Day 18: 1000 Mile Day

Today: 61.36 miles                         Total: 1027.4  miles                              9.22.10

I partially expected it–although I really didn’t want it to come true.  Unfortunately it did come, though, in the form of a nice old man outside the grocery store in Halsted.

“…So, you really ride 1000 miles a day?”

………….come on, man…………  So much for “wise old man.”

I don’t even remember what town I was in last night.  I slept under a pavilion and woke up to a real pretty sunrise.  I packed quickly and had some cereal for breakfast.  I read while I ate a small bag of cereal with soy milk powder mixed with lukewarm water.  It’s pretty standard for me to read while I eat now.

I was on my bike at 8:07am, again.  I filled water somewhere (ed note: I was carrying a 70oz Camelbak, three 20+oz water bottles, and a 40oz Nalgene at all times) and rolled out of town into the typical and miserable headwind.  It’s like a constant uphill battle, even when I’m trying to coast down small hills.

North Dakota: Invigorating the Senses

Although only 20-something miles away, Mayville State University took forever to reach due to strengthening headwinds.  So much for the “prevailing winds” that common folklore holds; the wind pretty much always comes from the North or East, in my experiences.

Oh, and, as always, it rained.

A lot of construction was happening on the Mayville State campus–just like every other campus.  It’s just this little university in the middle of NOwhere, and it’s a full-blown college.  I can’t help but have an affinity for college and college campuses, and was quick to make myself at home in the library, catching up on emails, phone calls, and iPod and phone charging.  My friends’ ski movie is premiering tonight in Salt Lake City and I wish I could be there to support it.

I ate PB&J’s outside, beside my bike, while getting GRILLED at by some lady in another building.  In fact, she was staring so hard that, if they had campus patrol, I was expecting them to take me away in armored vehicles at any second.  But, luckily, I was able to slyly escape (since I had done such irreversible harm to the campus and its students by making a PB&J sandwich outside) without the po-digs giving me grief.

When route 200 turned south along the border [of Minnesota], it may have been the worst riding yet.  The road became a frontage road for the main highway and the riding conditions were absolutely atrocious.  It smelled rancid due to the enormous sugar beet factories that line the broken-asphalt road.  It was a solid stream of semi-trucks passing me, dropping a constant barrage of sugar beets from their overflowing rigs, 20 feet off the ground.  As they landed around me, the 2-pound sky monsters were landmines littering the road, creating a cyclist’s worst nightmare, of simultaneous passing and oncoming semis on a broken road with no shoulder in an industrial wasteland with fumes so wretched that it was hard to breathe.  An unwieldy semi-truck driver who blew past me, honking his horn incessantly, with about a foot of separating space, as an uncoming semi was not yielding, was the proud recipient of my middle finger’s first elevation.  Mainly, though, I just yelled–which was completely inaudible over the persistent drone of semi-trucks downshifting to accelerate as they brushed my left pannier, passing me without hesitation or consideration of oncoming traffic.

It seemed like forever until I was finally through this stretch of road.  But, eventually it subsided when the road ended at a ‘T’.  And, as soon as it had started, it was over; and it didn’t matter any more that the stretch had been so awful, because I live in the moment, and the moment had passed.

I took a left turn, and was instantly hit with 15-30mph DIRECT headwinds.  It was really, really tough to bike in the conditions with which I was presented, but I didn’t have another choice.  My legs were tired from the headwinds, my butt was sore from sitting on my stupid bike seat so much over the past 2 weeks, my lungs were sore from an hour of breathing sugar beets instead of oxygen, and I was tired.  I averaged 6 or 7mph on perfectly flat roads for a few hours.  It was only 11 miles East to Minnesota on this road, but it was hard and time-consuming.

But, Minnesota finally came.  Or, I should say, I finally came to Minnesota.


My arrival in Minnesota means that North Dakota was the first state that I truly crossed, since I missed a very small portion of NW Montana.  I swear, as soon as I passed that sign, the surroundings became hillier, more colorful, prettier, and less head-windy, and the people became friendlier, skinnier, and more considerate.

I hit 1000 miles today (which I pre-claimed on my sign this morning) and had a full-blown on-bike celebration.  Suddenly, when I’m thinking about how much further I have  to ride, 1000 miles doesn’t seem too far at all.

It was a hard day.  I’m in Halsted, MN in a pavilion.

The view from my tent.

A (public) roof over my head.

My belongings. All of them.

I ate 3 burritos, 1 cheese quesadilla, 1 granola bar, 2 PB&J’s, and I’m still hungry.  I want candy so, so badly.


About @brodyleven

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