Saturday, June 29, 2013
Today I rode from Jamestown ND to Barnesville MN 133 miles with 2000’ of climbing in hot bright sun and strong 25-30mph gusty winds that were cross winds for me almost all day long. The winds were tossing me back and forth in my lane on the interstate. Glad I had a ten foot wide shoulder to ride on cause on a smaller road with little or no shoulder I would have been tossed out into traffic. I just ignored the wind though. If there is nothing to do to change something like the wind blowing why worry about it. I try to only worry about things that I might be able to change. The scenery in North Dakota was the same flat grassland and farm land that has been there for the last couple hundred miles so I did not take many pics. I spent last night at Frontier Fort in Jamestown and finally had a great time in North Dakota. I guess I need to take back some of my bad mouthing of the state because not the whole state is a mess just most of it. I wanted a cold drink so I went to the bar at the campground and ended up having a few beers and a plate of ribs that was the nightly special. I could not sit there seeing them and smelling them without indulging but hey they were only $8.95 for the whole rack with potatoes of choice and cold slaw. They were worth it. I was talking to locals not tourists and they were all complaining about the oil workers and the mess it has made of their state. They did reluctantly admit that they were missing out on the boom because they were too far away and they would like to cash in just like everybody else is trying to do. It was fun chatting with them. They just do not understand my bike riding though. Even after I explained my motives for the ride they still thought it was nuts. Well maybe it is just a bit. When I got to Minnesota I had to leave the freeway. Small country roads it will be for the next 1000 miles or so. I tried to avoid riding directly into the wind by taking a road on my map that turned out to be an 8 mile long gravel road. I think it was still better than riding the five miles straight into the 25-30 mph gusty wind. I made it to my destination which was a small campground in Barnesville that a guy told me he just loved and it was only 15 or 20 minutes down the road. I asked him if he was calculating that in driving time or bike riding time and he told me bike riding time. So I took off looking for his camp. 21 miles later down the road he told me to take, I found the campground. I guess he was thinking driving time not bike time. The people in the campground have all been very friendly and helpful. If I wasn’t so tired I could have a good time since they were offering beers and snacks. I am going to go over and hang for a bit when I am done charging my electronics which is a chore I just hate. Tomorrow I am taking the day off then on Sunday or maybe even on Monday, I work my way down to the Lake Wobegone bike trail and ride that for a day or more. I have given up on the Adventure Cycling route and am winging it on my own. I expect to get lost a lot with the lack of road signs and such but what is life without a bit of adventure. More later…
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Today I rode from Bismark to Jamestown North Dakota 100 miles 1700' of climbing. The ride was all on interstate 94 and the first 30 miles out of Bismark just about killed me. There were expansion joints about every ten feet that were anywhere from half an inch to an inch and a half and they pounded my butt into a pulp. I am sure I will be black and blue from it in the morning. I hope I can ride tomorrow to get out of North Dakota. I can barely sit down right now I am so sore. I am going to go find a campsite and take a shower then sit in my tent naked to try to cool my sore butt down and help it heal by morning. I think I finally am on the great plains because most of today was flat with only a few long slow grades up and down. I did have a side wind that was usually just to my back but sometimes just to the front of me. I was able to make good time when it was behind me. Not much to look at again today just a bunch of farm land with corn, wheat and hay types crops with a few herds of cattle or dairy cows here and there. The corn will have to grow fast to be knee high by the fourth of July like it is supposed to be cause it is only a few inches right now. There were a lot of temporary lakes around so they must have been getting a lot of rain around here but today was hot and sunny. I only took a couple of pics all day and they were nothing special.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Well I haven't had wifi access for a few days so I combined the last three days. I am riding across North Dakota right now. I should say I am racing across this state. After being in Montana for so long with all the nice friendly happy helpful people North Dakota is the pits. The people act more like prison guards and haven't been very nice, friendly, happy, or helpful. The oil boom has gone to their heads. Everyone seems to be focused on cashing in on the boom. Hotels are charging crazy rates and they are all full it seems. The campgrounds are all full also so where are tourists supposed to stay? The state is not treating the tourists that come here very well. My advice is to stay as far away from North Dakota as you are able to. Do not come to this place. I hope to be out of here in two more days and that is too long for me. If I could find a quicker way out of here I would grab it. I have had to struggle to find places to spend the night. Last night I did manage to find a campsite about 7 miles off my route. It was ok with a nice lake, Lake Patterson near Dickinson. I got there after calling around to every place I could find and this was the first place with a space. The night before I ended up camping in a Montana State Park near Glendive. That was a nightmare to find also. Then I read all the stuff at the entrance gate rode almost 5 miles to my campsite and when I arrived found that the only water to be found was back at the entrance gate. I think a sign at the entrance could have been helpful. I ended up just using up all the water that I was carrying so did not ride back to get more. I was too tired to do another ten miles as it was I rode 120 miles already that day. Tonight I still have to find a place in Bismark. I did run into another bike rider today out on I-94. He was riding East on the Lewis and Clark trail to St Lois. We talked for a while as we rode along but then I rode on because I wanted to make sure I made it to at least Bismark. He had just had a flat tire as I was leaving but we were at a rest area so he said he was ok to fix it himself. He got his flat from the bane of bike riders, a big, black, badassed, broken bit of steel belted radial tire. The fine little wires in the tires are perfect for causing flats on bike tires. The shoulders of the freeways are covered with bits and chunks of shredded tires. Yesterday a truck blew a tire about 50 to 100 feet behind me. I was watching the truck in my mirror when the tire blew like a bomb. The truck, a dual wheeled utility truck, veered right toward me. I quickly calculated that it would not be able to hit me because it could not change direction fast enough. I watched it as it almost rolled and then the driver got some control back when he took his foot off the brakes and he slowed down enough to muscle it over to the side of the road in front of me. I went up to the drivers window and he looked terrible. He said, "I almost took you out with me." but I reassured him that he was not going to hit me but that he was lucky he did not roll it. He was in shock from fear I think. All he could do was sit there. So I talked to him for a while until he was able to get out and stand up. He said he had a spare and jack so he could change the tire. I left him on the side of the road and hope he was ok. Other than that the ride has been pretty boring just spinning along up and down over all the roller coaster hills in North Dakota. I have been playing a game to amuse myself as I ride. I pick something way off in the distance and guess what my odometer will be when I get there. I am getting pretty good at it after quite a few tries already. I picked one hilltop to be 5.3 miles away and it was 5.4 which is close. Anything under two miles I can get right on now. I have another 200 miles to get out of this hell hole of a state so I have two more days to keep playing this stupid game. I do enjoy the riding despite all my gripes about North Dakota. The badlands were good to see again. I have always liked harsh environments like that for some reason. My camera just does not do justice to the vistas of the badlands. One of these days I would like to redo this route with a decent camera and try to capture some of the beautiful stuff that I can't with my pocket camera. Other than the badlands I also like the smell of fresh cut fields of alfalfa and hay and even the smells from all the cattle and cows. It takes me back to when I was a kid baling hay on Uncle Ernie's dairy farm. I am having some doubts in my head about why I keep riding and I mull over the pros and cons of it all. It is basically just me challenging myself to complete a series of goals. I have set a minimum weight though. If I go below that weight then I will either stop and rest until I gain some weight or I might just end the ride for now. I can't say right now when that might happen but time will tell. More later.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Monday, June 24, 2013
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Today I rode from Forsyth to Miles City Montana 51 miles and under 2000' of climbing on a bright sunny morning. I had planned on only stopping in Miles City to pick up a new tire but I just decided that my body could use a rest so I checked into an RV park, did my laundry and sitting around the pool for a while. I have logged a lot of miles in the last month and I still plan on logging a lot more in the next week crossing North Dakota. I am thinking about maybe stopping for a couple of days at Teddy Roosevelt Park in Western ND but more than likely I won't. Last time I was there I enjoyed my visit so if you ever get the chance check the place out. I did stop at the bike store to pick up a tire that they told me they have but when I got there they said they only had 700x28 and 700x35 and I use 700x32. So I wasted my time riding all the way to the bike shop. My tires got chewed up riding around Yellowstone because the roads were covered with finely crushed gravel that had sharp edges. All the roads there were thick with it. My tires have always lasted about 5000 miles and these both were done by 2700 miles. I do not have a spare so I am going to try to make it to Bismark ND where I should be able to find a tire. I should have picked up an extra one when I was in Missoula. I didn't bother with pics this morning since I was just cruising along the interstate and it looked similar to the last couple of days. At least there were fewer dead deer along the road today so I wasn't getting stunk out again. Enjoy life...
Saturday, June 22, 2013
Today I rode from the Longbranch Saloon to Forsyth Montana 82 miles and 2800’ of climbing in a light headwind that still slowed me way down even though it was a just light breeze. My biggest problem today was that there were tons of dead dear along the road stinking it up big time. The dead dear started appearing yesterday in big numbers but this morning there were just too many. I needed a breathing device or something to keep me from gagging on all the carnage. There were a lot of long slow rollers for hills that I did not expect to see. The hills combined with the headwind made the day very tiring. Then there were thundershowers hanging in the sky all day too. I timed it perfectly with just some dumb luck when the skies opened up I was just pulling into a café for another breakfast. It poured outside while I ate. I had a great hashbrowns, eggs, bacon and toast with coffee at the café while I waited for the cell to blow over. The rest of the day there was a light rain falling that did not even get me wet but there were threatening black clouds overhead all day long. When I finally arrived at Forsyth for the night I put my tent up at the Wagon Wheel Campground then went exploring around town. I stopped at a café and had a chicken dinner while I chatted with the owners. They helped me find the tire I need for my bike by calling around up the road for me. She arranged for me to call and meet a bike shop owner that is normally closed on Sunday but he is going to come down to the shop when I call him to help me with the tire. They were all very nice friendly helpful people. Then she told me about some murals that were in town that are painted by a guy using a crowbar. I went to check out the murals and I ran into the artist himself, Bob Watts and took a pic of him in front of one of his murals. He was also very nice and friendly. He was telling me his style and how he arrived at it when the skies decided to tell me it was time to make a quick dash back to the campground or get soaked. So now I am sitting at the campground charging my electronics and catching up with all my other stuff. The wifi just went out though so pics might have to wait until later…
Today I rode from Columbus MT to a bar called the Longbranch 65 miles with a couple thousand ft of climbing. I camped the night before in the free campsite at Columbus and I met another biker there. We talked a long time about riding and routes then went to bed after eating a bunch of food. There was a big commotion after I went to bed with sirens and police cars and ambulances racing around in the campground and people yelling and screaming. I understand that there was a fight between two guys and one got hurt somehow so the police were looking for him and the injured guy had to be taken to the hospital. Just a quiet night in Columbus. I had my morning coffee today at McDs so I could use the wifi then I hit the road planning on getting a new tire in Billings. My trip to Yellowstone Nat Park destroyed my tires because the roads were covered with a thick layer of sharp sandy gravel that just chewed my tires down. The gravel is spread on the road in the winter to improve traction for vehicles. I spent a long time trying to find a touring tire but all the bike shops had were racing style tires. Who would have thought that Billings Montana was a hotbed for bike racing. I ended up giving up on my search and am currently riding on a tire that will blow out if I hit a hole or rock so I need to be careful. I stopped for lunch at a bar called the Longbranch intending to eat and ride some more. Instead I had a pizza and a beer then someone bought me another beer and then someone bought some shots and another beer and the next thing I knew my plans to ride were shot too. I had a good time drinking talking and playing pool. Then a guy bought me a double cheeseburger that was good. I ended up putting my tent in the backyard of the bar for the night. I did not lose much riding time though because the thunderstorms started in the early afternoon and went on most of the night but I slept right through them…
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
The title is a bit misleading because I skipped that I left Missoula by hitch hiking and got a ride most of the way to Butte so I did not count that as a day of riding. The ride to Butte was entertaining though. The older man that gave me a ride was just lonely and depressed and trying to ride around the country to help him cope with the recent deaths of his wife and son. We talked about it. He was also just rejected by his remaining family and he felt bad about that too. I understand his family issues. We talked about our similar problems and coping with depression. I told him how riding the bike has basically saved my life and he liked that. When we got to Butte he checked into a hotel but I was totally bust for money so I hitched a ride up to the top of the pass and guerrilla camped for the night. I ended up liking my camp spot so much that I took the next day off. The guy that gave me a ride up there was also camping so I camped with him. He was a nice guy a bit down on his luck homeless but enjoying his camping in the woods from what I could see. He also was just offered a job that day so he was excited to finally get some money coming in. We talked a lot about his problems but I still enjoyed the company. The next morning he drove me around the forest and down to the lake. We were planning on watching animals but did not see jack. The scenery was great. Montana just has so much great outdoor type scenery with all the mountains and trees and stuff. Then the next morning I packed up and rode to Bozeman about 90 miles away. My friend Mitch drove me the mile to the freeway from where we camped. The ride to Bozeman was another tough one with headwinds coming and going and a few big long grades but I can handle those conditions unless the headwinds get too strong. I only took a few pics because this is backtracking on the same road that I was just on a few days ago. I just pushed on and was in Bozeman before noon. I caught up on my internet junk and got my haircut. Since then I have been doing nothing but eating. I had a pound of hamburger with cheese and made six cheeseburgers. Then I had my orange, apple and banana and some apple cider to wash it all down. I am off for ice cream as soon as I finish this post. It is getting dark and threatening out there so I might end up missing the ice cream but I bought a bunch of candy just in case. No pics because the wifi is too slow. Life is good.