Saturday, July 20, 2013

Day 18- July 20 - Did the wind just get stronger when I crossed the border to North Dakota?

Day 18 - July 20 - Baker, MT to Bowman, ND- 46.1miles (74.2 kms) - total so far 1356.1 miles  (2182.4kms)

Distance: 46.1 miles (74.2 kms)
Total time: 4hrs45mins (including  brunch) 
Average Moving Speed: 11.7mph (18.8 kph)
Maximum Speed: 18.7 mph (30.1kph) 
Calories burned: 2077
Elevation gained: 1339 ft (408 meters)
Weather:  sunny and cool in Baker when I left about 9:30am with temperatures about 64 degF (18C).  Quite warm in Bowman when  I arrived with the temperature at 85F (30C). Strong wind from the east straight in my face all day, getting stronger in the afternoon. It made for a tiring ride with no possibility of picking up speed. 

Powered by:  Breakfast - 1 Clif Bar, a banana and a big bottle of chocolate milk; Brunch at a diner of French Toast and French Fries and a Coke; 1 liter of Gatorade and 1 liter of water, and a big hot fudge ice cream sundae in Bowman when I finished for the day.

It was lucky that I planned a short day for the ride out of Montana to North Dakota.  Because of the distances between towns and hotels, my daily distances vary quite a bit. I assume that they will become more consistent when I cross the Missouri into more populated areas with more settlements.  The day started off windy and got windier.  It was a consistent eastern-southeastern wind that was right in my face all the way to Bowman, ND getting stronger as the day wore on.  It was not a wind that gusted or changed direction, giving momentary respite;  I just had to keep pedaling and ignore the howling in my ears.  I had considered the option of pounding away on the pedals but that might have brought me to Bowman about 30 minutes earlier.  It would also have tired me out so I tried to exert about the same effort as I would without the wind, recognizing that my average speed was about 3mph slower,

The route finally took me out of Montana after 11 days, including two rest days.  This corner of Montana and the adjoining southwestern corner of North Dakota is now booming as the oil fever has taken hold.  Unlike the day before, the highway was very quiet and the big trucks were absent.  I saw many oil rigs, both of the old locust-like style and the newer more vertical pumps.  Also present on the highest ridge were large wind turbines, as I had seen in Washington.

The oil-fashioned way of pumping oil from the ground

The new-fangled way of getting oil from the ground

While the North Dakota sign was shot up with bullet holes, the nearby Montana sign was not.  I have not yet puzzled out the contrast.

That took a while - 11 days in the state including 2 rest days

Bullet-holes and all

The first town in North Dakota, Marmarth, was interesting in a historically-funky manner. Almost all streets are dirt but the remnants of what was once a busy central district are evident in the derelict building sizes and appearances.   Two large monuments, the rodeo cowboy west of town and the large T.rex east of town, certainly make the town memorable, which I suppose is the point.

It's rodeo country

It's been a while since the "Last Picture Show" in this Marmarth movie theater, built in 1914.

Across the street in Marmarth is this disused auditorium built in 1918. It must have been a jumpin' place in the years following the arrival of the Milwaukee railroad line.

The Yellowstone Trail follows US 12 - or vice-versa

Tyrannosaurus rex ruled in these parts a while ago - lots of paleontological finds here.

After a brunch in Marmarth, I sheltered from the wind for a while in the shade of a senior center in the even smaller and emptier town of Rhame.  Some of the patrons collecting food for shut-in seniors stopped to chat and quiz me about my ride.  When asked if I'm alone on this journey, I give my standard answer; "no, my ego is still with me". It usually elicits a nervous laugh or a mystified look.  

The liveliest spot in Rhame on a Saturday afternoon

It's been a while since this "Little House on the Prairie" was occupied.

Coming into Bowman, it was obvious that this town is different than most others in the region.  Many new buildings, both commercial and residential, have been constructed in the past few years and there is quite a sprawl west of the town along the highway.  Signs promoting new commercial developments abound, almost like the edge of a rapidly-growing metropolis like Denver.  A new hotel with a conference center is promised, a new Subway graces the highway, and the local golf course was hosting a 'big tournament' today.  At the local burger and ice cream place, the post-rodeo crew crowded in before its 4pm closing.  They were quite curious about the chap in the queue wearing clothing that was definitely not designed for rodeo activities like bronco busting, bull riding and calf roping.  One young buck said that he would rather ride a bull than a bicycle as it had a more comfortable seat.

But the downtown area was dead on a Saturday night and in that sense, Bowman differs little from neighboring towns. The hotel clerk told me that many of the oil industry workers leave for the weekend.  A walk through the neighborhoods showed some housing rehabilitation and a very active community swimming pool with young bravadoes demonstrating their diving skills to impress their peers.

A development of modular homes on the edge of Bowman ND to house the oil and construction workers who have flocked to the area in recent years

 Tomorrow the plan is to go to South Dakota along Highway 12 but the wind forecast is not terribly favorable so we'll see how far into that state I can travel in a reasonable time.

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