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.

Day 26 – June 26 – Glendive, MT to Richardton, ND – 124 miles – Another great century ride

I departed from the campground early, along with some other oil workers.

Rambow continued to roll on despite the worsening rear wheel. Multiple spokes were loose now. At the final Montana rest area, in Wibaux, I discovered that a bike shop existed in Medora, ND, just 34 miles from the rest area.

After the rest area, I saw my final two Pronghorn, and entered a new state:

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Medora really surprised me. After Dakota Cyclery bike shop took care of my bike, I looked around North Dakota‘s biggest tourist trap. This “Old West” town, bordering Theodore Roosevelt National Park, is an interesting stop for anyone passing by on I-94. I took a few pictures here, but didn’t stop for long as my sights were set on Richardton, ND for the night where I had options of a monastery, host family, and camping for the night.

I contacted some hosts in Richardton around 3:00 in the afternoon. They were very willing to host me for the night.

The outlets outside the gas station off the Richardton exit gave me a quick cell phone charge to tell my hosts I’d arrived, and gather info as to the location of their dwelling place.
Passing through town, I spotted other touring cyclists. The couple from France started in Canada and were riding the Trans-America trail to South America. I love meeting other cyclists like this. Everytime I talk to some, I can’t help but think that it will likely be me in another country on my bike at some point in my life.

My hosts, once again, were wonderful. When I arrived, they offered food, a shower, and gave me the extra bedroom in the basement. The hospitality never ends.

The husband of the family and I found ourselves talking late into the evening about or mutual interest of baseball and the baseball card collections we have.

The terrain may be rather boring out here in North Dakota, but the generosity of people and the interesting conversations that happen make up for it.

I was told this evening to check out the Abbey church just a few blocks away in the morning. From experience, I’ve learned to listen to the locals. And, by lack of other things to do or see in this state, I had nothing to lose.