Ride Report: Double Feature Weekend
This past weekend we hosted our annual Natchez or Bust (NOB) Ride, and the first, Tackle the Tanglefoot Trail Ride! Now, that was a lot of miles ridden and driven in one weekend and here is only a very short summary:
The 2013 NOB was one to remember in many respects. The weather was perfect! As we gathered for the 7:30 AM launch, the light mist dutifully stopped and the group began pedaling toward clearing skies on the 52 degree October morning. A United States Government shutdown had prompted concern for restrooms along the Natchez Trace to be closed, but last minute action relieved us all, and the NOB ride was on.
This was the first official use of the RideSouth tour bus! Extraordinary SAG driver Lane, said it performed great! The rear doors were swung open at rest stops along the way displaying snacks, pickles, water and some very strong, blue Romulen Ale! (That was the popular description of the too strong Powerade prepared by this rider!)
This year we purchased lunch boxes from The Corner Bakery that were awesome! The meaty sandwiches, baked chips, fruit cup and huge, fresh cookie were enjoyed by all at Rocky Springs. We saw another tour bus with prominent markings at lunch that was traveling the Trace as well.
At the Natchez State Park, we loaded the bus with bikes including a recumbent tandem, and drove to the Magnolia Grille, Under the Hill. The wind had been coming from the west all day and must have affected the balloon pilots more than us as they elected not to fly in the comfortable fall temperatures. No matter, the River view was great, as was the Bloody Mary and the food! The service could have been faster as our waiter struggled to appease the group of about eighteen at dinner, but in the end we were pretty much on schedule.
Saying goodbye to our friends from Louisiana and Tennessee, we loaded up the bus as passersby snapped photos of us. The bus had a definite presence with the many recumbents on the roof towering about ten feet six inches above the road. We kept an eye out for low branches! There was room for more bikes, even! Thank you to all that joined us and especially to Liz, Angela and Lane for the superlative support!!!
We pulled out from our front row parking place with Billy announcing our departure schedule for the non-stop flight back to the RideSouth shop over the improvised bus intercom. After dark, the hundreds of deer along the Trace looked dazed, a lot like the tourists in Natchez, at the sight of our loaded bus, and remained on the side of the road as we went past. For much of the drive home we were looking directly into a gorgeous full moon taking up a large part of our front windshield! There was little traffic on this cool evening and we arrived on schedule. A great, incident-free day!
Tackling the Tanglefoot the next day was necessary as the Grand Opening Ceremonies had been rescheduled to the Sunday after NOB to allow all the speakers to make their football games. So . . . we commissioned the bus again and headed to Houston, Mississippi, about two and a half hours away on the North end of the Trace.
We parked at the Upper Elementary School and rode the half mile to the south end of the trail where the first ceremony was about to commence. There was good representation from our friends and even a mention of our effort by the Trail Manager speaker, Don Lott.
After the fireworks and whistle blowing in Houston, we rode to two more whistle-stops before arriving in Pontotoc for the symbolic silver spike driving. Of course, there were similar speeches and ceremony at each stop! The big ceremony was at Pontotoc that lasted almost an hour! Sunglasses and trees blocking the setting sun prompted a decision to head back to Houston even though one of our group was not back from New Albany, the north end of the trail.
The temperature was dropping rapidly and the setting sun through the trees provided a strobe effect. We had to pedal hard to stay warm and we were moving fast, except over the very rough bridges, when my second flat happened. Sharp rocks along the trail ended up causing three flats for this rider. Thanks to Charlie Moore for holding the light on flat fix number two! Number three happened as we turned off the trail at the Elementary school. Trail Manager Don was there checking on us. Thank you, Don!!
Billy Owen elected to tackle the whole 89 mile trail, netting 194 miles on the bike for the weekend! Way to go Billy! He arrived about five minutes after we did and we loaded the bus to head home. David Channell was on deer watch on the way back where we saw a huge buck calmly looking at us, probably curious about who we were!
So, if you are like the tourist in Natchez, or the buck along the roadside near French Camp, and are curious about who we are and why we go from one end of the State to the other riding funny looking bicycles, this is for you! It is good fun, good exercise . . . and there is no pain! One upright rider commented that no matter how many centuries he rides, they all hurt! We sympathize and welcome all riders and all bikes on our rides! Consider joining us for our next adventure and see for yourself why, no matter which direction you go in Mississippi, North or South . . . RideSouth is the Way to Ride!