Baton Rouge to Pensacola
After 3 weeks in Texas, in the one week since, we have pedaled through, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and are now in Florida, our destination state. There still are over 500 miles to go before reaching St. Augustine but, finally, it is within our reach.
Coincidentally, our rest day in Baton Rouge occurred on a Saturday so a few of us purchased tickets to an LSU football game. The stadium, known as "Death Valley," was filled nearly to its 102,000 capacity with screaming fans dressed in purple and gold. Southern mississippi, the visiting team, considered it a win to be tied at the half. LSU eventually pulled away for the win so everyone went home happy. Geaux Tigers!
Several months ago, a weather system hovered for several weeks over South Central Louisiana dumping many inches of rain on that area. Creeks and rivers overflowed creating widespread flooding among the many homes. As we cycled through that area in the past week, there still were large piles of the ruins from that disaster as overtaxed collection systems were not able to accommodate the demand. This is quite similar to that of the Coastal Florida areas after the passage of a hurricane where it takes a while before all of the refuse is collected. However, both floods and hurricanes have a renewing effect on an area as older and weaker objects are replaced with the newer and stronger.
The quality of the roads has become better as we have proceeded eastward. Eastern Louisiana was markedly better than the western portion of that state and Mississippi and Alabama were another level upward. Over the last several days, we have experienced some of the best roads of the trip.
The scenery has been very pleasant as well. Southern Mississippi and Alabama are abundant with cotton plantations. Some fields are so white that one would think they had received snow that morning. Large harvesting machines remove the cotton from the plants and roll it into large rounds bails similar to those of hay in the mid-west. Them are some serious cotton balls!
The Southern Tier riders are quite different from those of any of the other rides. Whereas the other riders were primarily of college age, these riders are considerably older due to school being in session during this ride. The youngest age on our ride is 26 but the majority range from 40's to early 60's. There is one rider at 72 and I again am the oldest at 77. Among the 20 of us, our geography is quite widespread. We hail from West Coast to East Coast, North to South. With the exception of 2 riders from Florida, there is not more than 1 from any other state.
Over the last week, the winds have generally been from the east. Also, those in the forecast for the remainder of the trip are projected to be easterly. However, they have been much lighter than those of West Texas so they have not been a major inconvenience. However, this is a disappointment from the westerly winds in the general forecast prior to the ride that were anticipated to aid us in our journey. Only further support that, although head winds are genuine, tailwinds are a total myth!
The one exception to the above mentioned winds was a strong north wind that occurred on our ride today. 16 mph with gusts to 22 or more! It was tough pedaling but it is now in the past and lighter winds with sunny skies are forecast for the remainder of the ride.
And I can live with that!
It aint over 'til it's over.
Hope the bridge doesn't just drop us off that high cliff...