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
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.
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
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...