Thursday, November 5, 2009

Short Day

62.4 Miles - Jackson, MS to Kosciusko, MS

I knew I would have a short day riding, so I opted to wait until after rush hour to start my day. I also made a stop in town to pick up a new voice recorder. I have the worst luck with those things. I had one that went for a swim in New Zealand, another which was left in a hospital in Shanghai, still another that I dropped while riding my bike, but this one just stopped working.

The morning was a little different than any part of yesterday as the Parkway ran along the Ross Barnett Reservoir for a stretch of eight miles. While it was nice to have a change of scenery, it did leave me exposed to the wind.

Following the reservoir I was riding alongside a cypress swamp. I stopped and took a stroll along a short walking path. I spied a couple of frogs, a salamander and a turtle. While alligators are a periodic visitor to the swamp I didn’t evidence any.

The biggest disappointment of the day came at mile marker 135. In an instant the surface of the road changed from smooth pavement to chip-seal; which is an under layer embedded with pebbles. It makes for a bone jarring, screw-loosening ride. I generally feel it in my elbows, knees and especially my lower back. I was told by a few southbound riders that the road won’t get any better for quite some time. At least I know it will get better.

Later in the day I was delighted to see that the leaves are changing color. This is my fourth autumn this year. I caught my first in Vermont, then Arizona/Utah, followed by New York and now in Mississippi. The color is not yet at its peak, but I will be pedaling north to speed up the process.

I was planning on ending the day in the town of Kosciusko, MS, birthplace of Oprah Winfrey. Given my general readership I assume that you could probably care less. In any event, Kosciusko was the last town before Tupelo, 100 miles to the north, that has a hotel. Someone in town had mentioned that there was a bed and breakfast another 20 miles up the road, but I was unable to reach anyone there. I would have hated to ride the 20 miles and find that the people were on vacation. Kosciusko it was.

As I checked in I was talking to the person at the desk about my story. As there is nothing in the area surrounding the hotel I was offered a ride into the real part of town so I could pick up a few things, including dinner. How nice was that? Yesterday it was lunch and today this.

I will have an early start in the AM as I would like to reach Tupelo, MS before rush hour. Apparently city traffic keeps the Parkway packed around Tupelo. And with a narrow road and no shoulder, it isn’t an ideal situation. In addition, a cyclist was killed by car last month as well as another back in April. All the more incentive to ride the 100 miles to Tupelo by early afternoon.

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