Hoping not to get busted flat in Baton Rouge while cycle-touring

By April 19, 2022Travel Blog

Both Janis Joplin, singer of Me and Bobby McGee, and Kris Kristofferson, the man who wrote it, were born on the Gulf Coast, and their gritty music is as part of this landscape as the sun and sea themselves.
Joplin recorded the iconic road song just before her death in 1970 and it topped the charts the next year, playing over and over again on my home-town radio station, and me, as a 10-year-old, instinctively understanding the pain, the longing and the wanderlust in every heart-felt refrain.
Fiona and I were on our way to Baton Rouge, and although we were feeling faded, we did not want to become busted flat — metaphorically or physically.
We had a fairly good ride into a KOA campground near Baton Rouge, but then the wind came up, making cooking nearly impossible and almost blowing out tent away.
We are both working remotely on this trip, and because of that, we were delayed the next morning in leaving, getting away just before noon.
The route through east Baton Rouge was through poor industrial areas, with trains, tracks, trucks and heavy traffic roaring past us while the wind blew grit in our faces.
We rode past prisons, and a high-school so covered in barbed wire that it was unclear if it was a jail too. There was some sort of sports day going on behind the barbed wire, with soldiers assisting in the events and a wall of police cars parked across the street.
The bike route took us under the freeway, and we cycled on meandering paths as vehicles raced overhead, sounding like some of the jets taking off at the nearby airport.
Sometime after pedalling past a women’s prison, with signs about children and contraband, the shoulder disappeared completely, cut away in a deep trench by bulldozers. We were forced to walk through dung-coloured clay as thick as cement, gumming our bikes and pulling debris into our tires.
Google is not the safest or most reliable way to navigate, and it took us through a miserable shoulder less country road, filled full of transports, pickups and logging trucks. A few frustrated rivers sounded their horns at us, one gave Fiona the middle-finger salute, and we ground on and on, eventually making it to a freeway with wide shoulders.
By then the wind was in full fury, gusting up to 60 miles per hour, threatening to either stop us in our tracks or blow us into traffic.
We crossed the Mississippi River, seeing its muddy flood waters spilling through green forestland. But what should have been a glorious moment was instead highly dangerous, white knuckle riding, our eyes stinging from the wind as pickups raced by.
As we neared the town of New Roads, getting perilously late for an online business meeting that fiona had to attend, a small miracle happened. The wind shifted and the same howler was now at our back, pushing us ever faster to our hotel. Fiona made
The meeting on time and I went and bought enough beer to float a
We weren’t busted flat. And for now, at least, we were gloriously free.