Last night was loud, blinky, windy and wet! Heavy thunderstorms whipped through the skies about my tiny tent, pitched on a private campground right on the main street. I joined a couple of bikers already there. The bad weather was known in the forecast and the neighbor from across the street even came over to let us all know that if conditions became dangerous we were welcome to knock on her door. This lovely neighbor by the name of Karrie is an avid biker herself, a Surly biker even. So we had a total of four Surly riders all on the same patch of land, as the couple in the neighboring tent are also rolling on Surly bikes. Now here’s lovely Karrie, gotta love her top:) perfectly for a Surly rider! She an artist and she teaches art at the local college. I loved her line tatoo! Can’t go simpler than that. Thanx Karrie for just being who you are! Check her website out:
Now here is a great married couple! Meet Peter, Anna and if you look closely you will spot their fourlegged companion, Higgins, a mixed mutt picked up from the streets of Los Angeles where they lived before they decided to bike the entire 48 continental states during the course of the a short 3 years. Into North Dakota they are into their 6th state. A ride of this magntiude is the ultimate lacmus test of their union. Godspeed! Their experiences are prolifically summed up at:
After the stormy night I finally was ready to take on the vast open space which is Dakota. I started by trying to source a good breakfast as it was going to be a long ride until I hit the next town. Sadly good food was hard to find, both in restaurants and in stores. I had to settle for some donuts and coffee at a fast food place. Not the best of starts. Quite quickly I was met with the harshness of Dakota winds!!! Coming in at 10ms from north/northwest, making it very hard to move along. I ended up battling these winds for the entire day, completely without any break. There’s no cover here on the prairie. I started on the highway, but it was a very uncomfortable experience, with large trucks coming down on two lanes at 130 km/h. So I had harsh winds on the right and raging traffic on the left. And if that is not enough, some brainiac within the road authorities decided to put rumblestrip on the road shoulder, from the white strip to the gravel on the side. North Dakota welcomes bikers! Pure hell for anyone on two selfpropelled wheels.
After about 70 km I finally reached the town of Jamestown. Thirsty, hungry, short of hearing from the raging traffic on one side and howling winds on the other. I did try the country roads, but they were so soaked of water from all the rain lately that they made me move even slower. It is fair to say that this until then had been my absolutely worst day sofar. The words I was using in my own thoughts to describe my experience of North Dakota I will keep to myself, as they are part of a vocabulary that I don’t take pleasure in using. I talked to my dear Lynda and she soothed me and ensured me something would magically open up. I had a lunch at a place in town and headed out, not sure as of how to pursue my trip. I realized I had forgot to fill my waters up…mind you the entire day was in full sun and more than 30 celcius. I turned around and as I was locking my bike up outside my lunchplace to go in for water fillups, I am greeted by a woman coming into the restaurant. She comments my bike and we got talking. After a short while she had offered me a place to stay and even a ride west to the town of Bismarck the morning after. The forecast for winds of the next day was equally harsh. The combination of highway traffic, rumble strip and winds is potentially lethal. Meet Deb, aka Jake! Deb is a true gemstone! High energy person, that does gardening and lawn work for other people in her summers. Outside of that season she throws kids around the classrooms as a elementary school teacher since years. Deb is half norwegian, add some swiss and german. Apart from that she is a sister of many and mother of two, of which I got to meet her last arrival, Andrew, age 16. I also briefly got to meet two of her brothers, all of which look way more Norwegian than I:)
Deb loves her biking. As a matter of fact she just recently sold her celeste green Bianchi roadbike, as the paved roads in this state simply had become too busy and hazardous for bicyclists. North Dakota has seen a dramatic surge of change due to all the oil and gas activity that goes on, in and around the Bakken field. For those interested in this giant fossil fuel source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakken_formation
Bakken acivities have changed many things in North Dakota, for good and for bad.
After parting with gemstone Deb in Bismarck, I am finally able to start my bicycling, making my way west, toward Dickinson, North Dakota. Deb warmed me up to North Dakota, where Wrangler jeans are almost up to the shoulders, boots to match and cowboy hats to top it off. Pickup-trucks are a given! Country, vast open Country it is!
Thanx for listening in to my ramblings!