Monday, April 9, 2007

Bicycling the Natchez Trace

March 30-April 8
As usual, our little vacation became kind of epic. This started out to be a cycling trip Becky was going to take with a friend. They would ride a 500 mile route up the Natchez Trace from Natchez to Nashville. When the friend bowed out, I was really excited and schemed my way into the trip.

Keep in mind that we were trying to ride the Trace in a week with no training at all (not recommended). Our trip started out with two days that took us to Vicksburg with my parents and our friends Jim and Carol Whelan. Vicksburg is a 20 mile detour off the Trace but well worth it. After our goodbye's we had our first epic day. We rode almost 80 miles over a lot of small hills, up through Jackson and all the way to the north side of a large lake. It was one of those days that really challenge you. I had 3 flat tires that day (the first 5 minutes after we started). We were pretty exhausted and found ourselves looking for something to eat around 5pm. When we couldn't find something Becky liked, we ended up eating Papa Johns pizza on the sidewalk near our bikes. This felt very much like stops on the Appalachian Trail. We still had 15 or 20 miles to go and it was getting dark so we headed north again on wobbly legs. Finally - around dark we reached our campsite: A picnic table near a boat ramp. Not very inspiring, but beautiful to us.

The days passed as we worked our way north to Tupelo where we had a great reunion with Zeb Maharrey - our hiking friend that we spent 4 months with on the Appalachian Trail. Daily we continued to grind towards Nashville. The biggest problems were our feet (numb) and our butts (painful). Somehow we made it though and met Zeb and our friend Jerry on the northern end of the Trace near Nashville. Jerry drove up to pick us up. After a great night listening to music in Nashville, we headed home - tired and satisfied. This trip reminded me so much of the Appalachian trail in the way our days went. Not knowing how we'll cover the mileage, being patient, staying positive, hoping for the best and dealing with whatever came along.