Originally published on the Palmetto Peloton Project's Ride to Austin Blog site.
What a beautiful day on the Natchez Trace today. Team Polka Dot started their shift with a great transition from the Pink team who rocked the trace with a super strong ride. The weather for today’s ride was perfect and we had help from both Arthur early in the ride and Bob later in the ride.
The Natchez trace is a very beautiful road and very flat! Team Polka Dot rocked a strong pace for 88 miles before we got pulled over by a Park Ranger! It was unbelievable that the P3C3 crew traveled along the Natchez trace for our 88 miles plus the 90 miles covered by Team Pink, plus however many miles covered by Team White before getting enough attention to warrant a stop by the Park service.
The guy was a nice enough guy, but he started out a little gruff. I think part of it was because the riders thought he was pulling over the bus, so we (ok, it was really Ed) decided to keep riding. The Park Ranger had to get on his PA system to tell us to pull over. It surprised the heck out of Jeni, so she stopped while the rest of us continued to ride on. By the time the rest of us stopped, He had to yell at Jeni to “Come up here!”.
First thing he asked was if we had a permit! A permit? We don’t need no stinkin’ permit (do we?????). He was mostly concerned by the fact that we were using both a front and rear support vehicle. His concern was that we were entering a very high traffic zone and the folks headed in our direction would not be able to pass with the very high volume of traffic that would be making their evening commute along the trace.
Mr Park Ranger’s first suggestion was that we pull over and stop until the evening commute was over. Team Polka Dot would not let this happen – that is when we started asking what we could do. Of course, as riders, we were primarily concerned about keeping the wheels rolling. He explained to us that we could (against his better judgment) continue riding, but we would have to send the support vehicles forward and leapfrog with them from stop to stop. There was two pull outs nearby – one at 6 miles and one at 13 miles.
He had stopped us at about 445pm and we were scheduled to hand off to Team Awesome (aka Team Green) at 6pm. We were hoping that we would be able to get at least 110 miles in during this shift, but he put a bit of a damper on that goal. We stopped for about 15 minutes dealing with Johnny Law, so we considered the turnoff at 13 miles to be a possible transition area.
Dawn and the Hincapie Bus rolled to the 13 mile turnoff while Sally drove the van to the 6 mile turnoff. We had plenty of time left in our shift when we passed Sally, so we continued to rock on towards the 13 mile turnoff.
Traffic was definitely getting heavy – thankfully most of it in the opposite direction. This did seem to work against us a little as it did make passing us more difficult for those traveling in our direction. We picked the pace back up a little because it’s just what we do.
We pulled into the 13 mile turnoff at about 540pm. We had a choice it seemed – another 10 miles or another 5 (maybe 6) before the next good opportunity for transition. 10 miles in 20 minutes wasn’t going to happen, so we opted for the 5-6 miles. We kicked it up again and did our best to make good time to the transition area.
When we pulled in, we were obviously pleased to see Team Awesome (aka Team Green) getting suited up for their ride. Team Polka Dot rocked 105 miles along the Natchez trace today.
With the strong results from each team on the Natchez trace, plus our good showing, we made up some miles to get closer to our planned itinerary. Seeing Bo’s facebook post, it looks like Team Awesome rocked a century (plus?) as well, so that puts us right back on schedule. AWESOME!!!
Thanks to Sally and Dawn for all of their excellent Support. They are really taking care of us as we make this journey.