From Natchez to New Orleans, aka Get on the Sidewalk

So, it was early November, I was in Natchez, Mississippi, and it was time to start thinking about how I was getting home. Flying was not an option. I had made that promise to myself before I left, and I was standing by it. At this point, the thought of riding all the way back home to California seemed not too crazy. Clearly, I would want to stay south, given that we were rapidly marching our way to winter, but that would also mean that Texas stood in my way.


Desert gas station
A forgotten desert gas station like this haunted my imagination.

Many people I met told me stories about some famed, fearless, formidable cyclist who finally met his or her match in Texas. Snow in the Pyrenees, armed guards in Korea, obstinate passport stampers in Brazil – none of these things could stop the steady pedaling of a touring cyclist the way the vast boredom of the dry Texas desert could. Broken, exhausted, driven to lunacy by the solitude, the touring cyclist in Texas puts in that phone call. I was obsessed with imagining the receiving end of that phone call. The phone rings brightly, perhaps playing a cheerful ringtone selected for the spunky traveler. Maybe Queen’s Bicycle Race. “Oh fun! I wonder how the adventure’s going!”

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