Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cycle 55 Miles to Covington

We finally reach Covington at the end of Tammany Trace Trail

Saturday, April 10, I wake up at 8:00 a.m. on a board. The low is 56 and the high gets to a gorgeous 73 degrees. There is some wind which will be a factor on our ride. First thing this morning I got a small spot of dirt out of my new shirt. We had a hearty breakfast, stretched, packed up the bikes and hit the trail at 11:05. As Bob is putting the bikes on the rack on the back of the truck our young, blond, skinny streetside neighbor asks him where we ride. He gives her a brochure of The Tammany Trace Trail and says it's 30 miles. She says "Thirty miles; that don't sound too bad." Right!

Current site of Abita Springs Pavilion

A Trace Ranger catches us in the parking lot of the Slidell Trail Head and asks our name, zip code and how we found out about the Trail. We go west through lots of weekend cyclers. We make the Mandeville Trail Head by 12:35 just in time for the Saturday Farmer's Market that ends at 1:00. Most of the vendors are packing up. We take a cursory glance and are off to the west, bypassing Kickstand Cafe and heading on to Abita Springs. When we reach the trailhead there Bob has a restroom break and I stick my head in Abita Brew Pub to ask how long they are open today. She says they serve until 10:00 p.m. We're safe to continue on!

It is 1:45 the first time we leave Abita Springs to head west to the end of The Tammany Trace Trail in Covington. No one is on the trail hardly after we leave Abita Springs. We find out why at the heavy traffic crossing Hwy 190. And after that the trail ends in a deserted older section of Covington. They built a nice trail head and station but the town here is dead. We saw an antique store and two eateries but we are headed back against a horrific wind to Abita Brew Pub. No wonder it seemed so easy cycling on the way up. It's a funny thing about cycling that you cannot tell when the wind is helping you but you sure know when it's hurting you.

By 2:50 we are back at Abita Brew Pub. It feels great to sit down on something besides a bicycle seat after four hours. We split Thai Chicken Salad and Pork Loin Sandwich. They were both heavenly. We ate every morsel and we didn't even feel hungry before we got started. Afterwards we sat outside at the trail head near the pavilion. I made my tired legs get up and take pictures of the Brew Pub and the museum. Then I stepped inside the museum to get a brochure.

The docent told me in 1888 city founders, Poitevent and Favre, acquired the octagonal two-story pavilion at the New Orleans Cotton Exposition. It was designed by the famous architect Thomas O. Sully. After the Exposition it was taken apart and moved reassembled here in Abita Springs where they erected it directly over the spring. It stood there until after the flooding from Katrina. Now it stands on higher ground in the park. Under the pavilion when it was over the spring, the water flowed into a twelve-foot deep cement lined pool that was covered by a glass and bronze canopy. Tourists could drink the healthful crystal clear water from four fountains surrounding the well. Today a water company bottles 50,000 gallons per day of Abita Springs Artesian Water for delivery throughout the southeast. And Abita Brewing Company, founded in 1986, produces thousands of bottles per week and ships to most of the USA.

Unfortunately we couldn't have one of the beers as we would never have made the long cycle back after a brew! I did find a quarter and go back in the museum to purchase a postcard of the pavilion as it stood over the springs. Now I'll have to look for one of the Exposition in New Orleans. As we rest on our bench a group of horseback riders heads west on the trail. This is the first time we've seen horses on The Tammany Trace. We see two more riders on our return trip.

There is nothing to do by now except begin the long cycle back. We leave Abita Springs the second time at 3:50. We have to make the bridge before it closes at sunset (7:23 p.m.) That should be no problem--famous last words. We take shorter breaks, six minutes instead of 10 or 12. That really shortens the total cycling time back but is sure is hard to make yourself get going again so soon. The wind is relentless and never winds down as the sun drops in the sky. We are both very tired by the time we reach the truck at 6:35; seven and a half hours and 54.5 miles after we started! Wow! That was pretty good after all of our walking in the French Quarter yesterday.

It's 67 degrees with 35% humidity. We watch the 3rd round of The Masters that Bob recorded but it's hard to stay awake. I have a voice message confirming my Tuesday hair appointment.

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