July 13

13 07 2009

Day 36:

I was told I did such a good job yesterday that I should do this again today. What a line! We all had a good sleep last night in Minnawanken (one of my personal best) and managed to get up before 7:00. Breakfast down at the Bait & Tackle before heading out in a beautiful tailwind. Maggie was plugging away on her three gears, hoping to get to a bike store in Rugby at the end of the day. Rain was forecast for later in the day so we set a pretty quick pace trying to out ride it. We arrived in Esmond after 26 miles where there was supposed to be a small restaurant. The restaurant was there but closed on (you guessed it) Mondays. We were directed to the village park where there were picnic tables and public washrooms where we set up our camp stove and cooked up some ramen noodles for Brian and the boys while Maggie and I made do with pretzels, peanut butter and trail mix. Not much of a lunch but it got us going again.

Heading out for what should have been an easy 30 miles to Rugby, Maggie was hit again by more gear problems. Her gear cable pulled free. When she and Brian caught up to the boys and I, Brian had rigged the cable somewhat but needed to make some adjustments. I have been quite impressed with the ingenuity from Brian and the kids with regard to repairs, etc. I don’t know how Maggie retained her composure through all this nonsense. After some adjustments, she had access to 15, 25 and 35 which Maggie said was better than what she had. Fortunately, the wind was still in our favor and the hills were gradual so we cruised through the last 24 fairly easily and arrived in Rugby (supposedly the “geographical center of North America”) around 4:00. An early end to the day by our standards. Pulled into the Cottage Café with fortunately an hour before closing for an early dinner (or really late lunch if you don’t count our snack earlier). The food was great and they had really good coffee for a change. While we were there, Brian called the local hardware store to see if they possibly had any bike parts. They said they had some, so he and Maggie left the three of us to go check into the Econo Lodge while they picked up some parts for Maggie’s bike.

As I write this, Maggie and Brian and working diligently away on her bike. Let’s hope it works. Minot is 70 plus miles (the last place with a bike store for awhile we’ve been told). And, we just heard a forecast of SW winds 25 mph or higher. We better all get a good sleep tonight. Tomorrow will be a long one. Wish us luck with the repairs everyone.


July 12

13 07 2009

Day 35:

We all enjoyed our stay at the Prairie Lodge in Pekin – a little too much as some of us slept in again. Mom found some coffee in the kitchen fridge and quickly brewed a pot – hooray! Next on the menu was oatmeal which most of us enjoyed. Knowing that meals would be a problem today, we had loaded up on some snacks the night before at the Peek In Pub to get us through until days end.

Heading out it looked like it might be a great day. The wind had died down and then changed to our backs. Enjoying this tailwind was a bit short lived as Zach broke a spoke on his rear wheel. Of course it was a spoke on the drive side and required the sprocket be removed. Quite an ordeal but thanks to Larry at the Fargo Island Park bike store Brian and Jake knew what they were doing and how to leverage some make shift tools. After a short while, we headed off with a couple more stops to check Jake and Zach’s tires for rubbing issues. As lunchtime approached, we had to decide whether to enter the small village of Warwick on the Indian reservation and see if there were any places to get lunch or if we would make do with what we had on us. We decided to take the plunge and landed in the middle of a youth rodeo in progress – complete with concession stand. They had everything we could possibly want including the best sugar donuts, freshly made this morning. We enjoyed lunch while watching the little kids trying to ride bucking broncos and doing pole bending and barrel racing. I had to explain some of the finer points of horse shows to the kids. All in all, it ended up being a really fun interlude.

Off we headed with Minnawanken as our destination. Again, we had a tailwind and very flat roads through the Spirit Lake Sioux Indian Reservation. Beautiful. Apparently, the wind gods thought we were enjoying ourselves too much because the next victim was Maggie’s bike. She lost the use of all her small gears, leaving her only 19, 29 and 39 useable and she also had a broken spoke on the drive side. Zach and I had arrived at the top of a hill a little way ahead of Brian, Maggie and Jake and stood there wondering what they were doing two hills back. They finally caught up after trying to at least lock the gears in a more useable gear, but to no avail. Needless to say, Maggie was not happy. I won’t tell you what her exact words were. Even with just three gears, she managed to lead the group and cruise along for the next 40 miles…

Despite this setback for Maggie, we flew along with the help of the wind again at our backs. Took a short break at a gas station next to a large casino run by the reservation. A beautiful spot right on Devil’s Lake. We have been told by locals that this large lake has been rising several feet a year for the past several years and many people have had to move their homes as the land went under water. Continued on another 40 miles to Minnawanken which is also on Devil’s Lake and checked into the Spirit Water Inn and Resort. A local stayed open late to make us some pizza and we then spent some time replacing Maggie’s spoke and adjusting spokes to true the kids wheels. Chatted with some fishermen in the next cabin about the trip and a few minutes later, they brought us some freshly caught and cooked walleye – yummy.

So, the day had its highs and lows and we managed to put in 68 miles. Even better, we’ve been told we’ll have another east wind tomorrow. Let’s hope we can find a place along the way to get Maggie’s bike repaired so we can really rack up the miles. Time to relax a bit before bed.