After Gettysburg, I was home for 2 days, then I shoved off to Milwaukee. After 6 days, I headed to Port Arthur, Texas for 2 weeks. Port Arthur is in the southeast corner of Texas. Although it’s near the Gulf Coast, access to the water is limited, as industry occupies much of the land near the coast. Most people work at the many oil refineries throughout southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana
My Mother always said, “if you have nothing nice say, say nothing at all”. That said, this is not a cycling Mecca! As a matter of fact, there are not many back roads at all. Most of the infrastructure consists of high traffic, commercial highways. The roads that are available are mostly tar and chip or concrete with huge cracks. There are absolutely no hills as most of the area is below sea level. There are a few bridges with sizable shoulders. Most of these bridges are on state highways, so riding may not be legal, but we have to do what we have to do.
I did squeeze in about 7 rides, thinking that I was going to find a few riders, that could point me in the right direction. That didn’t happen. A call to the closest bike shop (16 miles away in Beaumont) only confirmed my suspicion, there’s no safe place to ride in this area. With not much time after work to travel to a suitable location, I had to make the best of the situation, I straddled my steel steed and just pedaled. After over 200 miles, I learned a few things. Generally, the people are hard working and friendly. Like anywhere else, the farther you get from town, the better the riding gets. I started the week with an informal cruise around town to get familiar with the layout. On ride# 2, I headed towards the water rode on Highway 73 and up the Memorial Bridge (20.5% incline). As I began my descent, I hit some glass and flatted. The walk down was not fun.
Did I mention the wind. What this area lacks in hills, it makes up for with wind. No matter which way you travel your getting a strong head wind either coming or going. But, on my final ride, I finally found some respite. I headed out of my hotel onto Rt. 365. The first 2 miles are rough with heavy traffic. Once you cross Port Arthur Road, 2 lanes go down to one on each side as oil rigs, tanks and lines are replaced by cows, farms and trees. Although the roadway is mostly tar and chip, the serene country setting along with little to no traffic, helped make my final Southeast Texas bike ride a bit more pleasurable.
Bottom line, this is not a place you want to explore on 2 wheels. I leave today for Houston. I’ll be there 4 days. If all goes well, I’ll get at least one ride in. Stay tuned…..