Our ride from Sara’s house in Opelousas can be summed up simple as: A 110 miles of riding on US-190 past endless farms with a few small towns along the way. But you’re not here for the broad picture. Let’s get macro detailed and picture heavy!
We rode out of Opelousas through a few blocks of sketchy neighborhoods eventually finding our way back to the main road we were greeted into rural Western Louisiana by what looked like an private airshow, with a small yellow plane flying in complicated rolls. We assumed the horses were running from the sound of the engine overhead. Our assumptions were far from the mark, our acrobatic plane was spraying pesticides without regard to the houses or animals below his path. Putting the puzzle together we quickly pedaled out of there to avoid breath the likes of aerosolized RoundUp. Mmm…
From the fertilized and pesticide enriched livestock and fields, the farms changed to flooded fields with massive pumps and irrigation ditches. Confused about what is grown we debated the possibility of craw fish versus rice, we learned both answers were correct as we passed craw fish distributors along with rice drying facilities. Lacking in craw fish of our own we stopped at the first opportunity and had ourselves a tray of “bugs” with corn and taters.
Our dinner ran a bit late and we found ourselves riding in the dark. Swamps and ditches abound on both sides of the road, as such we continued pedaling until we reached the next town hoping for solid ground. While filling our water at “Paul & Dada’s Pit Stop” we were invited to a snack and drink by the owner. While munching on our freebies the standard questions about our trip arose and soon enough the township police were called and asked to come and find us a spot to sleep. A few phone calls later we were given permission to camp at the local ball field and were escorted there by the police, who offered to check in on us throughout his shift.
At the ball field we met Dan & Jeremy who offered us a Shiner Bock as well as cracklins! They were amused by our adventure (probably thinking we were crazy) and after a few beers set off to their houses while we made camp under the softball pavilion.
With permission to camp from both the police and director of the park we were in no rush to wake and pack, however the onslaught of hundreds of children trying out for softball got us moving in a hurry. In the midst of our packing and breakfast Jeremy brought us fresh baked cinnamon rolls on his way to coaching the masses. “The best breakfast is the one you don’t have to make!”
Our final ride would see us out of the food & kindness capital of our southern route. Back on US-190 we had an endlessly long stretch of road ahead of us. Accustomed to long stretches we found entertainment chatting with the locals (horses) who told us about the natives (craw fish). Intrigued we scoured the mud looking for the tasty bugs.
Seizing the our last opportunity for some of that Louisiana goodness we stopped in what appeared to be the final establishment in the state serving boudin and cracklins. Without any other options we were satisfied, but observed a trend: boudin is made on a gradient with Eastern LA having the highest pork and liver and least rice, the closer you get to Texas the less meat and more rice. The cracklins follow a similar trend with our final bag being a lesser quality than those near Baton Rouge.
Pedaling our way down the road we saw an alarming amount of smoke that was the result of an RV park burning the grasses to stimulate growth. A technique we were not familiar with the local boys gave us a quick education before sending us on our way. A few miles from the state line I was blessed with yet another flat and received an offer for a place to stay before we continued on our way…