By: Matt Rivers
Today started with a contrast… first there were hot pancakes (green for St. Patrick’s Day) and then we had to leave the warmth of the Shady Grove United Methodist Church congregation for the cold of a cloudy Tennessee morning. Today’s leg of the ride was over 50 miles, and although the rain was thankfully gone, the cold temperatures continued. Our day was spent under cloudy skies, and the temperatures never moved out of the 30’s. Most cyclists look forward to going downhill… just hold on and coast… but with the cold, most of us preferred going uphill. The slower pace limited the wind, and the exertion help keep you from freezing.
For some of us, the discovery that the restrooms scattered along the trace are HEATED was a day-changing, if not life-changing experience. We stopped in every one of them, and I can personally attest that all the hot air hand dryers are functioning perfectly.
We arrived in Collinwood, TN this afternoon, and our host church for the night was more than ready for us. The folks at Collinwood United Methodist Church made sure we all made it to either the fire station or Natchez Trace Welcome Center for much-needed hot showers. When we all made our way back to the church, a traditional Southern covered-dish supper was served. Fried chicken, ham, turkey, macaroni, vegetables. And desserts. Lots of desserts. The quantity of food was only exceeded by the quality. If there was any among us who didn’t get enough (or too much) to eat, they have no one to blame but themselves.
We closed out the night by listening to selections from the church choir and a men’s trio “The Bear Creek Charge.” Stories and laughs, as well as information about The Fuller Center, were shared before we all started hunting for an open patch of floor for the night. I don’t think any of us will have trouble sleeping… the combination of the climbing, cold weather, and good food should mean we’ll all rest well. Tomorrow is the “big” day… roughly 100 miles to ride tomorrow before we arrive in Tupelo, MS.
The blessing, team building, and spreading the word about The Fuller Center continues.