Everybody's working for the weekend. But, this coming weekend, is what I've been working toward for months: Vacation.
Yes, I just had a vacation in June. But that vacation involved a long plane trip and almost no bicycling. In typical RandoBoy vacation, this one is almost the exact opposite. There will be no plane trip, and almost no driving ... just one very, very long bicycle trip.
Doing the Trace
Although Nashville is called "Music City" (primarily by the people who live here since, as Huey Lewis explained in The Heart of Rock and Roll, "Everywhere there's music") it has a more historical significance as the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace. Originally a game trail used by the nomadic indigenous peoples (whom I grew up calling "Indians," because they were usually portrayed by swarthy Europeans in the movies ... go figure), the Natchez Trace was made popular by forked-tongued white people who would use the overland trail on their return to Nashville from Natchez, MS. At that time, Nashville was where trappers would sell their pelts to traders, who would then load them onto river boats to take down the Cumberland River to the Mighty Mississippi River, and thence down to New Orleans for sale. Then, laden with cash, they would go back to Natchez, and up the Trace back to Nashville to begin the cycle all over again.
As you might imagine, a wilderness trail being used by cash-rich traders heading home from The Big Easy to their placid Nashville hearth and families was then a haven for highwaymen and brigands. Today, it's a little more mild, since the entire thing is owned and managed by the United States. There are park rangers patrolling it, enforcing a ban against commercial vehicles and a very strict 55-mph speed limit -- although I've been told the enforcement gets a little lax around Tupelo and Jackson, Mississippi.
Although there are many rest areas and historical sites, amenities on the Trace can be scarce. You usually have to go a few miles off of the Trace to get to stores, restaurants, and hotels, and should plan your fuel needs and sleeping arrangements well in advance. However, if you are a hearty randonneur with a sense for adventure, not to mention an obsessive-compulsive researcher and meticulous planner, there is no reason that you cannot ride the Trace in a single week, unsupported, on a good bicycle with ample panniers.
Which is what RandoGirl and I will be doing next week, on our Co-Motion Speedster tandem.
Wednesday, I'll tell you about our itinerary. In case you are worried, it involves no "roughing it" at all, but mostly has us staying at nice hotels ... and even some very nice bed and breakfasts. Friday, I'll tell you about our packing and the things I've done to the Co-Motion to get it ready. Saturday, we hit the road, and I will try to blog every night. I bought a nice light NetBook that I will bring with me, and I will upload posts whenever we hit someplace with WiFi.