Monday, April 7, 2014

Apr 7 (Day 97) - Crystal to the rescue, back on the road

First, let me just send out a huge 'thank you' to the many people who sent me notes of support or offered me various sorts of help after an incredibly difficult day yesterday. It was really humbling to see the number of people that have an emotionally vested interest in my success. I tell everyone that I am the one riding the bike, but the adventure is to be enjoyed by everyone. A challenge as large as this year cannot be attempted and executed without the help of hundreds of people. It was great to see that people were willing to go to great lengths to ensue that I got back onto the road as soon as possible. I really cannot thank everyone enough.

The help I ultimately did receive came from Crystal Johnson, a professor in Environmental Science at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Crystal has been lurking on the blog and Biking for Birds Facebook page for several weeks, but up until today we had not communicated directly. When she saw my post about my day yesterday on Facebook, she immediately contacted me with an amazing offer;  She would bring me whatever supplies I needed from Baton Rouge. As the nearest decent bike store to Morgan City was located in Baton Rouge (~70 miles away), this was a perfect solution to my problem. I called the bike store when it opened this morning and bought 2 Continental Gator Skin tires and 4 new tubes. Crystal swung by the store and delivered these supplies to me around noon.

Crystal to the rescue!

We spent about on hour just chatting about our lives, careers in academia, and, of course, birds. Her interest in birds is growing each day, and this project appears to have really inspired her to get outside and enjoy birds both of local and rare forms. She told me how she went to Jacksonville to see the Snowy owl that appeared there earlier in the winter! Seeing how excited she was about Biking for Birds went a long way to erasing the frustrating memories from yesterday. She helped remind me that this project is much bigger than just me. I think I've got a really good, really positive story going this year, and it was very satisfying to connect with Crystal with whom the project has so profoundly reverberated

Once I got back onto the road, the bike functioned just fine. There was much less debris on the road today than yesterday. There was a frustrating 10 MPH NW headwind all afternoon, but I arrived in New Iberia just without incident this evening (51 miles today). The short term goal is to make it to Lake Charles on Wednesday afternoon or evening. On a good weather day, I could do this ~95-mile ride from where I am now in a single day with no problem. However, the winds are really going to start blowing hard from the NW at a sustained 15 MPH around noon tomorrow, so I am going to have to make some early miles west. I just do not think I can make the whole distance tomorrow given the wind forecast, so I am likely going to duck for cover sometime in the early afternoon. I can then continue onto Lake Charles on Wednesday (for which continued but much weaker NW winds are predicted).

I am sorry of the lack of bird content in the last two days, but I promise there will be a huge explosion once I move beyond Lake Charles sometime this weekend. I am flirting with the 300-bird mark, and I think I should be able to eclipse it sometime next week.

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