Nashville to Natchez or attempted suicide by bicycle…

6/3/12 we drove in four vehicles to Nashville, TN from Newnan, GA today and after a Subway lunch we jumped on the bikes and headed down the Natchez Trace. Our goal today was only 45 miles since we got a late start. This is a great group of men from all walks of life. Each rides at their own pace and we all manage to end up at the same place. We jump the vehicles ahead by taking turns and then the driver can chose to ride back and meet the other bikes at some point and then turn and ride with them back to the vehicle where another rider takes their turn to jump. We overnighted in Columbia, TN and had a great dinner at Legends. Laura was our server and managed to handle 16 at our table with no trouble. May be the best waitress I have ever encountered and a great sense of humor.

6/4/12 from Columbia, TN to Iuka, MS. Today we passed through three states. TN, AL and MS. That is a feat. We left early, having gotten up at 0530. It had rained all night and the roads were wet but it kept everything cool which was a plus as we had 70 miles to cover. To be honest, I only rode 41 today because it was my turn to jump the vehicle. Of course I could have ridden back and met the group and ridden in with them but since it was optional I exercised my option not to. Today was also a day for cats. The first was a tiny kitten barely weaned that had been dumped on the Trace. The Colonel, unknown to me had already stopped and fed him a peanut butter cracker as that was all he had. That kitten was so hungry he ate it. Then later I came along and it was in the road crying so I scooped it up and took the next exit at Collinwood, MS and rode to the Welcome Center. Now riding a racing bike with one hand and trying to hold a cat that has never been on a bike with the other is no easy chore. That thing climbed me like a tree! At the Center I tried explaining to the lady my predicament and she said she did not want that thing in here. I told her she was one real humanitarian in a loud voice in front of a roomful of people and stormed out. A family that was inside had three little girls and followed me out. One of the girls wanted to see the kitten so I handed it to her and jumped on my bike and rode away shouting Hi Ho Silver, away. Hope he likes his new home. What kitten would not like three sweet little girls? At the Victorian Inn (last time I rode the Trace it was called the Key West Inn) I finally discovered what had become of a once famous character. For those of you who were fans of Bloom County, I have found where Bill the Cat now lives and include his picture to prove it. Looks like he has finally found a place to call home. No sign of Opus though.

6/5/12 a 72 mile day though I did not have to ride all of it as I took the last jump of the vehicle. We started at 0630 and were done by 1300. No cat rescues but one turtle rescue. Why does the turtle cross the road? I guess he is looking for a wife or water but usually finds a tire tread instead. We are in Tupelo, MS where Elvis was born. Several of the guys drove over to his birthplace but I saw it the last time I was here so I took a nap. We should be close to half through with this ride now. Two of the working class are going to leave tomorrow around noon as duty calls. The rest of us are going on south toward Natchez. We are definitely in a bigger town and enjoying the luxury of a Hampton Inn tonight. A great improvement over past nights’ lodgings. Did I tell you we all sleep with our bikes in the rooms? Some of these bikes cost upwards of $6000 so you don’t just leave those out in the parking lot. Mine is NOT in that class though when I bought it in 1996 it was considered top of the line with one of the first carbon fiber mainframes with aluminum fork and struts. Today they are titanium or solid carbon. The technology has far exceeded my legs ability to keep up. You can only improve so much with gear. The rest is up to muscle power and mine is sadly lacking.

6/6/12 Tupelo to Jackson. Another 70 miles or so. I only had to ride 50 and was glad of it though I could have done more. I have my legs under me now. Even though I am riding drag every day I do have endurance if I need it. Came upon a four foot long grey rat snake in the road. Stopped to take pictures and then helped it across the road or a car would get it for sure. We had lunch at French Camp which was an amazing little place. Jack Binion and I split a Big Willie. Sounds a bit obscene and it was. A BLT with TEN strips of bacon! We ended up at an America’s Best Motel but believe me it is not. But we ate at Penn’s where you got more good food cheaper than any place on the planet. Just look at the fried chicken liver plate for $6.89. And this picture was taken after two people had already taken some. I passed my plate around to everyone and still had more than I could eat so passed it a second time to finish them. Then on to Baskin Robbins for…well you know.

6/7/12 An interesting day for roadkill. A young deer with four black buzzards sitting around. I did not take a picture but it looked like a picnic for sure. A dead copperhead snake and a mystery animal. Can you identify it? Answer tomorrow. We finished 60 miles and loaded up and drove to Natchez where we will ride backwards the last day so we end up closer to I-20 to travel homeward. Good BBQ lunch and excellent dinner at the Magnolia which was Under the Hill in Natchez. Stayed at a swank Hampton Inn. Best of the trip.

6/8/12 the last day of the ride. All successfully completed with no injuries other than Frank’s knee swelling. I did not ride as it was all hills and I did not need to push my luck. I had a great week with good friends and had to start thinking about my obligations back home. I elected to leave with a group that was heading home immediately. I waited for L.C. and Zeke and as soon as they finished we went to a motel and let them shower and then we hit the road for home. The rest of the group would spend the night and come home tomorrow. By 7pm I was home. Now to start packing for DC as Jan washes my clothes.

From mile marker 444 to mile marker 0 just like on the boat.