April 9, 1999
|It was another dark cloudy day and again, amazingly, no dew on
my tent. I took the rain fly off and picked up the tent to shake off all the
spiders. After packing up, I couldn't put one of my pins back in the slot that holds
the trailer to my bike. I wouldn't go in no matter what I did. The Skewer was
bent just enough on that side that the pin was missing the hole by about 1/2mm. I
took out my leatherman tool, filed the end of the pin down, and was able to gently tap it
in place. It was difficult to leave my new friend "Buddy." He tried
to follow me and ran as I tried to outrun him. Finally, I just had to yell at him to
"Go Away." In a way, I wanted to bring him along. Hopefully, someone
will adopt him.
About three miles down the road I stopped at a truck stop at I55. I went to the bathroom and washed my face and hair with liquid soap from the wall dispenser. While buying my days supply of PowerAde, I met a cashier from Jacksonville, NC (close to my home town) and a guy about 19 from Havelock, NC (the town where I grew up.)
Leaving the truck stop, I biked into headwinds for a few miles until I hit highway 51. Heading north on 51 I had crosswinds. The winds got pretty strong at times and I had to lean my bike lean my bike into the wind to keep from being blown off the road. There was very little traffic on the roads and I caught myself saying "Howdy" to people out in their yards. Howdy!? I never say that! I'm starting to pick up a few phrases in the south. Being from the south myself, I used all the southern phrases as a child but my vocabulary changed after moving to the midwest at the age of 12.
As I continued north, I saw a cow in the road. I stopped to take a picture but as soon as he saw me, he took off running. I started pedaling and the cow started running faster. Wow! I've never seen a cow run before. As I caught up to him he blasted his way through a barbed wire fence! Reaching highway 6 at Batesville, I stopped at Wendy's for a grilled chicken sandwich. Then, heading west on 6 there was little traffic but very strong headwinds. I just kept forcing my legs to push the pedals. I tried singing some of my crazy songs but I almost choked on a little bug that was blown into my mouth! Deciding to make the most of the winds for training purposes, I began to pedal as hard as I could until I felt the muscles burning in my legs. Then I'd pedal easy for a couple of minutes and then hard again to see how long I could stand the muscle burn. I was trying to make it a workout to prepare me for the upcoming Ozarks. I was beginning to think ole Mississippi didn't want me to leave her as I was being pounded by those headwinds! Many of those driving by looked in disbelief, I don't know if it was because I was a cyclist or because I was biking into heavy winds. A State truck drove by and a black guy gave me the power fist. Then a gold Maxima went by with someone waving at me through the sun roof.
Then....there it was....just ahead, a big sign that spelled "WADE." Hey, someone must have known I was going to be on this road! Well actually, it was the name of a John Deere store.
Entering Quitman I said "Nope, I'm not gonna quit man." :-) Then I found 316 and biked through Jonestown. This was a very small, impoverished, black community. I must have been a sight with my wild looking, brightly colored bike and the trailer with a flag. It was about 3:20 and there were people outside everywhere, pointing and staring at first. Then one guy yelled "You look pretty fly for a white guy." and some others yelled for me to give them my bike. Upon approaching I felt very nervous with what appeared tobe several hundred young black kids just getting out of school. I just thought if I cycle fast enough I'll be through it in no time. This was probably the first lily white guy they'd seen cycling through here as most stood in disbelief.
I found 51 and headed north, the road is actually more northeast. The road was newly paved and very smooth. I couldn't believe how easy it was to pedal!! My speedometer was reading 23 on this flat highway. I maintained that same speed until I hit 49 North. At this section of 49 I was actually going west. This was the only place in Mississippi where I had much of a problem with traffic. Once I crossed the bridge a nice wide shoulder appeared. Taking 49 to W. Helena the shoulder was as wide as another car lane. I couldn't believe it, I was in Heaven!!
Day 26 continued in Arkansas
Today - 72 miles in Mississippi