On Saturday, August 8th, heat index 107 degrees and many New Orleanians congregated in the Quarter for #RedDressRun- three brave athletes and myself bicycled 52-miles around the fringes of the New Orleans Metropolitan area.
Like the birth of every great idea spawned in New Orleans, this creative adventure rightfully began over drinks with my buddy Mike at Tracey's. The next morning at the office, I mapped the route that I'm sure many serious bikers within New Orleans have completed, right? The path for Noel (mountain bike), Mike (mountain bike), Greg ($100 Target fixie) and myself (also $100 fixie) began in my neighborhood (Lower Garden District). After forcing the group to listen to an inspiring speech from Independence Day we departed 8am. The adventure began along the Mississippi River in the Warehouse District, the French Quarter, Crescent City Park in the Bywater, then north parallel the Industrial Canal on France Road. After carrying our bikes over our first set of train tracks, we pedaled west along the Lakeshore. While the Lakefront is beautiful in the morning light, on this Saturday, the ride was brutal for two reasons: one, a westerly head wind around 14-17mph for ~16 miles; and two, the temperature was rising with little comfort in the way of shade. Entering Jefferson Parish, we quickly skirted under the Causeway towards Kenner, brah.
However, 20 miles into the ride, not only was gear beginning to shutter on two-craptastic fixies from Target, but Greg was physically hurting. Two hours thirty-three minutes and 25-miles into the adventure, Fred said mercy. Yep, Greg had heatstroke!
Mike, Noel and myself continued the journey off the lakefront bike path and southward unto the backside levee armor. Protected from the west wind by the levee wall, didn't provide us safe harbor from the deadly rays of sunlight burning down on us. We took refuge from the sunlight under the I-10 overpass for protein bar and water refueling. Riding south along the levee, we approached a gravel road on the backside of the Louis Armstrong airport runway, then up-and-over the levee we carried our bikes over the second set of train tracks for the day. At this point, we were in no man's land flanked by woods on the left and swamp on the right. We continued pedaling and as we approached a clearing on the left, I've never been so happy to be in St. Rose or see a Texaco station! 32 miles and three hours thirty-three minutes into the ride, we took a much deserved break.
As much as I'd like to tell you the rest of this bike riding adventure, the remainder of the trip was simple as we once again glided across a clean path on the Mississippi River Trail to Audubon Park Uptown. For Noel, Mike and I, we completed 52 miles in a little over five hours.
In summary, New Orleans doesn't offer ancillary physical activities for the ultra active, however, if you're adventurous- our backyard is truly paradise and the best way to experience her for yourself is by paving your own path.