(Austin Statesman Press – by Pam LeBlanc) Read Entire Article by clicking here!
Imagine a bike ride where speed doesn’t matter and every pedal stroke carries you closer to another helping of Louisiana music, food or drink.
I lived that dream at Cycle Zydeco, a 200-mile rolling Cajun culture festival. Po’boys, etouffee and jambalaya fueled four days of bicycling, punctuated by the sounds of rubboards, fiddles and accordions.
Chubby’s here bright and early, this time astride a shiny red beach cruiser. A police escort fires up its sirens, the musician climbs astride his bike and the whole parade rolls away with a cheer at 9 a.m.
In less than an hour we reach our first stop, Parish Brewing Company, where cyclists sample a little beer and I stuff a few Zydeco Bars, a Louisiana-made energy bar with an accordion on the wrapper, into my pocket. I’m trying to pace myself.
We ride another hour or so, then pull off at Belle Ecorce Farms, where someone uncorks bottle after bottle of white wine and we dip crackers into crocks of goat cheese. That’s when Gretch lets out a squeal. She’s found a days-old dairy goat with tiny rosebud ears, and I swear it smiles and bleats as we cradle it in our arms.
A few more miles and we roll into St. Martinville, the heart of French Louisiana. There we feast on crawfish etouffee, listen to more music and rest in the shade of Evangeline Oak, the subject of a romantic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Then it’s back on our bikes. We roll pass an old sugar refinery, then into Breaux Bridge, self-proclaimed Crawfish Capital of the World. Cyclists are putting up tents and making their way to the shower truck, but Gretch and I are distracted by Mark Thibodeaux, 54, and Greg Latiolais, 66, of B&L Boilers, who are preparing to cook up 300 pounds of crawfish for the group.
We’re innocent bystanders until suddenly we’re enlisted to help. Soon we’re slitting open sacks of crawfish and pouring them into boiling water, dumping in jars of okra and stirring the vat with giant paddles.
“They’re so sweet and tasty,” Thibodeaux says, swooning a little as he explains that these crawfish were harvested within 40 miles of where we’re toiling. He shows us how to hold the head in one hand and twist the tail off to get at the meat. “If you’re born and raised here, you suck the heads to get the juice and the fat. It tastes like heaven.”
We eat a pile of our handiwork, then grab our bikes again. We hear there’s a drive-through daiquiri shack down the road, and we are in Louisiana, after all. (Hint: Try the White Russian. And walk your bike home afterward like we do.)
We wrap up the night with a visit to Pont Breaux’s (formerly known as Mulate’s), a famous Cajun restaurant where we meet a busload of tourists all the way from France and nibble hush puppies and grilled shrimp while couples swirl around the wooden dance floor.