It was either heads or tails today. I'm talking, of course, about the wind. This was our longest day yet, so we were actually thankful for all the tailwinds, even at the price of headwinds. Had we had no wind, it would have taken us much longer. As it was, our ride time was 6 hours and 15 minutes. We rode 81 miles. Yesterday we ended up doing 74 miles and it took us 6 hours and 45 minutes.
Yesterday, when we realized how far north we were from Helena, AR at Storm Creek Campground, we decided to continue to follow the MRT instead of returning to Mississippi and going up the east side of the river to Memphis. I was a little nervous about the route Christian had mapped using Google Maps. It showed a levee road, but who knows if the road was actually rideable. I've been burned by Google Maps before.
It was 4.7 miles back to the route from the campground. The first part of the ride was pleasant along Hwy 242. At the junction with Hwy 1, we turned north. The wind was a fabulous tailwind! It was easy to go 17 mph. This section was about 15 miles long. It was great!
At the town of Marianna, I pulled into a gas station Subway to wait for Christian (I also got a snack--but not from Subway). As I was waiting for Christian, an older gentleman named Jack asked me if I ever get tired. We chatted for awhile even after Christian arrived. He was a very nice man. I enjoyed visiting with him.
Back on the road, we continued with the tailwind much of the way to Hughes. It was occasionally a crosswind, but still easy going. I arrived in Hughes at about 11:30 (45 miles done). I asked at the gas station/minimart if there were any other restaurants in Hughes. One of the customers said there really wasn't. Of course, Hughes had what every single southern town has, and that is, not one, but two Dollar Stores (Dollar General and Family Dollar). And, they are always close to each other! I don't get it...
Once Christian got to the gas station, we decided it would be a gas station lunch day. They had the usual selection of fried everything, and they had 7" pizzas. Pizza seemed to be the lesser of the evils, so we had pizza. I have to admit, either I was just hungry, or it was really pretty tasty! There were no inside tables (or outside either), so we just sat on the curb.
The next section of the route was a ferocious headwind! It seemed to take as much time to do that section as it did to do the previous 45 miles (it didn't really, but it sure seemed like it!). Since we were going by empty cotton fields (you can tell by the bits of cotton on the side of the road), I was keeping an eye out for a souvenir bit of cotton. Pretty soon I saw just what I was looking for. I pulled over and picked it up, and put it in my handlebar bag. Later on when I stopped and Christian caught up to me, I asked him if he was wondering why I turned around. I showed him the cotton.
We took a short-cut from the route that saved us 8 miles. It was a section that went around the other side of Horseshoe Lake. We could see the lake just fine on the short-cut. After we were back on the MRT route, we had another marvelous tailwind. I was in my hardest gear and I was spun out at 23.5 mph on the flat! I can only imagine how fast Tessa would have gone!
Then, as all good things must come to an end, the road turned, and it was no longer an awesome tailwind. It wasn't the worst headwind, but my speed plummeted.
This headwind/tailwind coin flipping continued all the way into West Memphis (still in Arkansas). We are staying at Tom Sawyer RV Park right on the Mississippi River. The last mile to get here was the hardest (that is often the case--especially after 80 miles!). Christian has just heard that in the first week of May the park will be flooded (something about rain up north...). Good thing we got here when we did!
Again I don't have many photos from today. I have included a not-so-great photo of a curious phenomenon I saw a few times today. The birds were sitting in the road--lots of them. They wouldn't fly away until I got right up to them. It was almost like being in an Alfred Hitchcock movie!
Tomorrow we explore Memphis (the Tennesee one)!