19th May 2016 Clarendon, Ar to Sardis Lake, Ms 161.8 kms - 100.6 miles Up = 683m - Down = 650m
19th May 2016 - Clarendon, Arkansas to Sardis Lake, Mississippi.
Our rest day in Clarendon had been interesting!! Certainly not the sort of town you would visit on a tourist route – but one found interesting things in nonetheless!! Not the least was that the train track goes through the middle of town, and we continue to be astounded at the number of times, and the length of each blast from the horn!! Sleeping soundly for a whole night is impossible!
However - our rest day was now over and we had 6 more days of riding before we would get another one! We were up and off on the road by 7:15 am as we had 100 miles (160 kms) to go. While flat for the first 125 kms it appeared to get a bit "up and down" for the last 40 km of the day. I was really excited that today I would get to see, and cross the Mississippi River – it has fascinated me since my geography studies at school!
It was a lovely pretty flat ride through this wonderful cropping area – corn, and rice in the main, and a couple of others I couldn’t quite identify. We were often passed by HUGE tractors, and at some of the small bridges they would stop while we biked over.
We thought to take a break in Marvell, but there was little food to be had, so it was purely a toilet stop before heading on to Helena. We didn’t actually go into the town of Helena-Helena West – on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi, but hung a right and by-passed the town getting to the bridge. There is a lot of road built up climbing to the bridge itself. When we looked over the side we could see a large grain port and grain being loaded from trucks into barges – similar to the one we had seen come through the lochs when we were up at Russellville on the Arkansas River.
We stopped on the bridge proper – squashed up against the sides as there wasn’t much room. It was very scary just how much the bridge shakes and moves as the traffic goes over.
Immediately on the Mississippi side of course we had to stop for pictures at their State sign. On the opposite side of the road was 2 huge casino’s and a large hotel. We had expected there to be food shops roadside too – but there wasn’t.
What struck us immediately was that the “shoulder” for cycling on disappeared!! We kept thinking it might come back – but no – they don’t seem too cycle friendly in this State. We saw bike signs for the Mississippi River Trail on this section for a short while – but they would have to use the road or the gravel too.
We stopped at the next service station we came to as it was certainly time for a coffee. It wasn't a great place to find something to eat at, but we had to make do and move on.
Fortunately we soon went on to a lesser road which still didn’t have a shoulder, but had very little traffic, so it was very pleasant cycling. We still had to keep our eyes out for huge holes in the road – the upkeep isn’t that great!! There was quite a long stretch of roadworks at one stage, but this was safely negotiated as very little traffic.
The ride did get hilly late in the day – and I was certainly feeling a bit tired by now. It was amazing how fast we were still able to pedal late in the day when 3 large dogs came rushing out of a property at us. We thought Don was going to get bitten but they responded to our yelling and turned back at the last minute!
There were some stunning properties through this back road, and a lot of cattle grazing in the hillier parts.
It was just on 5 when we reached the town of Sardis – so we had a late lunch / early dinner from Sonic and Subway, before we went the last 12 kms to the Lower Lake State Campground.
What a beautiful place ……………. it wasn't all that easy to find the actual spot assigned to us but it was right on the Lake - the lower lake. After setting up camp, showering and changing Pat and I went for a drive to the top part of the lake. Sadly darkness closed in quickly so Pat would drive through here in the morning to take some pictures. It is a huge big holiday camp area with loads of activity areas on the land, soccer fields, basketball courts etc. As well of course - all the activities possible on the lake. We could certainly spend longer in a place like this!!!