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Ladies brave wet weather to take part in recreational ride

NATCHEZ —Adrienne St. John isn’t used to peaceful riding conditions when she cycles.

The San Francisco resident said she’s often dodging traffic or people whether she’s riding within or outside city limits. However, visiting Natchez while on vacation with her mother and taking part in the 2010 Belles on Bikes recreational ride has opened her eyes, she said.

“It’s probably one of the most beautiful rides I’ve ever been on,” St. John said. “So many people (on the ride) are from here, and I’m not, so when I see the trees and smell the aroma, I’m like, ‘My gosh.’

“There were no cars, and the ride was so smooth. The pavement is so nice to ride on. In the Bay area, I’m used to riding around so many cars and pedestrians — it’s just congested.”

St. John was one of roughly 60 participants in the ride, which included people from Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama and Tennessee, as well as her home state of California. The Natchez Bicycle Club sponsored the race, and club president Allen Richard said he was pleased with the turnout, especially considering the rainy conditions.

“For bikers, our thing is, we don’t mind getting wet on the road, but it’s hard to start while it’s wet, so we’re glad it was dry this morning when we took off,” Richard said.

“The turnout was good considering the weather. I only had one person cancel because of the weather. Our other three cancellations were from three Coast Guard workers who said they had to work the oil spill.”

Natchez resident Cara Moody said she got wet while riding, but it didn’t bother her too much.

“The ride was great,” Moody said. “I don’t think it started raining until 20 minutes in, and when it did, we kept on going. Me and the girls I rode with, we’ve done the Nashville to Natchez ride all the way on the (Natchez) Trace, so we’re used to this.”

Rain didn’t deter St. John either, she said.

“I thought it felt refreshing and welcoming,” she said. “Here in the South, it can really let loose. When it started being a torrential downpour, that’s when the rain got to be sharp to ride in. I said, ‘Ouch, this hurts,’ but then it stopped.”

Moody also said she was happy to see Belles on Bikes return after a hiatus last year.

“I was extremely happy to see it back,” Moody said. “It brings us girls closer together, and the guys took care of us. There were some girls from Birmingham, Ala., that came down for it, and I know they were happy to see it back.

“I also met Adrienne from San Francisco, because she was in my group. It’s just neat meeting people from all over that come here for this thing.”

And for St. John, the stay in Natchez was a wonderful experience — and not just for the ride alone, she said.

“I’m in love with this place,” St. John said. “I love the age of some of these buildings. There’s just so much history, and I really appreciate the old architecture. It’s such an adorable little town.”

Richard said he fully anticipates being able to do the ride again next spring, he said.

“We’re on for next year,” he said. “We still plan to coincide with Blues Fest. It’s good for the riders to have something to do when they get back to the starting point.”

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