The Natchez Trace Parkway, our nation’s longest National Roadway is one of America’s favorite cycling destinations. Cyclists from all over the world travel to the south just to ride their bikes on “the Trace” as we call it. It is common to see people riding their bikes loaded with camping gear along the Trace, especially in the spring and fall when the temperatures are most comfortable. Often, when others find out I live near the Trace, they exclaim that riding the Trace is on their bucket list. Locally, many of us have taken the time to craft our own tours on the Trace. Some of us are still wishing to do so.
Many cyclists plan to ride the whole thing in 7 days riding approximately 60 miles a day.
But, what if I told you that there is a biking event coming up on Friday October 2 where the participants will be riding the whole 444 miles from Nashville to Natchez in 42 hours or less.
Yes! The Natchez Trace 444 Ultra-Cycling Event will begin from the Northern Terminus of the Natchez Trace at 6 pm that Friday night and conclude at noon on Sunday October 4.
Cyclists, some expected to average over 20 miles an hour including time off of the bike, will check in at 8 different aid stations along the Natchez Trace. The aid stations will be located at:
Meriweather Lewis State Park – near mile marker 385 in Tennessee
Colbert Ferry – near mile marker 327 in Alabama
Donnovan’s Slough – near mile marker 284 in Mississippi
Witchdance – near mile marker 234 in Mississippi
Kosciusko – near mile marker 160 in Mississippi
Choctaw Agency – near mile marker 100 in Mississippi
Rocky Springs – near mile marker 55 in Mississippi
It will officially end at the southern terminus of the Natchez Trace in Natchez, MS with a parade finish to downtown Natchez for the finisher’s celebration.
The beneficiary of the funds raised during the Natchez Trace 444 will be the Gary Holdiness Cycling Fund.
The Gary Holdiness Cycling Fund was established to honor the memory of Dr. Gary Holdiness by perpetuating his love for cycling the Natchez Trace Parkway and to make it a safe environment for cyclists. Dr. Holdiness of Kosciusko was an avid cyclist, who, while riding on the parkway in 2012, was struck and killed by an automobile.
The fund will help finance projects approved by the Natchez Trace Parkway to increase motorist awareness of cyclists. The fund will also promote projects to encourage cycling on the parkway.
If you get a chance drive over to one of the time stations along the Trace to cheer for these remarkable athletes.