Battle Of New Orleans

New Orleans, LA to Bay St. Louis, MS

New Orleans may be The Big Easy, but clearly that has nothing to do with difficulty level of leaving the city on a bicycle. Of the things that are easy, that is not one of them. Of course, that’s not so much the fault of the city but rather the weather that has been lingering around lately. As such, the level of difficulty involved with cycling away from the city greatly depends on which way one is travelling. As has been the case a LOT on the Southern Tier, I continue to head the wrong way.

Welcome to New Orleans

Welcome to New Orleans

As has been acknowledged previously, the past few days has seen me take only minimal photos; however, today would’ve been a good day to have a camera. A decent camera anyway. I mean, there are quite few photo opportunities in New Orleans. Sadly, I’m very much lacking a decent camera. On the upside, I’ve wanted a new camera for quite a while so it looks like I might get my wish. Eventually. Maybe I should ask Santa – apparently it’s that time of year. Even though we’re still a day from Thanksgiving, I’ve noticed multiple instances of Christmas music being played. Personally I think that’s more than a little premature.

There really wasn’t a predetermined destination when I started today’s ride. With the limited hours of daylight combined with the winds continuing their aggressive attack against me, my new approach of late has been to just pedal and see where I end up. Sure, I have an idea of where I’d LIKE to end up but again, you can’t always get what you want. But, for what it’s worth (also a good name for a song), today’s wishful destination was Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. About 115 km away.

I was officially on the road shortly after 8:00 this morning. I expected another challenging and slow day on the road so I wanted to get started a bit earlier. As such, I left at pretty much the same time that Charlie was heading to work. Side note: Thanks again to Charlie and his friends for a fun evening in New Orleans.

My ride began by retracing the route I took last night in the hopes that I might find my camera (smashed or otherwise) somewhere along the way. I didn’t. With that saga officially closed, I continued my ride back into and through New Orleans. In doing so, I took a somewhat scenic route through the city including riding through the French Quarter.

As I left the city and worked my way into more open spaces, the ride became as gruelling as anticipated and progress was VERY slow as I struggled to average a mere 15 km/h. However, I pedalled on. What choice did I have?

Reenactment of meeting withFrançois and Ariane.

Reenactment of meeting with
François and Ariane.

The first real highlight of the ride came around 12:00. I stopped to check my location on the map when I noticed two loaded bicycles leaned up against a wall to my right. There were bikes, but seemingly no people. I assumed they had parked their bikes and trekked over the hill to check out the view. However, as I moved up the road a bit I saw a foot sticking out from beside the edge of the wall. And that’s how I met François and Ariane from Quebec.

It turns out François and Ariane are heading east to Florida as well but they started in Seattle and didn’t go down the Pacific Coast. And they too are dreading the winds as much as me which is why they were hiding in the corner having lunch. Any reprieve from the wind is a good one.

Their planned stop for the night was Pearlington. About 35 km away and the last town before the Mississippi border. My optimistic destination of Bay St. Louis was another 30 km beyond that so I needed to move on. So, after chatting for a while, we wished each other well and hit the road again. We’ll see if we meet again.

The next 35 km to Pearlington was a grind. The wind clearly had no intention of easing up and it was becoming more and more unlikely that I would be arriving in Bay St. Louis today. But I pedalled on. About 2.5 hours later I arrived in Pearlington.

As suspected, Pearlington is a very small town with very few services. Their was a convenience store though which was all I needed at that moment. Any reprieve from the wind is a good one. And if that reprieve also happens to sell Klondike Bars for $0.99, well … that’s a bonus! Throw in free WiFi and I was on cloud nine. Well, maybe eight.

Admittedly, I was so focussed on battling the wind today that I didn’t do a very good job of other things – like eating. So, by the time I arrived in Pearlington I was pretty much out of gas. Okay, not pretty much. I was on empty. To say that I devoured that Klondike Bar would be a bit of an understatement. I also powered up with a few peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Never underestimate the power of peanut butter and honey.

The lack of services in the area presented a bit of a problem since I needed a place to stay. When I asked the woman at the convenience store if there were any motels in the area she actually laughed. It turns out the nearest motels were about 30 km away. In Bay St. Louis. It was approaching 3:30 which meant it was now decision time.

Welcome to State #10 of my trip.

Welcome to State #10 of my trip.

A quick Google search revealed that sunset would be at 4:58. Under good conditions, 30 km in 90 minutes wouldn’t be a problem. However, the current conditions weren’t good. That said, far from it for me to back down from a challenge. Even though sunset was at 4:58, I knew that I would probably have until about 5:30 before it really got dark.

Not wanting to stop once I got back on the road, I opted to attach my front light before resuming my ride. I figured the probability of needing it was reasonably high.

Armed with all the illumination I have, I hit the road again. And I was on a mission. Not surprisingly, the wind continued to be on a mission contrary to mine; however, with just 30 km to go (27, actually) I was determined to win the day. Spoiler alert: I did.

Arriving in Bay St. Louis was the second highlight of the day. Yes I was tired. Exhausted even. But I was pretty proud of myself for aggressively fighting through the wind for that final 90 minutes to actually arrive before dark. Not before sunset. But before dark. It was definitely a workout but, I have to admit, I felt great. And proud of a job well done. The great feeling was aided by the fact that the motel I planned on staying at was directly behind a Wendy’s. If ever there was a day that I felt I deserved a LARGE Frosty, today was it.

Despite the seemingly long and definitely exhausting day on the road (especially considering I only had about four hours of sleep last night), by the time I was settled into my room in was only 6:30. I have to say, that’s a main reason for all of my motel stays of late. The thought of being confined to a tent for more than 12 hours is a bit unpleasant. Plus, I can actually get work done at the motel.

Of course, at the moment I can’t seem to transfer the few photos I took on my phone to my computer. I can’t say it’s shocking that my Mac and my Android phone don’t seem to like each other. In fact, it’s almost expected. For the record, this isn’t a new thing and it’s highly probably it will work again if I restart my phone and computer. Ah, the joys of technology. And first world problems to be sure.

Even though I felt great for reaching Bay St. Louis today, I’m not going to lie, the wind and my toothache are starting to take a toll on me. I’m becoming less confident that I’ll be able to reach my end destination in Florida without having to officially deal with my tooth. As for the wind, the temptation to turn around and head west is strong. About as strong as the wind! Of course, I’m kidding. Well, I’m sort of kidding. Seriously though, cycling into 25 km/h headwinds for more than six hours a day is about as much fun as it sounds.

That said, it’s not how you feel at the end of the day, it’s how you feel the next morning. And with Thanksgiving being tomorrow, I’m thankful to be in this position.

Today’s totals:
Distance travelled: 116.87 km
Ride time: 6:33:08 km
Average speed: 17.83 km/h
Maximum speed: 37.29 km/h

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