Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Tanglefoot Trail

Saturday, my wife and I made a trip to Houston, Mississippi to ride bicycles on the Tanglefoot Trail, a Rails-to-Trails project recently opened which offers riders 43 miles of safe cycling. I haven't ridden much this year, and Penny hasn't been on her bike for two full years, but we have been yearning for the Tanglefoot to open and give it a whirl. It was great.

Cycling is dangerous and right here in our state, several adults are killed on Mississippi roads every year. Not only that, but at home on one of our main riding roads we often face a hostile group of car drivers who become enraged by our mere presence. All over America, abandoned railroads are being turned into trails and they are extremely popular everywhere they come into being. They offer the rider, runner, walker a safe place to get out of traffic, exercise, and commune with nature. This particular one runs from Houston to New Albany, Mississippi.

We parked at the trail head in Houston and headed north. Since Penny isn't that fit right now, we rode to the first rest stop at New Houlka. That's another feature of these sorts of trails. Approximately every 10 miles are the rest stops that offer clean bathrooms, water, some shade and shelter, and even some power outlets to charge your cell phone.
Penny taking a break at the whistle stop in New Houlka.

On the way we saw cyclists of all sorts. A group of six serious dudes from Memphis all wearing a team jersey passed like they were riding the Tour de France. We spotted an old man wearing bib overalls and riding a balloon tire bike. He had a huge smile on his face, and a woman, I presumed to be his wife, followed closely behind. Several times we sighted what I thought were dads out with a brood of kids on small bicycles. We spotted some Menonite women with their long dresses. Everyone we met looked happy.

The day was beautiful and the landscape was lovely. For a mile in Houston, we were in what seemed to be an old industrial park. We quickly reached the country, however, and rode through dark flat woods, pastures, and bean fields. We crossed over creeks, and hills, but as a former rail line the hills weren't really hills but only long grades. We heard jay birds and crickets and crows. We were alone much, but saw many other riders. We got a good workout and enjoyed ourselves without fear of being killed or harrassed. It was great. We plan to go again as soon as possible.

For the week, I only
ran 5.7 and walked .68 miles,
swam 7,300 meters, and
cycled 22.4 miles.

It was a very light week of training, but I've had some knee issues not to mention a lot of papers to grade at work.