The Wine Cyclist

Tag: North Dakota

Three Weeks!

by on Jul.13, 2009, under Cycling

IMG_0450Can you believe it has been three weeks, to the day, that I set out from Madison, WI? It feels like I’ve been on the road for so much longer than that. My entire recent memory is occupied by thoughts of cycling. Yet, it’s only been twenty one days. I’ve covered 1,120 miles, and here I sit in Williston, ND — 15 miles from the Montana border — to tell you that there’s much more fun yet to come.

In this part of the country, when they say “open road,” they know what they are talking about. From Bismarck to Williston I have ridden many a stretch of road that look exactly like this: long, rolling and complete bereft of another soul. It’s both frightening and awe inspiring.

I rolled out of Bismarck on Wednesday morning with not too far to go and a nice wind at my back (this, of course, would not last). For the first time in this trip, I encountered some truly outstanding scenic riding. Going across Wisconsin and Minnesota was nice and all, but the views from the road they offered simply do not compare to some of the views I had rolling up SR 1804 out of Bismarck.


It was a short ride — a touch more than 50 miles — the first day out of Bismarck, and I arrived at Cross Ranch State Park in the middle of the afternoon with some time to spare and hang out. The tent sites were right on the Missouri River and offered up some cool views as well. I rather enjoyed this campground. The tent sites were nicely laid out.

IMG_0442There was one other tenter at the campground this Wednesday night. There were a few RVers as well, but the RV sites were nicely isolated from the tent sites. We hung out, built a nice big campfire, and traded stories. Several other tent sites were marked as “reserved,” so we had expected a few other tenters to be around that night, but I guess everyone chickened out in face of the impending storm.

A storm, a storm, oh yes, a storm. We were right at the eastern edge of a tornado warning zone that covered a large swath of North Dakota’s Badlands that night. The ranger didn’t think any tornadoes would touch down near the park, since there were strong winds out of the southeast blowing things away from us, but we were warned about the heavy rain and lightning coming our way. My tent held fast against the onslaught of water from the sky, fortunately, and I had only a few things to dry out in the morning sun.

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Heading On The Trail

by on Jul.07, 2009, under Cycling

IMG_0431Happy 4th of July from Sanborn, ND! I’m not in Sanborn any more, but I rolled through that town on the evening of the 4th, and had an absolute blast. I’ve made my way from Fargo over to Bismarck, and I’m taking one more day off before getting on the Lewis & Clark Trail tomorrow.

So I zipped on out of Fargo on Saturday morning. This was to be an interesting stretch of cycling for me, as I really had no idea where I would be camping for the nights between Fargo and Bismarck. The cycling was a challenge, as well. There are many unpaved roads between these two cities. I found myself on them sometimes, and I found myself on the shoulder of I-94 to avoid them at other times. Saturday evening, I rolled into a town called Sanborn. There was a rally going on of some sort. I moseyed my way on into a pub called Ditos to ask about places to set up a tent for the night. That’s when things got fun…

In Ditos I ran into a guy named James. He invited me over to his barbecue for some delicious ribs, steaks, pheasant, and beer; setting up a tent in his yard would also be cool. What more could a random cyclist rolling through town ask for? Initially, I figured I’d just party and then set up the tent when it was all said and done. In the end, though, he invited me to crash on his couch.

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that the world really is full of nice people. This trip, with the many generous people I’ve met along the way, is an excellent reminder of how friendly people can be.

Sunday morning, I got a bit of a late start out, but we were up late watching fireworks (I took some video as well, see below), so that’s understandable. I made a brief stop in Jamestown to grab a couple of things, found myself on some dirt roads for a while (very annoying, but then so is riding the interstate), which slowed me up. But I made my way over to Tappen, ND for an evening of stealth camping.

Yesterday’s ride in Bismarck proved breezy and easy. I had a nice tail wind (finally!) most of the ride in, and the hills were few and gradual. It was early in the afternoon when I rolled in.

Fascinating enough, this morning, on my day off, there were a few thunderstorms rolling in. There have been two days of rain so far on this trip. Once today, while I was working on writing this post and checking up on email, and once on my day off in Stillwater, MN. Let’s hope this trend continues.

Tomorrow, I get to what I consider the real meat of this trip. Tomorrow, I pick up the Lewis & Clark Trail. I will hopefully run into more cyclists now that I’m on an actual cycling route. I’ve met many wonderful people so far, but there have been many a lonely night of solo camping as well. As much as I love camping, it really is best as a shared experience. On the trail, I’m hoping I’ll run into other cyclists camping out at the same spots as I am.

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Land of 10,000 Lakes

by on Jul.03, 2009, under Cycling

Naa NaNaNaNaa NaNaNaNaa NaNaNa NaNaNa NaNaNaNaaa

Erm… sorry. That’s Land of 1,000 Dances.

IMG_0410I’ve made my way across the rest of Minnesota and I’m now updating this blog from Fargo, ND. This view here is looking across the St. Croix River in Stillwater, MN.

It’s been very windy in Minnesota. The first three days in setting out from Stillwater were especially windy. I need to get used to it. I know I’m basically heading into prevailing winds the whole trip, but it does get very tiring at times. The cross winds are especially brutal. Balance becomes a bit of a challenge when you’ve got a 20mph gust coming at your side.

The kindness that I’ve been encountering along the way has more than made up for it, though. By chance, I connected with a birthday party in Little Falls. There was music, food, volleyball, a nice big bonfire and all manner of good times. It was a great evening.

There’s been some solitude in my camping as well, and that can be tough at times. Camping alone is just not as much fun as camping with a group of people. Fortunately, I’m usually exhausted enough by the time that I crawl into my sleeping bag that I just pass right out and it doesn’t matter.

So I’m 630 miles into the trip. So, not quite a quarter of the way done. I need to run a few errands in Fargo today, though, so I’ll wrap this post up now, and just give you all some more pictures. Sadly, there’s no picture of a “Welcome to North Dakota” sign. I crossed the Red River on back country roads that they didn’t feel were important enough to sign. Ah well.

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