Day 35, 7/18, Fargo, ND to Fergus Falls, MN: 64 miles, 1,297 ft elevation gain, 15.3 mph average speed.
Trip totals: 1,949 miles (67.2 daily average), 87,750 ft elevation gain, 12.1 mph overall average.
Three days behind schedule.
Two things occurred to us as we were planning our day today. First, we thought it might be good to give ourselves at least a bit of a break after our big day yesterday, and second, Fargo is the biggest city we’ve been in since Seattle it might be fun to explore. We’ve been striving to make up time ever since leaving Glacier, but the actual biking is only half of the experience of this trip, and we want to be sure that we take enough time to see the country we’re biking through.
So we decided to take the morning off and explore Fargo. It helped that Lindsey was eager to show us around her city. She’s actually only lived here for two months, but she was as good of an ambassador as Fargo could hope for.
Lindsey started off her day at the gym, which meant that we started off our day sleeping in and then relaxing in her amazing sunroom. Sidenote: it’s been a struggle for us to remember why we think it’s worth it to pay what we do for our apartment in New York City. Every apartment we visit is bigger, nicer, and much cheaper than ours. We’ll see if New York wins back our love when we get home.
Anyway, Lindsey has a lovely sunroom to go with her big kitchen and two bedroom apartment, and it was a great place to start our day.
After Lindsey came home, we got dressed and walked 10 minutes to downtown Fargo, where we visited Twenty Below, the first hip/bougie coffee shop we’ve seen since Washington. Dani and I split a large Chemex (that’s how bougie this place was) of amazing coffee and a gluten-free but still-delicious cornmeal and berry waffle. I also loved my mug here, which the shop commissioned from a local ceramics artist, Brooke Stewart. The cheerful, friendly employees cheerfully resisted my entreaties to buy it, steal it, or pretend to break it and accidentally leave money on the table. Honest people there at Twenty Below.
It just so happened that this weekend was the Fargo Street Fair, and we walked past several blocks of artist booths and fair food before we came to the Great Northern Bicycle Co., an awesome bicycle shop that occupies an old train station.
We restocked on bike tubes and spent a few minutes chatting with a shop employee who gave us a few ideas for how to alleviate the hand pain we’ve been dealing with.
He then encouraged us to check out the five-person tandom bike he was building/working on. Holy moly! I can’t even imagine trying to navigate that thing.
We then headed back toward Lindsey’s apartment, passing through more of downtown, stopping at a small farmer’s market to buy some veggies for tomorrow’s dinner, and walking through the car show that was happening in Fargo’s version of Central Park, Island Park, near her apartment.
It was great to relax in town, but we did have some biking to do today, so once we got back to Lindsey’s we suited up and hit the road.
We left Fargo on a lovely bike path that traced the Red River. We crossed the river after a few miles, leaving North Dakota behind and entering Minnesota!
Lindsey told us that the ACA maps took us out of the way for no apparent reason, and suggested we ignore the maps for today to take a more direct route to Fergus Falls along old highway 52. It was excellent advice, and we’re glad we took it.
About 13 miles down the road we stopped at an old general store/soda fountain with lots of nostalgic sodas. We ate tuna, triscuits, and cheese for lunch at an outdoor table and then washed it down with a root beer float.
We jumped back on the bikes with luck on our side. We were headed southeast, and the wind was coming from the west at 25-30mph. It varied between being directly behind us and being more of a crosswind, but it was always helping us. We flew down the road, averaging between 17-23 mph.
Ten or so miles after lunch we were dismayed to see “road closed” signs blocking our route. We stopped to figure out what to do, and while we were weighing our options, two cars drove around the signs and sped down the road. That was all the permission we needed, and we enjoyed 10 miles of beautiful new road surface without any traffic at all.
Shortly after that stretch, the shoulder completely disappeared, but the traffic was so minimal we hardly noticed. And the few cars that did pass us, without exception, moved fully into the other lane to do so.
Forty miles in, we stopped at a truck stop for a cold drink, and we found some great chocolate milk. Cass-Clay may not be on the same level as Darigold Old Fashioned, but it’s much better than anything we’ve tried since we left Darigold country.
After the pit stop it was 18 quick miles to Fergus Falls, where we stopped at Union Pizza and Brewing, another recommendation from Lindsey. They had a great selection of local beers, which we paired with a yummy Greek salad and a ham and garlicky kale pizza.
After dinner, we swung by the grocery store to pick up some essentials (you know, peanut butter Oreos, s’mores pop tarts, etc.) and rode the last four miles to Delagoon Park campground, where we unfortunately chose a campground next to a group of loud, very drunk, middle-aged folks who–while friendly–just weren’t the tent neighbors we were hoping for.
Tomorrow we start riding on the Central Lakes Trail, 100+ miles of paved bike trail along an abandoned railroad bed.