Day 4 - Jackson, LA (Centenary Inn B&B) to Natchez, MS (Days Inn) - Seeking A Bicycle Warrior's Death, Part II: The Great Rivers South - CycleBlaze

September 25, 2022

Day 4 - Jackson, LA (Centenary Inn B&B) to Natchez, MS (Days Inn)

Way Too Hot Here For Fall, I'm Heading North For Cooler Weather

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Statistics, Useful & Otherwise;

Elevation Gained Today; 3,335 ft              Cumulative;  5,277 ft

Roadkill Seen Today;   Possum (2)         Cumulative; Hawk (2), Raccoon (1),                                                                                                             Possum (2)

Found Money Today;        $0.25                 Cumulative;  $0.27

Lodging Cost Today;   $0 (points)           Cumulative;  $346.91

Bad Drivers Today;          0                             Cumulative; 2

Dog Chases Today;       2                                Cumulative;   2

Confederate Flags Today;   1                        Cumulative;  1

Average Speed Today; 10.6 mph                 Cumulative; 11.0 mph

Summary of Today's Ride; Heat and humidity made for a challenging day.

My EMP (Energy Management Plan) for today was pretty straightforward; eat a pastry and juice in my room in Jackson, then ride 24 miles to Centerville, eat a real breakfast at the restaurant, stock up on snack food and water and gatorade, and then ride the remaining 50 miles to my motel in Natchez.  There are no services once I leave Centerville until I reach Natchez, and since it's been hot I planned for a 05:00 wakeup and hoped to depart the hotel before 06:00.   The forecast for Natchez calls for a high of 93f, and unfortunately the wind is expected to be from the NNW.  So I expected a challenging day and that's what I got.

Leaving the Centenary Inn at 05:50, I finally managed to depart before sunrise.  I love rolling along with only my bicycle headlights illuminating an otherwise dark road, and that's what I got this morning.  I tried to capture it with a photo, but the darkness was just too much for the camera to focus.  First light came and the northern Louisiana countryside awakened.

Hazy and Foggy Early Morn in Northern Louisiana
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I've gotten far enough north now that I'm beginning to see lots of Baptist churches along the route.

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Weyerhauser owns a lot of timber land down here, and pine trees are generally harvested in a checker-board fashion on about a 20-year cycle.  So there are open areas of recently-harvested land adjacent to forested land awaiting harvest.

The Forest Is A Commodity
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I reached Mississippi soon after heading out this morning, but there was no "Welcome to Mississippi" sign.

Mississippi Welcome Sign Was Once Posted Behind and to the Right of This County Sign
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There was a once a sign welcoming folks to Mississippi, and I know this because you can still see it if you use Google Earth and do a street view at this location.   But I didn't remember exactly where the sign was supposed to be, so I thought maybe it was just over the hill ahead of me and I rode on hoping to get a self-portrait at the welcome sign as I entered Mississippi - but no such luck.

I made it to Centerville and found the restaurant co-located with the convenience store and got some grits, sausage, and a pancake for breakfast.  I ate outside on the solitary table and shared it with a local fellow who told me he had retired 10 years ago to take care of his wife after she had a stroke.  He looked to be at least 5 and maybe 10 years younger than me.  A dog wandered up, looking underfed and hoping for a handout.  I said "Sorry Pooch, I need this breakfast today."  The dog had a collar, and one of the cashiers told me that the dog lived nearby and that his owners didn't feed him but let him come to the store to beg for food.  Poor doggy, he was little more than skin and bones. 

I got away from Centerville at 08:40 and had 50 miles to go.  Using my usual rule of thumb of 2 ounces of fluid per mile, I left with 76 ounces of water in the 3 bottles and a 28 ounce bottle of Gatorade on the rear rack.  It was already getting hot, and the temperature climbed steadily until topping out at 93f in the afternoon.  The thing about my rule of thumb for water is that it works out well for me when planning the entire day, and includes early morning periods when I don't consume as much liquid and mid-day and afternoon periods when I consume more than 2 ounces per mile.   But I was leaving when it was already getting hot, so I was concerned about having enough liquid.  

And it was hot.  There were some rolling hills to climb, but only a couple were of any significance, and I never even used the low ring - so really, this was about the easiest 3,300 feet I ever climbed.  But it was hot and kept getting hotter.  I think I might have gotten into trouble with the heat, if it wasn't for the fact that the entire ride consisted of tree-shaded roads.

I Wish All My Rides Were Shady Like This
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I was in and out of the sun all day long; I think I probably had shade for 50% of the ride, and that was great.  There were long stretches of road similar to the photo above where there was absolutely nothing but the road and the forest.  I was in a national forest for part of the ride. 

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I saw a U.S. flag flying out near the roadway at a house I was approaching, and I thought "well at least they aren't flying a confederate flag."  But when I got closer I saw that there was a confederate flag also flying near the house!  I was going to take a picture of it, but the owner was outside and I didn't want to photograph it with him right there. 

I kept looking for a good place to stop for a lunch break, but there really wasn't one.  So I finally just pulled off and sat on a dirt berm and had my lunch - a banana and peanut butter cracker washed down with warm Gatorade.  I was tired and it was getting hotter.

Harvey Cools His Wheels For a Wee Bit
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It was tempting to go wading in the Homochitto River, but that probably wouldn't have been wise.

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Honestly, it felt like a bit of a death march as I slowly worked my way down Liberty Road.  Nearing the end, I deviated from the ACA route and cut through on LaGrange and other roads to reach Highway 61, then rode the shoulder for a few miles to the Days Inn on the edge of Natchez. 

Everything is Historical - Some Good, Some Bad
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I'll maybe add some more about today in tomorrow's entry - I'm taking a rest day tomorrow.  I've ridden 5 days in a row now, and today was the longest ride of the year for me - and it was hot and I was riding a loaded bike - so I need a day off.  As I said earlier, I finished today's ride on Highway 61.  If you weren't aware, Highway 61 is also known as the Blues Highway. So since I finished my ride on the Blues Highway today, here's a bit of blues for you.  Elvis is still king, if'n you did'n know.

Watch out for them steamrollers when you're riding your bicycle.  Good night folks, I'm not setting an alarm for the morning.  Hope you occasionally do the same too...

Today's ride: 75 miles (121 km)
Total: 251 miles (404 km)

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