All posts by Michelle Williams

PAC Tour Day 3: Winthrop, WA to Coulee Dam, WA

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Route: Winthrop, WA to Coulee Dam, WA
Temp at start: 52
Temp at finish: 82
Interesting animals seen: More sheep, several deer, and Big Foot.
Strava file: PAC Tour Day 3

As day 2 ended, the group was told that a road in our original route to Coulee Dam was closed. Thus, a re-route was in short order. Fortunately, a new route was available 4 miles shorter than the original route. However, the new route took us through an additional pass and 2600 additional feet of climbing.

One of my weaknesses in cycling is climbing. With my training in the Vicksburg Military Park, I felt I was able to ride steep rolling grades pretty easy. In Mississippi, we are hard pressed to find anything to climb longer than just over a mile. So, training for sustained climbs is very difficult for me.

Surprisingly, the 10 mile climb up Loup Loup Pass was not as difficult as I imagined. Two things I learned were that I don’t like climbing in a paceline as everyone has a different climbing style. The second is that you must adjust your body position on the bike regularly. To remedy some of the discomfort of the long climb, I started standing for .1-.2 miles every .5 miles. It sure helped tick the time away. Although, I am not a fast climber, I found that I was able to climb both of the days passes without much trouble.

Here I am at the summit of Loup Loup Pass - elevation 4,020 ft

Here I am at the summit of Loup Loup Pass – elevation 4,020 ft

The terrain started changing from the more forested area west of the Cascades to the more barrenness east of the Cascades. One of the things I love most about riding my bike across the US is seeing how the countryside changes with each pedal stroke. One minute we are riding through our majestic purple mountains and the next we are cycling by amber waves of grain.  It is breath taking!

View of the Cascades - our purple mountains majesty.

View of the Cascades.



Forested area just east of the Cascades. Can you see Big Foot?


View of the Columbia River just before we arrived at the Coulee Dam.

View of the Columbia River just before we arrived at the Coulee Dam.


Amber waves of grain. This picture was taken on Day 4 heading to Spokane.

Amber waves of grain. This picture was taken on Day 4 heading to Spokane.


Another Day 4 photo showing the different terrain.

Another Day 4 photo showing the different terrain.

Tomorrow we will be riding to Sand Point, Idaho – our first state line crossing. In future blogs I will detail a little about crewing but we are so busy on our crew days it is hard to find time to sit down.

PAC Tour Day 1: Bike Everett WA to Sedro Woolley WA

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Route: Everett, WA to Sedro Woolley, WA
Temp at start: 55
Temp at finish: 90
Interesting animals seen: Woolly long-haired sheep
Interesting birds seen/heard: Goldfinch and Cedar-waxwings
Strava file: PAC Tour Day 1

Today (Sunday July 17) was the official first day of our ride across the United States. I have had my fingers crossed for weeks that my first ride day would be today as the route was similar to climbing 100 miles in the Vicksburg Military Park. As there were no sustained climbs (like tomorrow’s climb over the Cascade Mountains), I felt as if I was better prepared for a ride with lots of hills as compared to one with one ginormous hill.

Lucky me! I got to ride today and will be riding all of the odd days and will crew the even days.

Todays’ ride took us from Everett to Whidbey Island. To reach the island we had to take a ferry to cross the Puget Sound.


Cyclists boarding the Whidbey Island Ferry

After the ferry ride we had a fairly hilly ride heading north on the island. As I was trying to stay in a paceline, I did not take many pictures, but here are a few:

First barn of the Transcon

First barn of the Transcon


View from the bridge of Deception Pass


Jack from CO and me at Deception Pass


Bridge over Deception Pass

Jack (CO) and Bob (NC) and I at our inn for the night after the ride. I was the navigator and they were the engines that pulled me through the day!

Jack (CO) and Bob (NC) and I at our inn for the night after the ride. I was the navigator and they were the engines that pulled me through the day!

It was an awesome day with awesome new friends! I finished strong and am pleased that my training paid off!

Tomorrow will be my first day of crewing a full breakfast and lunch. I am in charge of the hot water for tea and toasting bread and bagels at breakfast. My lunch duties will be too numerous to count, but I know we are having PAC Tour’s ultimate lunch: grilled cheese sandwiches!

The riders will have a long hard day in the saddle as they are heading 128 miles to Winthrop, WA. To get there, they will climb approximately 100 miles across the Cascade Mountains.

Thank You Friends!

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Hey Y’all!

It’s been a while since I have blogged and I want to go ahead and keep a record of my current adventure.


This past Thursday, I left the sultry heat of Mississippi to crew a Northern Transcontinental bike ride from Everett, Washington to Boston, Massachusetts.

The company I am traveling with, PAC Tour, is the same company I rode across the United States with in 2010, as well as, the company that holds the tours I attend out of Tucson each spring. PAC Tour specializes in long distance bike tours for cyclists that enjoy riding lots of miles every day.

As a crew member for PAC Tour I will work a day and ride a day. Thus, I will be riding approximately 114 miles across the US every other day. I am very excited about starting my second transcon. I couldn’t have done it without many of you!

Thank you, Frank Jarmin! For several years you attempted to talk me into riding RAGBRAI (a bike ride across IOWA). I had not been in the mood to train for a bike ride until I signed up for the week biking and camping in the corn. It was during this week that my passion for bike touring was rekindled and I decided I wanted to ride across the US again.

Thank you Germantown and JMC cyclists! I have ridden many miles of bike rides with you. You have helped me more than you will ever know – especially with my paceline technique! Having friends to ride with and a club that sponsors rides with rest stops has made it easier for me to train.

Thank you, Marsha Shaw, Marilyn Beach, Danny Husbands, Dale and Sarah Lea Anglin, Rebecca Walley and Alice Howell. You have been a part of many of my hardest, longest, hilliest, hottest, and fastest rides. I would not be as prepared for my trip had it not been for each of you. I value our friendship and riding time together. Thank you Marsha Shaw for being willing to ride anytime, anywhere, for being my major training partner, my security blanket and my “wheel” to suck when I needed relief from the wind or hills. I definitely would not have been as prepared for this ride as I am without you.

And finally, thanks to my wonderful husband, David for loving me enough to let me take a month to go ride my bike across our wonderful nation again. Thank you for putting up with all my antics when you could have easily married a nice demure (and boring) women and been spared watching all of my crazy adventures. I love you and appreciate all you do for me!

Today was a work day for all of the crew. I was only able to take this one picture of our route map and information board:

Pac tour day 0 map

Tomorrow we will leave Everett, Washington and head west to Whidbey Island, Washington and then head north to Sedro Woolley, Washington. Fortunately for me, it is my ride day and I am looking forward to a day that will be similar in nature to riding 100 miles in the Vicksburg National Military Park.

Thanks again to all of you who have made my journey to the beginning of my northern transcontinental easier!



Hello 2016! Events, Rides and Tours

By | Mountain Bikes, Recreational Cycling, Road Riding, Tandems, Uncategorized | No Comments

Happy New Year Cycling Friends!

The Crooked Letter Cycling Blog and I have been on an extended vacation since I took a seasonal position with VBT (Vermont Bicycle Tours). I am happy to be back at the computer and will have more blogs coming soon!

However, I wanted to share the 2016 Crooked Letter Cycling Calendar with you now! It contains rides all across the state of Mississippi as well as a few popular rides across the south.


Go ahead and pick at least one ride that is outside of your comfort zone and start mentally and physically preparing for it.

If you are a beginner, set your sights on the 25 mile ride at the Natchez Trace Century Ride May 7 or the 20 mile route at Bikes Blues & Bayous in August. If you are already a casual cyclist, I hope to see you at JMC’s First Flora Ride March 5.

Have you ever completed a tour? Check out Louisiana’s Cycle Zydeco or find Frank Jarmin and ask him about RAGBRAI!

Looking for a new adventure out of state? Search the calendar by by state in the search field. We have events included from Arkansas, Alabama, Iowa, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Tennessee.

If you have never completed a century ride, it should be on your 2016 goals. Even if you don’t own a bike right now, we have enough century rides scheduled for anyone to train for one before the year is out.

I know I am missing several rides that have not been confirmed for late summer and fall of 2016. If you are the organizer of a ride and would like to have it listed on the calendar please contact me!

2016 is going to be a great cycling year! What event are you most looking forward to? How many of the in-state rides do you think you will participate in?

Mississippi’s Most Family Friendly Biking Event

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Did you know that mountain biking is one of the most family friendly activities?

My favorite mountain bike event, the 8th annual Fat Tire Festival and McGee LungBUSTER race will be held this weekend.  Held out at the Ridgeland trails at 521 Giles Lane, be prepared  for a weekend filled with good food, good times, and bikes!

Kids race during the 2014 Fat Tire Festival. Photo by Matthew Sullivan

Kids race during the 2014 Fat Tire Festival. Photo by Matthew Sullivan

Last year, Grandson #1 and I took our bikes out to the trails to enjoy the activities. We were greeted by dozens of kids, ages 2-14, all riding their bikes. The main attraction for the younger kids is the pump track. A pump track is a continuous dirt berm with small rolling hills. The kids were able to ride on it with balance bikes and traditional pedal bikes. Amazingly, all of the kids were able to ride in the pump track without running over each other. Grandson #1 became so obsessed by the pump track that he would not stop long enough to eat! Read More

Natchez Trace 444 Ultra-Cycling Event

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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.

sunrise on the Natchez trace bridge (1)

Sunrise on the Natchez Trace overlooking Choctaw Agency rest stop.

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. Read More

Cyclists Curing Cancer Century Ride

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One of my favorite rides of the year, the Cyclists Curing Cancer Century, is coming up this Saturday September 26, 2015.

Serenity Garden at the Hederman Cancer Center

Serenity Garden at the Hederman Cancer Center

Not only does the “Cancer Century” raise money for the Serenity Garden at the Hederman Cancer Center, it also is a great ride to push yourself to go beyond your normal limits. Many of us have been riding much of the summer and the Cancer Century is a great ride for all.

Beginner Cyclists:

For newer cyclists accustomed to riding on the multi-use trail, the Cancer Century is a great reason to graduate to riding on the road.  Why? There are at least three good reasons: Read More

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

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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. Read More

Are You A Winner? August National Bike Challenge Update

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August was a hot and steamy month, yet cyclists in Mississippi kept on pedaling despite many days with temperatures hovering near or over 100 degrees. If you rode your bike during August, you should be applauded!

NBC Web Button

Just over 200 of our 536 participants logged miles for the month and 170 rode four days or more to ensure they were eligible for prizes.

August Bike Challenge Results

August was also huge month for the National Bike Challenge! During the month, we added two more participants to bring our total to 536 people across the state participating in the challenge by riding their bikes and logging their miles.  This exceeds our goal of 500 participants and is over twice the number of cyclists that joined the challenge last year. However, with September being the final month of the challenge, I would really love to see a final push to bring our total number of participants to 550. Can we do it? Only with your help! Read More

September and October Cycling Events

By | Beginners, Mountain Bikes, Recreational Cycling, Triathlons, Uncategorized, Women's Cycling | No Comments

A new month has dawned so don’t forget to check out the Crooked Letter Cycling Event Calendar!

Toggle the “view” button on the top right of the page to view the events plotted in a calendar view.

There are cycling events all across the state of Mississippi during September and October for beginners as well as advanced cyclists.

One event coming up soon is the Jackson Metro Cyclists Trekkin’ the Trace.  The ride will be including a beginner bike clinic which will include a discussion on using you gears. So, make plans to attend!