Belmont, MS to Houston, MS: - Couple on Coupled Co-motion Tandem Tour Trace - CycleBlaze

October 29, 2014

Belmont, MS to Houston, MS:

Didn't expect Mississippi to be this pretty

After heavy rains overnight we awakened to beautiful cool brisk fall weather. After buying some supplies at a local grocery we found our way back to the Parkway along a back road route which avoided heavy car traffic.

We are northerners and still think a cotton field in the fall looks pretty. Perhaps we would have a different feeling if we had ever picked cotton. We did grab a sample to show to our grandchildren.
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We saw some of these huge bales of cotton in the field and stopped for a closer look. A farmer pulled in to talk to us and said the bales weighed 6,000 lbs. but he did not know how much a bale was worth. After seeing bales of cotton I can understand why they were used to protect steamboats on the rivers during the Civil War.
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Although we had more traffic on the Trace Parkway than on previous days the scenery was perhaps even nicer.

Rhona snapped this picture south of Tupelo,commenting she didn't expect these types of trees in Mississippi.
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Still we are in a state where the government doesn't want to interfere with business. At the beginning of the ride we passed a miles long stretch of clearcut forest.

We didn't think to take a picture of this trashed previously forested land until we passed the worst section. What a shame they didn't leave even 10% of the trees standing.
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I made some progress fixing the mechanical gremlins on the tandem. Today we were able to shift to the large front chainring sometimes which enabled us to be more efficient on the flats and rolling hills on today's ride. The rear shifting is better also, but still not perfect and I have many opportunities to be reminded of this. I was not able to fix the wireless (Bontrager 4W) computer even with new batteries. For some reason the blinking front LED light makes the computer read a constant 18 mph (don't we wish). I do like our Spyre disk brakes. They stop the bike reliably, but interestingly, both front and rear brakes started pulsating with a little noise under hard braking.

Drivers on the Trace are good at giving us room when passing which is good because there is no room to the right of the white line. Rhona thinks signs like this one help as well as regular "Bike Route" signs. Still, at least once a day a car passes us in our lane refusing to cross the center line. My theory is those were the same kids who were afraid to step on a crack and break their mother's back.
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We had heavier car traffic as we neared Tupelo, but no real problems. Our B&B was five miles off the Parkway and again we were provided with a "car light" route in to town. However, we were chased by two dogs (for a while it felt like we were back home in West Virginia) and the dog to our front misjudged our speed and to avoid running over him I had to strongly apply the brakes and yelled, "Get out of the Way!" For some reason this tactic worked and he slunk to the side, but he was very close to being run over and who knows what would have happened to us. We plan to be prepared tomorrow morning when returning on this same route.

Carol Koutroulis, our hostess at Bridges-Hall Manor met us upon our arrival, parked our tandem in her front porch and showed us to our nice room. I asked her later if Randy had called to check to make sure we arrived safely, and sure enough he had called. Even though we have many years of bike touring under our belts it is reassuring to know somebody is watching out for us. Our current hostess was the fourth straight to tell us how important Randy was to her business and noted cyclists were key to keeping her profitable. She enjoys cycling guests, says they are a different breed and is planning to start cycling herself. The new 43 mile Tanglefoot railtrail recently opened in town and she thinks she can handle that.

Rhona wouldn't let me relax until she took a picture of our room, mumbling something about me "cluttering up every place we stay". I'm pretty sure she meant our gear, not me personally.
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Unfortunately I didn't take full advantage of the Wi-Fi before going to dinner and it didn't work this evening. For a while I thought I was going to be able to latch on to the free Wi-Fi from the McDonalds across the street, but it died out also. I've heard that sunspots can mess up radio waves, perhaps we are experiencing "moon spots" from tonight's quarter moon. Regardless, I'm tired trying to update Crazyguy on this cellphone. It takes forever and my left hand is going numb. This is a concern because my right hand goes numb from long days on the handlebars and I need at least one good hand for the promised huge breakfast tomorrow. Besides Game 7 of the World Series should be a good one!

his was an attempt to take an artsy picture at a stop on the Parkway beside a bush with very purple berries. Later we were told it was an American Beautyberry which sounds like the kind of name I would make up for the grandkids.
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Today's ride: 77 miles (124 km)
Total: 237 miles (381 km)

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