Forest to Crystal Springs MS - 75 miles of nice riding
Actually, that would have been 70 miles if I hadn't gone several miles out of my way by accident, but even that was very pleasant riding. Thanks to the front that came through last night, today's weather was much drier than the weather has been for several days. Winds were variable, but usually less than 5 mph. While the skies looked threatening on and off during the day, there were also long periods of sunshine. Roads were decent, sometimes good and traffic was not a problem. Today's 75 miles of riding was almost all quite pleasant: It was probably the overall best day of this tour. I hadn't realized what nice riding was available in this part of Mississippi!
I'm staying in Crystal Springs at a B+B tonight because it was the closest place I could find to Utica. Tomorrow I'm visiting The Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience, which is near Utica, for a few hours and then riding on, down the Natchez Trace, to Port Gibson where I'll spend the night at another B+B and finally do another short day to Natchez. I'll be doing, for me, an unusual amount of tourism on this part of my tour! Then I'll get back into touring mode and head for OKC.
US 80 just west of Forest
I left Forest this morning at 9:30 - why rush when you've only got a 75 mile day of riding?- and headed west on 80. Within a mile it had become a very smooth road with a good shoulder and light traffic. Pretty too, with gently rolling hills though woods. After Morton the shoulder went away and the road became less smooth, but the rolling hills, light traffic, and woods stayed all then way to Brandon.
A family of cats on a trampoline near Morton
Coming into Brandon, my rear shifting got vague - a sure sign that the cable was about to go. It broke as I crested the last hill after crossing the Interstate and coasted own a street of fancy homes. I pulled off at the corner of a side street which offered a street sign to lean my bike against and some shade to work in. In the five minutes it took me to find my spare cable, get out the relevant tools, and replace the cable, a car stopped to offer help.
MI 469 - flat
MI 469 - hilly
After repairing the cable, I bicycled on to the first intersection in town and stopped to check direction for my back road route. This time I was relatively lucky, I found someone who actually knew where I wanted to go! I had a root beer and a bit of pastry and headed down MS 468 for half a dozen miles, and then followed MS 469 to Florence. Nice riding with a little too much traffic on 468. 469 started out very flat and open, but soon became quite hilly. I stopped in the middle of the hills at a country store for lunch: chicken on a stick and a liter of RC Cola. Life don't get much better'n that!
Florence seems to be becoming an upscale bedroom community, which is too bad since it is a pretty place. I did my extra miles riding north from Florence on old '49, which isn't on my lousy paper map. It really was lovely riding, but I didn't know it was the wrong street till well out of town when I finally saw and 'old US 49' sign. Note: the roads are correctly rendered on my Street Atlas maps. After riding back through town I took White St southwest and stopped to ask a local how to get to Terry. It turned out to be interesting and very nice riding on true back roads. Ya'll gotta see that Rosemary Bridge to appreciate what back roads really are. My route: Follow White Rd to the blue water tower, then turn right on Rosemary Rd. When Rosemary Rd T's into another road, turn right again. A while after you cross the Pearl river, that road will T into yet another road (actually MS 473), turn right again. Finally, turn left onto old US 51 just after the viaduct coming into Terry. All of the above required a dozen mile or so of riding and crossing a couple of one lane bridges. Very nice
After Terry, it is a straight shot down 51 to Crystal Springs. Some of that is boring, but most of it is pretty nice with rolling (and a bit more) hills through pretty woods. I stopped at McDs on MS 27 (the road to Utica) for a milkshake. I asked about the motel in town and the clerk said it was next to the police station. It turned out not to be a motel at all, but an antebellum (that's pre civil war to you yankees) home that had been converted into a B+B. There are lots of very nice old homes around here, and I'll be seeing lots more of them in the next two days.