Day 32: The day we made the papes!

Hey guys! We made the paper!

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Anyway, back to the regularly scheduled program.

Day 32, 7/15, Bismarck, ND to Hazelton, ND: 46.6 miles, 1,861 ft elevation gain, 10.6 mph average speed.

Trip totals: 1,689.8 miles (65 mile daily average), 82,335 ft elevation gain, 11.8 mph overall average.

Four days behind schedule.

Last night over pizza, we decided that getting five to six hours of sleep a night and then riding 100+ miles just wasn’t sustainable. Since we were already paying for a motel room, it made sense to make today an easier day. We slept in, ate a bunch of food at the continental breakfast, and took our time packing up the room. We actually contemplated taking a rest day and then riding 100 miles on Thursday, but the wind forecast was full of intimidating headwinds, so we decided to ride 46 miles to Hazelton, ND.

The day was short, but it was anything but easy. The wind was blowing in from the southeast all day, and Hazelton is, you guessed it, southeast of Bismarck.

  
The first eight or so miles of the ride was on a separated bike path that went south of the city. The ride was lovely, aside from the wind. However, we did discover six miles in that I apparently had a slow leak in my patched tube, so we had to make yet another change. I’ve had the rear wheel off of one of our bikes four times in the last three days. Yeesh.

  
There was a giant hill right outside of town, and we rode through upward rolling hills for much of the day. This, after everyone we spoke with described the terrain east of Bismarck to be as flat as a board. I think people in cars just have a different understanding of the word “flat” than people on bikes.

Today we moved away from the I-94 corridor into real rural North Dakota. The only town we passed between Bismarck and Hazelton was Moffit, a tiny town with no services except for a post office.

  
Our route rolled along through farms and ranchland. Once we made it about 15 miles south of Bismarck, there was barely any traffic until we turned south onto highway 83. We struggled through the wind for 13 miles between Moffit and Hazelton, gazing enviously at the cows who were huddled in the leeward side of hills.

   
 Wind notwithstanding, it’s pretty enjoyable to ride on empty country roads. We can ride next to each other and have an actual conversation. You can see passing traffic with plenty of time to move over, and the few cars that did pass us when we had a small or no shoulder gave us plenty of space.

After four and a half hours of hard riding, we made it to Hazelton, or more precisely, to the convenience store at the junction right before Hazelton.

  
I ended up really liking Hazelton. It leapt up my list of favorite small towns through a series of happy surprises.

1) The water tab on the Coke machine at the convenience store gave us seltzer water, which we love and which has been nearly impossible to find for the past few weeks.

2) The convenience store had an impressive array of food options, but we were immediately drawn to the soup of the day: chili. It was delicious, and a steal at $2.50 a bowl. Two bowls each was enough to sate even our bike tour hunger, and $10 for dinner for two ain’t too shabby.

3) Hazelton has a great city park for camping. It’s not free, but it’s cheap ($12), and the park has pavilions, horseshoe courts, and showers. The shower was amazing. It had great pressure out of a huge waterfall showerhead. Setting aside the fact that it was in a dark corner of a dull grey cinderblock building, it might have been one of the nicer showers I’ve ever experienced.

We showered, played a game of horseshoes, and set up our tent underneath one of the pavilions.

  
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That turned out to be a great decision, but I’ll let Dani tell you all about that in the next post.

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