Nick on the bike 2005: Oregon to Virginia
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Day 22: Richey, MT to Watford City, ND
August 5, 2005, 5:00 PM
Where am I now: Watford City, North Dakota (47.80360N by 103.26789W at 2036 ft.)
Today's distance: 106 miles

The wind was blowing like crazy out of the southwest when I woke up this morning in Richey, and it's still blowing like crazy out of the southwest in Watford City, North Dakota. I've been pummeled by it all day, it would be nice if someone would turn the thing off for a while. The flag on BOB is getting a little tattered.

I sought out the breakfast spot in Richey, as I had sought out the VFW Hall Bar last night for a beer. On both occasions I was able to engage local people in conversation.... Richey's had a tough go of it as a town. At one point it was at the rail head, shipping & receiving point for mining materials and wheat. Then they closed the railroad and pulled up the tracks, now there's just one operating grain elevator, and everything is shipped by truck. The folks doing the wheat are all getting on in years, and the younger generation has fled the scene. As one of them put it "giving your kid a few sections of land to farm is viewed as a form of child abuse, there's no way anyone can afford the start-up costs of getting into farming". This year is an exceptional year though, it's rained a lot and crops are looking good. Everybody's bought hail insurance, and the collective thinking at breakfast was "it ain't gonna hail, and the insurance guy's gonna end up on top again".

Riding with a stiff southwest wind works great when you're going northeast. If you're going east it's a mixed bag. For much of the day I rode with a quarter starboard butt crosswind. I played around with my position, had thoughts about rigging a sail to more effectively capture the wind. It's not clear there was a net advantage over no wind at all. A century's a century & I'm beat anyway.

Between Richey and Sidney after cruising through range land and such I crossed a ridge and wow! There's a drilling rig out there drilling an oil well. I had entered an oil & gas producing geological province known as the Williston Basin. The high oil prices have made it worthwhile to drill some of the plays out here that had been sitting in the file cabinet.

By the time I got to Sidney I'd scoped out three new rigs that were set up close to route 200, no telling how many others are out there, go for it, folks! My (former) Ingersoll Rand T4 drill rig was a truck-mounted air rotary machine that ran 4.5 inch diameter drill rods 25 feet long. These oil rigs are not readily road-mobile, but it looks like air or mud rotary technology, and the drill rods look like 4.5 inch by 40 or 50 feet.

I should have crashed the gate & talked to these folks, maybe they could use some help. (Hey family, how'd you feel about moving to Williston, North Dakota????)

It was hot by the time I got to Sidney, I could have had peanut butter along the side of the road, but instead I pulled into a cafe and had a great meal. Salmon cakes, vegetables, the whole nine yards.

If I'd eaten peanut butter I probably would have called it a day in Sidney, but instead I went and did another one of these century days (if any of you are hankering to do a century ride that's not just something humdrum like the Extreme Sports Death Ride, send me a email, we can work something out.)

Yellowstone River near the North Dakota border

North Dakota roads are a bit different from eastern Montana thus far. The guy they got to do the topography here was more into flat than rolling, so there are less hills to begin with. Might have been a low-bid thing but it works. The highway people are into cut and fill, so the overall package works well for cyclists. But whoever's in charge here needs to get a handle on the wind.

Watford City Park is clean, welcomes campers, and there are showers. At this point in my day, it's a very pleasant place to wind down.