Charley’s ride across America 10. Left Mississippi, New Orleans, trail angel and other riders


Day 16 feb 12. 32 miles 3:20 cold but sunny, bridge out, to ride around- saved 55 miles end in Chalmette LA

Day 17 feb 13. 50 miles 5:20 sunny, warm, urban, traffic, then last 35 miles on levee trail end in La Place LA

Running total 755    25% finished

Dear friends and family, 

“Discretion is the better part of valor”

Often said by Richard Simon, climbing partner, when making decisions in the mountains.

A clear sunny morning 45 degrees, just about perfect. I was riding along a mostly deserted beach road, about six miles awaymy hotel when I saw a female cyclist on a fancy carbon fiber bike heading west. She stopped and asked me where I was going and I told her San Diego. She asked about today. “ Chalmette” I told her

“ you’ll never make it today because about six miles up ahead the bridge is out. Since you can’t go over on I-10, you’ll have to do a long ride around it adding 50-60 miles to your ride”

“But, I’d be happy to drive you around to the other side of the bridge. I’m a cycle tourer too and it would be great to pay back some of the favors I have received. My names Nancy.”

I thought of Richard and his oft quoted words above and took her up on her offer.

So, I rode with her back to her house, loaded up the bike into her Element and in only an hour we were on the other side of the bridge, where she left me off. We took a look at the bridge and saw that if you balanced on an I-beam, bike in hand, you could actually make it across. We both agreed it didn’t seem like a good idea.

So Nancy went on her way and after about six miles of pedaling I came across a young couple, probably in their late twenties. They were on the same Southern Tier, having ridden from San Diego. I told them about the bridge and he said “We’ve got to get over it, I paid for a hotel on the other side.” And he rode on.

She asked me “Would you do it?”

I told her “no” and saw a quizzical look on her face as she headed off in pursuit of her partner. I sure hope they came through (or around?) okay.

Nancy told me there were some excellent restaurants in Chalmette, where I was staying. Turned out, that they were all closed on Sunday.

The only choice I found was a sports bar, about a mile and a half down the highway. I hiked down about an hour before the super bowl game started, figuring a sports bar might be full up for the game.

I pushed the door open and walked into complete darkness except for the backlit liquor bottles above the bar and the multiple large screen TVs. In my blindness I heard “ Sit anywhere you want, Babe, except for the name tagged chairs for regulars”

I found an empty one and sat down as my eyes started to adjust to the dimness. Now I could see the very large woman running the bar and also a series of wagers on the game. She spoke a with a deep Southern accent and then had another language for the bets “Two will get you five on the split” and nonsensical things like that to my ears. Then a skinny old black man went around taking more bets from customers and writing them down on a long sheet of paper. I guess an hour before game time is a frenzy to get your bets in.

I asked the guy on the next barstool how he understood what he was betting on. He told me he didn’t, but if he won, he was hoping his bookie would pay him. I wonder.

Today was a sunny sixty degree day, perfect for riding. My first ten miles were through mostly ghetto, the next five through the center of downtown New Orleans, dodging all the streets closed for parade preparations for Mardi Gras. Surprising to me, there were bike lanes everywhere, but often blocked by parked cars and construction crews. Once out of downtown I had the most glorious ride on the trail on top of the levee next to the Mississippi River for thirty five miles.

I met a tourer carrying more than me, going the other way, so we had a chat on the trail. He said he started in Prudhoe Bay, rode down the west coast and then across the US, heading for Florida. Then he plans to ride up the east coast to Newfoundland, back west across Canada, then down to where he was living in Portland. Made my trip seem wimpy by comparison. We exchanged contact info and he offered to answer any questions I had as I head west. He seemed like a hardened rider. He was probably forty years old.

Love to all,


(twice called that in the last 24 hours)

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