‘Twas Memorial Day, and throughout New Orleans,
Tourists were hungover, in bed with their dreams.
But out in Arabi, inside the school called Camp Hope,
30 stirred at 5 am, fighting internal clocks that said, “nope.”
They slapped on their spandex, ate biscuits, said bye,
and wondered how three days’ break had affected their thighs.
Then hopped on their bikes and into the streets.
It was a labyrinth; we got help from the sweeps.
At 90 degrees and over 90 miles,
I’d be lying if I told you this day was all smiles.
I biked over the levee with Sarah Woodcock,
sometimes we just rode but at others we talked.
Our path took us past churches, food banks, and Cargill’s grain elevators,
but it took three gas stations ’til one that didn’t say, “no bathroom, laterz.”
Then rain began falling, clouding my eyesight,
and pushing me off the road with its windy might.
Rob stopped the van to point us all to a gas station
so we could hatch a plan to get across this part of the nation.
We would all cross the Mississippi together in line,
in neat rows of two like in Madeline.
So Rob got in the van and drove slowly behind us,
protecting us from cars and blaring “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
But right before the bridge, my buddy got a flat.
Melissa yelled, “stay on the road,” so I left Christina behind,
“Ohana means family” stinging in my mind.
The bridge was hard: it was steep and fast.
But those who rode around me cheered me on, making sure I could last.
On the other side, we had lunch the second
and I waited for Christina to make her ascent.
Then she, Kevin Nguyen, Sarah Jernigan, and I
set off to complete the final 20 miles.
We raced against the sunset to make it to our host
Biking so fast that my lungs felt like toast.
We rode into the gym of an old local school,
total miles: 101. Feeling: pretty cool.
A rinse with a hose and an early bedtime.
We had made it, at last, to Plaquemine.