Friday, June 29, 2012

This isn't England...

Fri. June 29th - One thing that was certain about today was the heat. I mean, when Mac and I walked out of the hotel at 9:00 AM to begin riding it was 90 degrees. We knew that we were in for a scalding day. We then proceeded riding under an already hot sun out of St. Cloud on a makeshift route that Neal put together the night before. Although it was a highly confusing route, it would ensure that we would bike to Minneapolis with the greatest ease. I honestly don't remember much about the first 20 miles because it was really terrible and I tried my best to zone out; we were all feeling the same way - after all we rode 110 miles the day before. We decided when we reached the town of Monticello that we needed to get a cold drink from a local convenience store. It was a great choice, as I got the most delicious Starbucks double shot, and I drank the shot as quickly as I could. With ginseng, B vitamins, and caffeine charging through our vessels we were able to overcome the next 20 miles much easier than the first. We decided that at mile 40 that we would get another quick drink, because it was already 95 degrees out. The most interesting part of our day occurred at this point. Mac, Ty, and I were preparing to turn left into a parking lot on a busy road, when all of a sudden, an old man driving a black Cadillac drove straight through his left hand turn lane, went into our lane, which had an obvious lane divider separating our lane and the lane adjacent to ours, glared at us as he drove by, and narrowly missed hitting two cars as he continued on his way on the opposite side of the road he was supposed to be driving on. Naturally our reaction was that of absolute shock at first and then laughter as Mac and I couldn't help but crack up at the ridiculousness of the situation. After we bought another Starbucks double shot, we continued on our way into the outskirts of Minneapolis. Minneapolis is by far my favorite city we have visited so far. The city has bike paths EVERYWHERE. There is literally no street without a bike path adjacent to it. On top of that, Minneapolis has a TON of trees, has a TON of lakes, and really friendly people with funny Minnesota accents. We rode 20 miles in Minneapolis mostly on bike paths with our guide John McAfee, who lives in St. Paul. He was excellent as we got through the city with no mishaps. Mac, Ty, and I finally arrived at our hosts house, the brother-in-law of the Quality Bike Parts Owner, at 7:00 after 90 exhausting miles of riding.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Big Ole' Birthplace of America

June 27th - Mac finally got his fork replaced today earlier than expected, at about 12:00 rather than 2:00. However, due to our usual slowness in doing pretty much everything that doesn't require pedaling, we were out of Fargo at about 1:45. I don't remember much about this day other than it was soooooo much more humid than I was used to. While a person from the Deep South would've felt at home in this blanket of humidity, I felt like I was suffocating on the moisture in the air. Luckily it was only 85 degrees out, and the sun wasn't out, so the humidity wasn't quite as bad as it could have been. To be honest, I don't remember much from this day because I zoned out for pretty much the entire ride. The only things I remember is this: in Minnesota the towns became more frequent and larger - about one town per 8 miles. The other thing I remember is that the landscape became more varied with much more trees, hills, and lakes (after all it is the "Land of 10,000 Lakes"). Overall, the 67 miles we rode passed quickly, and we arrived in camp at 6:00 - not too shabby for leaving so late. Oh, the other thing I remember is that the mosquitoes are bad in Minnesota - really bad. I was swarmed with the vermin from the instant I entered camp to when I went to sleep. Luckily, Mac and I were able to keep the mosquitoes out of our tent.

June 28th - Swan Lake Campground-St.Cloud
We got out of camp by 8:15 this mourning, which is a new record for us. We had to in order to tackle out 109 mile day though.... We started off the mourning getting to a bike path that was a half mile into a gravel road. Once we got onto the bike path however, it was smooth sailing for 90+ miles (that's right! 90 miles of bike path!) The wind was at our backs and we only stopped three times the whole day. There were a lot of lakes in the beginning of the day but almost none as the day progressed We stopped to eat at a town called Alexandria, and, on our way out we saw a giant viking with "Alexandria: Birthplace of America" written on his shield, we just laughed and took some pictures. His name was Big Ole' and he was built in 1964. Tomorrow we will be in Minneapolis and will be meeting up with the Jettride, it has come so fast I can't believe it. We would like to thank Lorelei Anderson and her family (again) for getting us an awesome hotel room! It was super nice of them!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It has been a while...

Hello all!
Again, we apologize for not posting in a long time, it has been hard to get internet...

June 20th: Medora to Hebron
We started off this mourning early, we went into the cool tourist town of Medora to get new tires at the bike shop, Drew and Neal really needed them. The lady who owned the shop was super nice, especially when we cleaned her out of tires, and when we told her that we thought she had the only legitimate, non-touristy shop in town, she replied "I know, right?". The shop was called Dakota Cyclery and it was a cool little place. Next, we went to the coffee shop to get breakfast, the owner inside was also very nice and gave us our breakfast on the house. We started off by going on the interstate for a couple miles then turning onto an awesome frontage road where we encountered only one or two cars. When we went through Dickinson, however, we were not-so-pleasantly surprised. The town was overcrowded and filled with semi-trucks and traffic, no doubt due to the oil boom in the northern part of the state, and, boy are we glad we didn't go up there! We B-lined through the "town" and quickly got back onto the frontage road. We stopped to have pizza in a tiny town called Taylor. We then set off for the last 20 miles into Hebron. Hebron was anawesome little town with the train tracks bisecting it. We stayed in the city park next to  the pool (which gave us a deal, $1 each for swimming), it was a good day.

June 21st: Hebron-Bismark
We rolled out of camp fairly early and continued on the nice frontage road that would lead us all the way to Bismark.  It was sunny and hot all day and we were cruising pretty fast. We stopped to eat in New Salem, home of the worlds largest cow statue named New Salem Sue. She is 38 feet tall and 50 feet long and was constructed in 1974. The last 20-25 miles went pretty quick, but we had rolling hills all the way up until a final decent into Bismark. We stopped by a Scheels in town to get Neal some Jetboil fuel then headed off to our host family. We stayed with Lorelei Anderson and her family, they gave us a tour of Bismark as well as taking us out for some scrumptious frozen yogurt! I would really like to thank them for helping us out so much, in fact, they are still helping us find places to stay along the way!

June 22nd: Bismark-Napoleon
A front moved in overnight, so, wee had a brutal headwind while climbing out of Bismark. It was also super hot. This was the first headwind we have had this whole trip, and we were struggling all day. I didn't see anything too great on the road because I was too busy tucking in behind Drew and Neal, I am so light that the wind just blows me back! We finally made it into Napoleon around 6pm after echeleoning across the length of the empty road. It would have been quite a sight, coming across four bikers in a diagonal line taking up and entire lane. Lorelei and her parents got us in touch with Tony Braun, who wee would like to thank for helping us get a place to stay. We ate at a local bar where we had some laughs because our waitress was a little....uhhhhh.....frazzled? Eccentric? Impatient maybe? Tony and his family came and talked to us for a while, it was a lot of fun. The next mourning, we met Tony for breakfast where we talked to some other locals. We decided that Napoleon has some of the nicest people in America.

June 23rd: Napoleon-Little Yellowstone
We set of in the mourning ready for a near century, and we still had a headwind... The only place to stop between Napoleon and the Little Yellowstone Campground was a town called Gackle.  We stopped at the tasty freeze and got some ice cream and drinks and started to make some sandwiches. I would just like to say, we have been happy with North Dakota, mainly because the people here are so incredibly nice, but there was one woman, in the Tasty Freeze, who was the ONLY unfriendly person we have met in this state. She was getting annoyed with us for no reason! we left Gackle with two gallons of water (there were no services on the road for 40+ miles and we were sucking up water like crazy). After battling the headwind for a while, we finally came across an awesome convenience store where we got some ice cream and more water (there was none at the campground). We road six more miles and were finally at the Little Yellowstone Campground. When we pulled in, there was a birthday party going on for 5 year old Levi, they invited us over to their site for ice cream, cake, lemonade, and dinner. It was a ton of fun and we are extremely grateful.

June 24th: Little Yellowstone-Fargo
We climbed out of the campground into a strong headwind, then it became extremely flat, this was the North Dakota we were warned about. We came into a town called Enderlin and got some groceries for the day and headed out. We were on the same road for 50 miles and it was flat as a pancake and straight as an arrow. We all cheered with joy when we made a left turn onto a new road. We ate lunch at a town called Kindred then continued on our way. The road zig-zaged into Fargo and we came FROM THE SOUTH into town (we are all still very disoriented about the directions we are going because the ACA maps never seem to have north going up, but we love them anyway...). We stayed with the Conrads and got ready for our rest day.

June 25-26: Fargo-Fargo
Yesterday, we biked around town for a little while before deciding to see the new Pixar movie. On our way to the theater, I ran into a parked car and completely bent my fork, so we have to take an unexpected rest day here. I am fine though! I actually landed on my feet, though I don't know how... We still went to the movie, and it was good! Today, we are just laying low and blogging...obviously.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Big Open

Hello, Mac and I haven't blogged for a while because we've been camping every night since we last blogged.
June 13th - Mac, Ty, and I decided unanimously to take a refreshing rest day at Mac's grandparent's ranch in Highwood, MT. We awoke that morning to a great mixture of aromas coming from the kitchen. It turned out that morning Mac's grandpa, Miles, decided to cook us a ranchers breakfast of eggs, pancakes, and hash browns. Immediately afterward, we set out on one of the few great hidden sites to see in Highwood - Lost Lake. Lost Lake is a neat lake that sits 300 ft. below the observer at the bottom of ancient waterfalls created by the old Missouri River. It has an array of rock formations that we climbed about all morning with many hidden, and dangerous, crevices scattered between these rock formations. It is a little known place among even the locals and you should check it out if you get the chance (that is, if you ever should pass through Highwood). Our group also payed a visit to the Gossick cabin, which overlooks the small town of Highwood from the foothills of the Highwood Mountains. It had a great view of many cows, green grass, and land as far as the eye could see. After this, we all took turns doing our own thing: some of us napped, some watched TV, and others jumped on a trampoline. It was a refreshing day that we needed in order to face the high plains of Eastern Montana.
June 14th - After our day off, it was time to hit the road again. We packed swiftly, said our goodbyes, and were off. Immediately after leaving Highwood, we came to one of the most interesting parts of our journey - the road was littered with horses walking all over it. Although we had to swerve all over the road to miss horses, cars, and horse dung, we made it through that part safely. We then proceeded to ride to Fort Benton, a cool old western town with several monuments to notable people such as: Lewis & Clark, the dog Shep, and to the boat the Mandan. We then rode through flat sections with plains, followed by hilly sections of badlands - making for an interesting ride. We also hit 1000 miles so far for our journey, somewhere between the notable towns of Geraldine and Square Butte! When we got about 15 miles outside our destination Denton, I noticed a peculiar sight, hives for honeybees on the side of the highway. We were instantly surrounded by dozens of honeybees, and I'll tell you, I rode as fast as my legs would pedal out of there! The day turned out to be a long one at 90 miles total for the day.
June 15th - It is amazing that biking long distances can become a routine part of your day, even if you do it everyday. We biked 93 miles that day, and yet it felt like nothing. I guess it just means that we are becoming stronger bikers. We saw our last mountain range today when we hit the Judith Mountains just outside of Lewistown. I should mention before going any further, that I would like to thank Little Big Man Pizza - located in Lewistown, MT -  for providing a free lunch to a few hungry bikers, it was very generous of them to do provide that service! After stuffing ourselves full of pizza in Lewistown, we were a little queasy on the 8  mile climb over the Judith Mountains, but it was worth it as we cruised the remainder of our journey straight down the mountains and into Winnett.
June 16th - We have finally reached what we like to call the "Big Open", meaning that we have reached the flat, dry plains of Eastern Montana. It was fairly monotonous that day as we had rolling hills combined with an increasing amount of heat. There really isn't much to say as we went from one small town to another with a 75 mile distance in between.
June 17th - We awoke in Jordan to a small amount of rain that quickly dissipated as the powerful summer sun opened up the skies. We went out for breakfast that morning in celebration of Fathers Day. After a hearty meal we set out on the highway with a brisk tailwind pushing us along. This isn't to say it was easy, as we literally had nonstop rolling hills the entire day. However, the hills were a lot of fun, as we would get up to 40 miles per hour going down in order to get enough momentum to push the uphill. We were dreading this ride before as we had heard it was difficult, but this was actually an enjoyable day. The only bad part of the day occurred the last 10 miles into Circle when we had a brutal side wind that almost knocked me off the highway several times.
June 18th - Today was a fun, but somewhat sad day. It was Mac's Dad, Tom Sullivan, last day riding with us; as he was set to finish out his 1,000 mile stretch of the journey in Glendive, MT. The day was relatively short as we only rode 50 miles from Circle to Glendive. Tom was feeling a little frisky that day because he decided in the middle of a few mile climb to race me from a mile out to the top. The only problem was, I thought the climb would be a half mile at the most, and rode right past Tom at 20 miles an hour going uphill. We eventually pushed each other to the top, despite the longer than originally thought distance, and decided it was a tie. Although I had never intended to feel that much pain that day, it was the most enjoyable moment of the day for me. After this climb we rode a relatively easy last 30 miles into the city of Glendive. Although we got there early, we spend several hours searching for a reasonable place to stay. It was hard to find a place due to the oil work that sprung up in ND and gradually worked its way into Glendive. We decided on the Makoshika State park, a beautiful park full of badlands. The hardest part of the day came last, when we had to say goodbye to Tom. It was really fun riding with him and I wish he could've ridden a little further.
June 19th - We awoke today to a shower that had soaked our campsite. Luckily, when it was time to take down camp the showers had ceased and we were able to do it painlessly. We set out on the road to what I thought would be the boring and horrible state of North Dakota - it was my first time being there so I was just going off what I heard. It was surprisingly beautiful - at least in the Western half of the state. We rode mostly on frontage roads next to lush green farmlands; and then next to rolling hills of fantastic badlands. We ended up in Medora, ND for a total of 65 miles today. It is worth mentioning that Medora is one of the best towns we have visited so far. It is a place that is set up as an old west town, and it was essentially built for tourists. This concludes the rest of our days through Montana, and we only have 10 days until we hook up with the Jett Ride. I'm getting pumped to finally have all my stuff carried for me!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sunroof Peace-Sign Wave!

Hello all!
Today we rode from our campsite along the Missouri River to Great Falls, then from Great Falls we rode to Highwood Montana. We started of the mourning by seeing an awesome article by Michael Beall in the Great Falls Tribune! For the first thirty-or-so miles into Great Falls, we were riding along a frontage road that paralleled the freeway, and, even with the cars buzzing by it was a gorgeous ride. By the time we got into town, it was probably 80 degrees outside, we stopped at Scheels to pick up some camping/biking supplies then went to see my aunt Lisa at her office. Before leaving town, we ate some Subway and continued the last 30 miles into Highwood. Highwood is a small town between Great Falls and Fort Benton where my mom was raised, my grandparents and two of my aunts lived here, so, of course we have to stay. They had a small party waiting for us when we got to 'The Ranch' (the ranch/farm where my grandparents live) and it was a lot of fun. I think we will take a rest day tomorrow... :)

P.S.- If you are wondering about the title of this post; a lady who was driving her car went past us going the opposite direction we were waved to us... in a way... Except, instead of waving, she shot us a peace sign out of her sunroof...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Eat, Sleep, Ride, The Great Divide

Today, we got an early start, the earliest of the trip! We got out of the motel at 8:45am and started the ride up Rodger's Pass (elev.: 5,610). Last night, at the Lincoln grocery store, Drew and my dad bumped into a Lincoln High School graduate named Ryan Thompson who asked if he could ride up the pass with us, and of course they said yes. Drew actually knows him through cross country and track and he has been following us on our Facebook page. It was great having him along with us, and it was a pretty gradual ascent up the pass where we crossed the continental divide, it's all a (net) downhill from here! The descent down the pass was a lot of fun and when we got to the bottom, the wind was at our backs. We turned off the highway onto an 18 mile road to Wolf Creek, it was beautiful and was all rolling hills, one of the highlights of the trip so far. It really started to heat up from there, it actually got really hot, which was great in comparison to yesterday. When we got to Wolf Creek, we followed an old, amazing highway along the Missouri River through a magnificent canyon. It really was one of the best rides of the trip... so far.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bye Bye Missoula!

Today, we continued on our journey and our destination was Lincoln, MT. I don't think our home town (Missoula) wanted us to leave this mourning because it poured rain and was freezing cold for the first 20 miles of our ride, it was terrible. We stopped in Potomac and had a few (at least 4 each) cups of hot chocolate, then we changed into warmer, dryer clothes and headed on our way. After biking the next 20 miles to Clearwater Junction, Drew's Parents had set up a full on BBQ for us, complete with hotdogs, hamburgers, and cookies. When we got there we found out that someone had reserved a hotel for us in Lincoln, so, we would like to give a special thanks to the Cooks for getting us a room! The last 40 miles were uneventful but beautiful as we climbed to Lincoln.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Bad, The Good, The Birthday, & The Days At Home

Hello Everybody!
As you probably know, it has been a few days since our last blog update, so, here is what we have been up to:
The Bad (6/5)-
After we got to Lewiston, ID, we had a 72 mile ride to Kamiah (come to find out it was actually 87 miles...). There were two choices of routes to take, one was flat but was on a busy highway and the other was almost completely uphill but was more scenic and less busy. Can you guess which route we took? That's right! The hilly one. When we started, it was raining, and it did NOT stop once throughout the day and by the time we got to the top of the biggest climb we had to stop and wait for a few minutes, so, we froze. As we biked the remaining 8 miles into the nearest town (Winchester), while my teeth chattered, I sang the traditional 'just keep swimming' song from Finding Nemo except substituting 'peddling' for 'swimming: "Just keep peddling, just keep peddling...." Finally we make it to the small town of Winchester, we stopped at their gas station for about an hour fueling up and putting on more clothes. We finally left hoping for some downhill only to find steep uphills followed by gradual downhills. Long story short, we rolled into Kamiah on a massive downhill (finally) at 10:00 pm when it was dark outside. This was not safe and it will NOT happen again, and lets just say we stayed in a hotel that night.
The Good (6/6)-
The next day, my dad, Drew, and I met back up with Neal and decided to ride 56 miles to a campground along the Clearwater and the Lochsa River (Ty was picked up in Kamiah and brought to Missoula because his knee was hurting badly). It ended up being a beautiful day, and it didn't rain at all. The ride was beautiful as the road twists and turns with the shape of the rushing water. We got into camp early that night, made a fire, and ate some exquisite spaghetti. It was Neal's first time camping as well, and, he wont admit it, but I think he enjoyed it.
The Birthday (6/7)-
I was born June 7th, 1995, so I celebrated my birthday on the winding road next to the Lochsa River. We only had to ride 40 miles, so it was nice and easy. We stayed in a small cabin at the Lochsa Lodge near the Powell Fire Station, cabin number 11 (because my family stays in  it every New Year) and Neal stayed with us. My brother works at Powell so he was able to celebrate my birthday with us, plus, my mom and Ty drove over from Missoula. We spent the evening talking to my brother's coworkers, eating some burgers, and playing some pool. It was one of the best birthdays I have ever had.
The Days in Missoula-
The next day, we woke up and ate breakfast in the Lodge and started to ride to our home. The only thing that stood in our way was Lolo Pass. I took my time going up, and actually enjoyed it (unlike some people *cough cough* Dad and Drew *cough*...) At the top we had a few cups of hot coco in the visitors center where we met up with Laurie Stalling (Cory's Aunt). We all started the decent into Lolo, and at this point we were officially in Montana.  By the time we got into Missoula, it was pouring but we didn't care, we were home. Cory rode with us on his new buddy bike and Arlen rode with us as well. We went to Bonner Park for a photo shoot and and interview with the Missoulian, and they did a great job with the article. We had a party/fundraiser at the Draught Works Brewery, it was really fun and the band was great! We ended up raising over $800!
Today was our day off in Missoula, and it was really good to be home. I got to rest, go to the Farmer's Market, go to Big Dipper, and hang out with friends. It was a great day and I didn't want it to come to an end, but there is work to be done, miles to ride, and great experiences to be had and I can't wait to share them with all of you. We are going to stay strong, we still have two months to go! Next stop; Lincoln Montana!

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Recap and A Century

Sorry that we haven't updated the blog recently, we have been without wifi for the past few days so I apologize for those of you who look forward to reading about our adventures. So I will recap the few days that we missed and give an expansion on the day we had today. So essentially the day after our last blog post we rode the rest of the scenic gorge route. We rode up to Rowena Crest and back down a windy road for a 75 mile day, I believe. Apparently car commercials are filmed on the road descending from Rowena Crest, an interesting fact that speaks to its beauty. We then proceeded the next day to ride from Maryhill State Park to McNary, Oregon. It was a 90 mile day that took a short amount of time. That same day we met a guy named Niel who is also riding cross country, and we hope to ride with him for much longer than that day. The next day we proceeded from McNary to Walla Walla, which was only 45 miles. We originally intended to ride past Walla Walla but disaster struck when Ty's back derailleur broke completely free from his bike, which I have never seen before. We would've been camping out in the woods had it not been for a very nice guy named Tony, who offered to let us stay in his barn for the night. We took up his offer and we stayed the night in his barn. Because none of the bike shops had the proper derailleur for Ty's bike, we had to stay the day in Walla Walla - possibly putting in danger the time we were supposed to make it to Missoula to have our party. No worries, we will make it on time; we just have to ride a little further each day. Our rest day in Walla Walla was refreshing to say the least. Walla Walla is a nice college town with many shops that we went to and explored. That morning we went to a delicious breakfast diner called Clairettes where we ordered the most food I've had the entire bike trip. After that fantastic breakfast, we visited the local farmers marked where we bought some fresh and juicy strawberries. We rented a few movies for the night and watched them until we fell asleep. The next day it was back to the grind. Mac and I packed up early in the morning intending to ride without Ty due to his broken bike. Mac and I proceeded out of Walla Walla to brutal climbs the entire day until the last 20 miles of blissful downhill. On top of that it rained the last 40 miles with a hard downpour, with continued storm warnings here throughout the night. We did however, receive some good news that day. Ty bought an entirely new bike due to the frustrating and non-fixable nature of the old bike. The owner of the bike shop who attempted to fix his old bike gave Ty a 10% discount on his new bike - a fantastic deal. We soon met Ty on the road after about 60 miles of riding when Tony, the guy we stayed with in Walla Walla, gave him a ride out to our location. After all of the misfortune and bad luck the past few days has brought us with the rain, the bike, and the tough ride, our total distance for the day came out to be 100 miles - our first and possibly only century of our entire trip. Hopefully after all of our misfortune some good luck will finally come our way.