My latest adventure down the west coast is now over. Posts are listed by date on the right. In a departure from previous years, I am not asking for donations. Instead, I will be making a sizable donation on behalf of my father-in-law, father, and all the wonderful people who have supported me over the years.

My rides will continue to make a difference in the lives of families fighting lung disease and to increase awareness about the importance of lung health. Follow along … Together; we are improving life, one breath at a time.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Natchez Trace - Day 1 -- Natchez, MS to Utica, MS

Temperatures were forecast to break 100 degrees by noon, so we asked the hotel to put out out breakfast by 6. It seemed like old times as we scurried around packing the cars and fueled up for the first day on the Natchez Trace Parkway. The Natchez Trace, also known as the "Old Natchez Trace", runs 440 miles from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee and links the Cumberland, Tennessee and Mississippi rivers. The path was created and used for centuries by Native Americans, and was later used by early European and American explorers, traders and emigrants in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

The Geldings - Jeff, Me, and Joe ... One Year Later (A Big Hello to Mark & Dave)

Rod and Helen are All Smiles at 6AM

Shirley has Become an Avid Cyclist ... Way to Go Howard

Leo Rides Those Tiny Wheels Again

News Flash ... Steve is Finally Riding with Real Shoes!
The start of the parkway was a short two miles from our hotel.  It is easy to spot me in the group shot below ... I am the only dumby that forget my ABB Across America jersey.  This is after all an ABB reunion ride ... oh well.  The parkway does not allow commercial traffic and at 7AM on a Sunday it was like a bike path that occasionally allowed cars ... we saw only a handful along the almost 70 mile section we rode today.

Mile Post 0

The Team Photo ... Where's Mark (Duh!)
There are numerous opportunities to stop along the Trace and see historical sights.  The trees provided some shade and the early time kept the temperatures tolerable the first 30 miles or so.  I rode with Steve for awhile and caught up on his May ride of the Trace with John, Dan, and Bill.  What a difference a month makes ... when Steve rode in May the temperatures barely reached 70.  Today we started higher than that and climbed into the triple digits.  We stopped at mile post 10 to see the Emerald Mound, built around 1300 by the ancestors of the Creek, Choctaw and Natchez Indians.  Rod joined us a short time later.  At mile 15 we stopped for water and a look at Mount Locust, a restored 1780 inn (the only surviving inn on the Trace). When we were moving, the temperature was reasonable, but when we stopped, you could feel the heat and the gnats were all over you.  Some local riders told us to get vanilla extract as the gnats don't like it.

Joe Coordinated a Great Ride

Alex at an Early Stop ... We Need Vanilla for These Gnats

Mount Locust

Rod and I rode the next 25 miles to our SAG stop.  Karen and Aila had set up a great little spread with all the traditional ABB accouterments.  The temperature was really stating to climb.  Several bottles of water and Gator Aide later we were off ... not before Steve came and went with most of the gnats following him!  The next 10 miles really saw the heat take it's toll.  My Garmin showed 99 when we stopped at the Sunken Trace.  This original portion of the path  was about 10 feet down and had been shaped by erosion and thousands of footsteps.  A quick photo opp and we were back in the heat. 
Typical Shot of The Road ... Lots of Moss on the Trees

Rod ... My Riding Partner for Most of the Day

Me at Sunken Trace
A slow but steady grind brought us to mile post 52 and the Owens Creek Waterfall.  Karen was thankfully waiting with cold water and ice. I packed some ice in my bandanna and it made a huge difference.  My body temperature dropped 5-10 degrees and enabled me to pick up a lot of energy to battle the now 100+ degree heat.  My Garmin read 105 in the open areas.  Rod and I had our eyes out for Aila and the ending mile post 66.  The ride covered 71 miles, almost 2,000 feet of gentle climbs, and lots of calories burned.  You can see the route and data at:

It was good to rest and drink some more as we waited for some of the others to arrive for the car ride back to Jackson. Leo was next to arrive. Helen was driving 2nd SAG and brought Ellen up the last few miles to beat the heat. Aila drove us back to Jackson were we will spend two nights.

Happy to be Out of the Heat

Happy Campers ... Two Nights at the Same Hotel or Done for the Day?

I relaxed and napped before dinner at Mugshots.  Tauted as the nest burger around, it took a a few tries to find it.  The service was not so great, but the food and company made up for it.  Another laughter filled evening before settling into the room for blogging and sleep.  With another day of intense heat, we are planning on a 5AM breakfast tomorrow.  This should get is off the road by noon before the heat really intensifies.

While the heat took its toll, we all had a great day.  It was like old times and the routine has already been established.  Another great day awaits ... drink some water for me.

Goo night moon ... good night trace ... good night SAG (big thanks to Karen and Aila) ... good night heat ... good night riders ... good night alarm clock (4:30 will come quick).

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