I've been training well and I loved my 80+ Longleaf Trace ride -- and, more importantly, I have managed to get the summer off with no obligations. So I'm thinking of doing my first tour close to home -- the Natchez trace. I'm planning around 60-80 miles a day from Jackson to Nashville, and I'm fine with carrying a backpack with good nutrition and gatorade powder, a couple of water bottles, and a credit card (the land version of the inflatable life raft.)
Now once I get to Nashville . . . how do I get back to Jackson? Sorry for the newbie touring question, but I've never done anything like this before, and I want to get it in before responsibilities set in again!
Please listen to 48x16! I have ridden the trace from Nashville down to Mississippi. There is Nothing out there in the way of amenities. No stores, very few rest areas with water and limited cell tower coverage in an emergency. You want to be prepared for anything. Don't take me wrong - it is a beautiful and peaceful ride, one you will enjoy - if you take the necessary time to prepare yourself and the bike.
I had my husband as sag support. I ran out of water and he was still 15 miles away at our designated meeting area. It wasn't pretty, considering that the temp. was in the high 80's by the time I got to him.
Do yourself a favor and try to find the book 'Riding the Natchez Trace' it is full of very valuable information about food & water availability and locations of motels and campgrounds.
Good luck to you! I am going to try to ride it again this fall.
Generally when you tour one way. you travel to the beginning if possible and ride back. In your case
the easiest thing to do is partially disassemble the bike to fit into a 30x60x10 " bike box and then get on the Greyhound bus from Jackson to Nashville( about $40). most Greyhound lines will allow your boxed bike to travel as a piece of luggage.
I also would suggest carrying a bit more than a backpack. water and food is far apart but obtainable if you know where to get off the parkway. however spares and tools will be nearly impossible to come by if you have problems.
BTW: You will be in BFE and they don't always take credit cards in that part of Egypt
When you have the time and inclination you have some great touring nearby. The Hill County is fanastic once you get west of Kerrville-- the roads hardly have any cars at all and you get to do some serious climbing. My first tour was a four day loop out there. Since you're in Austin I'd suggest finding Norman J. Ford's 25 Bicycle Tours in the Texas Hill Country and West Texas. I lifted my first tour, with slight modifications, straight out of that book. Worth a look since it's in your neck of the woods.
I'd also suggest a rack and bags. Bring tools for repairs that could reasonably arise, especially flats and spoke breakage. I certainly wouldn't want to carry everything I need in a backpack.
One thing I also learned on my first tour was that if "a couple of water bottles" means two it sometimes isn't enough. My four companions and I hit a long stretch without a store on our second day. Though we all had two bottles and one guy even had a Camelback we ran out of water and eventually had to get off the main road and get water from a ranch house. I always carry three bottles now if I'm not certain where the next store will be.
TomM: I thought about the round-trip option but it's far enough that riding it once would be an accomplishment. :-)
Panniers . . . hmm. I desperately hate extra weight, but I guess it might be worth it to keep from walking a few hundred miles with the bike...I'll pick up the book at the store and give it a look. Maybe a biggish camelback, and replace one of the bike bottles with "spares". My normal rides include spare tube, patch kit, pump/CO2 combo with 2 canisters and infinite elbow grease, full allen wrench set. Spoke breakage? Even at home I wouldn't know what to do about that...at that point it's time to call SAG. Wonder if AAA will pick up a biker...
Thanks all! I'll prepare a bit more and get back to ya!
Now once I get to Nashville . . . how do I get back to Jackson?
When a round trip isn't possible for me, I often rent a car/truck to drive back. Especially in cities as large as Nashville & Jackson, there'll be lots of options. Knowing in advance you arrival date will help you reserve the cheapest rates. The cheapest rent-a-cars from Hertz, National, etc end up costing about the same as an additional night or 2 in a motel, + meals, etc (at least, that rationalle works for MY conscience!)
Don't forget the option of a small truck from U-Haul or similar company (again, no problem with one-way rental with 2 major cities as end points).
Now once I get to Nashville . . . how do I get back to Jackson?
Greyhound runs about 3 buses a day between Nashville and Jackson. You'll have to box your bike for the trip but it appears from the greyhound web site that boxed bikes are exempt from the oversize surcharge. You may be able to buy a box at the bus station. Otherwise, pick a bike shop near the station and have them do it for you then take a cab to the bus station.
Spoke breakage? Even at home I wouldn't know what to do about that...at that point it's time to call SAG.
It's not a biggie, though if you hate extra weight and you have your wheels checked before you go it shouldn't be a problem. On a very well built wheel spokes shouldn't break.
But . . . it would be a shame for such a small, easily solved problem to shut you down. It's such a basic repair and you'll feel much better and self-sufficient knowing how to do it. The only extra things you'd have to bring are proper length spokes, cassette/freewheel tool, and wrench that fits the tool. I think a chain whip is unnecessary since there is a chain on your bike you can use to grab the cassette.
If you don't want to mess with cassette/freewheel removal, I've heard people recommend these-- http://www.yellowjersey.org/fiberfix.html . Never tried it myself but have reallyreally wished I had one once (Touring on a borrowed bike that I stupidly assumed had a cassette but actually had a freewheel so I didn't have the right tool. I was 130 miles from the nearest bike shop and broke one, then another spoke.)
I'm fine with carrying a backpack with good nutrition and gatorade powder, a couple of water bottles, and a credit card (the land version of the inflatable life raft.)
I used a backpack on my tour in March of the Southern US but it was partially filled with light items, usually food and couple of smaller items. I also used a rear rack. I recommend getting a least a rear rack (20 bucks at Target) and securing down most of your stuff with bungees if you must be a minimalist. If you carry two or three days worth of food, you'll be fine. Like others have said, stock up on the water. You can never have enough.
I abandoned a 600K brevet over the weekend due to exhaustion, and tried calling them (rather than trouble the ride organizer). I was "in the middle of knowhere" according to the AAA dispatcher-no hotel/cab service within 30 miles. He kindly suggested I find a local Police or Fire house, and chill-out there untill I was able to ride again.