Day 28 – June 28th – Bismarck, ND to Jamestown, ND – 104 miles

I started the day off right with breakfast at Denny’s, about 10 blocks from where I stayed the night. My eyes remained fixed on Rambow while I ate inside the busy establishment. After the great breakfast, when paying at the cash register, I was surprised when I heard the hostess processing the payment make the remark “Oh! You donate too?”

“Yes I do!” Remembering that there is a Biolife Plasma donation center in Bismarck after she looked at my Biolife debit card, I put the pieces together. We talked briefly, including why I was wearing a cycling jersey, before I departed. The conversation, though brief, added another element reminding me of the decreasing distance to home.
Hwy. 10 paved the way for a wonderfully peaceful morning ride in rural North Dakota. This route, once again suggested by locals, not only offered a better view of nature’s beauty, but it also featured the low traffic volume I had forgotten after the last few hundred miles on interstate highways.

Backroads are the best way to tour (as long as the shoulder is decent). I would have missed all of these trees on the interstate:

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As the day progressed, crosswinds became a huge factor. By the time I stopped in Steele at a gas station to purchase overpriced gas station food, the wind was blowing a solid 25 to 30 mph at an almost perpendicular direction to me. It was still slightly at my back, but more of a crosswind nonetheless.

While sitting on a chair at table outside the gas station eating the food I overpaid for, a guy walked out of the gas station with a student council shirt on. Given my passion for this student group in high school (a member of the high school council for 3 years, attending 3 state conventions and 2 national conferences, and being elected president of our state association), I couldn’t let him just walk by without asking.
I stopped him and asked about his involvement. He turned out to be a senior at the local high school. Pressing farther, I asked him if he had attended any national conferences, only to be shocked when he said he was in St. Louis in 2011 at the STAR conference, the same one I was at with a delegation from MN. Here is a montage video of the conference: http://www.schooltube.com/video/cd630a66fdfa60a2da24/2011%20Star%20Leaders%20National%20Conference.

I continued on after a short rest break at the gas station.

The ride to Jamestown proved to be peaceful:

The stiff crosswind shown by the flag here at the rest area.

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This area flooded with water looked Like a few locations along the route today.

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Birds make their homes in these trees, probably knowing they won’t need to deal with as many carnivores or pestering squirrels.

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In Jamestown, I met up with the guy my hosts from last night put me in contact with.

The Pizza Ranch, located just blocks from where I was starting the night, offered a wonderful dinner for me after a windswept day on my bike.

Day 27 – June 27th – Richardton, ND to Bismarck, ND – 80 miles

My hosts provided food for breakfast and some to bring along with me, of which I was very grateful.

The first stop of the day was a few blocks away at the Assumption Abbey church. When riding to Richardton yesterday, the twin spires were visible from miles away. Up close they did not fail to impress:

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Some pictures of inside the church:

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I visited with one of the monks there. He explained the history of the Richardton area and the monastery there. As it turns out, during the Great Depression, the monastery here closed. Later on, the pope ordered some monks to go to Richardton to start the monastery back up again. And, to do that, he sent monks from none other than St. John’s Abbey, just a stone’s throw from my backyard back home.

Very interesting.

From Richardton I continued east across the expansive, monotonous territory I have come to know as North Dakota. Early afternoon gave sighting of the largest holstein cow in the world, Salem Sue.

I ate at the café next to the motel. It proved to be great food. As I was eating, the waitress starting talking about another biker who came through a couple weeks prior. He was going from New York to Oregon. I took a shot in the dark and asked if his name was Stephen. Strikingly enough, they nodded in disbelief as I explained to them that he stayed at my place overnight in Minnesota.
After the conversation of disbelief, I snapped a picture of Salem Sue from my booth and took off:

My destination for today would be the capital, Bismarck. I contacted Broken Spoke bike shop from my list of places to stay there, and they agreed.

I made it to Mandan (bordering the west side of Bismarck) in the late afternoon. This picture was taken at a wayside overlook of Mandan/Bismarck:

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After getting a quick bite to eat, the time arrived to bike through the heaviest traffic North Dakota had to offer and find Broken Spoke. Broken Spoke bike shop, located in a residential area of Bismarck, is run out of a garage by a son and his family as a hobby and a business. Interestingly, and thankfully for me, they also host cyclists in a camper they have right next to the shop. Many of the cyclists they host need bike work done when they stay; I was no different.

Back in Sandpoint, ID, and again in Livingston, MT, I checked the chain stretch of my chain to find that it would need to be replaced right around the eastern Montana to western North Dakota area. If one doesn’t replace their chain, the cogs on the cassette of the bicycle start to wear down and causes problems when trying to shift gears, resulting in a much more serious problem when out on the road, and an expensive fix.

Broken Spoke put a new chain on for me at a very reasonable price. After taking a shower, placing my things in the camper trailer, and paying for the chain, this wonderful family lit up the charcoal and proceeded to grill burgers, of which I was fully welcome to. I joined them for a grillout in what seemed like a backyard back in Minnesota. It really started to feel like I am closer to home today.

After the delicious burgers and watermelon, I headed back to the camper, wrote in the cyclist log book for Broken Spoke guests, and prepared for bed, ready for another long day tomorrow.