DAY 44 JULY 10 70.3 MILES
The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot.
Today was one of the most beautiful scenic rides we have had. A very light southeast breeze placed all of us in a good mood. It is amazing how a small tailwind helps to make the entire day better.
My ride started at last night's hotel. I had covered an extra 4 miles yesterday afternoon to reach the hotel so I saved those miles today. The van stopped and picked up my 2 small bags on their way so that was not a concern.
The first 10 miles out of Bismarck followed a nice, wide bike path which kept us away from traffic (yes, there was morning traffic in North Dakota's capitol city). The bike path eventually gave way to a road through a very scenic countryside. There were hills everywhere but they were not steep. The pedaling was fairly easy and we could truly enjoy the ride. Possibly the hilly terrain was not conducive to farming because much of the acreage was left in its natural state.
A very pleasant surprise was several fields of beautiful blue flowers. All who saw them stopped and marveled. We later found that they were fields of flax. At other times, more fields of brilliant yellow came into view. We later encountered a farming expert who explained that it was Canola and not mustard, as we had previously been told. In that area, there was considerable natural beauty in the general landscape as well.
We watched a tractor pulling a machine that magically transformed rows of cut grass into gigantic round bales of hay. We have been told that the cows do not find the round bales as nourishing because it is difficult for them to obtain a square meal.
Eventually, our road turned to dirt so, for about 12 miles, we pedaled on Interstate 94. It is illegal in most states but not in North Dakota. There was a nice, 12 foot wide safety lane but it was corrupted with dreaded rumble strips 8 feet wide directly in the middle. That left only 2 feet for us to ride. Rumble strips are an excellent safety feature for vehicles but they certainly make bicycling difficult. Actually, I saw a dead turtle in the lane at one point and decided that he had chosen death over dealing with the terrible rumble strips.
The only problem I experienced was that my rear tire finally succumbed to all of the hazards mentioned in previous pages. It developed a bare spot which penetrated 2 of its belts and necessitated changing. We noticed it about 12 miles from the end of the ride and I was able to nurse it for the remaining distance to our destination. It was last changed in Buffalo, NY and I feel fortunate to have received 2,146 miles from it. Front tires usually do not wear as much as those on the rear so, hopefully, the front one will be good for many more miles.
We are sleeping indoors tonight in a new community center. There is an old hotel in town but the center is a much better option. Tomorrow is another 84 mile day but we gain an hour somewhere along the route. An extra hour always is nice!
Tip: If you end your ride in the rain, immediately wipe your bike down with a towel (preferably not a new one). Then, lubricate the chain and spray a very light oil like WD-40 on your cables and housings.