NOLA to Istrouma Brewing, St. Gabriel, La. Saturday Jan. 14, 2023
Another ride report. Spoiler alert, nothing went wrong. If you're looking for drama, look elsewhere.
This ride came together at the 11th hour. I'd say last minute, but from commitment to meetup was less than two hours.
I had posted a comment on Facebook suggesting a ride Friday or Saturday. A few folks commented, but only one new guy showed any interest. So, welcome to the group, Jorge.
My buddy Karl missed riding yesterday, Friday, and expressed his desire for a ride today, Saturday. When I woke up this morning, "feel like" temperature was 37, but he said he was still game. We knew it was going to warm up into the 50's. Jorge, was not able to ride with me yesterday, and we were still exchanging messages and I invited him on this ride, which by the way is not a plan as much as a notion. The more the merrier, and so I thought of our other friend, Nikki.
Nikki's scooter is in the shop, but we're both comfortable with her riding my backup scooter, an '07 GTS 250 with a replacement engine. The same one that she rode to Laurel, MS and had a flat tire. It's a win-win when Nikki rides the 250. She gets to ride, the scooter gets ridden, and the group is bigger... make that win-win-win!
Jorge is new to the group in general, and lives in Slidell, so this was a nice ride to introduce him to a few folks at a time. Like me, Jorge is tired of short rides, and liked the idea of a long group ride. He's been riding for about ten years, and is comfortable with a little Interstate riding, so he finished his appointments and high-tailed it into the City.
Karl had put me on the spot and ask me where we were going to ride, and it just came to me... St. Gabriel, La. Last year for Hurricane Ida, me and the family evacuated to a friend's place in St. Gabriel, and we stumbled on Istrouma Brewing, and we loved it. We went several days in a row. Good Beer, good vibe, pet friendly.
Coordinating everyone at the last minute is always a challenge, and Jorge meeting at my house was going to add some time, so I called him while he was en route, and redirected him to Costco. Side note here, this is one of the rare times that everybody in the group uses an iPhone, and as is my habit, I started sharing my location with everyone and they shared back with me, so I knew where Jorge was when I called him, and pointing him to Costco didn't confuse things. He beat us there and had time to top off his fuel. We met up, brief introductions, and meandered our way to Airline Hwy (US 61) the back way. The rest of us wanted to top off, so we stopped on Airline and made more formal introductions. At this point we were about a half hour behind schedule.
Planning a ride from the center of the city to some other city presents you with challenges and opportunities. If you have a lot of time, you can take the slowest scenic way, or if you are behind schedule you can work in some time saving segments. The route I planned took us out Airline Hwy to Norco, and that's where we turned off for River Road (RR).
By getting on RR there, in just a couple of minutes we would drive through the Bonnet Carre Spillway. The spillway isn't so much pretty, as it is unique. If the Mississippi River is high this year, which I expect it will be with all of the snow up north this winter, The US Army Corps of Engineers will open the needles (floodgates) and allow some of the river to be diverted to Lake Pontchartrain, so the road we are on will be under five to ten feet of raging river! I think they have figured out where to put the road where the current does the least damage to the road and it's foundation. Still, it has gotten washed away in recent years, and rebuilt.
River Road from New Orleans to Baton Rouge is a mix of 300 year old Oak trees, antebellum plantation houses, double wide trailers, Chemical plants, Sugar Refining, and because it's River Road, it hugs the river and follows the curves. It's a wonderful ride, and to be honest this was the farthest that I had scooted on RR. Ah, there's another unique Point of Interest on River Road that I planned to stop at for a photo op... The Gillis W. Long Hansen's Disease Research Center, commonly referred to as "Carville", short for Carville National Leprosarium. I think that all of the patients/residents have died (of reasonably old age), and the facility is being put to a different use.
From Carville, we had to double back on RR for a few miles, and made our way to La. Hwy 30, which took us straight to Istrouma, and if we had kept going runs right on to the campus of LSU. Istrouma's turn-off is marked by a cattle-feed-silo with Istrouma painted on it... you still need to know where you are going to find it. It's worth the effort.
Lunch service was a little slow, so our downtime at Istrouma was nearly two hours. I had a good dark beer while waiting for my pizza, and had a sparkling water with my meal. We were all very responsible.
For the return trip to NOLA, we took Hwy 30 to its end at Airline in Gonzales. I won't take that route again, we sat through 10 or 15 cycles of the red light at I-10! Gonzales back into New Orleans was a breeze. Straight, flat, uninteresting except that you are riding through some Cypress swamps. Any fans of Zapp's Potato Chips in the audience? This route takes you by the "little chippery in Gramercy". Ron Zappe and I were friends, and I think of he and Anne every time I pass this way.
By the numbers, KSU from my house 10:20, 20 minute break at Carville, plus our initial fuel up put us at Istrouma at 1:10, so a little under 3 hours and 100 miles of beautiful riding. The return trip was 1:45 minutes and 75 miles. So, RR adds 25 miles and an extra hour. It is so worth it!