Friday, May 30, 2008

May 30, 2008: St. Francesville, New Roads, and Highway 61 Revisited, Revisited

When we arrived in St. Francisville yesterday we learned that the ferry from the west side of the river had just started running again after being out of service for six weeks. Our original plan had been to ride down from Natchez on the west side and to ferry over to here after a 100 mile ride. It would not have been amusing had we arrived to find no ferry.

This morning we got going at around 8. We rode through a neighborhood of historic homes and then took the ferry across the river. On landing on the west bank we rode north on roads designated as part of the Mississippi River Trail (MRT). Parts of that route are paved bike paths that run along the top of the levee, but here you ride next to the levee on quiet rural roads out of sight of the river. There was very little traffic on the 10 or so miles we rode but the road surface was cracked and uneven (a constant problem because of the underlying geology here). It was a reminder that I must reduce my tire pressure before we start the next part of our trip tomorrow, which will be on similar roads.

Ferry from St. Francisville across the Mississippi River to New Roads

New Roads

After sampling the MRT we headed back south to visit the historic river town of New Roads. We had a great lunch, paid a brief visit to the local Walmart for a couple of supplies, and rode the 5 or so miles back to the ferry. If you look closely at the photo below, you may be able to make out 'Ferry Closed' on the sign in the background. Uh-oh. That's right - in the few hours we spent on the west side, the ferry had developed some sort of mechanical issue and was, once again, out of action. Ray called the ferry people and was told that it might or might not be running again around 5 PM.

Ferry closed!

The gentleman in the photo between Fred and Ray is Len Greene, a most companionable local entrepeneur with a masters degree in biochemistry, who kindly offered to drive us and our bikes around to the other side of the river. That amounts to a drive of an hour or so. Fred and I split the time sitting in back with the bikes. Ray got to enjoy Len's company for the entire ride. Fred tried to compensate Len for the gas cost, but he firmly refused in a tone that discouraged further discussion of the matter. We parted ways a short 10 mile ride up Highway 61 from our destination. Once again Len, we thank you for your kindness and your company.

Sitting in the back of Len's pickup with the bikes.

Returning to our rooms, we found that Fred's new Giro Pneumo helmet and rear view mirror had arrived from Performance, as had the little wireless travel router that Kathy shipped me yesterday. We hope that Fred's new lid will keep his brain cooler. His old, poorly ventilated helmet was causing his ideas to emerge overcooked -- most discouraging because he wanted to try out some new ones on me before sharing them with his academic colleagues who have some idea what the hell he is talking about!

Tomorrow we begin to follow the Adventure Cycling Assn's Southern Tier Route, which we will follow (mostly) all the way to Gainesville.

So for today's rest day we rode only 38 miles! Hopefully our butts won't punish us too badly when we subject them to another 78 miles tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Great to read. Keep riding! Love to hear about boomers who won't give up on the dreams.