Natchez Trace Tour Day #2
Perry’s Bicycle Hostel near Jackson LA to Natchez MS
Today: 75.5 miles Cumulative this tour: 120.8 miles
We arose early and were packed by 7AM. Perry’s system is to open her kitchen door blinds when the coffee is ready, and we soon joined her in the kitchen. She made gluten-free biscuits that Jack likened to hardtack, plus yogurt and fruit, and sweet potato cakes with cane syrup. We loved it – what generosity. The table was soon joined by Peter, Neal, and Bob with plenty of friendly talk.
Despite our intention to cover plenty of miles today, we didn’t leave Perry’s until nearly 9:30AM, and then only reluctantly. She asked for nothing, but we happily left her “gratitude” funds to help cover food costs – and we encourage all visitors to do the same. Thank you so much Perry!!
Retracing north up SR68, we again fought against no shoulder, rumble stripping, and a steady stream of logging trucks. Virtually all of those trucks turn east on SR10 at Jackson, however, which left a nice peaceful ride north, except maybe for the occasional loose dog and a weird little clicking from my crank.
We continued north through Norwood and then merged with another state route, this one bringing back the logging trucks. Ugh! Jack seems to deal with it better than I did.
One of the things on my list to see this trip was an armadillo. Alive preferably, but this dead one presented itself by the roadside. I just wanted to see how they’re constructed. Very strange creatures – sorta like moles with plate armor.
We reached the Mississippi state line and stopped for a photo op. Jack and I spent some minutes recounting the number of states we’ve each ridden in. For me it’s 25 – here’s my list so far:
Jack has a couple more than me.
Happily, for me at least, the road improves on the Mississippi side. For unknown reasons, the northbound lane of SR33 seemed just a little bit wider than the southbound lane. For bicyclists, just an extra 9 or 12 inches is enough to makes things safer, or at least feel that way.
We took very nice backroads to Centerville MS, chased by a few more stray dogs. In the little town, we stopped for provisions, as this would be the last store we’d encounter before going 50 more miles today. I gulped down chocolate milk and eventually a couple pieces of fried chicken, while Jack enjoyed a berry-cheese danish. Foodwise, we were already stocked up with 12 hamburger buns, a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jelly, and another ½ gallon of various fluids for each of us. Lots of friendly folks asked about our riding, and they always cautioned us to be safe.
The afternoon brought hot stagnant muggy riding, with our own self-wind the only reprieve. Our reward was a truly beautiful 46 mile ride through the Homochitto State Forest.
Dog dodging was involved. At one place, a nasty looking pit bull bared his teeth and took a sudden full lunge at me. To my relief, his lunge was halted mid-air by a chain, like something from a cartoon. I pedaled off wondering why the dog didn’t already know he was chained up, but perhaps I give the dog too much credit.
On another encounter, 4 of them came at once. I quickly outpace three, but the lead dog was pretty smart, streaking out on an interception path way out in front, trying to cut me off. He ended up closely chasing my rear wheel for a few hundred yards but I eventually outgunned him too. All in all, about 5 or 6 dog chases in this stretch, none too bad.
The ACA directed us onto a backroad to Rosetta, which truly sucks as a cycle-able surface. The surface is so rough for a loaded bike that Jack and I both were concerned about breaking spokes.
We stopped for lunch at a small bridge. It was a welcome rest to refuel as both of us were really feeling the heat. Our lack of training was probably a factor too.
We turned onto Liberty Road, a very nice stretch through old growth forests. The road crosses 3 small watersheds, and so involves a bit of climbing, not exactly what we needed this hot afternoon. As a result, we took frequent short stops all the way in to Natchez.
Reaching town, we stopped at the Rite-Aid for much needed cold drinks plus a few saddle-sore provisions for me. Next stop: the Red Carpet Inn. Cue the showers, Domino’s pizza, and then the Atlanta-Washington baseball game, which happened to be personally attended by Fran, this being Tom Glavine bobblehead night.
Jack and I both downed about 2 gallons of water and sodas (I even included some Nunn electrolyte). We sure lost a lot of fluids today. To boot, we both were nursing cramps and saddle sores. Today’s 75 miles was definitely a solid return to the world of bicycle touring for us, including its rewards and its challenges.