May 6, 2014 4:09 PM by MELISSA CANONE
More than 100 cyclists riding from Houston to New Orleans are raising awareness and money for the American Red Cross along the disaster-prone Gulf Coast. The 526-mile adventure in six days takes cyclists past desolate coastal beauty, storm-damaged property, swamps and perhaps the occasional alligator. And it's occuring while about 18 south Louisiana volunteers are helping the thousands in Mississippi, Arkansas and Florida affected after tornadoes and storms earlier this week.
The sixth annual Tour du Rouge began Sunday in Houston.
The cycling tour is a physical challenge as well as an endeavor in humanitarianism. The tour allows cyclists to support the Red Cross while doing something they love and to learn about disaster resiliency in an area that Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma devastated. And it's arriving at a time just weeks before the start of hurricane season.
On Friday afternoon, cyclists will enter New Orleans, proceeding to the Audubon Park bike path where they will later stop for lunch along the banks of the Mississippi River at The Fly. The cyclists will regroup following lunch and ride together down Magazine Street led by a police escort. Cheering fans, family members and Red Cross volunteers will greet the cyclists with a champagne toast as they conclude their 526-mile ride at Spanish Plaza in New Orleans.
Tour du Rouge continues to grow and attract a diverse group of riders locally, from across the country, and around the globe. This year's cyclists hail from 14 states. Half the cyclists are returning Tour du Rouge riders. Ages range from 28 to 72. And for some, Tour du Rouge is family time. There are many husband-wife, father-son and sibling teams. The family theme extends to the crew too, as several of the Tour du Rouge crew members are married to cyclists.