then from the side, and then head-on again. I try not to look at the odometer, but when I sneak a peek, I’m still on that same mile I was 10 minutes ago. My 9 mph speed drops to 8, then to 7, now down to 6, and back up to 7 - a brief pause in the gale, and I’m doing 10, but not for long.

With about 7 miles to go and in the middle of flat, see-forever bayou country and following Google Navigation’s backroads route, I make a turn into the home stretch, and am hit square in the face with a sign that proclaims “BRIDGE OUT”. Curse you Google Navigation! A couple guys in a truck confirm the bad news, and now 3 more miles have been tacked on to my ride. But when I return to the main highway, instead of 7, I have 9 miles to go, so in reality my day has been extended by 5 miles, which doesn’t seem a lot, but on a long riding day with the wind constantly in your face . . . it’s a lot.

Finally, picturesque Lake Arthur. But I know there are no campgrounds, no Warm Showers hosts, and no motels . . . well there is this boutique hotel converted into such from an old bank, but I don’t fancy paying $140 for a short night’s stay. Fairly drained after my 8 hour workout, I stop at the 2 car police department and ask where I might camp, eyeing the very pleasant lakeside city park right next to the station. The friendly officer - and the only officer about - explains that I can’t camp at the park, but he describes a place about a mile away. In the fleeting light of dusk, I nod my agreement, all the while knowing I’m not heading out there.

Instead, I head to the park washroom, strip down, and do a quick bottle shower - sorry about that water on the floor - put on some clean dry clothes, and head to the nearby lakeside restaurant for two beers, a glass of wine, and one of the best grilled Ahi Tuna sandwiches I’ve ever had - The Day Is Saved . . . kind of. As the restaurant closing hour of 10 p.m. approaches, and still no place to be for the night, I slink to the far side of park out of eyesight of the the 2 car police force - I hope - and pitch my tent on the high and dry band stand . . . and end a very long day!

Louisiana observations: cycling infrastructure is sometimes good, but usually poor to pathetic, typical of most of the southern states I’ve traveled, with the exception of Florida . . . and Mississippi . . . surprise surprise! And . . . every mother’s son seems to drive a pickup truck down here!

Winter time cycling through these Gulf southern states is not quite what I imagined - cold, drenching rains, winds, and idiots who honk and yell obscenities out the window. But there have been some good cycling days - like yesterday morning’s glide through rice laden fields and a change of wind direction in my favor, and today’s very cool but sunny meandering toward the Texas border. It’s all part of this roller coaster ride of a journey. It’s been a part of every bicycle tour I’ve done.

At this 5,000 mile mark, I would once again like to acknowledge all those who have supported my ride with your donations to Habitat For Humanity and Save The Children. Both charities are now over $5,000 for a total of $10,600. Many thanks to the following donors for making this possible!

Scott Abrams

Barry Alcock

Mike Alcock

Arlyn Bensch

Rick Berg

Sue and Bill Babel

GeorgeAnne and Bill Baldridge

Mark Bodenmiller

Mary Baird

Holly Browning

Bruce Burgin

Mike Burke

Karen and Peter Byrne

Bernie Camp

Jessica Cheney

Sandy and Dino Ciolino

Katherine Collins

Michele and Bill Comes

Gary and Pat Corrigan

Mike Croke

Mike and Cyndy Cotter

Joe Cotter

Mike Coyle

Karen Cummings

Jim and Angel Dandar

Stephani Decker

Dave and Bonnie Dixon

Keith Duhaime

Jim Fisher

Jim and Judy Galliers

Ron Greller

Bob and Judy Haas

Julie and Bryan Haas

Sally Haltoms

Chris Harrington

Cris Hastin

Polly Heninger

Jim and Diane Hermann

Roy Hill

Tom and Lisa Hoersten

Eileen and Harold Hoffman

Linda and KC Hufford

Dee and Brian Hyde

Pat Hyde

Amy and Brian Hoey

Jim and Sue King

Debbie Kimmelman

Gary and Sally Kranz

Tim and Joan Kreps

Tom Lammers

Sue and Ron Lang

Gail Latham`

Jim Latimer

Mary Jo Lehmann

Michael and Debbie Lindell

Les and JoAnn Lipski

Kristin Low

Joan MacPherson

Harry McGovern

Don and Patty McGraw

Larry Martin

Michelle Mininger

Michael Mihalick

Beth and Bruce Miller

Susan Rowland Miller

Jerry Mills

Tom Moffitt

Kathie and Joe Myers

Mary Ann Oess (representing the Saint V’s nurses)

Ken and Janet Orlowski

Kathy and Michael Peace

Erin Peterson

Philip (Flip) Purvis

Sue Rauhut

Bob Rex

Linda Rogers

Janet Rogolsky

Jenny Saunders

Jack Smith

Jan and Tim Scovic

Barney Stewart

Suzanne and Jeff Storer

Dennis and Linda Studer

Di and Pam Allen-Thompson

Linda Telmanik

Janet Van Nest

Courtney and Rob Vujtech

Jeff and Tammy Wagner

Dale and Vicky Wiltse

Ray and Kris Young

Sig Ep14th Annual Reunion

Barb and Dave Ziesmer

Also thank you to Erin Peterson who is a new donor since my last update! I think I have everyone - if I have left anyone out, please, please let me know!

Proceeding on . . .

1 comments
Jan 27 2016 12:59PM by Cheryl McCormick

Congratulations Alan on your safe journey and hanging in there with those winter winds and cool weather. I especially like how you accept all the crud as part of the journey. Nothing will stop you!

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