One of the constants with bicycle touring, as with other activities, is the sun rises every morning, and a new day unfolds with its own set of challenges. The weather radio had talked about strong southeasterly winds today (guess which way I'm headed). I wanted to get on the road early, so I was up before first light, cooked my breakfast in the motel microwave, and hit the road at dawn. At the same time the oilfield guys were firing up their pickups to head for the drill site.
I was able to get about 20 miles down the road before the wind started kicking up. By 9AM there was a good 15mph blow off the starboard bow when I was headed east, and the port bow when I headed south. The way the streets are laid out, those are the only choices out there. Unless I turn around and head back to Montana.
By late morning the wind had allied itself with mid 90 degree temperatures to create an environment that most sane people would deem unsuitable for activities like hauling a wheeled pig around with a bicycle.
I'm on the aero bars much of the time, geared down & making 10 or 11 mph on level road. Ka plump plump, ka plump plump, ka plump plump. Gotta love those North Dakota roads.
People are out cutting wheat. Some of these are up wind of the road, which means I get to ride through a giant cloud of dusty mess.... And the grasshoppers. Have I talked about the grasshoppers? I've encountered millions of grasshoppers on the roads since I got into wheat country. Looks to me like they get displaced when the combines come through, and for reasons I don't fully understand, they seem to gather on the highways. Where they hop into my wheels, hitting the spokes plink plink. There seemed to be a bumper crop today.
This part of North Dakota is full of small ponds and wetlands, in small enclosed depressions that don't drain off anywhere. These are full of life, insect & birds. At one point I came over a little rise and the whole road was filled with hundreds of white water fowl of some sort. Maybe they were harvesting some hoppers.
I crawl past a fields of sunflowers in bloom. Good excuse to stop & take a picture. While I'm at it, I photograph some of the tar cracks in the road.
Eventually I beat my way into the town of Garrison. About 5 hours to do 55 miles. There's a restaurant, people are still eating breakfast but I order a full pork chop dinner with salad & vegetables. Plus a gallon or so of iced tea. People come up and ask me whether I'm part of the group that just left. Eventually I figure out that there's some huge North Dakota cycling event going on with a cast of hundreds, that had taken over the restaurant earlier that morning. Too bad, maybe I could have found someone's wheel to hang onto.
Fortified by a great meal, I decide to make a run for an Army Corps campground on the river/lake about 10 miles distant. Much of this run was into a direct headwind, but it was worth it. The campground is right on the water, I've been swimming, and the radio is predicting north winds after midnight, and on into the middle of next week. Life is good.