Day 25 (101 miles)

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

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Flag of United States  , North Dakota
Wednesday, July 9, 2008

coming out of minnewauken, we had another century. we had been toying with the idea of skipping the day off and doing back to back centuries because the weather forecast was for another day of very strong tailwind, but most of the team wanted the day off. nonetheless, we did luck out with the wind, and most of the time it was giving us a nice little push at our backs. overall, it was the easiest century to date with under six hours on the bike.

the first 30 miles followed the shore of devil's lake (or spirit lake as referred to by the native americans), which is an interesting lake because it's been continuously growing for the last few decades. people have pieced together that something about aquifers (underground water channels) is causing the lake level to keep rising year after year. many structures that were originally built at the water's edge have been abandoned as they were permanently flooded, and near shore there are frequently large stands of dead trees that originally grew on the shore. one of my favorite subjects to photograph so far was a house on the lakeshore that was abandoned by people and subsequently taken over by birds. there were thousands of birds flocking around it, and they were making quite a ruckus, too.

a while later, we passed by the turn off for tokio (apparently pronounced like tokyo) and saw the support vehicles for another cycling group we had pedaled with for one day back in washington. we took a moment to say hi to the people in the vans and learn more about their route, etc. we meet a lot of people doing the same thing, and it's fun to hear everyone's slightly different story.

after we reached the halfway point, we found a little bar in the tiny town of pekin. we had originally tried to find a grocery store or something to get a cold drink and we were going to eat our packed lunch, but the only store in town had closed and was in the process of becoming a mini storage instead. but the down did have a bar! we had frozen pizzas and sodas and talked with the bartender and learned a lot about small north dakota town life. since they are so small, the towns band together to create a school system, and they're spread so far that some of the kids ride an hour and a half in the bus each way to get to school.

after lunch, we realized we weren't the only things the wind was pushing about--throughout the day storm clouds were building all around us. somehow, we managed to stay dry by outpacing and outmaneuvering the storm. at one point in the afternoon, we crossed over a small hill, and just on the other side, a huge storm cloud was dumping rain, and there were lightning bolts that seemed close enough to touch. meanwhile, we were only getting a couple of drops sprinkled on us. our luck continues... to keep balance in the universe, though, i had an extremely unlucky moment later on in the day when a bee flew into one of the vents in my helmet. i felt it go in, and thinking it was a fly, i stuck my hand in to brush it out. that was when it stung me right on the back of my head. i came to a stop as fast as i could, skidding through the dirt at the side of the road, and threw my helmet off to get it out. it really hurt! yet another unanticipated danger to cycling... after a few minutes i was ready to go again, but i was definitely nervous during the next few miles when i kept spotting bee boxes in the fields and seeing the occasional bee buzz by.

when we arrived in cooperstown (after less than six hours in the saddle!), we had a nice surprise awaiting us. we had been scheduled to camp in the city park, but the pastor of a local church came across michele and stephanie, and after chatting with them, he offered our group a place to crash for the night. they had quite a laugh over the fact that the first time a random church offered us shelter, they had approached "the heathens." another running joke came from when the pastor requested that the boys and girls stay in separate rooms, and when michele asked whether the married couples could stay together, after a moment of consideration he said they could provided that they "resist temptation." we were quite lucky to have the roof over our heads because there were a number thundershowers throughout the evening, and we would have been some unhappy campers.
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