Hank – If ever there was a day when I thought, “I don’t want to do this any more,” yesterday was it. We left Dickinson and battled headwinds of 14-20 mph with gusts of 25-30 mph. As the day got warmer the winds got worse. I couldn’t break the wind for Kathy because I was having a hard enough time just going in a straight line. The front panniers and the porteur bag make for the worst possible air dam. There is no streamlining those things.
We had two route choices for getting from Dickinson to Medora ND. Both involved I-94, but one option included taking county highway 10. We tried that for eight miles. There was no shoulder and too much traffic so we stuck with the interstate the rest of the way because we’d have plenty of shoulder there. So onward we plowed through the wind tunnel with a rest stop every 5 miles depending on how miserable we felt.
We had one scary moment. We got back on our bikes after a rest stop. I looked in my mirror and say Kathy and here bike in a pile against the guard rail. I got off and ran back to help her. The wind had blown her over. The poor girl has really taken a physical beating on this adventure.
We stopped 15 miles away in Belfield ND after 6 hours of riding and had a bland meal at a restaurant there. My grilled chicken breast was exactly that with no seasoning of any kind on it. The gelatinous gravy on the mashed potatoes was unappealing at best but I ate because I needed the fuel for the rest of the ride. Kathy went with the all you can eat soup and salad.
We got back on the freeway and continued on because what else could we do? Approaching Medora the landscape began changing. Theodore Roosevelt National Park was on our right and it was pretty. That perked up our spirits along with the occasional breaks in the wind the changing landscape was providing us. We got off the freeway, crossed over a hill, and rolled into Medora.
Medora is an easy-to-miss small town that you probably wouldn’t visit unless you were going to the park because the park entrance is in town. There are campgrounds and lots of businesses so it must be doing something right. We stopped by a store and picked up drinks. Then we went to the Medora Camground and got a tent site. We showered and cracked open our drinks. I had a huge can of Summer Shandy and Kathy had four mini-bottles of Chardonnay wine. We were both too tired to finish them. I slept the sleep of the dead. Today we spend the day in Medora and the national park.
Kathy – So, if it was a hard days ride for Hank, you know it was a tough day. Yes, we had no choice but to carry on and get the 43-mile ride over with. It consisted of pedaling up long uphill then pedaling down against the strong headwinds. There was no cruising downhill. The hills came on track of about one every mile. During the ride my thoughts wondered if some sick soul planned it out like this to keep cyclists off the highway. The sustained winds were 14-20 mph and the wind gust of 25-30 mph seemed to come so frequently that I wondered if they were part of the sustained winds. There were so many times those gust almost knocked both Hank and I off our bikes. One time the wind did get me. I was just starting back up after a much needed break when the wind gust caught me and literally knocked me over. I was pinned between my bike and the guardrail. No doubt the bruising will show up in the next few days on both legs and my right upper arm. The hazards of the road. 🙂
A few of my thoughts during our day of traveling in the North Dakota winds. There is very little garbage of glass on the roadsides. I attributed it to the winds blowing everything…somewhere. There were no bugs trying to sneak up and attack us, again maybe the winds…thank you. There are no trees around which make it difficult to empty your bladder. I would try to hide in the long grass, then I see my husband just standing out there with his back to traffic just doing his business. Oh how our lives have changed! 🙂 Lastly since there are no flowers on the roadside, Hank and I have become pros at identifying the dead animals on the side of the road. Today I saw a large dead turtle. This one was new for me, but yep I’m sure I identified it correctly. Never knew they had turtles in North Dakota that are subject to harm from the roadways.
So, in the 9-1/2 hours it took us to travel 43 miles we spent 7 hours actually in the saddle pedaling. Dreadful! We were going so slow with the weight of the bikes, the constant long climbs and the wicked winds. This was not one of our funnest days. We enjoyed seeing Theodore Roosevelt Painted Canyon towards the end of our ride, very beautiful. Today we were thrilled to get to our destination. We had our tent up and ready in our fastest time yet, showered, had half our celebratory drinks and called it a day. Happy this one is done. In reflecting maybe we should have called Paul, after all we are still within 1,000 miles from Spokane where he said he would come and help us if needed. I will work on remembering this before, not after the fact in the future.