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San Antonio TX - New Orleans LA - 660 miles / 1100 km
Day 0: Getting to San Antonio

The decision to proceed with this trip happened a month before plane flight.  After little real cycling and a half-hearted effort at being a hamster on a stationary bicycle in a gym, I ramped up daily commitments to spinning classes, culminating in four-hour stretches that began and ended with full blown spin cycle classes.

My plane flight was Toronto – Chicago – San Antonio, with extra time to transfer at Chicago and the decision not to cycle directly from SA airport to start trip.  Reasons for this:

  • the nearest major south eastern town with motels was 100+ miles away; if my plane arrived on time with my bike, I would only have enough daylight hours to cover 60 miles, and
  • since 9/11, there is bad history of Canadian luggage not making the next U.S. connecting flight.

When canadian luggage enters the US through a connector flight, (in this case Toronto to Chicago) the following happens: after clearing security in Canada and getting loaded into a closed North American logistics system, rather than transferring the luggage plane-to-plane across the tarmac, the luggage is brought back to the main terminal and rescanned through the system. This is because the Americans don’t believe Canadian processes are secure enough. 

This duplication of effort has cost tens of millions of dollars in extra labour and transportation costs and over 100,000+ pieces of luggage have been delayed or lost.

My cardboard bike box became part of the 100,000+. It missed the connecting flight to San Antonio and arrived four hours later on a later flight - any plans to cycle that day would have been aborted.

The good news was that I was able to spend an evening in San Antonio with a very good friend and we had dinner down at the RiverWalk, part of the San Antonio River that had been diverted for irrigation purposes back in the 1700’s and had become a tourist destination complete with gardens and restaurants.  It’s accessible by long sets of stairs that descend from street level down to the manicured river banks

San Antonio River Walk

It’s a good Friday night crowd and there are many American GI’s in pastel beige greens brown battle fatigues from the nearby military base who are in to see the sites .  They are young, clean-cut and the picture of health.

Also mixed into the crowd are young, clean-cut men in civilian clothes.  One is missing an arm. Another is missing parts of both legs – he’s surrounded by able-bodied friends who have been carrying him up and down the long flights of stairs.  He’s looking up one set of stairs and his eyes radiate an angry helplessness. 

Our waiter, a high-energy cheerful good looking man had done his tour of Afganistan and required $50,000 of reconstructive surgery to rebuild his right hand.  Bright, enthusiastic and a very young-looking 35 years old, he now waits on tables.

It was very sobering – these good people who would live forever with the consequences of following GW Bush’s orders, after Bush retires to his ranch.

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