Day 0.5 - New Orleans Airport to Downtown & Return - Seeking A Bicycle Warrior's Death, Part II: The Great Rivers South - CycleBlaze

September 21, 2022

Day 0.5 - New Orleans Airport to Downtown & Return

The Big Easy Was A Little Hard

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Statistics, Useful & Otherwise;

Elevation Gained Today; 282 ft                Cumulative; 282 ft

Found Money Today;     .02                         Cumulative; .02

Lodging Cost Today;      $0                           Cumulative; $0

Average Speed While Riding Today; 11.4 mph

Why Call This "Day 0.5?" Cycle tourists usually refer to the day they travel to the start of a tour as "Day 0." There was a lot of uncertainty with this day regarding whether I would reach New Orleans in time to ride from the airport to the official start point downtown and return to my airport hotel. So this could have been just Day 0 or it could have been Day 1.  I set the journal up in outline form prior to the trip (otherwise I just wouldn't have time to stay current with writing each day cause it takes a bit of time just setting up each day's entry page).  So I had a Day 1 page ready (for tomorrow's entry) and I had a Day 0 page set up to discuss the drive down, and I set this page up as an option to be used if needed. Now you know.

The "Found Money" Game.  On previous tours I have played a game of seeing how much money I find along the road (mostly) and buying a coffee or something at the end of the tour using that "found money."  I wasn't going to do that on this tour, but I immediately found a nickel and later on I found 2 pennies, so it seemed like fate was telling me to play the game.  Unfortunately, I hadn't developed a system of how I was going to store the money when I found the nickel, and it seems as though I lost it.  So I found $.07, then lost $.05, so I have $0.02 net from today.  I guess I got my 2 cents worth from New Orleans.

Summary of Today's Ride; Good after a rough start.

I unloaded Harvey (my touring bike) from the bed of the Hertz pickup at the New Orleans airport rental car return and proceeded reassembling the parts that had been removed for transport.  The left pedal was the only bike part I had to put back on and that was a quick job.  Then it was just a matter of loading on the water bottles, tire pump, seat bag that contains my tools and spare tube, the ACA slow-moving vehicle triangular reflector flag, the flik stand (like a kick-stand but better), and the handlebar bag.  I had left the panniers in the hotel room so I could ride unloaded to the downtown start point.  

The Tour Almost Ended Before It Started. When it was time to go, there was no way out for me other than to exit the same way the rental cars exit - they had barricaded things so that even a bicycle couldn't get through elsewhere.  And so I waited patiently for several minutes while the gal checked out the rental vehicle ahead of me.  They have a barricade that stands up about 2 feet tall and a gate arm that swings up - so you can't steal a car I suppose.  After a car goes through the solid steel barricade pops back up.  Well, the car ahead of me was finally cleared and the gal running the gate motioned for me to come on - and so I did and as my front wheel went over the lowered steel barricade it popped up and lifted up my bike and almost wrecked me!  I caught myself as I was falling towards my left side and kept the bike and me upright.  I was furious and the blood pressure shot up and I was ready to fight someone - but I exercised great control and told myself that the goal was to get downtown and to not let anything deter me.   The bike was ok, I was ok, and fortunately the Hertz manager had enough sense to stay away from me or I might have just ruined his day, month, and year.  I glowered at the girl operating the controls and she said "Sorry, you're the only bicyclist we have ever had and the system doesn't know how to deal with bicyclists."

Al this had cost me some time, and  it had thrown me out of my game a bit too.  But I rolled on down out of the parking garage and told myself that I needed to execute the plan for today and to not let this idiocy get to me.  And that was it - my head was in the game now and I headed off.

I had to ride 1.5 miles on busy Hwy 61 (known as Airline Drive in New Orleans), and while the traffic was heavy and it wasn't pleasant riding, it had a wide shoulder and was safe.  Google Earth is a great tool for cyclists and I use it to observe the roads I'm planning to ride in advance - I knew the shoulder was there and would get me to where I could exit onto a side street and reach the levy trail along the Mississippi River.   Interestingly, when I reached the levy the ramp to go up on the levy started in the parking lot of the Kenner Police Station, and there was a sign saying "No Skateboards or Bicycles Allowed."  Huh?!  No problem, I just walked the bike up the nearby stairs and reached the path on the levy.  I was really determined that nothing would stop me, even idiotic signs at police stations.  The levy path was great for cycling, smooth pavement with no cracks or bumps from tree roots like is found on many city bicycle paths.

The Mississippi River Levy Trail Near Kenner
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I passed beneath a highway and railroad bridge and was amazed at how high up they were built (to avoid flooding I suppose). 

Very High Bridges Spanning The Mississippi River
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I knew that I would pass close to the Corps of Engineers New Orleans District building, and I did.  This brought back some memories - I worked for the Corps of Engineers Tulsa District and around 1978 or so I had interviewed with the New Orleans District for a job in their Geotechnical Branch.  In those days the Geotechnical Branches were known as "Foundations and Materials" or variations of such names.  I flew around in small aircraft back then, and I flew my wife and I to New Orleans to interview for what would have been a promotion for me.  They were located in that same building adjacent to the Mississippi River back then, and that seemed like a cool place to work.  But what struck me was that the guy who would have been my boss actually lived in Mississippi and commuted to New Orleans during the week and returned home each weekend. It didn't seem like a good inducement to work there when the boss actually lived in another state, and so I did not.

On The Mississippi River Levy Path
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New Orleans District Corps of Engineers Headquarters Adjacent to the Mississippi River
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I exited the levy path near the Corps of Engineers building and proceeded along St. Charles Avenue towards the downtown area.  St. Charles Avenue is a happening place; it's an older residential setting that attracts lots of young people.  Young women and men were out bicycling and jogging and walking dogs and it was a nice ride.  Much of the street had a bicycle lane, and where it didn't the road was wide enough to easily share with cars.  A streetcar line ran down the median separating the 2 sides of the avenue, and I managed to keep up with a streetcar for about a mile. 

St, Charles Avenue
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Street Cars on St. Charles Avenue - Definitely New Orleans!
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The downtown area itself was crazy busy, but still safe enough for an experienced cyclist.  I missed a turn or 2 but had no trouble just taking the next street going my way, and eventually found myself in the Jackson Square area, the official starting point of the Great Rivers South route.  It was busy with cars, pedestrians, horse carriages, and a few cyclists all scurrying around.  I had pushed hard to get here before dusk, and I really didn't care whether I had a photo of me at the start, so I just took a few shots in the downtown area to commemorate my having cycled here.

Joan of Arc, the Patron Saint of New Orleans
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There is a copy of the above statue in Paris. The statue was a gift to the city of New Orleans from the French people.  When Joan of Arc was 17 she led a military force that saved the french city of Orleans - thus the connection to New Orleans.  

One of the Few Vehicles I Can Outrun On My Bicycle
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Hey I'm not too sure about the name of this court of appeals.  But given the status of some of our recent court rulings, perhaps it would be asking too much to expect major wisdom to rule the day.

I Don't Want My Fate To Be Decided By Those With Only Minor Wisdowm
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Well, there's so much more I could show and say about New Orleans, but I'm already a day behind on this journal.  By the time I cycled back along St. Charles Avenue and got on the levy path, it was getting dark.

Mississippi River Near Downtown New Orleans
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I still had an hour to cycle to get back to the hotel.  My dynamo powered bicycle lights work well and I never have to remember to charge a battery, so I was grateful for that as I rolled along.  It's pretty dark up on the levy once you leave the downtown area.   When I returned to the hotel, I was disappointed to see that the adjacent bar had already closed because I had planned to eat there.  So dinner consisted of some items the hotel had for sale; tomato soup and a chicken salad and crackers thing.  It was fine; I was so tired I really wasn't even hungry.  

Wow - what a blitzkrieg today was!  I was determined to get here and go riding in the city of New Orleans, and I just barely managed to do so and reach the official start point of the route and get back out of the downtown area.  So it was a good day for me, hope you all had a good day as well. G'night my friends, here's a little diddy from Woody's boy to lull you to sleep;

Today's ride: 39 miles (63 km)
Total: 39 miles (63 km)

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