I can best describe our day of riding as hills and thunderstorms. However, the best part of our day was experiencing some unbelievable sites and successfully completing our ride. We began our day with media interviews and an extensive photo session at one of the most beautiful byways in the United States, the Natchez Trace Parkway. Beginning as an ancient hunting trail blazed by the Natchez, Choctaw, and Chickasaw Indians, this long and historic roadway stretches some 444 miles between Nashville, Tennessee, and Natchez, Mississippi. In 2006, it was named by ESPN as one of the country’s top ten road biking destinations. The ESPN award proved to be true as we saw many of the over 100 different species of trees, including the Dogwood and Redbud, that grow along the Natchez Trace Parkway. In addition, I saw the most beautiful male wild turkey, a black coyote, and a number of different types of birds. Traveling along the parkway was spectacular in spite of the weather conditions we faced.
The weather started off fairly good up until noon. In the early afternoon we were faced with a significant thunderstorm that we weathered with great determination. However, just before the end of our riding we became aware that there was a tornado warning in the area. We packed up our bikes and began to drive to our hotel. The rain was so bad that at times we could hardly see in front of us.
This is the 7th day in a row since the beginning of the bike ride that we have been faced with rain in one fashion or another. We joked about the fact that maybe we didn’t need to stay at a hotel because with the amount of rain we received we were able to get a shower and our clothes cleaned at the same time while riding. We continue to get drenched when biking and need to change shirts routinely.
When we weren’t primarily dealing with the rain, we were dealing with the challenge of riding up several hills that required a great deal of peddling. I think all of the riders have become pretty good at properly shifting gears when going up hill to avoid excessive stress on their legs. However, Joe DeLamielleure seems to have been blessed with bionic legs and he just plows up the hill and smiles as he passes us on the way.
We plan to be riding along the Nachez Trace Parkway for the next 2 ½ days. We are hopeful that we will have better weather so we can really enjoy the scenery along the way. However, if that doesn’t happen, it will be OK. We started this bike ride with one thing in mind and that was completing our 2000 miles for the children. We are still on track and baring a tornado, we will continue on track. It’s hard to believe that we have already completed day 7. I am drying out my clothes now and getting ready to face day # 8. We look forward to a great day. A map of the Nachez Trace Parkway is provided on the left to give you an idea of how long it is (click the image for a larger view).
Written by John Shinsky