Tour Notes for Day 1: April 10, 2004
Lafayette to St. Martinville
St. Martinville to Breaux Bridge
The following notes are a set of merged notes based on those taken by Bruce and Bev and those taken by Liddy, Tom, Rich and John. Everyone will be referenced using their first name and the pronouns “we”, “us” and “our” refer to “Team Sarcoma”.
The Day Before
Before launching into Day 1 (April 10th), some events of April 9th are documented. Around 11 AM on the 9th, Bruce, Beverly and Liddy drove from Lafayette to Baton Rouge to pick up Tom at the airport. Rich was supposed to also be there, but he didn't make his flight in Boston. Bruce, Bev, Liddy and Tom visited Sister Dulce at St. Agnes Church, and then went to Miss Goldie’s for lunch (boiled crawfish, hush puppies and Frito pie). Then they went to the Academy (a sports store) to look for long pants for Bruce and long-fingered gloves for biking since it was so cold (which didn't feel at all like Louisiana in the springtime). They then went back to the airport to get Rich and made it back to Lafayette in time to register for the bike tour. Each participant was given a green wrist band to identify them at events, cue sheets, a set of maps, a yellow Cycle Zydeco T-Shirt and a set of numbers for their luggage, and ribbons to mark their luggage for those staying in motels or B&Bs.
Liddy, Tom and Rich started to put together Rich's bike and make final adjustments on other bikes (e.g., adjusting the height on Tom's saddle). Rich took his bike for a test spin and discovered that the rear drop-out was broken! The derailleur went into the rear wheel causing even more damage. It was 8:30 PM, and we were worried about what Rich could ride. We had a few possible bikes that we could borrow from Pat and David, but none of them were his size. Bev suggested calling Greg, a friend of Mark's from high school. Not only did Greg have a bike, but it was a “nice” bike (a Klein road bike which Greg bought for participating in triathlons) and Greg was tall enough so that the bike was reasonable for Rich. John showed up later that evening after driving from the New Orleans airport and got fitted to his loaner bike. Everyone then started their final packing clothes for the ride. See the Cyclists/Gear page for photos of Team Sarcoma members and the bikes they road. Now, let's move onto Day 1.
It was 1:30 AM on the morning of June 10th, the actual day of the big event, when Mark and Daniel, his son, arrived at Freda’s home. All eight members of Team Sarcoma were finally in Lafayette. Bev, Bruce, Mark and Daniel stayed at Freda’s home while Liddy, Tom, Rich and John stayed with at the Charles' home, just around the corner from Freda’s. We all got up around 6:15 AM as some work still had to be done on several of the bikes to get them road ready (in particular, Mark’s and Daniel’s bikes).
There clearly was a sense of excitement and anticipation in the air. Bev and Bruce hadn’t really biked in years and here they were ready to set out on a four day, 50/mile per day, bike tour. True, they had been able to take a few 10-15 mile training runs and one 20 mile trip, during the last week of March and the first week of April, but they had no idea if either of them could bike 50 miles in one day, let alone do it for four consecutive days! No one knew how Daniel, their 11-year old grandson would hold up either but they believed that Liddy, Tom, Mark, Rich and John were all ready and able to go 200 miles and beyond.
Freda cooked a wonderful breakfast for everyone—an egg dish (with hash browns, sausage and vegetables in it), biscuits, fresh fruit, coffee and tea. It consisted of lots of carbohydrates, fitting for those setting off on a day in which they would bike 50-miles It is said that bikers should load up on carbohydrates before starting on a rigorous day of cycling to prevent muscle spasms and give them energy. The breakfast was set up buffet style in her dining room. Much to our delight, Charles brought over “beignets” for everyone. A beignet (pronounced “ben-yay”) is a wonderful French “doughnut” covered with confectionary sugar. Some believe beignets are best eaten after dunking them in a fresh cup of café-a-lait.
John M. and Sharon, Charles and Eddie (Freda’s son) had come over around 7 AM to help us get ready to shove off that morning. Both Sharon and Eddie have trucks which were very important in getting our luggage and bikes to the Hilton Hotel, where Cycle Zydeco was to officially begin at 9 AM. We loaded Sharon's truck first with 3 bikes and some of the luggage. Eventually, five of the bikes and the rest of the luggage were loaded into Eddie's truck. John M. brought over his car to accommodate spill over luggage and passengers. After everything was packed, we took a few photos.
When we got to the hotel and unpacked the bikes and luggage, Mark, Daniel and John had to register. [Added by John: While looking for the registration desk, we happened upon someone in one of the orange Cycle Zydeco shirts. When we asked her where registration was, she noticed Daniel and excitedly said, “Oh, you must be Daniel Shriver! I have your shirt!” It was nice being part of a small bike tour where everybody knows your name.]
The luggage for all the cyclists was loaded into two “Thrifty” trucks to be driven to Breaux Bridge. These trucks would be our luggage carriers for the next four days. Eventually, all of the riders gathered at the back of the hotel. It was a chilly morning and everyone was ready to get the tour started because you get warm rather quickly when cycling. Almost all types of bikes were to be seen in the sea of people and bikes before us as we waited for the tour to begin: road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, tandem bikes, recumbent bikes, and recumbent tandems bikes. There was even a hand-pedaled bike. There were bikes of every conceivable color with riders wearing every conceivable type of outfit, some of them meant for biking, other outfits meant for something other than biking. Some of the bikes were obviously expensive and some not so expensive. Many of the bikes had little stuffed animals or tokens attached to them or the riders. However, we’re sure that each cyclist believed that he/she was riding a very special bike. We learned later during the tour that the oldest cyclist was 82-years old and had participated in the previous Cycle Zydeco, that Daniel was the youngest cyclist, and that 80% of the cyclists were over 50-years old.
Joan, one of the bike tour organizers, made lots of announcements over a public address system but it was difficult, if not impossible, to understand them as the AV equipment was terrible and the cyclists were making lots of noise. It turns out that Joan and her husband Dick, have a son (Lester) who was a close friend of two of Bruce and Bev’s sons (Bruce Jr. and Mark) while they lived in Lafayette. Joan and Dick owned a sports store, Pack ‘n Paddle, during those years. They helped make the local arrangements for Cycle Zydeco, drove the sag wagon, and Dick personally painted all of the “arrows” on the road that marked the bike route. See the note at then bottom of this page regarding "sag wagons", "touring", and "some French phrases we learned".
On the road to St. Martinville
The bike tour actually began around 9:40 AM with a police escort out of town for about the first 3-4 miles. Pat and David (friends that live in Lafayette) had come over to the hotel to see us off. Later we would learn that they had biked over to they hotel on a tandem and, after the entire group of cyclists had left the hotel, they biked down to St. Martinville to meet us. For the first 3-4 miles, all of the cyclists biked together, in a long continuous chain, sometime 3-4 cyclists wide. We were moving at a reasonable pace (probably 10-12 miles/hour). When we were finally in a rural area, groups of cyclists began to set their own pace and the line thinned out into small pockets of riders, some of which had set their own “pace line” and sped off into the distance. [Added by Bruce and Bev, “In addition to being cyclists in the event, we were observers of what was going on as much of this was new to us.”]
Bev and Bruce biked together the entire day, except for a few miles. Mark and Daniel biked together. Liddy and Tom bike together. Rich and John biked together. It was a pretty ride. We biked on back roads through farmland, much of which was dedicated to sugar cane. We didn’t encounter either hills or wind.
Around 15-miles into the ride, there was a watering, fruit and pit stop. Fresh grapes, oranges, bananas, and apples were available along with water and a blue energy drink. We met Kelly, a woman who worked at the Lafayette Convention & Visitors Commission and who helped arrange for a TV interview for Team Sarcoma on Lafayette's KATC's “Good Morning Acadiana” show and she told us about the arrangements for Friday morning. We took a pit stop break (using either a port-a-let or the bushes), chatted with other cyclists and “Cycle Zydeco” volunteers. It was a welcomed and pleasant rest stop.
It was here that Rich and John joined up with Liddy and Tom. There were two routes into St. Martinville from the rest stop: a 20-mile route and a 32-miles route (both of which included how far we had already traveled). Bruce, Bev, Mark and Daniel took the “short” route. Liddy, Tom, Rich and John took the “long route”.
After arriving in St. Martinville, Bruce, Bev, Mark and Daniel “parked” their bikes near the “Evangeline Oak” by Bayou Teche. They visited St. Martin de Tours, the church in front of the statue of Evangeline. They had lunch at the Foti Oyster Bar, where they met Pat and David, quite by accident. It was then Pat and David told them they had cycled down to St. Martinville on their tandem bike. They had an excellent, spicy chicken and sausage gumbo with a side order of boudin. After lunch Bruce, Bev, Mark and Daniel took a self-guided tour through the small, but very interesting, African American Museum and Museum of the Acadian Memorial.
On the way to St. Martinville, Rich and Tom wanted more air in their bike tires and had to wait in a line at the bike mechanic's truck. So, they were the last of the Team to leave the pit-stop. The bike mechanic's truck was a portable bike shop. He had 3 pumps for use by the riders. After arriving in St. Martinville, Liddy, Rich, and Tom ate at the Old Castillo Hotel (red beans and rice and gumbo). John arrived just as they were finishing, so they keep him company during lunch, and then walked the town a bit. [Added by John, “I hadn't trained for the bike trip at all, and this is where it first caught up to me. I was the very last rider to arrive in St. Martinsville for lunch! My advice for any prospective bicyclists out there: take the short route the first day.”] They went to a bakery and bought apple fritters and beignets. John thought that he was done biking for the day once he reached St. Martinville, and was very surprised that he had another 20 miles to go.
On the road to Breaux Bridge
Bruce and Bev began biking up to Breaux Bridge when they finished the museum tour with Mark and Daniel. They learned later that Liddy, Tom, Rich and John met Mark and Daniel in St. Martinville and the six of them started biking to Breaux Bridge together.
We were headed north and had to constantly battle a head wind the entire 20-mile ride, which not only slowed us down, but made the cycling very tiring. Bruce and Bev arrived in Breaux Bridge around 4:00 PM at the Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, adjacent to the bridge on LA 31 crossing the Bayou Teche.
Outside, there was a local Zydeco band playing, and Cycle Zydeco volunteers were serving free beer and soda, pork jambalaya (pronounced "juhm-buh-li-yah"), shrimp, and cracklings and some of the left over fruit from the morning rest stop. Inside, they had cake and samples of hot sauce and Mardi Gras beads. Bruce and Bev were going to stay in a B&B and the luggage for people who were going to stay in B&B’s, motels, etc. was set outside the Visitor Center as well.
While they were eating, they met Daniel. He told them that his dad had put him on the sag wagon. John joined him on the sag wagon as well for the last 10 miles. They got him a coke and told him they were going to store their bikes in St. Bernard’s school gym across the street from the Tourist Office. This is where Liddy, Tom, Mark, Daniel, Rich and John were going to sleep in sleeping bags on the gym floor with the other indoor campers. They met Liddy, Tom and Rich inside the gym.
Liddy, Tom and Rich rolled into the Breaux Bridge school gym around 4 PM. John put his bed down and took a nap. The gym campers stood in line for hot showers for over 30 minutes at the shower truck. This was the only gym that did not have indoor cold showers, which made the lines at the truck longer than the following days. They hung out on their bedding for a while; Mark explained monkey genitalia. Tom documented what hurt him: his lips, eyes, and left shoulder.
Bruce and Bev picked up their luggage and boarded a shuttle bus to be taken to the Bayou Teche B&B. The driver accidentally took them to the wrong B&B, the Bayou Cabins B&B. They didn’t realize this until the bus had pulled away and they were inside attempting to register for the evening. The woman, Lisa, felt so sorry that they had been dropped off at the wrong place, she said that she or her husband would take them to the correct B&B. He was out running some errands and would be back in 15-20 minutes. In the meantime, she gave them a glass of home made root beer, some boudin, cracklings and some head cheese. When her husband, Rocky, arrived he drove them to the Bayou Teche B&B. It turns out Rocky is a “Sonnier” and was a relative of the well-known Cajun artist, Floyd Sonnier (Rocky had been a pall bear at Floyd’s funeral a year or two before). Both he and his wife were very friendly and gracious to them.
It turned out that the Bayou Teche B&B was just around the corner from the Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center and Bruce and Bev could have easily walked there. So although they didn’t arrive at the correct B&B until later, it was a pleasant mistake. The Bayou Teche B&B, a large old home built in the very early 1800s, is located in an “historical” district in Breaux Bridge. When they got there, no one was in the home. They paged the owner using her phone and she soon arrived. Her name is Mary Lynn. She had restored the home over an eight year period and it was furnished with many unusual and beautiful things, including one hallway of beautiful pictures of birds that nest in nearby Lake Martin. Mary Lynn is an advisory to primary and secondary schools and had a number of interesting Louisiana and Breaux Bridge stories to tell.
Later that evening, after taking a hot bath, Bruce and Bev met the other members of Team Sarcoma for dinner at a small restaurant. We had crawfish étoufée (pronounced a-too-fay), crawfish gumbo, salad, and a very nice bread pudding. Mark and Daniel walked them back to their B&B to take a look at the home and their room, since the building dated back to the early 1800’s. When the gym campers made it back to the gym (around 8:30 PM), all of the lights were out with the exception of the one spotlight directly over them. Good thing Bev made sure that everyone had nightshades! A number of the gym campers, including some Team Sarcoma members, found ear plugs necessary to get needed sleep due to the number of snorers in the gym. Good thing Bev had also handed out ear plugs!
All in all, a great day!
A note about "sag" wagons" and "touring": Sheldon Brown states in his on-line Bicycle Glossary, “sag wagon: A car or truck that picks up or otherwise assists riders who have had to stop riding, either due to fatigue, injury, or mechanical failure. This is primarily a touring term, racers call the corresponding vehicle the “broom wagon”. Some people believe that the term derives from the verb “sag”, others maintain that it is an acronym for Support and Gear.” Further, Brown states, “Touring is a slippery word, and means different things to different people. This can cause mis-communication, so the word should be used with caution. To non-cyclists, or casual cyclists, “touring” may mean riding 8 miles on a rented cruiser at a beach resort, or a fund-raising “thon” ride, or any type of riding where the principal objective is leisurely enjoyment of scenery and fresh air. In the sense more generally accepted in cycling circles, however, a “tour” is a multi-day ride, which is not a competition or a timed event.”
Some French phrases we learned. Click here to see useful Louisiana and Cajun links.
Copyright © 2003 The Shriver Family: Last modified: 01/06/04.