Thursday, November 22, 2007

Tour Over

We finally made it to Natchez...after a painful and exhausting trip. A total of 475 miles, and it was none too short.
I was quite frankly surprised at how difficult this trip would be. The ride itself was no more difficult than I expected, but I was surprised at the beating our bodies would take. In my case, the sleeping conditions took the greatest toll. I probably got 3-5 hours of sleep each night, which was essentially just a few short naps on the hard ground (thanks to a leaking thermarest). Starting off each day already feeling exhausted was a challenge. Starting off each day with the previous day's soreness also took some getting used to.
I was also surprised at how slow we would be. I am used to riding at a pretty good pace with the guys on a Saturday morning, but a ride on the Trace with 30 lbs strapped to our bikes was quite hindering. Each day was a battle to get to our destination before it was completely dark (thanks to the short daylight this time of year). I expected to have time to take plenty of breaks and see the many historic sites along the way. Didn't happen. I think we only saw one major historic site (the Pharr Indian burrial mounds), and that was only as a stop to refill on water and ibuprofen.
But enough about the difficulties...the positives definitely outweighed the negatives. The main thing I will take away from this trip is the small slice of Southern America that greeted us along the way. From Hohenwald, TN to Houston and Thomastown, MS, we saw wonderful places, met amazing people, and ate hearty country food. A quick example of this is our last night's stay in Rocky Springs, 55 miles from Natchez. After waking up to 25 degree weather and trying to sum up the motivation to take down camp, we heard a Frenchman in the distance. Well, not actually a Frenchman, but a man from Quebec. And not really in the distance, but only a few short yards. Pierre and Adriene took pity on us and invited us into their warm and cozy RV for a hot cup of "cafe'". Despite Pierre's broken English, we shared a fun converation in their mobile kitchen. We learned a bit of Canadian history and were shown on a map exactly where Pierre is from. I think it's safe to say that none of us were expecting a Canadian couple would give us the necessary boost to complete the final day.
Well that's that. There are plenty more stories, but I'll save them for another day. After all, today is Thanksgiving and there is food to be eaten!

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