Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Cycle 30 Miles Longleaf Trace
Saturday, April 17, I'm up at 6:45 and spend the morning reading John McEnroe's "You Cannot Be Serious." After breakfast we head to Sumrall, MS, to ride Longleaf Trace, a 10 to 14 foot wide paved trail that winds over 40 miles between Prentiss and Hattiesburg. This is Mississippi's first Rails-to-Trails effort and was dedicated in June 2004. There is also an equestrian trail adjoining the bike trail that runs for 23 miles. We start in the middle third near Sumrall where we find a cute trail head.
Bob wishes he was fishing Beaver Pond
On our first ride we go east towards Hattiesburg as it is the shorter of the two directions. There is a screened overpass over I-59 and tunnels under 38th Ave. and 7th St. Much to our surprise the first 1 and 1/2 miles are a slight incline; 1 to 2 percent grade. Wow! It has been awhile since we did anything but flat. The area is gorgeous with every hardwood tree imaginable. We'd love to ride here in the fall. Dogwood blooms are all over the ground; we just missed them. The weather is gorgeous today. We take our first break around five miles at Beaver Pond. Another couple around our age coming from the opposite direction stops for the view as we are leaving.
Lily pads cover Beaver Pond
It is odd that electric golf carts are allowed on this trail. But they must pull off and stop if anyone passes in either direction--weird. We see a collage age couple in a golf cart and their parents following in another. They obey the rules and pull over and come to a complete stop as we pass them in the other direction.
We love the snazzy cup holders on the benches at the rest stop--more on these innovative convertible bench/tables later
I love this trail as there are restrooms and water every five miles! We cycle all the way to the eastern end at Gateway Southern Miss on Ole Miss campus. We go in the bike rental place for a trail map. When we ask the old gent behind the counter where to eat in town he seems surprised to find we are on our bikes. How weird in a bike shop. He tells us to go back to the first underpass, walk up the embankment and eat the best burger in MS at Mug Shots. I told him we could smell them cooking as we cycled by.
Instead we have our PB&J and fruit at the Trail Head. They are building new dorms right next door. It is a huge complex that we saw in the newspaper to the tune of $30 million. After our snack we cycle back 15 miles for a total of 30.25 miles in 3 and 1/2 hours. It was WAY FUN having hills to go down. Of course there is some 'up' too. We see lots of people on the way back. The guys on racing bikes have a funny wave on this trail.They stick one hand down as they pass by.
At several points along the trail the trees are identified with huge signs. We have heard of many and there are also quite a few we aren't familiar with. It helps pass the time as the miles fly by.
I have to hop off on the way back to take a picture of Old Glory strung across the Trace. I little further on I hop off again to take a picture of a big cedar tree on the side of the trail that local folks have started decorating like a Christmas tree. We enjoy the nice rest stops along the way but we find that if the trash can lid has blown away that stop will be swarming with bumble bees that won't leave you alone.
One of many rest stops along the trail
We're both glad to be back to the truck. Fortunately the last part is downhill and we really get to fly into the station. We put the bikes on the truck and drive to Lau-Tori's on Hwy 42 West in Sumrall near the trail head. What a great place. It is busy and everyone here knows each other. Most have just come from a funeral and they are all going to a local baseball game this afternoon. Sumrall is in the finals of their local leagues and it's a big deal.
We have one of the specials of the day--Catfish Jolie (grilled catfish with crawfish/mushroom sauce over pasta, a salad with a heavenly thick honey mustard dressing and cornbread hush puppies. We'll be back. On the way home we get a Hattiesburg paper at Chevron. The high was 82 after a low of 60. A Cardinal 5th wheel pulls in curbside. They are from Robinson, TX, and are heading back there after spending two weeks in Florida for a high school reunion. He seemed very nice and upbeat as I chatted with him. His wife appeared to be a stroke victim who lost her speech and walks with help from him. My heart goes out to both of them.
Our lunch stop at Gateway Southern Miss in Hattiesburg
The campground beagle, who I call Hattie, is still shy and will not come up to me. A Class A from Florida pulls in streetside. I go for a walk, stretch, get cleaned up and we have our Four Bean Turkey Soup. It's 7:48 p.m. and 76 degrees with 41% humidity.
Volunteer Christmas Tree