Cycling: Bike the Big Easy

Thanks to Entergy, cyclists can ride the streets of New Orleans without too much worrying about traffic.  This year, Mr. Nola Nerd Couple participated in the Entergy Bike the Big Easy.

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Early morning in Champion’s Square before the ride.

Bike the Big Easy comes in two routes.  The twenty-mile ride starts at the Superdome and takes you around the French Quarter, around the CBD, through the Garden District on St. Charles Avenue, then to mid-city until you get to City Park, and then back to the Superdome.  The forty mile ride continues through City Park and along the windy lakefront and then back to the Superdome. I choose to do the twenty-mile ride as I’m still out of shape and new to cycling.

In fact, I only got into cycling because of my insurance company.  We have Humana and they have a wellness plan called Humana Vitality.  Each month, they have a drawing from all of their customers and I actually one.  Because we were at the highest level of wellness plan, I was eligible to win prizes that neared 500 dollars, three of which were bikes.  After consulting with some cyclists friends, I chose the Trek FX 7.1.  It’s a great bike for commuting and riding rides between the 10-20 mile range.  This is perfect since our neighborhood has an improved bike path that leads to the bike path on the levee of the Mississippi River.  I have been making use of these paths to average between 12-15 miles on my rides.

 

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Cloudy and cool right before the start

 

Still, I never went twenty miles before.  To make matters worse, the last two weeks saw constant flare ups of my rheumatism.  I had shoulder, knee, elbow, and wrist flares.  The constant fatigue that comes with flares made me really scared I wouldn’t make it all the way.  However, Friday I felt fine. I went to the expo very excited.

Here, is where I experienced the only problems with Bike the Big Easy.  The Expo had only three booths.  The first one was selling cute stuff for Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple and she bought quite a few items.  The second one was for the Natchez Trace Century Ride and other rides in the Natchez area.  We are definitely hoping to do one. The third booth was for a fundraiser for a White Bikes documentary. White Bikes are placed around the city to mark spots where cyclists were killed.  We will donate soon, and we highly encourage you to do so. All three booths were fantastic and run by quality people.   But for a 1300 person ride, I was expecting a little more including a few bike shops and maybe a sporting goods store to have a few booths.  Maybe even someone trying to get us into advocare.  This is an event that reaches a lot of people and could use some more sponsors.

 

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As you can see I’m pretty far back to start.  Also that shirt needs more sponsors!

 

The biggest problem I had was that you get a shirt with your entry fee.  Well, they had no extra large by the time we get there, which was relatively early.  We talk to the head guy in charge, and he only received 24 extra large.  An order of 1300 shirts and you only make 24 in extra large…come on man!  That should require a phone call to the person making the order to make sure.  They took my name and bib number; hopefully,  I get my shirt. They did give me a smaller shirt, but it will be a long time before I can wear it. Even if I don’t, I’ll probably sign up for next year, because…

 

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This is the 8 mile mark at Loyola Universtiy.  This was the roughest parts as the bumpy ride was wrecking havoc on my wrists and shoulders. And I couldn’t even wipe the banana off. This was the only time I was actually worried about finishing…

 

The ride was fantastic.  I woke up pain-free and not groggy.  I took an aleeve to help minimize the chances of a flare and an Imodium to reduce the chances of the aleeve forcing me to use a portapotty.  It was cool but not cold before the ride.  It wasn’t a race, but truly a social ride.  The conditions were perfect for the twenty-mile ride in that it was a little windy but never punishing…not sure how the forty-milers felt about that at the lake. It stayed cool most of the way.  For the twenty mile ride, there were pit stops at the 8-mile (Loyola University) and 16-mile (City Park). The police, which were made up numerous local groups, were excellent at controlling traffic.  Surprisingly, St. Charles Avenue was the worst of the streets with its bumpiness.  The city itself was gorgeous.  New Orleans is beautiful in October and November and it didn’t disappoint. Halloween decorations were out and the weather was cool for New Orleans. People were outside at various points giving us encouragement. It truly was a great slower way to see the city.

 

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…which was silly because by mile 16 near City Park I was feeling great. 

 

I finished the ride in about 2 hours which was my goal.  After the race, there were fruits, jambalaya, soft drinks, and beer (if you consider Bud Light beer) for the cyclists.  There was DJ playing.  This was all in Champion Square.  We received a medal for finishing.

 

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At the finish.  I’m hot and tired but not exhausted.

 

I wish I would have been able to take pictures or do a go pro.  My flares hurt us doing a testing of our new Go Pro and so we didn’t really know how to use it.  I do plan on signing up for the race next year.  Hopefully, Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple can join me with her brand new bike that we purchased with our points accumulated in the wellness program.  She got the same kind as me but with a women’s specific design.

Hopefully, this will be the first of many cycling blogs.

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