Bismarck ND: Rain and Rollers

We both awoke fairly early to the spit of a light rain. Randy and I had always pitched our tents a reasonable distance from each other, but last night we’d pitched them a mere 8 feet apart or so. Randy was in a decidedly grumpy mood, stating that he was still really tired and that I had snored. I normally don’t snore, but I have no doubt that I did here, what with my cold and the extra fatigue from riding.

I apologized and he said there was no need. He declined my offer of foam earplugs, stating that they were uncomfortable for him. We again fired up the burner for Randy’s coffee and a porridge breakfast, sitting under the small roof.

Soon enough it was time to pack up. I watched Randy carefully to see what he would choose to wear for rain gear under these conditions. I mimicked him with rain jacket, helmet cover, and no rain pants. Because my riding shoes were those leather Keens, I also added some neoprene shoe covers I’d brought.

The ride south was a joy, beautiful and cool, down 1804 over numerous rolling hills. Within an hour the rains let up, and the jacket and shoe covers came off. We had decided on a short ride today ending in Bismarck, less than 30 miles. Nearing town, we vectored south off 1804 and onto River Road, which mercifully continued down into the river bottoms instead of climbing up the bluff again. The amount of green everywhere was delightful.

Randy rolling south on ND1804 in the rain
Randy rolling south on ND1804 in the rain
A classic red barn along the way
A classic red barn along the way

At the outskirts of town, we stopped at Pioneer Park. Randy told me he badly needed “a shit and some sleep,” and at least the park remedied the first demand. We both needed a good shower, laundry, and some food, as well. From the park we had to climb a short but very steep hill up Burnt Boat Road to reach the city, then spent ½ hour checking out several motels before finding space at the Motel 6.

Nice. Clean linens, a full-sized pillow, and porcelain. Motel 6 never felt this good before.

Lunch was in order, and Randy had already selected the nearby Burger King. I think a fish sandwich at Burger King was in the same category for Randy as a 2x2x2 at IHOP was for me, so I tagged along, and managed to get through a Whopper with Cheese.

A shower and nap was next on the list for Randy, and he hit the room. I decided that I would like to be carrying one more spare tube, and sought out Epic Cycle Shop as suggested by the AC maps. Their address had been changed, and so I called them up. It was interesting trying to find the shop in a completely unknown town, but I managed it OK.

Additionally, my old riding gloves, after about 15,000 miles, had started to fall apart. And after 5 days of riding, I had noticed that my wrists were getting strained, feeling like Carpal Tunnel or something, so I figured some new padded gloves wouldn’t hurt. I scored a spare tube, and also a new pair of Specialized gloves. While there, I also adjusted my seat height down a scant 1/10” (because I couldn’t raise the handlebars any further).

Back at the motel, I dove in to my packs of dirty clothes. The motel had a coin-operated laundry room which was both convenient and expensive. And totally worth it – my newly clean clothes were a thing of beauty.

Finally, a nice warm shower for Rich! How very fine! Interesting how a few days of a relatively primitive lifestyle can make you really appreciate the simple things.

I watched a truly dumb movie for a while called “Red Dawn,” and finally Randy and I joined up for dinner. We walked over to a nearby Mexican place called Paradiso Mexican. They too served Killian’s Red beer, and despite my sniffles I downed 2 of them. I was really impressed with the 12 to 15 huge high definition TVs at this place. Decent fare, too: big beef burrito, rice, beans, tortillas.

During the afternoon, I had looked closely at the Adventure Cycling maps charting our way down to Sioux City. According to them, we had 642 miles left to go with 12 more riding days before the start of Ragbrai (average of 53 miles per day). And those 12 days did not allow for any rest days prior to Ragbrai, as we had originally planned.

Randy and I discussed this. Fifty-three miles a day didn’t sound too bad, but it meant that some days would have to be considerably longer, to take advantage of good weather and/or town separation. Randy also suggested we would have ample opportunity to get off the AC route and cut our mileage. The AC route certainly took us on a winding route along the river. And the constant climbing of the Missouri River bluff was definitely extra work.

We returned to the motel for a nice night’s sleep.

  • Miles ridden today: 30
  • Cumulative miles this tour: 305