If you haven’t taken an outdoor shower in the bayou at night, are you really alive?
We’ve been discussing a shortcut. First Damon and I. Then with Mandie, who admits she doesn’t bike but has heard there’s a bridge you cannot do on bike. I float the idea to Perry – an amazing host and friend I made the day before hitting the Natchez Trace in 2019. Her and Lep are kinda sorta bike touring famous. Or maybe bike hospitality Jedis. Maybe it’s Perry and Lep just goes along with it. Anyway. Perry confirms that there is indeed an absolutely un-rideable 5 mile bridge over land and is telling me about a detour that she says is only for “the smart cyclists”. It’s via private road, though the owner is cool with bicyclists using. If nothing I drop Perry’s name. For reals. Her and I laugh and I hope to see her on their wonderful stretch of land if we can avoid the storms supposedly heading our way.
Storms are the real factor here. Actual weather. The forecast calls for them. We wanna ride in between them. So we take the shortcut; it gets us to a hotel in 50 miles and Perry’s in 80. Hopefully we don’t see lightning. As soon as we step outside, sprinkles. Then rain. I put my raincoat on and roll out. Then the sun comes out. We are dodging every inclement weather event possible!!
Damon is behind me as we start the stretch of adventuring into our locally advised detour. I get a text from him that he catches a flat. I hit the covered rest stop a couple minutes into a town. I’m not sure how much he has performed the repair procedure all on his own. I think I’ve done it three times for him and twice for me in front of him. I wait it out two miles ahead. Either way, I get some solo time to nap, think and write. I like it. Eventually he catches up and has his shit fixed up. He is also covered in grease and dirt. Hell yeah, Damon. Baptism by fire.
We rock out the detour and it’s gets pretty back country at points. But worth it. 25 miles later and I am now crossing the Mississippi River. The might Mississippi. This bridge and this view is amazing. I am feeling great; even my stomach pain has subsided. About 20 miles left to Perry’s — so we push it, push it good, as the sun starts to set.
We make it to Perry’s just as dusk hits. Perfect timing for her to meet Damon, show him the bathroom, bunk and outdoor shower. Then show us her bomb ass collection of bicycles. Her touring Surly is so perfectly modified. Every bike she pulls out is tits. I witnessed this display 18 months ago. Never thought I’d be back to witness it ever again, much less so soon. She’s got some newer bikes too. We set up camp and I hit the outdoor shower, showing my ass to anyone passing my. I am alive again thanks to the shower. It really hits the spot. Afterward we have a fantastic feast in Perry’s awesome house. Quinoa. Beans. Kim chi. Blueberries. Yum. The three of us share laughs and stories and chat for a bit before Damon and I hit the tents. I pass out faster than on any other day on the tour. Tomorrow, we hope to dodge what appears to be the most volatile of storm days.