I was up at 7am this morning but Randy stayed racked out in his adjacent room. I considered going out for breakfast but decided to wait for Randy’s company. For a while, I watched the tributes to George Steinbrenner being shown on the TV.
Randy arose at 8am but did not want to get ready for riding, only to go get coffee. My cold symptoms were still nagging this morning (sore throat, a little light headed) but I actually also felt energetic and ready to go. But a solid breakfast definitely sounded good to me. I strolled next door to a café that specialized in German breakfast and purchased a newspaper to read. In a while, Randy joined me. My OJ, eggs and 1 HUGE pancake were great – all I could eat.
Randy settled back into his room and continued to move sort of slowly this morning. He finally said he wanted to wait for perhaps the winds to change in our favor, which was forecast for later today. Our plans were to head almost due south and a little bit east, down the Lewis & Clark Trail following the river. Winds were already blowing steady at 10mph from the east.
We finally got on the road around 10am, and the winds did shift, but unfortunately they shifted to come directly out of the south. We rolled down hilly 1804 through the heart of Bismarck. The lush green lawns, rows of trees, and manicured yards reminded me of any town in Indiana or Pennsylvania – it did not look like the Dakotas I had imagined.
We stopped at a grocery store and stocked up in earnest for at least 2 days’ worth of meals. The towns looked sparse south of here, and according to the AC maps the campsites were primitive. I grabbed a pack of hamburger rolls, a jar of mixed peanut butter and jelly, 2 Cameo apples, an orange, 3 fresh mushrooms, a pack of ham, a box of granola bars, and 2 extra liters of water. I also topped up my 3 bike bottles from the employee washroom in the back.
A few miles south of town, I stopped several times and got pretty separated from Randy. One was to adjust the cleats in my shoes, which seemed off-center to me. The other time was to ride in and explore the campus at the University of Mary, a 4-year Catholic school just south of Bismarck. The campus was fairly pretty with a beautiful look over some hills.
Out of town, the headwinds stayed steady around 10mph, and I was soon finding them fatiguing. Likewise, 1804 continued to throw hill after hill after hill at us, up the river bluff, then back down, then up again. It seems that the road had not been built to fit the land, i.e. at a steady elevation, but rather to fit orthogonal property lines. Still, I continued to enjoy the spin, with the river rolling by on our right and beautiful vistas from the hilltops.
The birding seemed to get pretty good, too. As my fatigue rose, I found new excuses to stop and take notes or take photos. Whenever I crossed by a larger pond I’d stop, check out the bird life, check down into the water for frogs or turtles or fish or snakes. My legs always welcomed the stop. Near Lake Oahe, a huge black and white bird crossed over me, I thought maybe it was a stork. I spotted a whole group of pelicans splashing about in one of the larger ponds – I didn’t know they even existed up here.
Randy and I separated again on the endless hills, but we weren’t really very far apart, typically less than a mile. We would both often stop for a bathroom break or otherwise for a photo stop or a general constitutional stop, and the other would come rolling by with a wave.
After about 50 miles, three deer were surprised by my bike and sprang with great altitude away from the roadside. I watched in wonder as they bounded in huge leaps away. Very cool.
I started to get pretty uncomfortable in the saddle, and was surprised to look down and realize that it was 4pm already. We’d been riding for more than 5 hours and I’d hardly eaten anything. My discomfort was mostly just light-headedness and low energy – a slow motion bonk. The winds decreased to between 5 and 10 mph, shifting occasionally from the west. At long last, we reached the intersection of 1804 with ND13, and turned west toward the river on the homestretch.
It took a couple more dogged climbs to finally reach the downhill to the river. As we were coasting in, we noticed to our delight a small bait and tackle shop with a sign that read Bosch’s Bayside. It was back off the road with some glowing neon beer signs, and with a few trucks parked out front to boot. Cold beer! And open! It was the second true oasis we’d found, right here in the middle of nowhere, and the AC maps had no mention of it. We stopped in a heartbeat and strolled inside.
Like I said, the ride today had beaten me up, and my first JW Dundee Honeybrown beer went down like nectar. So did the second one. Randy sat hunkered down at a corner table with a nice grin on his face as he sipped on his own brews. A plate of cheeseburger and fries soon followed – to heck with my peanut butter and jelly. Tasted really marvelous, especially due to my unintended starving today on the road. To say that we enjoyed this meal together is an understatement.
We finally rolled down to our destination for the night at the Beaver Creek Recreation Area. The AC maps showed the campsite to be across a bridge, and so we dutifully followed it, passing up the signs that led to the RV sites. It was a ½ mile ride to the other bank, and then a climb to get to the entrance. The site at first appeared feasible and with a restroom, but as we explored, we found no decent ground for tenting, only sloped areas with tall grasses.
We proceeded back across the bridge to the Beaver Creek RV area, and started a roll around the path there. Soon we discovered a secluded area set aside for tenting only, with plenty of trees for cover. Randy stayed and started to unpack while I rode back to the self-serve payment box and deposited our $10, then attached our overnight permit onto a post in front of our site.
A very nice campsite indeed. No one around at all – I think we were the only tenters in the entire park. Lots of trees around us, nearby restroom, picnic table, and isolation. I set up my tent, then started exploring around on foot, eventually finding the waterfront a few hundred yards away. Two pretty hawks circled overhead in the clearing. I also spied a very pretty white and black flycatcher, probably the same kingbird species that had divebombed me a few days back.
Randy and I further discussed a plan to reach Sioux City on 7/23, in order to allow a rest day prior to Ragbrai (starts on 7/25). With some detours in the route, Randy felt that was possible. I also brought up the possibility of my ditching out prior to that, because Linda had already planned her road trip such to meet me on 7/21. I invited Randy to join my family on the road for those few days prior to Ragbrai.
After the good dinner, Randy and I sat around the picnic table and had a good long talk about our route, touring in general, our previous lives, and the future. To borrow from Randy’s bag of phrases, we decided that “life is good.”
We separated our tents tonight by a respectable sonic buffer, at least 100 feet . As we settled down to sleep, I began to hear some fairly serious nearby growling, and actually got a bit concerned about it. Emerging from my tent, I walked over to Randy’s and asked, “Is that sound what I think it is?” He replied, “What – the cattle?” (I was picturing a black bear or a wolf or something.)
By 10:10pm, I was comfortably asleep, earplugs in place.
- Miles ridden today: 64
- Cumulative miles this tour: 369