Natchez Trace 444
Updated: Feb 20, 2021
Cyclist Tyson, Ryan, Cameron, Brian of team NT 444 It’s All Down Hill, celebrating their accomplishment at the end of the Natchez Trace.
This past week ELMT had the opportunity to support another cycling event in the absence of our Annual MS150 crew.
My friend approached ELMT to be a support pod member and I answered the call. The NT 444 is a timed event down the Natchez Trace Parkway 444 miles from Tennessee to Mississippi. The team had 4 cyclists and three support personnel to drive the vehicles with supplies and riders to next trade off point to get the next rider ready and wearing all their gear. The team's goal was to do bike it in 24 hours. They blew it out of the water in 22hrs and 49min!
This event was modified so the riders and their support pods didn’t overlap another team to reduce contact. We started by meeting our team in Tennessee: cyclist Cameron, Ryan, Brian, and Tyson, and support crew: Lindsay, Jim, and Emma Lani. We went over what to expect and procedures during the event as well as the team doing mechanical checks and safety prep. Then at the start line we marked our support vehicles and took off!
It's All Down Hill support trucks painted and ready to go! Writing on rear window left reads, "No Sleep Till Natchez." Writing on rear window right reads,"2020 Its All Down Hill, NT 444."
Right from the beginning is was quite the adventure. We got our technical difficulties out of the way at the start so the rest would run smoothly. Our relay team ended up pulling the second rider back a few miles to start early so the first rider's bike could get a quick fix. Good thing two of the riders run a repair shop!
Cyclists Tyson and Cameron, and Support Crew Emma, waiting for the next incoming cyclist
Even with that hiccup the riders aced it and kept us going strong and fast through the day. They each had their strengths; Ryan and Cameron took the hills like they were nothing, and Brian and Tyson gave all they had to gaining distance quickly. The relay transitions went well and each rider threw their all at this challenging event. They overtook other teams on the road that went out ahead of us and passed back and forth a few times with some other competitors. The support crew made sure each rider was fed, watered, and wearing all the right gear before taking off, as well as lighting the path ahead at night during direct follow.
The road was beautiful, clear, and dry throughout the event and the event went well for our team and others we met after the event. These cyclists that spent time waving as they passed each other while aiming for the same goal got the opportunity later to learn more about each other's their strategies and motivation.
Top Left: Team Its All Down Hill with Lindsay, Cameron, Ryan, Tyson, Jim, Brian, and Emma
Top Right: Natchez Trace road
Middle Left: cyclist named The Mountain talking about nutrition with the team
Middle Right: cyclists Cameron, Tyson, Brian, and Ryan wearing medals for finishing the event
Bottom Left: cyclists Cameron, Tyson, Brian, and Ryan looking out over the Mississippi River
Bottom Right: The Mississippi River view from the bridge