Cycling the Crooked Letter Humpback State: Biking to the Windsor Ruins

I am happy to announce a new feature on the Crooked Letter Cycling Blog entitled “Cycling the Crooked Letter Humpback State”.

I will be exploring Mississippi by bike and sharing the rides with you! And, I hope you will share your favorite spots with me!

Photo Credit: Janie Fortenberry , Vicksburg Photography with a Southern Accent

Photo Credit: Janie Fortenberry , Vicksburg
Photography with a Southern Accent

First up, is a Mississippi classic: a bike trip to the Windsor Ruins.

The fact sheet found at the Vicksburg National Military Park states, “Through the decades, thousands have driven a winding road from Port Gibson, Mississippi, to see the stately columns which are all that remain of Windsor, one of the most magnificent homes in the antebellum South.

Roadside view of Rodney Road on the way to Windsor Ruins.

Roadside view of Rodney Road on the way to Windsor Ruins.

Now you have a chance to “Cycle a winding road from Port Gibson, Mississippi, to see the stately columns which are all that remain of Windsor…” via the hilly, yet picturesque Rodney Road, otherwise known as MS Hwy 552.

Depending upon how many miles you want to ride will determine where to start your adventure. You can start just about anywhere: Rocky Springs or Natchez will definitely have you covering some additional miles.

The shortest route would be to park at the Piggly Wiggly on 1020 Market Street in Port Gibson where parking is ample. However, I will warn you, the store clerks may not be friendly enough to let you use their bathroom.

An out and back on this main route will give you 20 miles of rolling hills – a few I’d consider to be fairly steep.

The Route:

Windsor Out and Back

Leaving the Piggly Wiggly parking lot, turn left onto Market St and left again onto Carroll St. at the light. The road begins to curve to the left and becomes Rodney Road – Flowers road will be on your right.

You will find you are already climbing a small hill, so adjust your gears accordingly.

The hills will level out and remain somewhat rolling in nature until you drop down to the bridges crossing Jones Creek (mile 5.5) and Bayou Pierre River (9.3). Be prepared to slip into your lower gears for the ascent back up these hills as they get steep fast. Several in my group found themselves bombing the descent but realized they could not gear down at the appropriate time and stalled climbing back out of the river bottom. So, be prepared to walk if you get to greedy with your speed on the downhill!

Photo Credit: Janie Fortenberry , Vicksburg Photography with a Southern Accent

Photo Credit: Janie Fortenberry , Vicksburg
Photography with a Southern Accent

With very light traffic and heavy tree and kudzu cover, you may wonder if you have missed The Ruins down one of the dirt trails winding off of Rodney road.  However, Windsor is well signed.

Windsor, the home of Smith Coffee Daniell, II, was built between 1859 and 1861. It was the largest house built at that time. The four-story home was designed to reflect the height of Southern life.

The house was used by both Confederate and Union troops during the Civil War. After the war, Mark Twain would visit Windsor and observe the Mississippi River from its rooftop observatory.  He eventually wrote of Windsor’s elegance in his book, Life on the Mississippi.

Photo Credit: Janie Fortenberry , Vicksburg Photography with a Southern Accent

Photo Credit: Janie Fortenberry , Vicksburg
Photography with a Southern Accent

Windsor was destroyed on February 17, 1890 by a fire started by a careless party guest who dropped a cigar or cigarette on one of the upper floors of the home.

Return Trip

I will note that on the return trip, crossing Bayou Pierre River the second time is much steeper than the first. I recommend staying in your lower front sprocket, as the hill is so steep it can trip up the most experienced cyclist.

Discover additional history of the Windsor Ruins from Southern Lagniappe.

Routes:

Windsor Out and Back – 20 miles

Windsor Loop Through Alcorn – 35 miles

Approximately 26 miles can be added to the route by starting in Rocky Springs.

Food Options in Port Gibson:

Sonic, Subway and McDonalds are all located on the north side of Port Gibson in the 1100 block of Hwy 61 North.
First second and third Wednesdays of each month: Isabella’s Bed and Breakfast serves lunch from 11-2. Call ahead to make sure the days and hours for lunch have not changed.

Other Interesting Rides?

Have a bike ride you would like to see featured on Cycling the Crooked Letter Humpback State blog?  Drop me a note in the comments below or email me at michelle@crookedlettercycling.com.

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  • tmorgan100

    What a great idea this new feature is! Great job on the cycling tips and historical information!

  • Jim Lee

    Red Bluff…I had always wanted to make the trip there and ride the hills. I haven’t heard any cyclists mention it in quite awhile.

    • Jim, Red Bluff was one of my favorite “destination” rides. I will be doing that one soon!

  • Suzette Dutch

    Is there somewhere to rent bikes to do this ride? I am from out of state (ohio) visiting Mississippi and would enjoy seeing the state by bike but will not have one with me.

    • Our bike shops do not typically rent bikes. However, if anyone did it would be Indian Cycle. You can call them at 601-956-8383.