Hinsdale to Harlem

We woke up camped next to a stone memorial, in the center of Hinsdale. Today was the first tailwind we’d had in close to a week and we had every intention of using it to cover ground.

We made it just shy of 90 miles today, finishing in Harlem.

Along the way, we met a charming retired federal agent from Alabama called Jim. He too was headed West, and has been battling the west winds too; we had a shared moment of sympathetic understanding.

Slightly less charming was the rattlesnake was very nearly rode over a few dozen miles down the road. I saw Jan jerk his bike away from the shoulder about five feet in front of me, and just then I saw the rattler soaking up the sun a few inches from the shoulder. Raphael had passed within two feet of it but didn’t notice it at all. Thanks to the tail wind though, we were racing down the road at 20 miles an hour, and the snake was behind us in a flash. I considered turning around to look at it closer, but my curiosity was quickly displaced by a cold shiver down my spine.

As the day went on, we passed two more dead rattlesnakes – roadkill.  I was so attuned to long, snake-like things by the end of the day that I nearly jumped at the sight of an inner tube on the side of the road.

Now – off to bed. We have another tail wind tomorrow and we’re hoping to do a century (100 miles).

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Big Sky

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(Raphael staring at infinity)

A lot has happened since we left Fargo behind.

We’ve learned just how relentless the west winds are in this part of the country. On bad days (15+ m.p.h. headwinds, or crosswinds), riding into the wind feels like we’re trying to run against a strong river’s current. Out of the ten or so days since we left Fargo, we’ve only had one full day of East wind. We did 106.5 miles that day; a new record for us.

In response to the wind, we’ve honed a technique called drafting, or echeloning. The technique works as follows. One of us leads the group into the wind, shielding those behind him. The second person rides within two feet the leader and keeps his head down. The third follows the second. Each person takes a turn leading the group every mile. With the three of us working as a team, we’re able to cover 80+ miles in a single day into a strong headwind.

We’re in Montana now, on Route 2 heading North West to Glacier National Park.

On our way here we rode through the busy oil development near Dickinson and Belfield; North Dakota. We saw cattle grazing a few miles from a fracking plant. An oil well in someone’s backyard. And rows and rows of white pickup trucks outside of jam-packed motels and rv parks. Convoys of “oversize load” tractor trailers hauling everything from drilling equipment to mobile homes down I-94. Bakken oil country is booming.

We took the day off yesterday on an Indian reservation, in a town called Wolf Point, MT. It was rather upsetting to see the alcololism, poverty, and sadness said to wrack American Indian reservations first hand.

We rode into Wolf Point after dark and almost crashed into a group of young, drunk Indian guys walking down the road. They said they were walking somewhere else. And warned, “get what you need from the store and get the f*** off this rez man, it’s dangerous here”.

We set up camp in a park just outside of town in the end.  The place turned out to be safe enough.

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