Bikers ride the Trace for 450 miles

Published 10:36 am Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Natchez Trace stretches from Nashville to Natchez and seven bikers from the west central Mississippi area decided to ride the entire route two weeks ago. The bikers set out Wednesday, June 1, on an adventure through three states traveling 450 miles in seven days.

“It was fun,” rider Zena Keen said. “Something I’m glad I can say I did.”

The bikers traveled an average of 65 miles a day, setting off at 7 a.m. and arriving at their destination by 1 p.m. each day to avoid the heat.

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“Our shortest day might have been 58 miles and our longest day might have been 71 miles,” Keen said.

Two additional members of the group, David Keen and Ken Chennault, drove a support and gear, or SAG, vehicle to assist riders when they incurred a flat tire or had a wreck.

“Luckily, no one had a flat the entire trip,” Keen said. “That was really amazing.”

Only one small wreck occurred, but everyone continued forward. The vehicle also transported the riders’ bags and picnic lunches they purchased at grocery stores along the way.

“It would have been hard to make it without them,” Keen said.

While on the trip, the bikers stayed at different hotels on their journey, including Tishomingo State Park, but both Keen and Kathie Eagles said their favorite stop was at French Camp. The camp is located right off the trace at mile post 180 so riders could drive into the location without having to load and unload their bikes on their support vehicle.

The area has a historic village to tour, several cabins and a unique café, Eagles said. She called it peaceful and quiet.

“Each cabin had a basket of food in it for breakfast the next morning,” Eagles said.

Again, Eagles and Keen agree the worst part of the trip was navigating the traffic and construction around Tupelo.

“It was just constantly looking for traffic and trying to be safe, and it got really hot that day,” Eagles said.

“Other than that we were very fortunate,” Keen said.

Keen said the riders stopped on occasion to see the sites and historical markers, but that was typically for their lunch break. There were a couple instances where the group endeavored on a short hike on some trails to see waterfalls.

Eagles said there were many historic sites, campgrounds, state parks and scenic spots where they could take pictures. The riders spotted a lot of wildlife as well, mostly deer and turkey.

Eagles and her husband planned the trip, made the reservations for each stop along the way and invited people to join them.

“They did all the organization of it,” Keen said.

She said some of the riders had the route on their bucket list of things to do before they die. The riders met in online cycling groups and came from Monroe, Madison, Brandon and Clinton and joined the rest of the riders from Vicksburg.