Day 0 - Travel to the Start - Seeking A Bicycle Warrior's Death, Part II: The Great Rivers South - CycleBlaze

September 21, 2022

Day 0 - Travel to the Start

A Long Drive to New Orleans

You can reach New Orleans from Tulsa with an 11-hour car trip.  But that's not how I did it - I made an intermediate stop in Houston, TX for 2 days of medical stuff, and then drove to New Orleans from there.   So I spent a lot of time this week driving.  On Monday morning I loaded the bike and gear in a rental pickup and left for Houston, TX (8 hours driving).  Tuesday was spent on medical tests at MD Anderson, and on Wednesday morning I had a consultation with my oncologist.  That's always a bit unsettling for me, because this is a battle I'm not expected to win.  Anyway,  I arrived early for the consultation and left as soon as it was done for the 5.5 hour drive to New Orleans.  I haven't even started the tour and I already felt pretty whooped.

I rented a pickup from Hertz because I thought I would stand the bike in the bed and secure it with rope - that's how I did it before when I had rented a Chevy Colorado pickup and needed to haul 2 bikes in the rear.  But this pickup was a Dodge Ram 1500 and had a much larger bed, so I was able to just lay the bike on its side.  I removed the left pedal, and the bike only contacts the bed at the left handlebar, left front rack near the axle, and left rear rack and axle.  I secured it with nylon cord in the front and rear; the cord passes thru and around the racks and then ties to eyebolts in the front and rear of the bed.  It rode quite well like this, but just to be safe I duct-taped a double layer of cardboard to the bed beneath each of the contact points.  For security when I needed to be away from the pickup for a few minutes, I ran a cable lock around the bike frame and through one of the eye bolts.  Since the bike is laying down in the pickup bed, no one would see it anyway unless they got close.   Using this approach the only assembly I have to do in New Orleans is to reattach the pedal.  I will be in a rush when I arrive because I hope to bike to the start and back that day, and it will be pushing it time-wise to do so - so arriving with the bike mostly assembled will be a big help. 

A Full-Size Pickup is More Than Needed, But It Was A Nice Ride
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By the time I finished at MD Anderson, it was only 9:30 so I was ahead of schedule.  Houston traffic is a bear, but once I got through it I was able to make good time.  The physiography between Houston and New Orleans consists of low-lying land, especially in Louisiana, and I drove for miles on highway elevated over swamps and bayous.  

Lowlands!
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I made only a few stops and managed to arrive at my New Orleans airport hotel at3:30pm.  Unfortunately it took about 20 minutes till my room was ready.  Once I was checked in, I made a quick change into my cycling clothes, then I drove to turn in the rental vehicle with the bike riding in the bed.  I later learned from the hotel guy at the front desk that the New Orleans airport had underwent a major overhaul, but that nothing had been done to the rental car center and it was in bad need of updating and maintenance.   Yeah, he was right.  There were no signs in the direction I was going indicating to turn in for the rental car center, and once it was obvious that I had passed it I did a U-turn and headed back.  There were signs going this direction, and I turned in.  I went past one grouping of rental car signs that did not include Hertz, then drove to the next grouping of rental car signs and it also didn't include Hertz.  I hunted around and gave up finding it on my own.  So I pulled into the Dollar car rental turn-in and asked them - turns out that Hertz was located on the upper level of the parking garage that contained the rental car operation and there was no sign telling you that.  So I worked my way out of there and finally got to the Hertz level.  Yeah, they said there were no signs now (there used to be signs) but that "everyone knows" that Hertz is on the upper level.  All this had put me behind my desired schedule, but I was determined to not let it get me mad and detract from the goal of making it to the official start point of the Great Rivers South route.  To be continued... 

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