When we got into Kosciusko yesterday evening, the church provided a pizza dinner. They also provided a speaker, Donna Holdiness, who works for the city of Kosciusko in their tourism department. More importantly, she is the chair of the Gary Holdiness Cycling Fund. This fund, in memory of her husband who was killed while bicycling on the Natchez Trace, is dedicated to making the Trace safe for all users – cyclists, motorcyclists, motorists and RV’ers.
She works with the National Park Service to do this. So far they have placed signage on the Trace that says, “Bicycles May Use Full Lane”, and created safety packs for the park rangers and maintenance folks to carry that have lights and a reflective vest. They’re working with Trek to expand the programs as well.
Donna also shared that in addition to the call about her husband’s death, a few years earlier she had received a call that her 17 year old son had been in a car accident on the Trace that he caused which killed him and another young man. Donna didn’t tell us this to make us sad, but to make us aware. She also expressed how much richer and deeper her faith is because of this journey God has her on. She was absolutely delightful.
This morning she showed up to escort us out of town since there was a 5K going on. That was fun!
This is the church where we were guests in Koscisusko. It was HUGE and right downtown. There was a festival setting up for the weekend so easy to walk to! Brian C and I walked over to the square and grabbed cheeseburgers. Alan and I found a geocache.
We got on the Trace for our final ride and BAM! the wind hit hard. For the first 13 miles I rode in a paceline with about 4 other riders. It was a strong line and we each took our turns so we were at the first rest stop in no time! We left for the rest stop with a similar group and the pulling was intense as the wind gusts increased to 25-30 miles per hour.
Somewhere in there was a small village called French Camp. It’s an old name going back in Trace history to when an early settler established a stand (wayside location for provisions) along the Trace. Because he was French, the name of the camp became French Camp. The village is quaint, nicely restored and maintained. I stopped because they had a) a cool house for a photo and b) bathrooms.
Looking at the Camp from the parkway as I rode on, I snapped this photo. See the flag?
I joined up with another group and we reached the 2nd rest stop very quickly too. Then our group fell apart so between the 2nd and 3rd rest stop we went around the reservoir with the wind coming straight off the water mostly as individuals. It was amazing. And challenging.
At the third rest stop a gentleman and his wife stopped us. They were wearing Fellowship of Christian Athletes kit and were intrigued by our jerseys. They have already “liked” our facebook page! More importantly, he asked if he could pray for us before we headed out. That was nice.
Along the way people gave riders donations for the cause, and of course the churches went above and beyond taking care of us. I don’t think anyone lost weight because the churches put on such great spreads!
When we arrived in Jackson today we came to Tougaloo College. It’s a historically black college established in 1869 and has always been independent of the state. They have about 900 students at any one time. Forty percent of the medical professionals in Mississippi and 35 percent of the lawyers have come from Tougaloo. The president, understandably proud of the school’s history and progeny, hosted us for dinner in her home and then as a special treat they opened up their art collection to us to view after dinner. It was a lovely event.
In all, it was a great week. I rode all the miles except some on Tuesday, so somewhere around 350. This photo, taken by one of our awesome support spouses, captures the way I feel!