Wow. I’m in Fargo! Actually, as I write this I’m back in Minnesota, since my host lives on this side of the boarder. But yesterday I definitely pedaled past a sign that read “North Dakota”. And just 3 days after leaving Minneapolis.
When I set out from New York City, I knew I wanted to ride out alone, to set off alone and make it my own journey. I was hoping though for some happy faces along the way, keen and spontaneous enough to join me on my rambles for a few days, maybe a week, at a time. So far I couldn’t have been luckier – I easily persuaded Jon in Albany to ride a few days… though he had never toured before he powered up hills and rode 60miles a day in some of the hardest terrain I’ve come across yet.
Then I bumped into other cyclists, first Jon the Quaker, then Leon the Irishmen… and both gave me a lot to ride for. It was solo again then for a little while, except Allen for a day in Wisconsin, and Paul for another, in Minnesota. It has really kept my spirits up, not only providing good company, but some serious inspiration in lots of different areas.
In Minneapolis I was at a cross-roads. I didn’t know whether I had the energy to pedal the rest, and seriously considered giving up on the ‘coast to coast’, hitching the in-betweens. Meeting Oak was the perfect motivator. He had bought a bike and was ready to roll on, back home, to Alberta Canada. We clicked straight away and I knew it would be fun riding. He was also brand new to touring though, and I wondered how many miles we could put in a day. I remembered back to my first few pedal strokes, fully loaded, when I only made it 30kms, let alone 30miles. Appreciating the slow life though, I resigned myself to it, and let it flow.
It took us 3 days to ride 250miles. With a heavy rickety trailer, a pretty squeaky bike, and new pedaling legs, Oak cycled 80 miles the first day, then another 80, then a whopping 90 miles on the third. I’ve never ridden 90 miles in a day before! It was hugely exhilarating and so rewarding – and though it definitely tired us out, it certainly didn’t break us – and for that I’m proud 🙂
We road down “Old highway 52” and once the rolling hills flattened out, we hit the prairies I had been imagining. Yesterday a still day, no wind (!!), empty roads and dilapidated train-tracks and rail-towns the only respite from the monotonous landscape.
In New York State people would often say to me “wow, you rode all the way from there!?” even if ‘there’ was only 5 miles away. Now, when towns are few and far between, a woman told me “Oh, it’s really just down the road, just down there”… this time ‘there’ was 10miles away. Perspectives have changed with the terrain, but I continue to find inspiration in the people… pedal-powering me on.