Southern Comfort

Cycling Tractor

There are many dangers out on the road when we ride and each region has its own set of potenial hazards. First, let me start with the north and the coastal regions.

Sure you have the chance to be mauled by a bear or a mountain lion up north (would not be much fun), but what scares me most is pea gravel. Just think, with those big mountains come big descents( I love descents by the way). You coming down doing about 40 mph and hit a patch of pea gravel, I promise you will look like a bear mauled you by the time you stop skidding on your backside.

Now on the east and west coast, there is always a chance of alligators or the occasional surf board coming out a car (dude you dented my board with your head!!!) but what scares me most is retired transplants from up north. They still drive like they are in New York or Chicago but don’t have the motor skills to adjust fast enough. Plus those blinkers are so aggravating (Turn it off)!!!

I have been hearing on the radio how some of the northern states have been having a “heat wave” for 10-20 days. Here in southern Louisiana we call that fall. Plus the animals down here think they have more rights to the roads then the cars do. If you are not dodging dead animals the live ones are vicious. The other day, I came across a water moccasin on stretched across my side of the road. Thinking it was dead , I was going to bunny hop over it until the snake woke up. Needless to say, it took about a day to take the saddle out of the orifice that sucked it up.

Still about 3 weeks ago, I came across a set of cats crossing the street, or what I thought was cats. The family of skunks were not pleased with me, but I came away unscathed.

All this is scary but what scares me most down here is trail rides. Yes, trail rides. If you are unfamiliar with trail rides, let me explain what it is. It is backwoods drunken revelry with added bonus of large animals that are mostly out of control. There is usually a buggy being drawn by horse or tractor proceeded by a peloton of horses and drunk riders. The buggy can usually only hold three people, not because it is small but that it is holding that many ice chest and bbq pits. Nothing like fire and a small wooden buggy to build confidence in people. If you come across one of these turn around, I learned this the hard way.

I was running late on my ride, so I was out at 10am (keep this time in the back of your mind). Well as I was coming around my usual route, I started running into horse patties. You have never experienced bike handling like trying not to hit a multitude of horse crap. This should have clued me in but I am a slow learner.

I was going a good click (18 mph) and came up the trail ride rather quicker than I expected (and the closer I got the more crap I had to dodge). Lesson number two from this, don’t try to pass a trail ride while riding a bike. I figured I was going a good bit faster then them and nothing was coming, let me pass them. When I had got up to them I had dropped into a lower gear, to slow down but keep pedaling. I make my move.

Lesson number three and four, horses have great hearing and drunk people cannot drive a wild beast. As I make my move, I noticed that one horse was a little skettish and the “experienced rider” had a beer in one hand, a whiskey bottle in the other and his “little cajun friend” was driving the reins. So my thought was jump into a higher gear and blast pass this guy, my mistake. My gear change made its normal click-clack noise and the horse jumped, and not in a good way. How that horse heard my gear change is beside me because the radio on the buggy was blasting Richard LeBouf “Who Stole My Monkey?” so loud it was creating a wind tunnel. The horse jumped right in front of me, I actually had to get into the horse peloton just not to get ran over.

I will tell you it is not fun having your face right where those horse patties come from. I was lucky enough to get all the way to the other side of the road and peeled off when the next road came up.

Please take these lessons to heart…It will save your butt and sanity. Trust me!

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I believe that man will not merely endure. He will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.