Natchez man takes to road for getaway trip

Published 12:44 am Monday, November 5, 2007

NATCHEZ — Strenuous exercise may not be many people’s idea of how to spend a Sunday afternoon, but for one Natchez man it’s just the way he can relax.

Unloading his road bicycle after returning to his Margaret Avenue home from a ride in St. Francisville, Mark Newman, 47, said Sunday was the first chance he’s gotten to ride with a partner since starting nursing school in August, and he was glad for it.

“I get up every morning at 4:30 and try to break in at least 20 miles, but today was the first time I’ve gotten to ride like this in a while,” he said.

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Riding with a partner, Newman said he rode 63 miles at a rate of 20 miles an hour.

“That’s not racing speed, but it’s pretty good,” he said. “When only 5 percent of the world population can push themselves to that limit, I’m glad that at my age I can still do that.”

Formerly a 300-pound construction worker, Newman started riding his bicycle in 1999 to lose weight, he said, and after running a gym and a coaching service for several years, he decided to go to nursing school at Alcorn State University’s Natchez campus.

Part of his decision to go to nursing school was because he wanted to educate people about preventative medicine, Newman said.

“It seems like so many people are willing to just go along with their lives and not worry about preventative medicine,” he said. “Then, next thing they know, they’ve developed diabetes.”

Right now, Newman is in the middle of doing his clinical rotation — when student nurses do hands-on learning — at Field Memorial Hospital in Centreville.

“It’s definitely a learning experience,” he said. “Nursing school can be grueling.”

And that is why he enjoyed Sunday’s ride so much, he said.

“I was glad to get a chance to get out,” he said. “Now, it’s going to be back to the books until midnight.”