20th May 2016 Sardis Lake, Ms to Tupelo, Ms 145.7 kms - 90.5 miles Up = 1088m - Down = 1062m
20th May 2016 - Sardis Lake, Mississippi to Tupelo, Mississippi.
It was a lovely stay at Sardis Lake – a fantastic HUGE recreational area and all very well groomed. I imagine in the summer it must get pretty busy – but it was very quiet last night with just a smattering of campers. Even if full – the campsites are of an extremely generous size, each with their own table, BBQ and fire pit.
There was also room for lots of activities with beach volleyball courts, basketball courts, tennis, soccer, baseball and probably other things I didn’t see. The lake has areas “zoned” for fishing, water-ski-ing and swimming - and of course there are any number of bush walks, lake walks, bike paths to be had! And this is all on the “lower lake” – which is separated from the main lake by a high causeway/dam that can be driven across. Sardis Lake proper is HUGE – and again has fantastic picnic facilities all around it.
The only sad thing (or some may not think so) is that there is no WIFI in these State Parks and I didn’t get to check today’s route last night. I thought I had it in my head – knowing we had to head south until the 278 and then hang a left and follow it for most of the day. Now I take full responsibility for what happened next – but I do have to say, in my defence, I have found the Mississippi roads to be the worst we have come across!!!! The signage is very poor – we had several instances today when the exit numbers Googlemaps said we were to take were simply not there! As well these roads have had the worst surfaces, even for the cars, and they are totally cyclist unfriendly with little, or no shoulder!! The way the “rumble-strip” is on the shoulder forces us to ride in lane 1 of the 2. Trucks are excellent at moving over, most cars are too – but not all – and we did have a few close shaves that were not too pleasant!!! Pat also thought she was a “goner” through lack of attention by a driver who miraculously saved a perilous situation.
However – I have digressed – what happened first off, trying to head south on the 315 to the 278 (by this numbering system I said was simple the other day) ended up after seeing no signs being on the 35 and coming out by the I-55 ………… and this at the end of the day cost us an extra 27 kms – NOT what our tired legs and bodies were wanting – particularly on such a crappy road!! If I had taken the right route though, we would never have seen a sheriff – out with a gang of prisoners (all wearing green and white striped pants) – clearing the road sides!!
We eventually, in our roundabout way, reached the University of Mississippi town of Oxford. We were desperately needing a break as it had been considerably more than "undulating" so far, when there were blue flashing lights behind us. The local police stopped us to find out what we were doing!! He was a nice young lad – and we were perfectly within our rights to be where we were – just that he had been rung by some motorists so had to investigate!!
We had donuts for morning tea and quizzed the young local lad as to any alternative routes, but each seemed to have drawbacks so we continued on as planned. Lunch was taken at quite a large shopping centre where Route 15 crossed our path. We were feeling weary, and gutted as we should have had only 10 kms to go as opposed to 37!!
Luckily the rest of the journey was not as hilly as the first part so we proceeded along pretty well. My google instructions had me on the 78 East for 8 kms – this road was also Interstate 22 – and with it a HUGE volume of traffic. We finally had a road with a shoulder, but it was extremely messy strewn with wrecked truck tyres.
So – I guess it was unavoidable – after several days without punctures – Annie got a flat with just 500 metres of that road and 6 kms to camp. Grrrrrrrr!! Once fixed, it was a pleasant ride across the next section of road before turning into the road to the campground which again - was shoulderless and at the time we were there - very busy. We only had 100m to go - and I took the safer option of walking my bike along a grassy strip on the side of the road.
The Campground at Barnes Crossing was very nice – once we got a grassed area for Don and Annie’s tent. After grumbling about having to pitch a tent on light gravel - they were offered a grassy “dog walk area” – the only grassed area the camp had!!
An eventful day – on the bikes at 7:30 am and not in until just after 4:00. – 145.7 kms in total!!! The increased distance - completely my fault - sorry guys!!