My Natchez Trace Tour is complete

What a trip this has been. I’ve reached the Amtrak train station where I’ll ride home Saturday morning.

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19 days of riding, but I stayed in the same place a couple times. A total of 1,006 bicycle miles. The full detail with various waypoints is here

I would love to continue and refine this healthy lifestyle but I need to be at work Monday morning.

This is my longest ride yet. I’ve ridden for three weeks, less a day if I go ahead and count riding around the area tomorrow. I did not take “rest days” but I had a couple days in the 15 mile kind of range that I consider rest.

I’ve really enjoyed seeing the countryside up close along with many local folk in various areas I’ve been to. People have been very nice and in many instances quite interested in the details of my journey. Taking county roads and highways is key to that. Taking back roads also does a lot to keep the trip interesting and adventurous.

In a few of the really low income areas I didn’t feel entirely safe. But usually that’s where I see more interest or at least acceptance of what I’m doing. It’s where people are the friendliest and outgoing.

I’ve seen Mississippi better in these few weeks than in all my years. The Natchez Trace Parkway is quite a treasure. The views are beautiful and the road, quiet. I also found many a sweet ride on the country roads I’ve been on though. And I enjoy seeing “life” go on there, something you don’t see in the isolated environment of the trace. Mississippi is really full of beautiful wet lands and birds, something you don’t see much of from the highway. I’ve loved the quiet swampy areas I’ve come upon again and again.

My physical well being is top-notch. I’ve never been more fit. I felt new endurance in my legs after a few days. It became more “explore the world” rather than “take an arduous journey”. I kept up a daily routine of sit ups, push ups, touch toes, stretch, that kept me in tune with my body and particularly kept my back strong, which has been a source of pain fatigue in the past but not on this trip. I think I’m learning how to manage that with exercise and riding posture. Often I feel my back “pop” a little while exercising and I know I just did something good.

My butt still gets sore late in the day even though my pelvis bones have noticeably reshaped themselves to fit my saddle better. I may need to try out a real touring saddle. I’ve been put off by the look of them, with concern for blood flow after a long time sitting. Still, this is the weak link in getting a long day of riding in. It helps to take frequent breaks getting off the bike saddle for even a few minutes at a time. But late in the day a couple times I reached a point where most of my mental energy was focused on the pain in that region. The cream they sell at the bike shop helps a lot and I was always OK by morning, without residual soreness that I’ve sometimes had without that.

I stayed in motels a little more than I’d hoped. But I had a few stretches of three camping days at a time and one or two here and there. Motels are definitely easier to manage when they are around but the drive up the cost. And camping is usually more interesting. I think I’d camp more were I not as interested in making good miles at times (easier to do with motel stays).

Keeping my electronics charged has gone very well, particularly since I added the Mophie Juice Pack Pro battery pack to my equipment. I’ve been able to charge my phone with that and also charge the AAA batteries in my helmet and my flashing tail light and music box (which I use only to amplify spoken route directions in metro areas where there may be too much noise to clearly hear the phone). My dyno-hub then recharges the battery pack in my next days ride. The battery pack is not up to putting a full charge on my ipad. But that battery lasts a long time and I recharge it at motels when I can and don’t really need that much anyway. It’s convenient for catching up on various podcasts I follow.

Managing my food has been very easy. Sometimes I’ve had energy bar snacks but usually it’s been a combination of fruit (most often oranges) along with nuts and the flavored cranberries I brought from the farmers market in at home. Being primarily a vegetarian, I found it convenient that Subway is so prevalent since I have good healthy food choices there. I would stop and eat half of a foot long, take the other half with me, and have the basis of two meals a day. When camping I always made oatmeal cooked in soy milk for breakfast. Using the lunch-size non-refridgerated individual packs works well for that.

The weather has been so good! There was not a single day where I road in the rain all day or had to setup camp in the rain. The most rain I had during the day was the day I spent in Columbus. I didn’t mind that and it fit my spirit that day. A lot of the bulk on my ride has been cold weather clothes. I’ve actually made good use of all of them. But only briefly. Usually if the ride started out cold, the mid-morning sun would find me peeling off layers and by noon or earlier I was back in shorts. Only on a couple days did I need a layer on my legs or arms into the afternoon.

On a more personal level I’m so happy to have been able to visit with aunt Hazel in Okalona for a couple days. We had a nice time together and I also got to see my cousin Rick who still runs the family farm there. We even visited Henrine, who was the maid at granddads old farm lodge where I went several times as a child and road horses and camped and played with my cousins and friends.

3 thoughts on “My Natchez Trace Tour is complete”

  1. Hi, Walter,

    Thanks so much for the long “update” you sent! I really enjoyed hearing about your trip. So happy, too, to feel your enthusiasm continuing even after 3 weeks of touring on your bike. You’re amazing! I am sorry to hear that you had pain in your behind after a long day of riding. That’s something that I’m sure you’ll try to resolve when you get a chance to study more about it.
    Martha told me she’s meeting you at the train station tomorrow night! She’s excited. Me, too! I can hardly wait to see you and be able to talk with you more about your trip.

    I should be hearing soon about the outcome of last night’s meeting of the Board of Directors at PCA. I’m eager to hear! When I do, I’ll send you a little message.

    Thanks so much again for your very informative post.
    Love you and missing you, Mom

  2. I just wanted to let you know it’s been a treat reading about your ride. What a special trip it must have been. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I’m a fellow cycling geek living in the Toco Hills area. Just last weekend, I completed a ride with a few friends that covered the entire Silver Comet + Chief Ladiga Trails into Anniston, AL.
    Perhaps I’ll see you on the road!

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