Saturday, March 16, 2013

Day 26 (Sat, 16 Mar)

First full day of riding in Louisiana today!  Shorter ride today, so I’ll keep the post shorter as well.

I rode from Many, LA to DeRidder, LA today.  53 miles and about 1,200 ft of climbing throughout the ride – broad rolling hills.  The ride was on Hwy 171 through the entire day – not much variety today but I did pass through small Louisiana towns every 5-8 miles, which was a nice change from Texas where the towns were much more spread out.  Basically my direction was South all day long and today, for the first time in over a week, I had a good strong head wind greeting me throughout the day, so I was quite happy that it was a shorter ride!

Weather: a very nice day (putting aside the head wind for now…) – partly sunny all day with Temps starting out in the mid 60s and then 70s in the afternoon.  Its kind of hard for me to believe but this was the first day of the entire trip where I didn’t need to start out with long pants.  Great weather and as you’ll see from the pictures I’m now getting deeper into the Southern US where Spring is in full bloom.

Most of the ride was through wooded areas with plenty of country homes and small horse/cattle ranches.

On to the pictures!

Cool, old set of barns just south of Many, LA this morning.

Shrimp and crawfish - now that's a Louisiana breakfast!

Just south of Many, LA.  Great highway - unfortunately, NO paved shoulder (first time in the trip where I was riding on a divided 4-lane Hwy, with no shoulder).  Not a lot of traffic on a Saturday though.

Fort Polk, mentioned in this sign (Vernon Parish - like a county in most of the rest of the US) is a very large Army base in the area and is one of three primary Army infantry training bases in the US.

Spring in bloom!  Lot's of pollen, smell of pine and other pieces of blooming trees (like these lining both sides of the road) in the air.

Lake Sam Rayburn in the distance.

OK, so this is where the ride really became interesting.  The first meaningful road construction I've encountered on the trip.  Luckily there weren't a lot of cars on the road today and those that were went pretty slow in this construction zone - I was able to ride in the 1 lane that was open.  7 miles of headaches!

Plenty of loose gravel for my tiny 23 mm tires to be bouncing off of as well...

In the distance is a huge pine tree processing plant.  They were heavily soaking the stacks of logs in water (I'm assuming they do that at least to help prevent fires, but maybe also to condition them).  The output product from this plant is wood chips (I saw plenty of these trucks on the road over the past 2 days).

Plenty of nice, smaller ranches with horses and cattle in the area.  Not much for agriculture in the area.

 Wind - going the "wrong" direction today!!!

The "Purple Heart Highway" - the Purple Heart is awarded to US Military personnel who are wounded in battle and this highway honors that.  I also thought maybe is should honor cyclists who overcome all obstacles (no shoulder, rough shoulder, gravel shoulder, 1 lane in construction zone, very bumpy roads through the towns & a strong headwind - not that I'm complaining!) to get to DeRidder...

Updated map!  I'm heading to the Gulf Coast over the next few days.

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