Monday, July 19, 2010

July 19, 2010: Spirit Lake to Carrington, ND. 50 miles

We knew this was going to be a relatively short day, only 50 miles, so we planned on leaving late: breakfast at 7:30 and 8:00 departure. But it started raining around 4 AM. (I know this because that's when I woke up with a headache). It rained through breakfast, and we started taking our stuff out to the van and bringing our bikes down, but no one really wanted to leave in the rain....

By 9 AM it had almost stopped, so we put on our rain gear and started our riding day. We left the way we came in, west on highway 57, which had much less traffic than yesterday afternoon--apparently Monday morning is not a peak casino time... By 8 miles into the ride we were peeling off our rain gear. CJ thought I looked "hot" with my rain pants pulled up around my chest (both to keep my front and back pockets dry and to keep them from falling down. I really need to buy some raingear that fits).

After 12 miles on hwy 57 we turned south on US 281, but the section we were on was not quite as nice as yesterday's section. There was less shoulder and much more traffic. Especially TRUCKS, and we are quite nervous around trucks now. At the 20 mile sag, Dianne and several other riders decided to ride in the van to the end. They were that unnerved by the trucks.

SAG means support and gear, and above you can see Carol, our sag driver for today, party hat and all. The car decal says Little Bo Peep, and Carol (and the other drivers who take turns by the day) always makes sure she knows where her sheep (we riders) are.

Shortly after the 20 mile sag the traffic abated. There was a gravel quarry about a mile from the sag and a town with a grain elevator (Sheyenne) a couple of miles from that. So the ride improved immensely. I told CJ that I wished the shoulder on the road would improve, and it did! We were quite surprised by this. It was not perfect, but there were sections of 4 foot shoulder, much better than the 18" shoulder we had been on before. So we decided I should wish for a bakery. I wished for a bakery in New Rockford (the next town). When we pulled into town I asked the first person I saw if there was a bakery in town. She said Yes! But it's closed on Sunday and Monday. I guess I need to make my wishes more specific.

After New Rockford the shoulder widened out to about 6' and we were able to ride side by side and talk that last 17 miles of the ride to Carrington.

At Carrington we all cleaned our bikes up and then ourselves, and I called Mike. Mike is a friend of my cousin Kat and she absolutely insisted I call him when I was here. So Mike picked me and Dianne up at the hotel and took us on a tour of the area.

First we went to the Foster County Courthouse, still very much like it was when built in 1908. We walked around inside and looked at the murals of life in Foster County throughout the years and the courtroom, unchanged in many decades but still in use. Then we went past the large pasta factory (big employer in the area) and distinctive water tower and headed out to the farm.

Mike's mom (Bert) made lemonade and we sat around drinking lemonade and talking for a while. Mike's dad (John) gave us a mini history lesson about Foster County and Carrington. Mike and his brother and their dad (sort of semi retired now) farm the same land that Mike's great grandfather homesteaded in 1887, before North Dakota was a state. It has been larger and smaller through the years (especially smaller during the Great Depression), and is now about 8,000 acres, 2,500 acres of it cultivated and the rest pastureland.

After the lemonade we went for a ride up to Hawk's Nest Ridge and looked down on the town and all the surrounding area. It's beautiful country.... there are trees now, but at the time it was settled there were none. There are still "teepee rings" up on the ridge, from the 1800s when the Sioux Indians from Devil's Lake used to pass through here on their annual migration to South Dakota to escape the bitter ND winters.

We had to cut our tour short because we had to be back at the hotel for map meeting at 5:30. It's a big day tomorrow (over 90 miles) and we did not want to miss the briefing. Jackie (owner of Woman Tours) and her sister Jennifer were our guests and they gave us the update on the investigation into the accident that killed one of our riders.

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