Thursday, May 14, 2015

Day 54: Houston to Belmont, MS

Well today was my last day of riding with Todd and I'll miss his company. I am really starting to feel the weight of being on the road this long. It helps to remember why I'm doing this and also knowing that friends and family are lined up to join me on the final weeks of this trek.

We started off around 8:30 this morning, hopefully to miss any rush hour traffic. Traffic was light and we rode about 8 miles on back country roads before reaching the Natchez Trace again. We have been spoiled by the Trace. Wow, these country roads are bumpy! And just as I mentioned the possibility of more dog chases, we spotted a little chihuahua that had been chasing us silently and gaining on us. . I hollered "OUT" in a growling tone and the poor little dog skidded to a halt. I feared he was about to keel over but I think he was just embarrassed.

He's coming at us in stealth mode

He barks 

I holler and he almost does an endo...

Minutes later, on an uphill, 3 dogs came at us from the right side. Knowing I couldn't out run them, I stopped, placed my bike between them and me, and hoped for the best. Todd though was the smarter one. He realized that he didn't need to out run the dogs, just out run me! He was up the hill, looking back with a mix of satisfaction with perhaps a bit of concern.

Dennis came up with the van and with the interposer, I was safe to pedal away.

Next was a slightly busy highway with an impossibly narrow bike lane and a rumble strip that I believe may have contributed to a subsequent spoke failure. I'll get to that later.

Spoke breaker?

Finally, we were back on the Trace. It was a welcome change. 

At one of the first scenic stops, Dennis mentioned a low pressure warning on one of the support van's wheels. We looked and even though the pressure looked okay, we did see two bolts punched through the tread. 

Dennis decided to then abandon the chase vehicle mode and drive ahead to Tupelo, attempt to get the tire repaired, drop off  USB sticks at FedEx and pick up lunch. 

He took off and Todd and I rode on. Somehow it was more relaxing riding without the van behind us. You feel more free and less  tethered.  Of course, 5 minutes after Dennis drove off, I notice my front wheel developed a wobble. I stopped and started checking the spokes. Sure enough, I found one where the spoke nipple head had snapped off. 


I loosened the tension on the spokes on the opposite side and got the wheel true enough to keep rolling. I had a fiber spoke (Kevlar) in my saddle bag, but with a broken nipple, I would need to remove the tire, tube, and rim tape and I didn't want to go there!

The rest of the ride was pleasant. Dennis joined us around 12:30 with some good food and we got a chance to relax a bit before riding my last 20 miles. I was also able to swap wheels. 

Here's a shot of Todd and me going our separate ways...He's riding another 60 miles to Collinwood, I only have 7 to go...

Pulling in to Belmont Hotel 
( a great break from the basic motels)

The front window

Entry area

 Dining area

Once at our hotel, Dennis went to a second tire shop to remove yet another nail we discovered in the van's tires, and I had time to repair my front wheel, so all is good. 

It's now 8:25 pm and we still haven't heard from Todd, so I hope all is well. We have no phone service and I'm hoping it's just that his promised text message is still somewhere in the ether...


  1. Cute hotel, though either it's round, or you're using a fish eyed lens! I know it's sad to see Todd go, but only a few more days until Kenny arrives! I'm sure you'll have more/different adventures with him too.

  2. I think the second picture of the dog, shows all four feet off of the ground, pretty cool. He looks a little bigger than a chihuahua, but maybe it is just out of context. Somehow, I don't think they want bikes on that road, or at least in the bike lane. Glad you have a nice place to rest your weary spirit and muscles, this evening. Hope it is not a dry county.

  3. It's not dry but the only restaurant downtown serves nothing but sodas. The food though was great.

  4. More dogs!
    Actually looked like it added some fun to your day.
    Keep those stories and pictures coming.
    Carl B

  5. What? No Elvis sightings along the way (Tupelo)? A fried peanut butter and banana sandwich would have been the order of the day...The dogs might have been partial to one...-:) A maintenance day for both bike and van...Sorry to see Todd go...He was good company for you. Hope he made it to his destination in Collinwood without much fanfare...That's a LONG way to go after Belmont. - Mikey

  6. Love the hotel! What's with all these dogs? I've enjoyed Todd's blog, and I imagine he's been a great riding partner. Happy solo riding, for a few days, anyway.

  7. I survived and am enjoying the accommodations in Collinwood. Ask me about the dining experience at the Hasti Mart attached to the Exxon station ...veggie calzone, made to order. Tomorrow is going to hurt, in several ways. But this has been a wonderful trip!

    1. Kudos for packing 3 days of tough riding to Nashville into just 2...!

  8. Hi Dave! It's so good to see you here. Also happy to hear that you are doing well - although there were a lot of challenges. All the best from San Jose!!! (The hotel looks charming, by the way. :-) )