The highlight of today was not so much the bike ride but the pre-ride activities.
I was met at the hotel by Judge Kerry Anderson and his friends. Here is a photo of us after sharing a coffee:
Judge Anderson exemplifies someone who has taken control of his health and taking it in a much more positive direction. He and his wife started cycling a year ago and between the two of them, they have lost over 200 pounds. He's not alone in making heart healthy choices. Rev. Bob Rutherford, a young 80 year old, recently started cycling and rode 40 miles. To say I'm impressed is an understatement.
L to R in photo:
Judge Kerry Anderson, David Fisch, Rev. Bob Rutherford, Brent Rutherford, John Windham, and Sarah Box.
I felt a strong kinship with all of them and really appreciate them taking the time to meet with Dennis and me.
Kerry then asked if I would like to visit the hanging jail and with total disregard to time I accepted.
It was impressive. Here are some photos.
Impressive mechanical lock system...
It was a real treat to see the inside of the jail (it is closed to the general public) and also to learn about its history from his perspective. I believe he told me that his mother lived in the living quarters of the jail when she was a child. What an experience that must have been.
Next we visited the old post office building where we received a nice care package of watermelon based soaps and toiletries and got to see an impressive fresco painting by Conrad Albrizio, painted before he was famous. It captures the wonder of times past where everything stopped when the mail was delivered. Now we have email...
Can you catch the two 'mistakes in the painting?
And more of the watermelon theme:
Their watermelsons are the sweetest in the world!
Our "guide" in the old post office! She was so friendly, none of us wanted to leave!
Finally though it was time to put the cleats to the pedal as it was approaching 10 am. So we walked back to the van and I reflected on the red carpet reception we received..... I was even offered a police escort to help me ride through town safely.We were lucky to have put a stop in DeRidder on our route!
The ride to Alexandria was in theory a short one and the winds were favorable. So I wasn't too worried..But there are always the little surprises.
We were turned away at the entrance to Fort Polk. This is where Strava routes did me wrong. Yes the road is popular with cyclists but Strava doesn't filter military vs. general population. So now I know. Once again I should have listened to the locals who warned me this might happen!
Turned away....and forced to backtrack...
With this development, the 67 mile day turned into 82. Soon I found myself in 85 deg F weather with a relative humidity of at least 300%. At least it felt like 300%. A real autoclave! At one of my breaks I filled my skull cap with ice, stretched it over my head and just sat there. I think that might have worked better if I had hair, as it wasn't long before I felt freezer burn kicking in! But it did help cool me down.
The last part of the ride was the most scenic.
Here's a finger from the Kincaid reservoir reaching out to the road:
Wide open road
Tomorrow we ride to Natchez, Mississippi. The roads look good and it's a relatively short 76 miles.
Still we will shoot for an early start (7:45 am) just to avoid the heat.
I'm pretty excited about crossing the Mississippi river and of course getting to play tourist in Natchez. I still remember how much fun it was to spell Mississippi as a kid. Now I'm almost there.