Day 28: Kindred, ND to Pelican Rapids, MN

After waking up at 3AM due to a very loud outburst of birdsong, we fell back to sleep and woke up at 5AM with the remains of the night’s rainstorms dripping off the trees onto our tent. We got ready in record time (usually 1 hour and 15 minutes, but just 1 hour and 5 minutes today) and headed out into the foggy morning. Visibility was terrible, but the temperature was nice and cool. As the fog burned off, the sun’s warmth hit us along with a mild headwind. We were finally in the kind of land we assumed the plains would be made up of — flat land in all directions — but with the headwind, the riding was still rather challenging.

technically, this photo was taken as we left Minnesota to head to Wisconsin. But there was no Minnesota sign when we left North Dakota!

technically, this photo was taken as we left Minnesota to head to Wisconsin. But there was no Minnesota sign when we left North Dakota!

Minnesota!

Minnesota!

About 30 miles into the ride, we reached Fargo, ND, where map 4 ends (Dickinson to Fargo) and map 5 begins (Fargo to Dalbo). Unfortunately, map 4 brought us about 5 miles too far for the starting point of map 5, so we had to backtrack a bit. Fortunately, this meant that we got to see more of Fargo. It’s a nice looking town, with independent shops in the downtown area, including a cool bike shop. We noted that it feels much more midwestern than the towns we’ve been in recently, being flat and having many trees.

world's largest pelican, in Pelican Rapids, MN

world’s largest pelican, in Pelican Rapids, MN

We crossed into Minnesota without a sign welcoming us, so we don’t have a picture of our seventh state/province, but we are definitely in Minnesota now. We passed many lakes, and the cashier at a general store called our drink “pop.” Incidentally, that general store in Sabin, MN, was actually a great stop. They have hundreds of varieties of soda, including the usuals, but many more made in the midwest that we had never seen before: butterscotch root beer, pepper soda, blueberry pomegranate soda, ranch dressing soda…. so perhaps not all delicious sounding, but interesting either way. We also had excellent ice cream from the Sabin general store, adding a few more needed calories to our usual lunch of peanut butter-banana sandwiches.

Just before lunch, we had started to drag quite a bit. Along with the food, we also shared a coffee, so we had some more energy for the afternoon ride. We moved along quite quickly despite the headwind, making it to our goal of Pelican Rapids before 5PM. The Pelican Festival is happening this weekend, so we arrived to town in time to see an enormous corn hole tournament. We visited the world’s largest pelican (statue), bought some groceries, and headed to the motel where we are staying — it’s been almost a week since our last hotel stay, and we are eschewing camping for Rachel’s birthday. The Pelican Motel is clean, cheap, and the owner is friendly, though it is next to a turkey processing plant. It doesn’t smell or anything like that, but given our feelings about the meat industry, it’s not our first choice of locations. No matter what, it’s nice to be indoors with the thunderstorms predicted tonight!

Stats:
today’s distance: 92.5 miles
time in saddle: 8 hrs, 6 min
total distance: 1982 miles

Day 27: Gackle, ND to Kindred, ND

DSC03304As of Gackle, we figured out that we needed to put in some major miles in order to reach northern Wisconsin in time for a birthday celebration in a cabin with our friends, so we started doing incredibly long days of cycling. We made it to Kindred, ND, where there was a city park with a pool. We were soon joined by all the cyclists we’d been spending time with recently, so we all got to hang out at the pool and ¬†camp together at the city park. We’re updating this blog quite a bit after the date, so that is all we remember for now…

Luke on the city park's water slide

Luke on the city park’s water slide

 

 

Stats:
today’s distance: 107.1 miles
time in saddle: 8 hrs 31 min
total distance: 1890 miles

Day 26: Hazelton, ND to Gackle, ND

thresher art


On today’s ride, we learned all about the insane wind of North Dakota. Unfortunately, it was a head wind. We decided to give in and get something caffeinated in the first town we saw, Napoleon, where the best option for snacks and beverages was the Ace Hardware. We ran into several cyclists we’d camped with the night before there – we were all avoiding getting back out on the road. We continued on a ride that would have been nice if it weren’t for the headwind, and eventually made it to Gackle. There’s a great Warm Showers (free lodging/space for tents for cyclists) place there, the Honey Hub, run by a bee-keeper and his wife, Jason and Ginny Miller. They live in Northern California most of the year, but spend their summers in Gackle for the 14,000 hives they have in the surrounding farm land. They were super nice and helpful. The Millers’ honey is in Stinger energy bars and other products, so they had a lot of products on hand.

The Honey Hub

Gackle is quite small – there is a bar, a general store, and a Tastee Freeze. After showering at the Honey Hub, we went to get ice cream at the Tastee Freeze, where we eventually ran into all 8 cyclists that we had camped with in Hazelton. We ended up hanging out at the bar, where we ordered pizza, and headed back to the cool temperatures of the Honey Hub.

Stats:
today’s distance: 65.5 miles
time in saddle: 6 hrs, 30 min
total distance: 1,782.9 miles

Days 24 & 25: Dickinson, ND to New Salem, ND; New Salem, ND to Hazelton, ND

 

We had no idea rural street signs were ever numbered like this!

We’ve been rolling up and down hills in what we thought was flat North Dakota, but the scenery has been pretty, and the traffic has been extremely light with the exception of the short stretches on I-94. Clearly, we survived the previous night of intense storms, but we got a late start due to a late night of hanging out in the shelter of the showers building. We rode well both days, with a nice tailwind both mornings. People have been friendly, the towns are relatively close together, and we’re enjoying the ride across this state. It’s been relatively uneventful, but this evening we ran into a slew of other cyclists that with whom we’re sharing a campground.

largest holstein in America

 

so many people bike touring in Hazelton, ND!

 

Dickinson to New Salem stats:
today’s distance: 78.9 miles
time in the saddle: 6 hours, 12 minutes
total distance: 1,635 miles

New Salem to Hazelton stats:
today’s distance: 80.2 miles
time in the saddle: 7 hours and 3 min
total distance: 1,716 miles 

North Dakota

 

Day 23: Glendive, MT to Dickinson, SD

last views of Montana


Woohoo! Entering North Dakota!

After a breakfast of leftover Tex-Mex food and a bit of weak coffee from the hotel, we started our 100-mile day with enthusiasm. Early in the day, we crossed the state line out of Montana and into North Dakota.

North Dakota farm land


ND badlands

The winds were supposed to be fighting us, but they really weren’t so bad. It was fairly hilly, but in the fun way — not in the slow, agonizing, imperceptible way that the climbs felt in eastern Montana. The landscape was beautiful — red and beige hills and mesas, covered with buffalo grass, reminded us of a grassy New Mexico. The grasses were so tall that when we passed deer, we could just barely make out their ears.

red rock roads in southwestern North Dakota


We powered along until we reached Medora, a town between the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Painted Canyon park. While we didn’t have time to get into either of those parks, we saw quite a bit of the beautiful scenery from the road. Medora apparently has some real history involving Roosevelt, but now it’s a bit of a tourist trap designed to look like an old western town.

 

Medora, ND


Despite this, we were happy to see multiple restaurants in one place, and we went out for pizza, followed by ice cream. Today was the most we’ve eaten restaurant food since we were in Seattle! Nick found a new set of cleats he needed at the bike shop in town, and we ran into a cyclist heading west, as well as our common sighting of Scott, Vince, and Ardi.

around Painted Canyon, ND


When we left Medora, we passed the gorgeous Painted Canyon, and headed back out into the plains, where we no longer had a wind block from the hills. We fought a head wind, a strong sun, and high temperatures for another 40 miles, reaching a campground on a lake near Dickinson, ND just before a severe thunderstorm was about to hit. We quickly set up our tent, ate a quick dinner of peanut butter sandwiches, took quick showers, and jumped in the tent just in time. The winds were frighteningly strong. About 20 minutes after we got in the tent, the campground manager came by to tell us that if there were a tornado, we should go to the showers building, which is about a 20 minute walk from our tent and disgusting. We asked him if he could give us a ride over, as the lightning already seemed quite close, but he would not. The weather apps on our phones did not warn us of tornadoes, but they did say that golf-ball-sized hail was on its way, along with 60-mile-per-hour winds. We made a run for the showers building, where we are now sitting on a bench, writing this blog post. Hopefully the severe part of the storm will pass soon so we can head back to our (hopefully not destroyed) tent for some sleep!

Stats:
today’s distance: 101.3 miles
time in saddle: 8 hrs, 35 min
total distance: 1,556 miles