Training for New Orleans

I took the trailer out for another ride on Saturday.  First I hooked it up to the bike empty and rode to the WalMart in Jackson, where I bought a 30-pound bag of cat litter, an 8-pound bag of cat food, a 7-pound bag of ice, a half gallon of milk (4 pounds), and a bag of fig newtons (1 pound).  Fifty pounds total.  Riding back home was interesting.  Last week I had about 25 pounds in the trailer; with twice as much weight there’s a real tendency to build up oscillation from side to side, especially going downhill.  Uphill was slow, but with the new granny gear, I wasn’t straining myself at all.

At home I got rid of everything but the cat litter, and from there I headed north on C through Altenburg, Frohna, Brazeau, and Farrar to Crosstown.  Crosstown was hit by a tornado last September, and although there’s some construction going on, it’s still pretty much destroyed.  I was struck by this place, though:

Yep, the house is completely gone, but they cleaned out the pool and filled it.  It looked tempting, I admit.  I guess if you’re out there trying to rebuild your house, a pool is kind of nice.  I bet that when this happened, they wouldn’t have imagined that they’d be swimming before they had a house again, though.

I turned around at Crosstown — it made for a total of 80 miles for the day.  I found, btw, that the oscillation is a lot less pronounced with 30 pounds than with 50.  Also, if you shift the weight as far to the back as possible, it’s even better.  Still, I was going slow.

On the way back, I passed this house that I’ve seen several times — a nice country house, with a gravel lane next to it going into a sort of … Olde West movie set?  Anyway, this time there was a woman out in the yard, so I stopped to ask about it.

The woman initially a bit suspicious, wound up telling me all about the place.  They (the Hadlers) built this as a playhouse for their grandkids; it’s decorated with some flotsam from Menfro, down the road a bit, which was damaged in the last big Mississippi flood.  Both of the Hadlers grew up in Menfro.  And, the river gauge over at the far left was salvaged from Point Rest, where Mrs. Hadler was born, and which was completely wiped out in the flood of 1943.

One thing I’ve noticed in just a couple of rides is that when you’re pulling a trailer, people talk to you.  People keep asking me where I’m headed — of course, it’s actually pretty prosaic, but I can tell them that I’m training for this insane trip next month.  When I was on my way to WalMart a guy in a pickup pulled up next to me at a stoplight and wanted to know where I got it, and how I liked it.  He wants one to take his gear when he goes camping.  And on the way back through Brazeau, I stopped at Hemman Winery, and the guy there wanted to know all about my trip to New Orleans, and also refilled my water bag and gave me crushed ice to put in it.

This is all part of training for the ride.  I have to train to a) pull a bunch of weight, b) go slow, c) talk to people, and d) stop and take pictures a lot.  I’m working on it.

Leave a Reply