Mostly recaps of two wheeled rambles through the countryside, but sometimes thoughts on other things.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Good Times in St. Tammany Parish

We're just back from visiting family in Covington, LA. Becky is Sharon's 1st cousin, although they have spent little time together, having been raised in Louisiana and Florida, respectively. Becky's dad, Sharon's uncle, was one of my favorite people. He's the one who told me that if I ever hoped to become a Southerner, I'd have  to learn  to   talk    real     s l o w .

Anyway, Becky recently got a hard bite from the bicycling bug and got herself a carbon Trek hot rod at a good deal from a lady who wasn't riding it much any more. This bike has the Rolf Vector wheels and mostly Ultegra gruppo. The rear derailer had been changed to an XT, so it could handle the pancake platter sized 32 the prior owner fit back there. It works fine and the bike is solid and smooth. She also sports 25 mm Specialized Armadillos, which are as big a tire as will fit in the fork clearance. The only downsides are that the frame is too large by a hair, and the saddle is a torture device. It's one of those "tush cush" all padding things that sell rail trail bikes in the showroom, but are true agony after 20 or 30 minutes on the highway. The bike is a man's frame, not a WSD, so she's a little stretched out, but we can fix that with a stem change. Her overall posture is good and her rhythym is fluid. If the Beck-ster stays at it, I think she will be fine on a ride of any distance she chooses.

She told me that we "ought to ride some day on the Tammany Trace." I replied "pick a day!" and that's basically how this weekend came to be. It's about 315 mi from our place to theirs, and we drove over on Friday afternoon. I met Jim, her "Ragin Cajun" husband. (He's a riot, and I love that accent) and all their dogs. Becky breeds Labradoodles and they are quite something. I held some puppies but liked the grown dogs better.  Friday evening, they took us to a place on the shore of Lake Ponchartrain and we had a super dinner with a lovely view. Wonderful old houses and buildings everywhere. They talked about Katrina and the aftermath, and other storms which have passed through.

Saturday morning, we got up and got ready. I sampled Coffee with Chickory for the 1st time. They cold brew it and then filter it. Very concentrated like an espresso, they heat it, add milk and sugar to taste, and it froths like the Cuban coffee I remember from Ybor City days. Just what a member the Associated Caffeinated Wheelmen needs to start the day! Here is Becky about to get ready, and our bikes, giving you some sense of the nice back yard.

Bruce, Becky, Vince 002   Bruce, Becky, Vince 001

 The relationships get labyrinthine, but another relation, Vincent, came out to join us.  Here are the riders, not yet having sweat a drop:

Bruce, Becky, Vince 003

Vincent is on his FULLY LUGGED Trek Pro 560. Yeah Baby!  We pedalled from Becky's house through a very quaint downtown to the Tammany Trace trailhead. It's a very nice trail that runs 30 odd miles. Given our plans for later, we decided to go 16 miles to Fontainebleau State Park and then turn around for homeMap of surrounding area

Bruce, Becky, Vince 011       Bruce, Becky, Vince 009  Along the way, we stopped at a crafts fair and open market in Mandeville. The muscians were doing a lovely set of James Taylor's work and the food vendors were being much too tempting.  We pushed on to the park and took some shots at an overlook by the lake:

Bruce, Becky, Vince 008    Bruce, Becky, Vince 006   On the way back we stopped in Abita. They make a very nice strawberry beer in Abita. It tastes much better than it sounds. I really liked it. I think the springs supply the water for it. Much like Coors and the Colorado Rockies melting snow theme.
Bruce, Becky, Vince 013   check it out.

Here are the bikes, posing while we take 5...
Bruce, Becky, Vince 012
 All of these pictures are along the trail which is really well done in the way of interesting things to see and rest stops when you need them.  On the way back, Becky's bottom had all it could stand from the sagging sofa of a seat, so we swapped bikes for the last leg from Abita back home. Here she is on "Louise."

Bruce, Becky, Vince 016

Looks pretty good on it, right?  This is a better size for her, and she even thought the Selle An atomica saddle was an improvement. Or she was so numb she could no longer tell :)  And here too is Vincent:

Bruce, Becky, Vince 017

He is the original owner of his bike and it is the right size, but he's looking at some updates to suit the riding that he would like to do. As someone who never misses a chance to tweak a bicycle, I totally understand.  At the end of our ride, we received this snappy salute from the signer of the Rails to Trails bill.
Bruce, Becky, Vince 018

After we got back, it was shower and EAT!  Jim had been busy all morning while we 3 played on 2 wheelers. He had a crawfish boil going on.  Man was that good. All sorts of other relations came over and there was a back yard full of food festivity.
Bruce, Becky, Vince 020 Here are some getting ready to dig in. Those blue dishes were filled with crawfish and you had a pile of one to eat and a pile of the discards. Garlic mushrooms, sausages, red potatoes, artichokes, corn, yum yum yum.

What a great way to spend a Saturday! I loved meeting and getting to know everyone. It will be nice if we can stay in touch. I've invited Vincent and Becky to come up here for the Glassner ride in September. Hope they make it.

Today held an unexpected surprise. I had planned on getting up and getting going back home, but Vincent was up for another ride, so we went out again today and did a shorter but quicker ride. It was just as good. Becky opted out of this one. Then after cleaning up, it was lunch at a riverbank place that served good food in a great atmosphere. A driving tour to "Redneck Beach" and finally it WAS time to pack up and get going. We made good time coming back and if the weather holds tomorrow...

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