By Cole Irvin, Transitional Home Counselor
The Natchez Trace bike trip started off like any other bike tour. Lots of planning went into choosing a route and securing transportation to the terminus of the ride. One of our supporters and good friends, Jeff Claunch, was instrumental in helping us get the necessary gear and training with our guys. Before long, we had a crew of five assembled: Andy, Ellis, Jeff, Tony and me. It was everyone’s first bike tour except for Tony and me, and no one had ever ridden more than 20 miles.
I’m an optimistic person, and I thought to myself that everything was going to be fine. It was, but not quite.
When we arrived in Natchez, Mississippi, spirits were high and we were ready to get rolling. As we made our way down the beautiful parkway, everyone kept talking about how happy they were to get started. Well, 45 miles in, people were getting sore and we were looking for the nearest campsite.
On the morning of the second day, optimism was out the window and we were operating on pure grit. Even though it was tough, the lessons were valuable.
As a man, one of the most rewarding experiences in life is to do something difficult when you feel like you can’t.
As the days continued, we pushed past pain to achieve our goal. That included sleeping in a tent for multiple nights and riding 107 miles in one day to reap the benefits of a comfortable hotel bed. When we arrived at the end of the trace, it began to rain, and we high-fived and cheered as we made plans to eat at the Loveless Café.
As we sat there, soaked and full, we joked about how we never wanted to look at a bike seat again. Now here we are in 2023, and we’re looking to do another one later this year. It’s funny how that works.
Restoration Cycles will be departing on their next bike trip in September. You can find info about the route (starting point, length, etc.) at bikepacking.com/routes/no-place-like-oz/.