1st Solo Ride - Natchez Trace

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Bombadier36, Sep 9, 2019.

  1. Bombadier36

    Bombadier36 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2018
    Oddometer:
    25
    Location:
    Florida
    Hello All,

    This is my first ride report and my first "major" post on the forum. The main reason behind posting the pictures, routes, prep-work, and experiences is the hope that this will inspire someone else to take their first long ride - solo or not.

    I read Advrider for years before making an account and posting. Then once the account was made I have made great excuses for not going out on a solo ride. My wife ended up beating me up :bash for not actually taking a ride and just reading about everyone else's.

    Prep-work:

    First of all I want to cover some preparation that went into getting ready for the ride. As mentioned, this was my first solo ride, 2nd time ever camping off a motorcycle (literally camped one night off a bike), and the first time needing to carry everything with me instead of splitting it up between multiple people. It is also the first time I might have to repair my bike alone :confused

    The first item on the list was new tires (went with the Shinko 705 front and rear since it was allot of road riding) and put new tubes in as well. Then went through all maintenance items while making notes of the tools I needed. Measured major nuts, bolts, allen-wrenches, etc. and made a list of items I needed to take with me. Packed them all up and added in a air-pump, tire tools, tire tube... best part is I never had to use them but they were there.

    After everything was packed I went through the process of unpacking, setting up the tent, repacking, etc. I also went for multiple test rides to check how the bike felt with the additional weight and to make sure the weight was distributed properly.

    Once the final setup was done I wrote down what was in each bag on a 3x5 card and then took a picture of it on my phone. Instead of searching for something when I needed it, I looked at the 3x5 cards and knew where the item was located. It also helped make sure everything was repacked in the correct location the next day and the weight distribution on the bike never changed.

    I ended up using some soft bags from my previous sport bike and made them work for the DR. The only downside was the tank bag did not allow me to stand properly for the off-road section. Figured this out about 4 hours into the trip but made it work.
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    Day 1: Home to Clear Springs, MS
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    Today was about getting to the base of the Natchez. Made a couple small stops throughout the day to stretch my legs and let the bike (and myself) cool down. Temps today were in the mid 90's and the weather app said it felt like 101. Needless to say it was a day of remaining hydrated. I left early in the morning to miss the traffic going across to Mobile, AL and also to beat the heat.

    Road through the De Soto National Forest:
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    Stopped for the night at Clear Springs Campground in MS. Setup didn't take very long and then it was a quick trip to the grocery for food and beer :drink
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    Campsite was perfect and empty. It was myself and 1 other camper in a self-made camper van.

    Packing up the next morning took a little longer then expected and I didn't get on the road until close to 8 AM! This definitely put me behind schedule for Day 2.
    #1
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  2. black 8

    black 8 coddiwompling motographer

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2016
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    Congrats on the first solo ride...

    Be careful though; moto adventures can be very addicting when paired with camping, adult beverages, grilled meats, and pie for strength... next thing ya’ know, you'll be planning a trip to Alaska...
    #2
  3. Pencilneck

    Pencilneck n00b

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2019
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Central Texas
    Love the pictures. I hope your ride goes well, and that you don't need to know where you packed your tools. Rode the Trace with my brother back in April, and loved it. We camped two nights on the Trace and then a hotel the third night on our way back to East Texas. There is some beautiful scenery, and cool history along the way. The only killer, is the 50 mph speed limit.
    Have fun and enjoy the beauty.
    #3
  4. rjnutt

    rjnutt Desert tortoise

    Joined:
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    Washoe Valley, NV
    Nice start! Man, I wish my planning and organization skills were as good as yours. I am usually packing up 30 minutes before departure:baldy
    #4
  5. Bombadier36

    Bombadier36 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2018
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Florida

    I agree. The scenery is great and the road was well maintained. It was definitely hard keeping the speed limit, especially the northern section when the road got twister.
    #5
  6. Bombadier36

    Bombadier36 Adventurer

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    Florida
    I definitely couldn’t do that.... especially not for the first time. Maybe after multiple trips and knowing what to take along.
    #6
  7. Bombadier36

    Bombadier36 Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Florida
    Day 2: Clear Springs, MS to Tupelo, MS
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    As mentioned, packing up took more time then I estimated. Once I got on the bike it was a little after 8 AM and the heat was starting to push the cooler weather out. Still had to stop for a photo of where I camped!
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    Today was the start of the Natchez Trace!
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    From here on up it was almost all 50 mph with historic stops, nature trails, and a few overlooks. The road does not allow commercial traffic and since I left later then planned, I had missed any work traffic. The first 10-15 miles a saw a few vehicles coming the other direction - no one else was heading north!

    As the day progressed I was planning my stops based on the number of miles remaining on the GPS. About 1:45 PM the GPS said I got to my campsite... in the middle of the Natchez Trace. I ended up having another 150 miles or so left and it was going to take some time due to the limiting speed limit. At this point I buckled down and stopped only when I needed to or when I found something I "had" to stop to see. Today was another 102 temp day so cool down stops had to be made!

    Here are some pictures from the stops made during the first section of the Natchez. There are plenty more pictures but just learned 10 is the max :D
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    Windsor Ruins - Found out about this location from another Natchez Trace RR. I had the entire place to myself!
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    Reservoir Overlook:
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    After the GPS issue and the time being miss-managed, I made it to Tombigbee State Park. Great camping spot for $16. Downside was there were no showers (that I could find) for the tent camping site. Again, I was the only tent camper here as the majority of the other people were in campers. Made a quick stop by Walmart for dinner (and again, beer!!) and setup camp. While cooking dinner the previous evening I learned that the burner stove does not cook evenly. A while back I had purchased a wood-burning stove and decided to try it (image below). Worked great and it packs down and takes almost no space - definitely will use this again!
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    #7
  8. c1skout

    c1skout Long timer

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    Location:
    Western PA
    Looks like a fun trip! You have me shopping for a wood fired stove now.....
    #8
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  9. jwwr

    jwwr Adventurer Supporter

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    Jan 1, 2013
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    43
    Those are some nice campsites you are staying at! I have never seen a campsite with a swinging chair! :-)
    #9
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  10. jersey jim

    jersey jim Long timer

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    ...somewhere in the swamps of Jersey...
    Subscribed for the pictures, Natchez Trace is on my short list of rides. Looks like fun.
    #10
  11. Davidprej

    Davidprej Davidprej Supporter

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Lafayette, LA
    I did the Natchez Trace right after the 4th of July. It is a beautiful drive, but I think the way to do it is like you are. Stop and see the historical markers and other sites. Because the riding is pretty much all the same. Beautiful, but sort of boring.

    I like to see the small towns, ride around the downtown, see the homes along the way, churches, honk and wave at the kids. You get none of that on the Trace. I want to do it again, but plan to take my time and stop often, like you are doing.
    #11
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  12. 15's Pop

    15's Pop Been here awhile

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    Birmingham, AL
    cool stuff. hope to see more.
    #12
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  13. Bombadier36

    Bombadier36 Adventurer

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    I agree with your assessment of the road. The stops make it much more enjoyable. I’ll do it again and make sure to include stops in Jackson, Tupelo (the actual town - not just camping), and Natchez.
    #13
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  14. Solo Gato

    Solo Gato long in the tooth Supporter

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    great ride report, the trace has it pluses, fwiw check out the small towns in arkansas, very interesting riding
    #14
  15. Bombadier36

    Bombadier36 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2018
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    25
    Location:
    Florida
    Day 3: Tupelo, MS to Henry Horton State Park in TN
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    After cooking and getting ready for the night I prepared as much as possible for the next day to eliminate the time needed the next morning to pack up. While preparing for Day 3, I checked my GPS to see if I the route was loaded completely. Same issue... the GPS says I have arrived at my destination about half-way through the loaded route. It's a Garmin Montana 680t - maybe to many way-points in the route???

    Loaded up the next morning and got on the road. Stopped for a couple pictures while leaving the park. I will definitely stay here again if I come through this area.
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    Once I got to the start point of the Natchez, I realized how many people use it to commute to and from work. Since I got on the road earlier this morning, the "rush hour" traffic was heavy and allot of them wanted to run over the posted speeds and did not care for my pace set at the level for enjoyment instead of getting to the office. Since this was the case, I stopped at the information center to use the restroom and makes some notes from the ride the previous day and notes on setup this morning.

    Once traffic had died down, I got back on the road and continued north. The weather was PERFECT!!! Not to cool or hot when stopped and I stayed cool when riding with all of my gear on. A couple of times I though about closing some of the vents on the jacket - especially when the road dipped into a valley and the sun was hidden by the trees. The stops were fewer today as I had a little over 300 miles to cover and with the route not working properly on the GPS, I wanted to keep moving.

    Here are some photos from the major stops that were made along the way.
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    The TN River!!!
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    The stop at the burial site of Meriweather Lewis was the stop I was looking forward to the most. While traveling along the trace, he died here and it is unknown whether it was a murder or suicide. I made sure to take my time and enjoy the area. Here are some pictures from the memorial.
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    After walking through the historic sites I made a quick stop to use the restroom. A couple pulled up in a Nissan Murano and when I came out of the restroom the man was looking over the bike. After a brief conversation I learned they were on vacation to the USA from Germany. He owned 2 Yamaha motorcycles and does some extensive riding in Europe. I love meeting people along the way and both parties showing interest in the other. I have met allot of people who are now good friend by riding motorcycles and driving niche cars! It seems to happen more when riding solo (even on day-trips).

    As the route heads north the roads roll through more hills and curves. As mentioned in other comments - the only downside is the speed limit posted so it is important to tackle this parkway with the mentality that it is not going to be a ride through the hills of TN with limited police presence. Speaking of police, as I came around a corner I was greeted by one. Luckily I was going only 8 mph over the posted limit and there was no where for him to turn around at the moment (if he was going to). At this point I ate my words and enjoyed the scenery until the end of the road.

    I stopped at a local pub and enjoyed a beer and a burger to celebrate the end of the parkway. This was my first time eating any other food then what I had at the campsite or on the bike and it was well enjoyed!

    Once I made it to Henry Horton State Park I was pooped. Unfortunately I did not take any pictures. On a side note, there was not much to take pictures of. This is the only campsite I would not recommend for tenting. The park was definitely focused on RV use. The campsites were not evenly graded and there were street lights right along the wood line where the tent site were at. Compared to the other sites, this was not worth the money. I still slept mainly because I was tired.
    #15
  16. popscycle

    popscycle Fahren Away Super Supporter

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    I think you've got it. Thanks for posting!
    #16