Day Two on the Trace - Overnight Down the Trace - CycleBlaze

April 25, 2019

Day Two on the Trace

I know that the first night camping out is not the most restful, but I really thought I would sleep better than I did given how I kept falling asleep before I cooked dinner.  But I didn't get the sleep I had hoped for.  There were probably several things that contributed to this.  First, it was the first night camping out.  Second, I really don't care for out and back rides...but given my schedule and need to visit my parents, two days/one night was all I could do...and I was rather dreading the return ride.  Third, there was rain in the forecast the next day...beating the rain back occupied much of my thought.  But perhaps the biggest issue was all of my "nature friends" that were around.  

Sometime after I had fallen asleep I was awakened by the sound of coyotes howling.  While they did not sound like they were right up near me, they did seem to be all around.  After hearing them carry on for a while, all of the dogs in that part of the world joined in.  And then...just to make things interesting...something seemed to spook the cows and donkeys on the farm just up the road from where I was camping.  I suppose it was enough "nature noise" to get my mind going.  But I did manage to drift back to sleep...only to be awakened again with the sound of something sniffing around my campsite!  All of my food was in an odor-proof bag, in one of my panniers, inside the vestibule of my tent.  When I heard that sniffer going I immediately grabbed my flash light to be sure some critter had not defeated my odor-proof bags.  There was no critter inside the vestibule area and whatever was sniffing around left...but we did this same little dance a few more times!  (In some email correspondence with the National Park Service, I was assured that bears were not an issue...but man did that "sniffer" sound huge!)  Made for an interesting night.

With little sleep and much cooler temperature it was difficult to crawl out of my sleeping bag...but I had to get up and going if I was gonna beat the rain.  (Actually, the rain doesn't so much bother me, but the possibility of thunder/lightening does...particularly on the wide open spaces of the Natchez Trace!)  Plus, I knew I had to get up and make a quick 1/2 mile ride to the bathroom!!!  All in all, the morning went well.  Packing up camp and reloading my bike was as smooth as I had expected...I had already identified some issues with how my tent went on the back rack, but that would not be resolved today.

The cooler temperatures and cloud cover was a welcome change from the day before.  I like to think I learn from my experiences.  So as I started out, I determined that I would stop every hour...EVERY hour...for a brief rest.  What I didn't do during each rest period, was eat something.  (Mental note already made to correct this for my next trip!)  Resting every hour and doing a better job of managing my gearing based on the terrain, really made the day much more enjoyable.  Since I knew there was a chance of rain this second day, I did most of my sight seeing stops on day one...but there were a couple of things I did stop to see on my return trip.

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With about 20 miles to go on the Natchez Trace, before I tackled the last 7 miles to my sisters house, I decided that rather than eating more peanut butter, jelly, banana, and honey tortillas for lunch, I would treat myself to lunch at the Loveless Cafe...after all, I hadn't eaten out since leaving home in North Carolina!  The thought of a burger and fries from the Loveless Cafe (honestly, I'm assuming they sell hamburgers and fries...but I don't know for sure!) was like a carrot on the stick dangling out in front of me.  It seemed to sustain me those last miles.

As I exited off the Natchez Trace and rolled towards the Loveless Cafe I was so excited!  Yes, lunch always excites me, but this excitement was the result of finishing my first self-supported tour.  Sure, it was only 97 miles or so, and was only two days and one night...but I had done it!  For much of the past year I had been looking forward to doing this...and over the last several week I had been making my plans.  Even as short as it was, I knew now I could do it.  Well, now off the Trace I locked my bicycle to a tree at the Loveless Cafe and walked in triumphantly, and tired.  But...(there's always a "but" isn't there?) there was a wait!  For some reason I just did not feel like waiting so I figured I would just grab something at my sister's house...I mean, it was only 7 miles away!

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Planning to eat at my sister's wasn't such a bad idea...not eating ANYTHING before heading out was a HUGE mistake.  Most of the 7 miles to my sisters seemed to be into a pretty stout headwind with some punch hills.  Plus, my energy was gone...I was done...I had bonked!  I know better than to not eat...but I didn't do what I know I should have.  I managed to make it to her house, and then I sat in a rocking chair on her back porch eating much of the food still in my pannier until I felt better!

Trip complete!  Lessons learned...and notes made!  Hoping this little trip is just a springboard to many more!

Today's ride: 45 miles (72 km)
Total: 98 miles (158 km)

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Gregory GarceauCongratulations on your first solo trip. It looked like a fun one.

You do know, of course, that it only takes one bike trip to carry you into the dangerous world of bicycle touring addiction. It all starts with a single overnighter, then you start craving longer and longer tours, and the next thing you know you'll find yourself biking around the world. Good luck.
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2 years ago
Scott AndersonDitto what Greg said. Congratulations on a successful first tour! Loved reading about your night in the zoo.
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2 years ago