Day 23 (105 miles)

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

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Flag of United States  , North Dakota
Monday, July 7, 2008

another day, another century...into a headwind and thunderstorms this time. here was a funny conversation i overheard last night around bed time:

art: i don't think i'm going to put the rain fly on my tent tonight.
george: it's definitely not going to rain
thunderstorm: gosh, it's 2am already. KA-POW!!!

when we late risers woke up, it was drizzling for a while and then fortunately stopped. the early risers weren't so fortunate and got drenched in a really strong downpour around 6 am. that should teach them to wake up and leave at uncivilized times! although the rain continued to our left and our right, we only got a couple of drops. apparently, there were tornado warnings issued that we were unaware of, and a town 30 miles north of us had a couple of funnel clouds and one tornado touch down. nonetheless, the going was pretty slow because the wind was in our face. at this rate, it would be a very long day...

our first stop was about 20 miles down the road in the unimaginatively-named towner (self-proclaimed "cattle capital of north dakota"). julie and brad had grocery shopping to do, so i had some breakfast pizza in the gas station with the family we had met a coupe of days ago. we had shared camp sites the last couple of days, but after today, we would be going off in different directions and wouldn't bump into them anymore. they set off before we were ready to go, so i hung out in the gas station for a while. one way you know you're in the middle of farming country: there's a whole section of the convenience store dedicated to cattle medicine, tags, and anything else that a cattle farmer could possibly need.

when we were back on the road, after a couple of miles, i spotted a little doll in the road that looked a lot like on that the 9 year old daughter had been playing with back in the towner gas station. we stopped to pick it up, and not too much later, we overtook the family and did a moving hand-off of the doll. they hadn't even realized it had fallen off the bike, and they were quite happy to get it back. shortly thereafter, we rode on one of the nastiest sections of road to date...they were doing road construction on us-2. usually it's a four lane highway, but they had taken it down to two lanes for the construction and had put cones up in the middle to prevent traffic from crossing lanes. unfortunately, that meant that big rigs and rvs couldn't move over when they were passing us. there were quite a few trailers that came scarily close to hitting us, but everyone made it through safely.

our next stop was around the halfway point in rugby--the geographical center of north america. apparently, a USGS survey found the center of north america to be about 15 miles away from there, but they decided to build a monument along the highway. we ate our lunch at the base of the monument. we were taking our time because the next 30 mile portion of the ride was going to be directly into the wind. just as we finished hemming and hawing, though, we noticed that the wind had changed directions. we would still be riding with a cross wind for the next 30, but when we made our turn to go the last 50, we'd have a tail wind. and since the wind was gathering strength all day, it would be a really strong tail wind...

we caught up with the rest of the group on this next stretch, and we got to ride with george and maxine (on the tandem) and art for the rest of the way. usually, they're slowing down when we see them in the afternoon, and we pass them up, but today was different because of the tail wind. we were all comfortably flying along over 20 mph, and it was really cool to mix up the riding partners. art rides a recumbent, and he has a windshield on it with a little ipod stereo mounted under it. i'd been so jealous that he gets to ride with tunes while the rest of us can't (it's super unsafe to ride with headphones), but today i got to listen to his mix. the rest of the ride was so fast, with the exception of a 2 mile portion where we turned back into the cross wind. by late afternoon, the wind had become so strong that it was difficult to keep the bike upright when the wind started slamming our side. somehow, a cross wind also creates a lot of forward resistance, so we were down to 8 mph or so for this stretch. then it was back to zoom!

our camp in minnewaukan was at yet another city park. we had trouble finding it at first, so we asked a little kid on a bmx who gave us a personal escort through some mud and over the grass into the park. it was a little dicey following him on our road bikes, but we made it there. the site was really nice, and it even had showers. score!

we took a day off in minnewaukan, but again, i didn't do anything exciting. i spent a lot of the day snacking in the general store while using the wireless signal from the library next door. it was a charming enough town, but it only had about 300 people, so it was pretty quiet. in the evening, some more thundershowers moved in and got everything wet, but they fortunately kept on going.
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