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Messages - drmweaver2

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General Discussion / Re: best touring bike for a fat boy
« on: July 07, 2010, 02:19:20 pm »
My last "long" ride was from St. Cloud, MN to Omaha NE in 1995, and it was a disaster because of poor planning, unexpected high winds for all 4 days, and the fact that my traveling companion and I were in nowhere near good enough shape to do roughly a century a day for 4 days in a row.   And that was the time in my life when I was in the best shape of my life!
Well, that being said, and since you're delaying the trip for a bit, you have your "work" cut out for you - ride ride ride. Doing so will accomplish a number of things for you:
1. You'll get into riding condition - slim down/tone up naturally, your lungs will improve, even your current muscle/back problems may improve.
2. You'll regain the confidence in yourself you had in earlier days.
3. You'll dial in your equipment for efficiency, comfort and reliability.
4. You'll have experience with different terrain, road conditions and weather that you currently don't have - and which may be causes of concern/doubt at this point.
5. You'll realize that "doing a century a day 4 days in a row" is not necessary when touring - unless you really want to. (But 400 miles over 4 days doesn't leave me much time to actually see what I've ridden past. That's not "my" definiton of touring though it may be yours.)
6. You'll find support from family and friends grows as your training and dedication becomes part of their world knowledge wrt you. This will embolden you and also add to your determination to finish what you started once you actually start.

You do NOT want to ride the MRT/levee all the way from Baton Rouge to New Orleans - nor the River Road either. Because of the meandering route the river takes, you add 30-60 miles needlessly and gain nothing (I-10 mileage 64, Hwy 61 mileage - 66, River Road - 90-120 depending on shortcuts). Dropping onto/riding River Road for any distance is taking your life in your hands due to traffic, road condition (extremely poorly maintained and seashell strewn), and the fact that speed limits are not honored. The MRT/levee bikepath near Baton Rouge is incomplete, short and doesn't end up getting you out of the BR metropolitan area.

As far as riding the MRT from Norco to New Orleans goes, I wouldn't do it. The bikepath between Norco and Kenner is not well-maintained - you are riding on grass for significant stretches rather than pavement. There are too few convenience stores that could be used as bailout points/refreshment points for water. Heat/humidity being major concerns in Louisiana EVERY summer, this is/should be a major survival consideration (this morning it was 80F/80% humidity at 7am... the temp rose to 91 by 11am). Also, the Norco area is an industrial/oil refinery wasteland - it literally stinks. You can get through the stench fastest on Hwy 61. This is something that Google Maps will never tell you.

Approaching New Orleans, the MRT/levee bikepath from the airport going East is recommended due to its lack of traffic, condition and patroling by the Levee Board Police (in case of medical emergency/accident). They are nothing but supportive of cyclists. The only real drawback to the levee bikepath is a total lack of shade.

I'm a local New Orleanian and lived in Baton Rouge for 8 years. Went back and forth often.

My advice is to stay off Hwy 190 east of Baton Rouge at all costs. It's narrow, has a relatively high traffic load and. unfortunately my experience - even as a motorcycler on that road - is that people in cars/trucks simply do not honor your right to the highway. There's no shoulder and little to no escape area on either side of the road.

Hwy 61 ("Airline Highway") was the primary route between Baton Rouge and New Orleans prior to I-10. Since then, 18-wheelers and locals use the road - as such, you get mixed experiences. The road itself is about a Grade B - patchy but driveable in a car. There are 3 foot shoulders so it's rideable on bikes, HOWEVER, there is little to no cleanup of the shoulders so you often have to avoid the remnants of blown truck tires. There's little glass or other detritus most of the time.

I'd advise taking a look at or google maps to identify the area/spot about 1 mile west of the Louis Armstrong Airport (on Airline Hwy outside New Orleans) where you should cut towards the river. Don't ride on River Road itself. Instead, get up on the levee - it's a prepared/protected bikepath. That can be ridden for roughly 10 miles (or more, I forget). From there, you can head anywhere into the city itself - depending on your accomodations.

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