Kirbyville, TX to Oberlin, LA
1045 ft of climbing
Another brilliant day to ride. We started with breakfast in the room, cereal, killer Peet's coffee, and Oatmeal. It worked.
We headed out and rode for a better than sixteen mile per hour average for the first forty miles. We stopped in DeRidder for lunch. Here we were in Acadiana (Cajun country) and heading into a Mexican place to eat. I guess the crawfish fajitas make it a bit more locally authentic. They were awesome good!
Our food had been delivered and we were halfway done when a police officer was seated in the booth next to us with his back to us. I figured this was to indicate his disinterest in us. Yesterday at breakfast were two officers sat next to us and they had nothing to say to anyone in the place. I thought if he's working Sunday he must be new.
Chris finished before me and went outside to sunscreen himself. It's our routine. A couple of minutes after Chris left, the police officer, I could see he was a sergeant, turned around in his seat and asked how far we were going. I told him we had left from San Diego four weeks ago.
Now that we're over two thousand miles into our trip it really gets peoples attention when we tell them how far we've come.
He asked about our bikes saying he would like to ride to town and could use the exercise. He pointed out he was a big guy and said he thought our bikes were probably particularly strong because of all the weight we carry.
He asked if it was a group ride or an event of some kind. I told him we were riding to raise money to help cancer survivors. Then he told me a little bit of his story.
He is a single parent of two. His girlfriend was diagnosed with breast cancer and her reaction was to push him away to spare him and his kids from the pain and fear she was feeling. I told him about Deidre and how she would sometimes apologize to me for being "damaged goods". We agreed that the diagnosis only made them more precious to us.
He went on to tell me his father had been diagnosed with cancer and had taken his own life at getting the news. Pretty heavy stuff.
He introduced himself as Reese Martin. We shared some deeply emotional moments while talking. I was surprised he was so willing to share his feelings. I deeply admire his commitment to his girlfriend and his children. Reese is a hero to those he cares about and to me too.
As we were paying for lunch he said, "Be careful out there. People do some dumb things." We agreed that too many people don't think about what they're doing. I said, "there is too great a lack of simple, basic courtesy". He said, "that's so true, but you also come across really special people. Thank goodness for that", he said, especially in this job". I shook Reese's hand and felt the connection. Sergeant Reese Martin of the DeRidder Police Department, you are a real life hero.
We spun on down the road another twenty miles and I needed to stop for water. I came to Sand River Canoe Rentals after riding over the river. It was before five and I didn't want them to close while I waited for Chris so I propped my bike against a mailbox roadside and walked back to the office. It was really more of a roadhouse.
I could see and feel people looking at me funny. I said, "hello, how are you today", to a man seated at a table near the front who was staring at me. He said, "I'm OK, how about you?" I said, "A bit warm", he said, damn it boy, it's ** hot out". I said, "I'll agree with you about that".
I paid for our water and sat on the stairs out front to wait for Chris. A couple of minutes later a kid, in his early twenties maybe, came out. He said, "y'all taking a break off the bike for a spell?" I told him I was waiting for my buddy who would be along any time. He asked if we were in some kind of competition or something. I told him we were riding to support cancer survivors. He sat down on the step beside me and told me his stepfather had it. He said he'd had surgery but the doctors couldn't get it all. They told him if they had it would have killed him. I asked where he had it and he said it was colon cancer. We talked awhile and then his friends drove up. He shook my hand and got up whooping and hollering at his friends. He turned around a minute later and wished me luck. His friends did too.
As his friends bounced and raced from the parking lot, Chris rode up. His friends stopped and stuck their heads out the window wishing Chris luck. He had stopped at a gas station back up the road and talked
with them about our ride. It's a small parish in a small world.
We rode on down to Oberlin. We had the same issue today with where to stop. We planned on Mamou originally but it's lawn camping only there and a fifty dollar motel room is much more comfortable. It would be one hundred and twenty five or so to Ville Platte and although we felt good to go there, we would have a dinner problem. We opted to stop for dinner and basketball (on TV).
As we stood outside the general store, I noticed what has become a common sight. A community bulletin board. There was a flyer to raise money to help with medical expenses for twelve year old Tori Trammel of Allen Parish. She was battling cancer.
A car drove up and a man got out of the passenger seat. He stopped and said, "man, I passed you fellas on the way out of DeRidder. You must be moving pretty good, you made it along way down the road pretty fast (we'd covered the thirty miles in under two hours). We told him about the ride and he pulled two dollars from his pocket and insisted we take it. Thank you Phillip DeRouse. Every bit helps.
Chris and I talked about the people we'd met and concluded we must be transmitting an "ask me what I'm doing" vibe. That and the people just get friendlier every mile.
More to come.