Natchez Trace Parkway 2004

I posted the following on the “Planning” forum at http://www.unitours.org – It’s a very low traffic area, with less than 30 posts for all forums combined, so I thought I’d repost here. Please consider placing followup replies on the Unitours Planning forum so we have a convenient record of the discussion.


I’d like to propose a unicycling tour of the Natchez Trace Parkway in the early fall of 2004.

The 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway commemorates an ancient trail that connected southern portions of the Mississippi River to middle Tennessee. Originally used as a path by the Choctaw and Chickasaw, it evolved as a foot route for traders trekking from Natchez, Mississippi back to Tennessee and Kentucky. The parkway is a two-lane road maintained by the National Park Service. It is closed to commercial traffic. Think of it as a National Park that’s 100 feet wide and hundreds of miles long.

Although the parkway extends to Natchez, Mississippi, I’m planning a tour from Jackson, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee for two reasons:

  1. There is congestion (due in part to construction) through the Jackson area and traffic is quite heavy.

  2. By starting just north of Jackson, it should be easy to fit this tour into a 1-week or 6-day time frame (357 miles vs. 444 miles).

I live in Nashville, the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace Parkway, which makes it convenient for logistics. It should be possible for people to fly into Jackson, MS and fly out of Nashville, TN. For riders who prefer to drive, we can probably make arrangements to meet in Nashville and drive you down to Jackson.

My background: I do ultra-distance cycling. I completed the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200K last year and I’m training for the Paris-Brest-Paris 1200K in August. I’ve not been unicycling for long, but intend to get in a lot of training on my Coker after PBP. To train for BMB last year, I rode solo from Nashville to Tupelo and back on the Natchez Trace Parkway (31 hours).

Originally I was thinking of doing this ride solo, but then heard about Unitours.org and thought I might extend an open invitation to tour. I think we could work out plans to comfortably support a group of 10-12 riders. Please contact me if you have any interest.

-Jeff

YES!!!

I love the 'Parkway. I’d love to do a Coker tour there. I’ve done a ton of b*king along this route, camping and staying in B&Bs. We have several Cokers in our club and I’m sure that we would all come out and participate in this.

Tommy

I’ve measured out campground/hotel/BB spacing on the Trace, and would recommend that riders be able to ride at least 60 miles per day- +/- 10 miles would be typical.

The portion south of Jackson, passing one of the largest Native American earth works and terminating at the Missippi is well worth either navigating Jackson or being ported around. Arranging a pick-up and drop off at the Jackson airport wouldn’t be an issue.

Personaly, I think it would be worth any neglageble hassle to avoid explaining again and again how I ‘almost’ road the hole length of the trace, but fell off on a Flower (vast cultural referance).

Personaly, I think it would be cool to ride from the Mound north to the Parthanon in Nashville… small bit of poetic symitry, that -and the guilded visage of Athena would be a cool reward for a long pigramage!

The trace has previously been rode by Penny-Farthing.

-Christopher

<< Personaly, I think it would be worth any neglageble hassle to avoid explaining again and again how I ‘almost’ road the [whole] length of the trace … >>

You have a good point. I’ll have to reconnoiter the area around Jackson to verify if we have a rideable route.

Of greater concern to me was fitting the ride into a 1-week excursion, to accomodate people who can’t take off more vacation time. I suppose we could “front end” a couple of days riding (Friday and Saturday) for people who have the time and inclination to ride the first ninety miles. Whoever could not manage an 8-day ride could join us on Sunday morning at mile 90.

<< Personaly, I think it would be cool to ride from the Mound north to the Parthanon in Nashville… small bit of poetic symitry, that -and the guilded visage of Athena would be a cool reward for a long pigramage! >>

Cool. My original thought was to meet at the Loveless Cafe, which is (literally) within a stone’s throw of the northern terminus. Sadly, it’s no longer a motel:

I could easily come up with a rideable route to the Parthenon in Centennial Park, which would also be a fun place to end the ride – and a great photo-op in front of the statue of Athena.

-Jeff

P.S. Christopher, I missed seeing you at the Memphis Midnight Tour. It was a blast.

What time of year are we talking about? Rody and I have spent a lot of time on the 'Trace. Those rides in October were especially beautiful and comfortable. We’ve explored both ends and spots in the middle and it is all very interesting and very rural and isolated - a good thing. The B & Bs that we’ve tried are top-notch. There is some awesome camping, too. The more that I think about it the more I’m convinced that it could be a great trip.

Christopher, thanks for the photos. I’m envious - especially the kayak pic. E-mail me your current e-address.

Jeff, yes, the Midnight ride was a blast. Thanks for making the 6 hour drive to Memphis from east Tennessee AFTER a 115 mile bike ride earlier that day!

I missed being there, too. I should have left my stash of LED strings with Tommy (I was there just 2 days before). I was hard pressed to adjust my flying schedule and another 700 miles behind the wheel to get me back to Memphis. Wish I could have been there- what a blast!

Jeff, we’ll have to conn Tommy into trecking to Nashville for some trials action around the Capital. Are you going to do that MUni ride west of Chatt early next month? It has a steep entery fee ($40)…

More later,

Christopher

Y’all are not going to have to twist my arm very hard to come to Nashville and play. I LOVE riding in downtown Nashville. My first 3’ drop was there and since then I’ve had a special fondness for all of those stone walls and steps.

I didn’t know that it was a MUni ride in Chatt. I thought that it was just trials. It is such a beautiful place – perhaps worth the $40 just to play there. However, I’ll not be going due to other commitments.

Tommy

<< Are you going to do that MUni ride west of Chatt early next month? It has a steep entery fee ($40)… >>

If you’re talking about the trials in Sequatchie, I won’t be participating since I don’t do trials, or even MUni (yet). Also I’m still in training for Paris-Brest-Paris, a 1200K bike ride. I have considered bicycling to Sequatchie, watching the trials, then biking back to Nashville.

Any web links to this event?

-Jeff

Ya here…
http://www.natrials.com/2003/ttcenter.php

I just read this thread and the ride sounds interesting. Keep me posted on the plans as they progress.

Here are a few comments based on my experience in organizing three uniTours and participating on a fourth

The route sounds really nice. Low traffic and scenic. What a better way to see the area. If I can swing it, I would like to join the group.

100km a day (or 60 miles) is ok for a day now and then on a tour but for day after day, only a few people I know can keep that pace up. For 99% of the rest of the population, that will be too much distance. Ask anybody who has been on a tour and they will tell you the same. This is especially true in the beginning of the tour as people don’t quite have their long distance stamina in place. Training is key but few train like the real ride as they don’t have time or unable to make the time.

Have a rest day in the middle somewhere. Day after day riding can take a toll and some injuries need a day (or two off) to fully heal.

What we have found is that with breaks, lunch, rests, it ends up to be 10km per hour (6 mph). That means a 60 mile day will take 10 hours (or more) to complete.

Read about other tours on UniTours.org. That is your best place to find out information on what works on a Unicycle Tour and what doesn’t. The Norwegian Unicycle Tour was just completed in June and that website has quite a bit of info. I just put the results of another survey that was given to the riders (under the Daily Update page). That has useful information that I think would be beneficial to read.

Space is available on UniTours.org if you want to create a web page for the tour. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Having tours documented on the site make it interesting to know where people have ridden and what they learned on each tour.

As unicycle touring is still quite new, we learn something new on every tour.

If you have more questions, I would be happy to answer them.

-Andy

I don’t know if I will be able to do it or not, but add my name to the list, it would be great to do for just one day! carjug at yahoo dot com

Hi Andy.

Thanks for your feedback. I really appreciate it coming
from someone who’s done these kind of distances with a
group.

The Natchez Trace Parkway is 444 miles from beginning
to terminus. If we scale back the riding to average 48
mile per day (6 mph x 8 hrs/day) then we have two obvious
options. There may be other non-obvious (to me) options.

  1. A 10 day ride with 1 rest day
  2. A more relaxed 12-day, 2-week ride with 3 rest days.

The second option might preclude those who can’t schedule
a two-week holiday. We could probably make arrangements
for 1-week riders to join us at the halfway point, if
anyone is so inclined. It would probably be good to get
some early feedback from those who’ve indicated an
interest in this tour.

Thanks also for making space available on UniTours.
Initially I started this thread there, but got more responses
here at Unicyclist.com.

http://www.unitours.org/en/forum/viewtopic.php?t=11

With apologies in advance, I’ll probably end up
crossposting some of the discussion here and there.
However, I’d encourage interested parties to consider
signing up for a free account on UniTours so we can
conveniently archive our discussion in the Planning Forum.

Thanks to everyone who’ve indicated interest in participating!

-Jeff