Day 21 (90 miles)

Trip Start Jun 13, 2008
Trip End Aug 09, 2008

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Flag of United States  , North Dakota
Saturday, July 5, 2008

one of the best ways to wake up is to the smell of fresh-brewed coffee, eggs, and bacon. our hosts had cooked up a really delicious breakfast with an egg bake (i think this might be a midwestern thing, but i'm not's kind of like an eggy casserole) and some baked oatmeal. it was a regular feast...

i wouldn't have predicted it during the first part of today's ride, but today was my favorite so far. finally, finally, finally we woke up to a tail wind, and the terrain was really fun, especially with the extra little push from the wind. we were cutting through the northern tip of the badlands, and there were really great rolling hills...the type where you can use the downhill momentum to propel yourself up to the top of the next one and maintain really high speeds. i was holding an average speed of 18.5, a max of 47.5 (another rider got the speed record at 47.7...grr!), and i pushed through a 17 miles stretch in 50 minutes (after a second lunch of french fries and chicken tenders to refuel in newtown). going zoom zoom is so much fun, and riding through pretty terrain makes it all the better. also, the hills were a really nice and unexpected change from the plains we'd been pushing ourselves through for the last week.

another reason i went so fast is that during the morning before the wind really got going, the mosquitoes were out and about. i learned today that mosquitoes can fly 12 mph. whenever my speed dipped below that, suddenly a menacing brown cloud would emerge from the roadside grass and pursue me up the hill. if i got much below 10 mph, they would start landing and biting. one of the riders said she would look in her rearview mirror and see giant mosquitoes, much like the scene in jurassic park with the t-rex. given that the mosquitoes want to stay out of the wind, their favorite place to land on a moving rider are the shoulder and the butt, and given that bike shorts don't stand in a mosquito's way, we all had embarrassingly itchy butts... fortunately, they only were a nuisance for the first 25 miles or so. although it was unpleasant at the time, this is definitely one of those experiences that is fun to laugh at in retrsospect.

we stayed at a church in the sleepy town of parshall. we learned that north dakota is one of the few states that is losing population year over year. many people are moving out to more pleasant climes, there's a migration from rural to urban areas, and many of the farmers are having trouble turning profits. there is a mini oil boom happening near parshall, though, so that region is experiencing quite a lot of growth. so far, north dakota seems a little more populated than montana, but we're still lacking cell phone reception most of the time.
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