Mar 31, 2009

COAST-2-COAST USA DAILY UPDATE: 31 MARCH


Today's exciting trip news (reproduced with permission) from the Coast-2-Coast USA team - a bunch of brave dads/uncles/brothers/friends of children from the UK, cycling across the southern continental United States from Oceanside, California to St. Augustine, Florida to raise donations for the Children's Hospital for Wales and the Noah's Ark Appeal. Show them your support with pledges and, if you're on their route - especially at the end in St Augustine, Florida - turn out and welcome them, put them up or feed them or just buy them a beer! Previous days entries here:- March 19th, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th , 28th Interview with Americymru member and Coast2Coast rider Gareth Evans:- here Listen to Coast-2-Coast USA's Richard Belcher on Radio Glamorgan with Peter Cox!

Gar's #10

Austin - Houston, Texas; day 10

Personally, the least enjoyable day on the bike for me, for various reasons. The conditions of the roads weren't the best today. Constant bumps and unsmooth roads playing havoc on saddle rash and aching joints. There also seemed to be a very strong wind early on, making it very difficult to get into any rhythm. There are some bloody idiots on these roads too, although some drivers probably say the same about us. On numerous occasions on our first leg, it felt as if some Texans were trying to play 'cidior cymro' on bikes. Not a pleasant experience being pushed ever and ever closer off the road. The roads were the equivalent of the A48 without a hard shoulder, so it was some relief when a hard shoulder appeared later on. Chance for a break, until it was time to cross over exit slip roads, and the 'cidior cymro' continued!!

The weather has brightened up no doubt, it's about 70-75 degrees, which means we can all at least work on our cyclists tan!! Rich felt it today also, there was no 'gettin on the bang today'. It goes to show that although it was a relatively short day, how much we've put ourselves through in the last 10days. Quite possibly the best part of the day was myself and pirate stone letting off some steam with a mini tirade of 'abuse ping pong'. Probably did us both good to let off sone steam. Stoney probably had the last laugh, especially when he receives a Phone call from my mother saying that some woman called Denise had found my mobile in the back of an Austin cab!!

It's off to an old mate of Andy's tonight, Ian Cross, who's kindly putting us up for the evening, and tomorrow we leave Texas and head for New Orleans and good ol' Louisiana. 5 days to go. Today gave the first real signs of fatigue, there wasn't quite as much 'oomf' left in the legs, shoulders and wrists are really startin to ache, and as for the saddle rash...you don't want to know about that. What have we got to moan about though? When you hear some of the stories from the people we've met along the way, and think of who were collecting for; a bit of saddle soreness and pain Is a small price. 5 days to go; a lot can happen in 1 day, let alone 5.

Big hand for Chatsy tonight who dropped the usual 'cheeseburger please' and went for the fish asks chips. Another week, and he'd have progressed onto chicken dippers.


Rich's #9

When I awoke today it felt like it had all the ingredients for a great day. The sun was shining and the big plan allowed for reduced mileage as we were to stay with a friend of Andy's.

We were all in high spirits as the C2C team had worked like a well oiled machine the previous day.

The lower miles facilitated a late start and the opportunity to visit Mellow Johnny's bike shop; owned by a certain Austin resident by the name of Lance. A few $ lighter and we were ready to go.

Gareth and I were first up and feeling good I asked to increase the initial stint to 30 miles. We started out on a busy road, bit with a wide, smooth hard shoulder. I was wondering if this was the influence of Mr Armstrong, when suddenly the hard shoulder ended.

As a result we found ourselves cycling along a dual carriageway trying desperately to hug the side of the road as cars and lorries zoomed past. Gone was the tooting of horns in encouragement to be replaced by more hostile "get off my road" horn abuse.

Twice Porth encouraged us to pull in, but we ploughed on until finally I'd had enough and we stopped. This was the most scary 10 or so miles we'd ridden and I was glad to call it a day. We got in the car and caught up to the point that Andy and Phil had started their stint from.

It wasn't long before the hard shoulder returned but when Gareth and I resumed the hard shoulder was dreadful and made the course of Paris - Roubaix look like polished marble. The road remained very busy and felt like riding along the M4.

By now my mood had changed and gone was my early morning enthusiasm to be replaced by disenchantment. I've been homesick on the trip but today as we trudged along I would much rather have been at home, playing football in the garden , being attacked by light sabre wielding boys or fighting it out with Jeni for 3rd place on the wii (Sam and Thomas are amazingly good).

As we stopped Gareth said you have to laugh or you'll cry. I did neither but I was a damn site nearer to the latter. I haven't had a more miserable cycling experience since a car door opened on me as I zipped along the streets of Cardiff and I broke my ribs as I hit the ground.

On our 3rd stint the gravel on the hard shoulder had gone and the roads were bare concrete. This had the affect of magnifying the sound of the passing traffic. Gareth wanted to "chain it" but my heart was no longer in it.

The day has, however, been saved thanks once again to the warmth and hospitality shown to us by our hosts, this time Ian and Jacky.

In addition to arranging food and lodgings we arrived to a cameraman from ABC and later watched Andy doing his thing on the 10 o'clock news.


Gar's #11

Houston, Tx - New Orleans, Louisiana- day 11

After the fantastic hospitality of Ian, Jackie and Bevan, and the free supper and bar at the 'llew coch', Louisiana was our next state. We made a swift exit from Downtown Houston, and headed for Port Arthur, the Texan equivalent to Port Talbot. The air was rancid. Anyway, after crossing a ma-hoosive bridge, we found ourselves on some man made land, aptly named 'pleasure island', and were heading east, towards New Orleans. What laid in store were some mental cross and headwinds, which made the miles difficult to rack up. Again, following yesterday, the arms and shoulders were in bits, bit the legs seemed fine once they got going.

Good time was made as we cycled alongside Johnsons Bayou and Holly Beach, two areas that were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, today the strong winds meant that we only just missed the ferry that crossed Lake Calcasieu. No panics, Andy and Phil will continue until we get there.

A couple of chats with some people on the ferry crossing, and we were literally 20mins behind the van, we had the support car for company. As the ferry docked, quick discussion between crews, and off sped the Toyota to hunt down the other two. This was at about 1pm.

4 hours later, and after battling the strong winds for what seemed like an eternity, the support car was still nowhere to be seen. With us travelling through the Louisiana Bayou, surrounded by gators, the excitement in finding one sunbathing in the centre of the road passed the time by, but unfortunately, we only saw them bathing in the roadside canals.

5.30pm and we finally meet just south of Lafayette..starvin marvin. By now, there'd been a bit of blue language in the van, but this was over by the time skipper Cooper and Phil van Morrison treated us to the first 9 verses of the official tour song.

Were currently on our way to the hotel, the French quarter of New Orleans. A quiet night and food at the hotel...no chance says pirate stone as we must all try the local cocktail, aptly named the hurricane!! We'll see what happens.

Texas this morning, Louisiana now, Mississippi and Alabama tomorrow, there can't be that many states left?? Roll on Friday, even though I think everyones had a great time, there are some very tired bodies and minds in need of chillout, and a break from Ian's snoring. As for the logistic nightmare today, Merv was right, we'll get it right by day 14.


Phil's Blog

Saturday 28th - Monday 30th - Texas to Louisiana (Sweetwater, Austin, Houston and New Orleans)





28th March A wheel disaster day. - Austin

The day starts with wheel problems for Gareth (Poppy) when he finds that all his spokes have loosened from all the bumpy roads and he has to try to tighten them with a pair of pliers before starting his first leg of the day. The weather has improved and the winds gods are with us and we make great miles and cover over 240 miles in the day.

En-route further wheel issues arise as first my `sexy` white plastic spoke`d back wheel gives up the ghost as I’m pushing hard up a hill. I change to my spare set and we set off again to finish the leg. Within 30mins of this change pulling off from a busy set of traffic lights a loud bang is heard, Stoney almost soils himself and I find that I’ve had a front tyre blow out and the tyre jams in the front brakes.

A change to another wheel and I manage to finish the leg.

We decide as we are nearing Austin and following some sterling organisational moves by the Kitten (Henry) to send one of the support cars forward to Austin and on to Mellow Johnny’s (Lance Armstrong’s Bike Shop) to get the necessary repairs done. However during the journey into Austin the 7 seater hire car develops serious problems with its brakes and has to go in for repairs which we have to cover ($700). Thankfully the team manage to get a taxi in to downtown Austin and Mellow Johnny’s carry out repairs to both mine and Gareth’s wheels for free and offer a free service if we can make it in to the shop the next day with our bikes. Unbelievably friendly and supportive and really saved the day for us.


29th March - Houston

The next day we visit the shop to stock up on goodies before cycling to Houston and a night at the Red Lion with Ian Cross and Jackie. The cycling was pretty hard as the roads were busy and uncomfortable but we made it in good time and were delighted to find that Ian and Jackie had a pool and had laid on giant ribs and sweet corn as appetizers before we headed off to the pub for a free meal courtesy of Craig (from Bradford).


We were also filmed by ABC news as we arrived at Ian’s and we were able to watch it on television in the pub later. We had a great night and sang Welsh hymns and songs as well as the obligatory rugby songs that Stoney and Andy churn out n varying musical keys.


30th March – New Orleans, Louisiana

Today, we left Houston and Texas behind and travelled in to Louisiana. We passed many areas devastated by Hurricane Rita and I was humbled by what I saw.

A few days ago we were cycling at 10,500 feet, today we found ourselves cycling along a ruler straight road with bayou on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other and Andy’s GPS unit showing 4 feet below sea level.

Today while Ian and I were doing a leg with the RV ahead of us ready to drop off the other two cyclists, we managed to `lose` the support car for 4 hours. The `BRAINS TRUST` incl Tomos `Onslow Izzard` Wilding, chief navigational brain Andrew `The Porth` James and the film crew that are in it surrounded by maps, SAT NAV and other assorted technology managed to go the wrong way and were out of mobile signal for hours. We cycled on in very strong and tiring winds until eventually finding them approx 50 miles off course. Did they think to stop when they hadn’t seen hide nor hair of us for hours NO they drove around hoping to bump into us. Stoney was ready for them when we met up but managed to hold himself together and not spill any blood. We’ve now christened them `TEAM MENSA`.

Happy pedalling and good winds,

Phil (Mellow Flavoured Pork Pie) Jenkins


Tomorrow - Alabama



Walked down Bourbon Street and had a Hurricane in Pat O'Briens. Caught some soul bands in various pubs. Got a Greek gyro from a little take away. Merv wanted his change instead of paying the tax. Great night but we must get back on the bike in the morning and head for Mobile, Alabama.


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