Maplewood chiropractor Bill Madosky says maps can be dangerous. A Natchez Trace Parkway map hung in his office for years, and it finally led to a five-day bike trip on the road.
Madosky, 61, has had a long-time goal to bicycle the length of the Mississippi River, which he’s been working at in pieces for 15 years. This summer he finally ticked off a large part of that goal by biking the Natchez Trace, from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi.
He said he rode the KATY trail from Clinton to St. Charles, but never anything as long as the 444-mile trip along the Mississippi, which took him five days. Other than some saddle-soreness he had no problems with the distance.
The U.S. government shutdown made the ride more challenging than he expected.
“All the facilities on the route were closed,” he said “I couldn’t even get water.” Fortunately Madosky’s wife and a friend provided support along the way in a van, meeting up with him three times a day. He slept in hotels off the trail in cities along the way.
Northern vs. Southern accents were also an unexpected challenge.
“Sometimes it takes me a couple days for my ears to hear the Southern accent,” he said. “I discovered it was as difficult for them to hear mine as it was for me to hear theirs, I’d say something and they’d go, ‘What? What?’”
He also learned that Tupelo honey doesn’t come from Tupelo, Mississippi.
“It’s the shattering of myth,” he said. “I always wanted to go to Tupelo because of the song Tupelo Honey by Van Morrison. Tupelo honey is made from tupelo trees, which don’t grow in Tupelo, MS. It grows in Georgia and Florida. Really?”
Madosky’s wife and friend met him every 30-40 miles, but other than that he was alone, which he didn’t mind. “As a kid, I rode my bike around every day. I did my best problem-solving riding by myself, and that’s continued as an adult.”
He said he ate lots of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and added on a trip like this he didn’t have to worry about gaining weight.
The the terrain was hilly, but not much elevation difference from start to finish.
He said the last 40 miles, from Port Gibson to Natchez were “bucolic.”
“I went past old farm fields, old plantations. It just seemed timeless, it could have been 2013, or 1913 or 1813, the last five miles were a nice downhill. I was like the horse to the barn.”
Madosky’s next goal is to bike the Blue Ridge Parkway.