Memoir

Keys to Freeze, Mile 2203: Wheeling Through the Heartland

Over the river and across the plains, the Keys to Freeze cycle team finds stark beauty in the wide-open landscapes and backcountry roads of the American South.

Keys to Freeze, Mile 2203: Wheeling Through the Heartland

Since topping our two-wheelers and leaving the Florida Keys in February, taking a most scenic route to Alaska and finding plenty of stories along the way, we were in need of a respite.

The Keys to Freeze team enjoyed warm weather and pleasant skies from Alabama through Texas. The days grew longer as our landscape dissolved away from the flat and lush Florida panhandle to the more arid climate west of the Mississippi River.

In New Orleans, time slowed as we celebrated our first 1,500 miles on the road with three days off. We explored the city and found peace in our rest.

Our trip has become less comfortable, but perhaps more satisfying. The vast landscape of Texas brought both intense, motion-stopping headwinds and hosts who bent over backwards to accommodate our tired and dragging team.

But with the hard miles came wide smiles. We’re finding our groove, and shaking off the last of the East. We are moving West, and fast, and discovering a new part of the country, one with wide open spaces and the sounds of our singular locomotion pushing us further towards the national parks of Utah and beyond…

Gulls in Gulfport, Mississippi.
Gulls in Gulfport, Mississippi.
Flat happens. Approaching Bunkie, Louisiana, Tyler loses his front brake and his inflated tube.
Flat happens. Approaching Bunkie, Louisiana, Tyler loses his front brake and his inflated tube.
Turn off the main road to Natchitoches, Louisiana and find the Oakland Plantation, along with the rest of the Cane River National Heritage area.
Turn off the main road to Natchitoches, Louisiana and find the Oakland Plantation, along with the rest of the Cane River National Heritage area.
Passing the miles through the plantations of Louisiana, Brady and Tyler practice their German.
Passing the miles through the plantations of Louisiana, Brady and Tyler practice their German.
A forgotten and abandoned Louisiana farmhouse is found just before crossing into Texas.
A forgotten and abandoned Louisiana farmhouse is found just before crossing into Texas.
Before leaving the Gulf Coast, the skeletons of once-standing piers presented themselves.
Before leaving the Gulf Coast, the skeletons of once-standing piers presented themselves.
Leaving Baton Rouge behind and crossing into the early Mississippi River fog.
Leaving Baton Rouge behind and crossing into the early Mississippi River fog.
At the Texas state line.
At the Texas state line.
Escaping metropolitan Dallas-Ft. Worth leads to rolling back country exploration.
Escaping metropolitan Dallas-Ft. Worth leads to rolling back country exploration.
Traveling west through Texas makes for headwind intensive riding, just ask Brady and Rachel.
Traveling west through Texas makes for headwind intensive riding, just ask Brady and Rachel.
Just when we thought West Texas views were becoming a bit repetitive, a burst of color appears.
Just when we thought West Texas views were becoming a bit repetitive, a burst of color appears.
Where the graffitied vehicles of Cadillac Ranch, Texas remain ever still, Megan Healy rides forth in the sunrise.
Where the graffitied vehicles of Cadillac Ranch, Texas remain ever still, Megan Healy rides forth in the sunrise.
Western Texas provides no shortage of big farms and tall grain elevators.
Western Texas provides no shortage of big farms and tall grain elevators.
Approaching Albuquerque, New Mexico, we find a once-worshipped structure that lays sun washed and worn.
Approaching Albuquerque, New Mexico, we find a once-worshipped structure that lays sun washed and worn.
Northern New Mexico's beauty knows no limits. A primitive campsite looking over Abiquiu Lake at sundown.
Northern New Mexico’s beauty knows no limits. A primitive campsite looking over Abiquiu Lake at sundown.

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Read more Keys to Freeze adventures on Narratively as our six daring cyclist friends make their way from the Florida Keys to Deadhorse, Alaska.