Fitness Adventures

natchez trace

Current Participants:

  • Mike Smith
  • Len Williamson
  • Tom Tole

What we did:

We biked on the Natchez Trace in May, 2011. The Trace travels from Nashville, TN to Natchez, MS (south of Vicksburg) and is over 400 miles long. It would have taken 7 days to ride the whole Trace but we only had 2-1/2 days available. We rode 70 miles the first day, 60 the second day, and only 40 the third day because we had to finish at noon to return to Auburn. The Trace is perfect for biking because no commercial vehicles are allowed and the speed limit is 50 mph.

We're all HealthPlus Members and happy to report that we’re all over 60 years old!

Why we did it:

Way too often, many of us tend to go through the process of hitting the gym or doing cardio, but without much motivation. Our goal is often simply to get it done and that's it. However, several years ago, we decided we needed a challenge to motivate us -- a goal that required more training than we would normally do.

Our First Challenge:

Bike Ride Across Georgia (BRAG), which is an organized week-long ride each June (although you can choose shorter options). Knowing that we had to be prepared for this ride, we started increasing our bike mileage and intensity more than we normally ride for a few months before BRAG. We increased riding from twice weekly to three and then four times per week. BRAG typically covers 60 to 75 miles per day and we had to be ready so we also increased our distance each week. When we started training for our first BRAG, we assumed it would also be the last. However, accomplishing our first BRAG was a fantastic feeling, plus we realized that we were in better shape than expected and lost a few pounds in the process. We have now done this ride for several years.

Next Challenge:

Because of this positive BRAG experience, we began a tradition of choosing a new challenging bike trip each year. One year we entered the Cheaha Challenge (an organized ride up Cheaha Mountain, the highest mountain in Alabama). This was the toughest 54 miles we’ve ever attempted; but our preparation that year was also our best. We trained for distance and now we added hill climbing. We often drove to Pine Mountain, GA where we could ride up and down its steep hills.

For our annual challenge in 2011, we chose the Natchez Trace. We were not familiar with the Trace other than from hearing stories from Alice Kay Fuller who had biked the whole Natchez Trace with her husband, Willie (both HP members). We were told that the hills were not too steep, but very long. How right Alice Kay was! What we were not prepared for was the wind. We started at the Trace near Nashville, TN and headed southwest through Mississippi. The wind, however, headed in the other direction for 3 days in a row!! Thus, constant 20mph winds blowing in your face for 3 days was this biggest challenge of the year!

What’s next?

As usual, we again felt the thrill of accomplishment and we’re starting to plan for our next adventure bike ride already!