California couple endures trip down Trace on a tandem bicycle

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 6, 2002

NATCHEZ &045;&045; To most people, &uot;vacation&uot; means relaxation. Maybe a leisurely fall drive through the woods of New England to see the turning of the leaves. Or a languid week on the beach sipping fruity drinks and sleeping in late.

But for Ted and Ann McNutt, vacationing is hard work and adventure.

The McNutts have biked through southern Ohio and flown to Alaska in their twin-engine Beechcraft.

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Several years ago, on a trip to Europe, they lost their heater over the north Atlantic, and Ted had an attack of kidney stones in Iceland.

&uot;We really enjoy doing difficult vacations,&uot; Ted said.

The McNutts wound up their latest holiday Sunday afternoon in Natchez, after a weeklong, 423-mile ride down the Natchez Trace on a tandem bicycle.

Like past trips, this one had its share of challenges.

At the beginning of the trace, the McNutts pedaled their way up and down the punishing foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Tennessee.

&uot;Foothill,&uot; Ted said, is deceptive. &uot;They went beyond hills. I didn’t realize the steepness.&uot;

The day the McNutts pushed past their daily average of 70 miles with an 84-mile ride was rather tough, too.

&uot;At the end of the day, we were pretty well beat,&uot; Ted said.

And throughout the trip, the humid weather has been brutal, especially for a couple of Californians used to a dry climate.

&uot;You kind of wither,&uot; said Ted, with a stoic smile on his face.

By the time the McNutts rolled into Natchez, they were ready for a break.

Ted said he planned to take a long soak in a hot tub and drink a few beers &045;&045; only light beers, of course, for a 66-year-old who’s in good enough shape to ride the entire length of the Natchez Trace.

Ann, 64, had a much simpler agenda: &uot;Collapse.&uot;

The McNutts haven’t thought out their next &uot;vacation,&uot; but Ann said that in spite of the beautiful scenery, peace and quiet and long hours of good conversation, she wasn’t sure if she wanted a repeat.

&uot;I like riding the bike,&uot; she said, &uot;but I like the flat.&uot;