Day 53 – Flat Tires II: Return of the Flattening (December 24, 2020)

Night 53- Opelousas, LA

I don’t want to dwell too much on this day. It started off with a nice breakfast with our host and was supposed to be our longest ride at 80 miles, but it became our longest day and we barely rode 60.

So this will be brief.

Started with a decision to take one of two roads. One way, the advised route from our host, added 75 miles to our trip. The other, had a non bike friendly bridge in the way.

Before we could get to the intersection of these routes, we both had flat tires. One after another. It was also between 35 and 45 all day with winds between 12 and 18 mph….in our faces. All day.

So we fix our flats and go for the shorter route. We still had to cross the bridge, so after some thought, we ordered an UberXL and stacked our bikes in the back of a Chevy Traverse. It was only a mile or so. At least we would make it across safely.

Next order of business was crawling 18 miles to lunch. Or, where we decided to stop for lunch because the wind held us around 9 mph all day. (For reference, we usually climb hills at 12 and cruise at 15). So this 80 mile day was going to take at least 10 hours of riding at this point.

Then there was the long bridge. Cutting through the Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge, is a 4 mile long bridge with only an 8 inch curb for a shoulder. Well, after trotting along on the curb we just made peace with the choices we made and started riding as fast as we could and as close to the side as possible. Fortunately traffic seemed low, but was still flying by at 55+ mph.

We were doing fine until I got another flat in the last mile. With no where to stop we just pushed on, then when my tire was empty, we trotted along again for the last 1000 feet. Got off the bridge and went to work on the bike. Threw a spare tire in and off we went… for 35 feet. “Are you kidding me?”… so this time I gave Russell my last tube to patch and I started to work on and patch this one. At this point we had 20 miles left.

It is now dark and much colder, but the wind has stopped and the shoulder opened up to 5 feet wide. I think I made it 4 miles and had another flat. My patch failed. Not time to complain, just pull it and swap. 16 miles left.

We got a hotel on the outskirts of town. With everything closing and another 20 miles to Eunice, this was where we would stop. A quick pop into subway was needed since it was 730 and we weren’t sure where we would get food and later.

The rest is just fine. Hotel, showers, and sleep. Maybe a few games of chess at some point, but the day was done.

So here we are. I have my oatmeal and hotel coffee and waiting for a call home. I’ll catch up with everyone tomorrow. Merry Christmas, stay safe out there so we can have another when we get home.

As usual-

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