Today was day two of this phase of the ride – the final 6-day push into New Orleans. I started out with an extra big oatmeal portion in hopes they I could make it to 11 without eating my arm.
Yesterday’s short ride and early arrival were a great phasing back into the rhythm of the road after a rest day. It also afforded us time to relax a bit and handle some mechanicals. There hasn’t been much to say about mechanicals since things have been smooth but a couple minor adjustments have made a huge difference – enough that this morning I kept thinking of the Japanese word yomigaeri, which means “rebirth”.
First, midway through yesterday’s ride while legs were feeling fresh, I was really uncomfortable in the saddle. It reminded me that people have said you should switch saddles on a long time ride just so the geometry changes. Not necessarily better – just different so your pressure points of contact change. New saddle not being an option, I though about just moving my saddle back on its rails a bit. I planned to wait until camp but with a chill day chandra encouraged me to do it with 20 or so miles left. I did, and this morning right away I felt way more comfortable. I probably slid the saddle back 3 or 4 mm, but that change was enough! Way more comfortable today!
The other thing was the squeak we’ve been dealing with. We’ve thought it was the BOB trailer wheel or maybe the trailer hardware. It got worse over the last 4 riding days but we thought we had ruled out the bike wheels. As we rolled into a stop last night though, we both noticed a wobble in the rear wheel. Considering some of the terrain we’ve forced our bike over on this trip the wobble was no surprise. But I kind of suck at truing wheels. Nonetheless I had to give it a go. Looking at spoke tension there were a few spokes that were particularly loose. I tightened them up, rid the wheel of the wobble, worked slowly and meticulously to not make new problems, and that was it. This morning as we set out on the road something was different. After a while I realized the squeaking was gone!! Hard to express how annoying that sound was. Rebirth!!
Beyond those two mechanical changes the riding was uneventful. It’s our penultimate day on the Trace so we tried to soak it up, enjoy the flat easy riding, and burn this paradise of road riding into our permanent memory. We left the Trace for a mile or so to get an ice cream sandwich at a little market and of course had to out sprint a dog. Twice because we returned to the Trace the same way!
We had a picnic lunch in Kosciusko (named after a Polish immigrant who also designed the first fort at what is now West Point). Fun fact – Oprah Winfrey was born in Kosciusko. We learned all this from the friendly attendants at the visitor center which also had lovely picnic tables and water.
After lunch we enjoyed the smooth road, the quiet without the squeak, and the general flat terrain and tailwind with cold northerly air coming in.
In terms of stops along the way the Cypress Swamp was amazing!
We left the serenity of the Trace to explore Jackson MS. on Friday night at rush hour. We are used to city riding though and made our way to this cool state park campground called Le Fleur Bluff right downtown! It’s mellow and we found a breakfast place and a coop for supplies in the morning. It’s supposed to be 33 degrees tonight. Feeling like the first days of the trip!
On the way into Jackson we stopped to pick up a bottle of wine. A random woman in the store asked me where we were from. I said “Wisconsin”‘and she said “it’s nice to have you here – welcome to Mississippi”. When we stopped along the Trace in this tiny market to get ice cream the huge guy behind the counter was also super friendly. He said “great what y’all are doing – we are all 99 cents from a heart attack. We should be riding a bike”. He was gruff when we first walked in but we left feeling welcome and he gave us all his advise about New Orleans. I could get used to southern hospitality!
Now to sleep. Looking forward to diner breakfast tomorrow at 93 miles to Natchez!