Day 17: If Not Now, When?

Today: 120.74 miles Total: 965.9  miles                              9.21.10

I love a solid thumbs up from a window.  I have only received 2 or 3 so far.  1 of those came today, and it was an extra encouraging one.

Day 17, Rainy Day #14 or 15.

Last night was so windy that I was kept awake.  I think my sleeplessness may have been caused by anticipation and curiosity–inquisitive as to the direction and strength of the gusts, as both are vague from within the damp walls of my yellow tent.

After breakfast, I was on fixienot (my bike) at 8:07am.  I was dying to mash (ride hard) and I didnt stop once until I arrived in Carrington, ND, over 50 miles later.  I averaged a ridiculously fast 17mph for those 50 miles, which is unbelievable for me, especially with my 120lb. bike.  Tailwinds, finally.

Near Carrington were some 10 to 20 semi/RV/tractor/big trailer caravans.  I think a farm may have been relocating, because there was a LOT of equipment passing me.  For the most part, though, everyone was nice and safe near me.  It isn’t uncommon for me to ride in the middle of the 2-lane road, backing up traffic for a long way, when I know they shouldn’t be passing.  Claim your lane. They don’t mind, either.  I looked for stove fuel at 2 places without success.

Grossed out? Try biking next to them all day every day at 8mph across the entire country while breathing heavily through your nose.

At the grocery store’s bakery, I asked a lady behind the counter if they had any day-old bread.  I don’t like knowing that food goes to waste in these small towns (or anywhere else), and if I can save a bit of money while keeping food from being throw out, I do.  A minute after telling me they didn’t have any, the middle-aged lady ran to find me, nervously whispering, “You know, there is a place in town, one of those non-profits….they have lots of food…and it isn’t too expensive….it’s right on main street…you know, if that’s the kind of place you’re looking for.  It’s called ‘Daily Bread’ and I’ve heard they’re really nice folks there…” I responded receptively, not quite realizing that she was pointing me to a food kitchen/homeless shelter.  She ran back a minute later to find me, apologizing, “Sorry hun, but I just asked, and they’re actually closed most days, including today…I really wish we had something to offer you…”

I’m not homeless! This yellow jersey cost me $40!  I have a solar charger to charge my 16gb iPod! But it was, indeed, a nice gesture.  And if I had been adequately needy, her offer was well-presented and well-intended.

…and to think I actually shaved (occasionally) this summer, to avoid the mistaken identity I often received last summer:

Summer '09.


Summer '10.

Stalwart in my attempt at a dignified self-portrayal, I purchased myself some bourgeois delicacies, paid for it with a debit card, “accidentally” dropped my credit card and cash on the counter, and walked out, stomping my $120 bike shoes (which I purchased on sale for $9).

…sadly, though, where I was walking was just outside, to a rainy and windy chill, and nothing but my proletarian lifestyle.  I didn’t even have anywhere to go, so I sat on a bench between the grocery store’s two main entrances, hunched over and scarfing day-old muffins I had found in the corner of the store, cutting them with a Swiss Army Knife, and drinking from my Camelbak.  Even the cart-fetcher, who was at least 95-years-old, made it clear how pathetic he thought I appeared.  I was still dripping wet from the shower I had taken in the sink of the grocery store’s restroom before leaving the store.

The moral of the story?  I guess I can’t blame the lady too much.

It was 47 miles to Cooperstown, and with the only wind being an occasional tailwind, it would take nothing but the purest form of transportation to get there.  I slowed my average to 15.4mph, and I arrived to another town at 101 miles.  The first 100 mile day of my life.

first century ride of my life.

It was only 3:30pm, and the town didn’t have the camping fuel I needed.  Nice ladies working in a department store used all sorts of old-fashion research techniques (i.e. “phone books”) to eventually tell me that the Findley, ND grocery store closes at 6pm.  So, back on my bike I hopped, and charged through a series of big, unmemorable hills.  I hit a ridiculous sidewind for a while, but it barely slowed me down.  I had 2 days of energy stored in my body, and I was making today the biggest one yet.  (Little did I know it’d possible be the longest of the trip).

Tired? yeah, tired.

The last 5 miles before Findley, when I was starting to get pretty dang tired, highway 200 turned due North and I was faced with straight 15-25mph headwinds.  This was the last thing I wanted.  Instead of stopping after 115 miles because of a few miles of strong headwinds, though, I turned my iPod up, shifted gears, noticed the time, and rode. In order to arrive before the grocery store closed, I was checking the time every minute.  It was going to be a close call.

Tired, with only 5 minutes remaining until 6pm, the “Findley, North Dakota” sign came into view.  I arrived at the grocery store, luckily without any difficulties in navigation, breathless and tired 4 minutes before it closed.  I bought burrito ingredients and found a small park 2 blocks away, complete with a pavilion beside a crowded playground.

I should really stretch.  That’s actually probably a good idea, because I should also probably wait for the town’s children to leave before pathetically erecting my tent, changing into the only change of clothes I have, bundling up like it’s 5 degrees, and cooking my hobo food within sight of their playground.  Yeah, I’ll stretch a bit.

I talked to mom, and while she was really proud of my long day, she was bummed because Scratch (one of our dogs) has to get another (#3) ACL surgery 😦

I also spoke with Uncle Ron, and it’s definite that they’re coming THIS WEEK!  Chelsea gets home from Seattle on Thursday and they leave on Saturday, with Aunt Nettie as Official Chef!  I’m stoked.  They don’t expect to meet up until Sunday.  They’re all so excited, it’s great.

I’ll set my tent up and rest….120 miles was a long, long way.  🙂

"Sorry kids, no candy."


About @brodyleven

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2 Responses to Day 17: If Not Now, When?

  1. Bonnie says:

    I like reading your blog.,very intresting.I imagine you met all kind of people.
    I bet you was glad to see aunt Nettie with some real food ha.

  2. brodyleven says:

    I’m so glad you like it. I met people every day–usually from asking where the grocery store is, or if they knew a place to camp. Everyone always wanted to know the story of what the heck I was doing, and I pretty much always had the same answer: “Well, I’m riding my bike.”
    I was definitely SO glad to see her. I can’t wait to share how glorious REAL FOOD was.

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