I can't seem to pass through Nashville, TN without spending a day riding in the area. My favorite venue is the Natchez Trace Parkway, which is a 442 mile roadway extending to Natchez Mississippi. The roadway is designated an Historical National Park. It features a smoothly paved surface, meticulous landscaping, and very minimal vehicle traffic. There are several RUSA permanents that utilize the famous roadway as the primary route. I arranged in advance to ride one leg of Michelle Williams' Natchez Trace Tour. A 114k free route between Pasquo, TN and Collinwood, TN. The shortest and most desirable passage between the two points is the NT Parkway. The return from Collinwood, if undertaken by bike, counts as a second permanent, which I opted to begin one-half hour after finishing the first one. From control to control would be 90 miles each way. If completed within the time limits, I would earn 288 official RUSA kilometers.
I left the convenience store adjacent to the NT Parkway promptly at 6am. It was dark and 42 degrees. The weather forecast called for a high of 67F with showers beginning in the afternoon. Strong, and potentially dangerous thunderstorms were predicated at night. It was my hope to be finished before the heavy stuff moved in. The northern portion of the NT is a bit hilly, but nothing daunting. I enjoy riding it on my fixed gear using 70" gearing. Sunrise began just fifteen minutes into the ride, with full daylight by 6:45. I could feel the morning sun warming me up. I quickly fell into a nice rhythm on the bike. The moderate grade hills felt very nice and I was making good time. With thirty miles behind me I had the sickening feeling of my rear rim hitting the pavement. I stopped at a bridge and inspected the tire. It had about 10 pounds of air left in it. An apparent slow leak. I used a mini-pump to pressure up to about 85 lbs. The tire felt firm so I continued to ride. In ten miles I felt the rim hit again. This time I would change the tube and look for the offending problem. After searching extensively for something in the tire I could find nothing but a small hole in the middle of the tread. I used the US Treasury Department tire boot before putting in a new tube. Back on the road I was now confident that my problem was over and the rest of the ride would go smoothy. The next twenty miles were perhaps the most enjoyable of the day. I felt like one with the bike. Rolling smoothly like butter on an impeccably clean two lane. Then I felt the rim hit the pavement.
|Sunrise on the NT Parkway|
|Many miles of smooth road lay ahead|
I checked into the control at 1:30pm. Permanent number one was done in 7 hours 30 minutes. I could start Permanent number 2 at 2:00pm, which allowed time for lunch.
|Official Park like building in Collinwood, TN|
|I opted not to visit the Mud Hole|
I have a strong urge to ride the Natchez Trace Parkway from end to end on fixed gear. Permanent route owner, Michelle Williams has a network of RUSA approved rides that allow one to ride every inch of the famous road, and receive credit for it. Four permanents strung together traverse the whole thing in one direction. The routes can be reversed for a return, if desired. The multiple permanent concept allows for a more leisurely experience than a single route. Instead of a continuous ticking clock one can take a time out between rides, including a full nights sleep. I'm not sure if I want that, or a more traditional sleep deprived rando experience. Either way, my intent is to do it. I will ride alone if need be, but company is always preferred. Anyone interested in joining me on the adventure can let me know. I'm open to riding one-way or round trip. The ideal time would be the fall. Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi can be deadly hot in summer. Let's pick a date.