Tour du Rouge Day 6: Gonzales to New Orleans
May 11, 2018
The last day! An "easy" 80+ mile cruise into New Orleans. There were headwinds today, so every group was going a little slower. I took it easy, hanging back most of the ride, until we got to the last rest stop. With 20 miles to go to lunch, there was a looming 3:00 deadline. This last 20 miles was on a nice bike path on the Mississippi River levee, with a medium headwind. In other words, exactly the conditions I train/commute in every day. I was ready for this, and booked it alone at 20mph to get to Audubon Park with enough time to enjoy lunch. The 3:00 deadline was for our Police escort into town. We cruised in as a group, picking up more riding companions from the New Orleans Arc chapter, and rolled to the finish line. A flurry of celebrating, packing, eating, drinking and more celebrating took us late into the night.
For those who are new, I'll wrap up the trip with more details on this ride. Organized by the Arc of Houston as one of their fundraisers, the Tour du Rouge this year had 50 Riders, raising $2,500 each (totaling over $150,000), and over 20 crew handling all the logistics and support. Every morning we eat breakfast at the hotel buffet, then pack up our bags and drop them off in one of the SAG (Support and Gear) trucks. All 50 riders will roll out of the hotel together, with a Police escort out of town. As we get rolling, the riders will naturally form many groups, where riders going the same pace stick together and draft off each other. The fast group would average over 22mph the whole day, and the slow groups took it easier at 16-17mph. The crew lays out route markings and signs along the way, have given out laminated route cards, and digital maps to download to our devices. The crew has at least 4 rest stops set up with ice water, Gatorade, and all sorts of snacks. One will also have a good lunch. There are several support vehicles driving back and forth while riding to assist with any problems. Two mechanics from the BikeBarn will be there to help change a flat, exhausted riders can jump in a van (though nobody wants to), and there's even a photographer taking pictures. When arriving to the next hotel (I'd get in between 2-3:00), there's a large tent set up in the back of the parking lot, and there are snacks, drinks (beer) and chairs waiting. Bags are delivered directly to the room, with A/C on, ready for a shower, and a massage team ready to rub down tired legs. All hotels had a pool, a popular hang out spot, before dinner is served by a mobile catering crew back in the parking lot tent. It's a well-run machine. Everyone there is really friendly (as you'd expect from bike people wearing spandex most of the day), and everyone has a lot of fun, and a lot of great riding!
Tour du Rouge
Tour du Rouge Day 5: Morgan City to Gonzales
May 10, 2018
Ride map and stats
After a couple days feeling less than 100%, I woke up today raring to go. I hopped in the fast group, trading pulls at 23mph until the first rest stop. From there, I fell back to the second group (I can't quite keep up that full pace all day), following a police escort at 22mph to the second rest stop. I stayed in the second group through the BBQ lunch on a historic plantation along the Mississippi River all the way to the finish to average over 20mph for the almost 90 mile ride, the fastest average speed I've ever done on a bike. Quite incredible!
Stroad. Getting to travel through and stay in these towns, one thing I've seen a lot of is stroads. A portmanteau of street and road, it accomplishes neither objective well. It's where you'll have many business you want to visit - hotels, restaurants, retail, convenience stores, and the only way to get between them is in a car going 40mph, even if they're just a few blocks away. All of our hotels have been on stroads, which makes it very difficult to get around. I've made daily excursions from the hotel - to see a movie, get some cream, find a nice chocolate milkshake - and been faced with obstacles every time - a 4 mile pedestrian detour, no sidewalks, no crosswalks. It's ridiculous there isn't the minimal infrastructure in place to enable better mobility and business growth. We can do a much better job of planning and building cities.
Tour du Rouge Day 4: Lafayette to Morgan City
May 09, 2018
Our highlight for the day was stopping at Avery Island, the home of Tabasco Sauce. I'm not a big fan of the original, but they make many other flavors which are quite good. Even though it's not on the coast, it is somehow surround by water, so if you take a bridge to get there, I guess it's an island. And it's not a hill, but a "salt dome". Either way, it's a beautiful place.
The riding is starting to hurt a bit. Just about everywhere except for my legs. Some bumpy roads and headwind didn't help either. I've found a good group that goes a comfortable speed for me. They call themselves the "Goats", and they all have a toy goat stuck to the top of their helmets.
This year the tour has raised over $150,000 to help the Arc chapters around the Gulf Coast. The Arc provides support to adults with intellectual disabilities, and their families. This mission is especially important since Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, and the Arc has been leading the charge in helping many families rebuild homes and restore their lives, so thank you to all who helped me in supporting their work.
Tour du Rouge Day 3: Sulpher to Lafayette
May 08, 2018
The third day of the TdR is the longest day at just over 100 miles. Another flat and fast day. My stomach wasn't 100% happy with all the beer and Gatorade from yesterday, so I stayed back with what I think was the 3rd group on the road. Still quite a fast day through Louisiana, with lots of rice and crawfish farms (apparently they come from the same place). We came in significantly faster than my previous "centuries", though this route was much flatter, and there were virtually no traffic lights to slow us down. My legs are feeling great, and ready for the next three days, which will all be a little shorter than what we've already done. I am starting to get a bit sore in the saddle area, however.
The roads we ride on here are not ones that I would take on by myself. Traffic is quite fast, and there are no shoulders. To make things safe, we get a police escort out of town in the morning, and even had another one back in today (just walking on the sidewalk is scary on our street here). On the back country roads, we keep in medium sized groups to share the work (it's much easier to be riding/drafting behind somebody else), to make us more visible to cars, and give extra sets of eyes and ears on the lookout. So far there haven't been any problems.
Tour du Rouge Day 2: Beaumont to Sulpher
May 07, 2018
Our second day started with another police escort out of Beaumont. With the escort, a tailwind, and some fast riders, we absolutely smashed it down to the gulf coast. Unfortunately, right after we split and I settled in with the second group, I got a flat tire. After fixing it and joining a later group, I got a second flat. There are two mechanics from the BikeBarn, a local bike store, on tour, driving their trucks back and forth to make sure everything is running fine, and Jason took an expert look at my tire and found the tiniest wire sticking through and causing the slow leak. After pulling it out, I was on my way with no problems for the rest of the day, hanging with a slightly slower group, so I've got plenty of energy to go 100 miles tomorrow (about 300 fewer calories then yesterday, even with the longer ride).
I'm burning a bit over 3000 Calories every day on the bike, so it's important to keep up with that all day. We start with a breakfast buffet at the hotel, where I start with eating what would be enough to take me to dinner on a normal day. On the ride, there are at least 4 rest/refueling stops every day where I'll eat a couple bananas, and drink a couple bottles of Gatorade. There will be a lunch stop with Sandwiches, chips, pasta salad, cookies and a Coke. When we get to the hotel there's a tent set up in the parking lot where I grab some snacks, a protein drink, and some beer. For dinner, they've got a catering truck following us around, where they'll whip up a big buffet dinner every night (last night was a great Gumbo). Lots of food!
Tour du Rouge Day 1: Houston to Beaumont
May 06, 2018
Bicycle Commuting Update
March 21, 2014
Biking to work!
October 31, 2013