Friday, September 11, 2009

Day One Hundred Ninety-three, 090909 - Bismarck, ND

Day One Hundred Ninety-three, Date Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Time in Saddle: 10:25
Distance for the Day: 88.25 miles From Hurdsfield To Bismarck, ND
Accumulated Trip Distance: 9681.5 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 1669’/1557’, Highest: ?? Accumulated: ??
Speeds: Avg: 8.4 mph, Max: 25.8 mph
Weather: 46°
Expenditures: $27

(Whoa! Where'd this come from? It was a slow day for pictures, so I decided to post this one that my astro friend, Debbie, sent me [thanks, Debbie!] She's an expert with PhotoShop, and, as you can see, does amazing things with digital images. Anyways, back to reality!) Got up at 6:17am and had a bowl of cereal for breakfast. Wanda got up just a bit before I was about to leave, so I thanked her one last time, and went out to their separated garage where I parked my trike, got it out, prepped it, and took off at right around sunrise at 7am. There was not a cloud in the sky, only a slight breeze, and Venus and the gibbous Moon looking like you could reach out and touch them. I rode west a few miles out of Hurdsfield, and then found Rte 3 and turned left/south to start heading towards Steele, and then west again on CR10 into Bismarck. It was a gorgeous day to cycle – clear, blue skies, cool to mild temperatures, mostly light headwinds, relatively light hill work, but mostly flat. The North Dakota landscape continued to be vast tracts of wheat, barley, soy, corn, sunflowers, and ranches with horses and cows. Just amazing. Do not come to N. Dakota if you’re an agoraphobe! It would be an awesome place to do astronomy, as there are very few sources of major light pollution, and there are no mountains, giving 360° of flat, right-down-to-the-ground horizons. I stopped into the town of Tuttle between 11:15am and 12:35pm to stock up on food and drink ($9) and to have lunch at the local cafĂ© of burger, fries and soda ($10)

During the ride today, as nice a day as it was, there were a few problems: in the early morning hours, I had to save 3-out-of-4 salamanders from getting squished on the roadway; I’d stop next to them as they were slowly making their way into the still-moist road, grab them by the tail, and fling them back into the grass. During most of the day, and particularly toward evening, every few minutes, tiny gnats – no bigger than an elongated pencil point – would get inside my goggles and crawl around on the lenses or the skin around my eyes. I became adept at taking my goggles off and swiping them out with a gloved fingertip while continuing to ride. Also: grasshoppers on the roadway. The numbers would vary from a few every few yards to several every few feet. Some would jump away just before you got to them; some would jump up and hit me in the legs; and the rest would jump up and hit me in the face, chest, arms, or helmet. The bugs bugged me most of the day. They didn’t *quite* drive me crazy, but they were an almost constant problem.

Made it to Steele by 3:45pm and stopped in the mini mart there for food, drink and ice cream ($8). I turned west onto CR10 at 4:12pm with 41 miles still to go before reaching my next Warmshowers host, and would theoretically get into Bismarck at 10pm. The wind was now light and cross, and the terrain was still mostly flat with some gentle rolling hills, but it was also more downhill, so I consequently made really good time. I at last pulled into Bismark by 8:15pm, right around sunset. As I was riding up a slight hill, I saw a big car back into a parking position off the side of the road, but noticed there was no house, there. I thought that a bit peculiar, but didn’t think any more about it. Then I saw the driver get out, and walk out to the front of his vehicle and lean against it, like he were waiting for me. Did my Warmshowers host come out to greet me? Yes, he did! My host, Ron G, and another cross-country cyclist, Brian F, were out to get ice cream, and Ron wanted to see if he could find me, as I hadn’t called for final instructions how to get to his house, yet. From where we were, just outside of town, Ron gave me a couple of turn-by-turn instructions on how to get closer to his house, then drove ahead to the end of the first instructions, and wait for me to get there before giving me a few more instructions. This went on about five times, over the course of about 5 miles, until I reached his house. Wow, talk about being guided in! I was introduced to Ron’s wife, Joyce, and they then fed me a wonderful meal of a kind of Spanish goulash, with rice, sausage, vegetables, and chicken – yummm! I also had two helpings of chocolate ice cream, and three sodas. Hey – I busted buns all day to get there by sunset (and it was dark by the time I actually made it to the house), a distance of more than 88 miles over mildly hilly terrain – I was *hungry*! We then chatted the rest of the evening away, and I blogged a little before going to bed around 1am.

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