Northern Tier Cross-country Cycling Tour, NT Section 3

June 20 to July 1, Cut Bank MT to Minot ND

NT Section 3 map

6/20/05 MondayChester MT
6/21/05 TuesdayHavre MT
6/22/05 WednesdayMalta MT
6/23/05 ThursdayMalta MT
6/24/05 FridayGlasgow MT
6/25/05 SaturdayGlasgow MT
6/26/05 SundayWolf Point MT
6/27/05 MondayCulbertson MT
6/28/05 TuesdayWilliston ND
6/29/05 WednesdayStanley ND
6/30/05 ThursdayMinot ND
7/01/05 FridayMinot ND

6/20/05 Monday, Chester MT 69 miles

The lady at the Riverview RV park drove 35 miles down the road to catch us and deliver some mail that arrived this morning. Chocolate chip cookies and mobile mail service too - What a nice lady!

There's not much scenery now. "Towns" typically consist of one or two buildings and are 30 or 40 miles apart. In between there's nothing but grass. The BNSF Railway runs parallel to route 2. Eric is a real train fan and stops to watch every time a choo-choo goes by.

The last 15 miles were hard today because 1) my feet hurt and 2) I ran out of water. Don ran out too. When we got to Chester we rode up the hill to the Subway and ordered the 6-inch sandwich value meal with 6 or 7 refills on soda.

People sitting at picnic table with Chester water tower in background We're camping at the city park. In the photo are Maddy, Brendan, RonE, and Carol. I don't know why everyone looks so serious. The staff did get the hot water in the shower turned on.

There is a group of three touring cyclists from Tenessee here. Dave introduced himself to them. (He's from Knoxville and flies the U. of Tenessee flag from his BOB trailer.) They are also going east, doing 100 miles a day.

I checked my email at the library. I bought a Coke for $0.40 from the machine in front of the little market nearby. It sure costs more than that in California.

6/21/05 Tuesday, Havre MT 66 miles

It was very hot and humid today.

Bank temperature sign reading 95 degrees The bank in Havre said 95 degrees when I was there around 2:00 and 99 degrees a little later. The locals said that is very unusual for June and the high humitity, from the recent rains, is also most unusual.

I drank 3 water bottles and 2 or 3 Cokes during the ride. After arriving in camp at the fairgrounds, Don and I headed into town to do some errands and shop for food for the group. I mailed my cold-weather clothes back home, Don hit an ATM machine, and we went to the bike shop. I couldn't find the kind of mirrur I wanted but Don got a new rear derailleur installed.

At the bike shop I wasn't feeling well. Then we rode to the supermarket and when I got in the air conditioning I felt better. But by the time I rode back to camp I was worse. I tried to take a cold shower but the showers were hot only. I laid down on the floor with people pouring water on me until the ambulance arrived.

Bill went with me to the hospital and stuck around until the doctor finally cleared me to go. We returned by cab to the campground to shower and then went back to town for dinner, finally getting back to camp after 10:00.

The doc thinks it a good idea to take a couple days off the bike so I am taking the cab to Malta which is our rest day the day after tomorrow. Bill negotiated with Sue the cab driver for $50 instead of $90.

6/22/05 Wednesday, Malta MT 4 miles

I arrived at the Edgewater Inn and RV park in Malta by cab about 1 pm. Scott and Sandy, a couple riding their own route across the US, had just arrived. Since no rooms were available at the motel, I joined them in the tent camp area.

Camping by the railroad in Malta There's an elevated railroad track right along the edge of the campground. Trains go by many times a day. It may keep some people up at night but Eric will be happy.

Campsite in Harlem The rest of the group must have made Harlem before we drove past because I didn't see anyone on the road. (Thanks Brendan for this photo.) But I did see Dave on the road who is evidently pushing on to Malta. I also saw a number of other touring cyclists on the road. Also in camp is a fellow named Tod who is bicycle touring with his wife and 3 kids, age 11, 13, and 14, supported by their RV. They are following the Adventure Cycling route.

I did my laundry. It dried guickly on the line.

Dave did arrive later and is staying in a motel a few hundred yards down the road. For dinner we walked to a bar/steakhouse in town and then returned to his room. Just as I was calling my friend Sue on his phone a severe thunderstorm blew through. The National Weather Service alert on the Weather Channel said gusts to 60 mph which I can easily believe. I was worried about my tent but when I got back to canp I found that Scott and Sandy had kept it from blowing away.

After taking a shower I ran to my tent to beat the mosquitoes. I later learned that the rest of the group had them really bad in Harlem also.

6/23/05 Thursday, Malta MT 4 miles

Today the group had strong tailwinds and only 45 miles so the first riders rolled in at 10:00. They have decided to push on to Glasgow tomorrow and take our layover day there.

6/24/05 Friday, Glasgow MT 73 miles

Breakfast at 6:00 again. On the road shortly after 7:00. I saw deer and antelope on the optional partly-gravel detour that starts shortly after Malta. But when I quickly stopped to take a photo of an antelope Wes ran into me, bending my fender. No serious damage done but I'm mad at myself for being careless.

The plains have plenty of grass but not much else I haven't been taking photos because the scenery consists basically of the same thing every day - miles of grass with occasional little towns along the way. This area has been losing people for years so the towns are pretty quiet. (Thanks Brendan for this photo.)

Wes shaved his head yesterday.

We're camped on the lawn in front of the office of an RV park in Glasgow MT. We found out that Dave stayed behind in Malta because of chest pains. The doctors at the hospital say it was not a heart attack. Brendan stayed behind with Dave until noon and then brought Dave's group gear.

It was Dave's night to cook so I and others helped Eric carry groceries and prepare the meal. Bill may have to rent a car and go pick up Dave tomorrow. Tomorrow is a layover day which coincides with some kind of fiesta in Glasgow.

I called work voicemail and found out that my company is instituting a Voluntary Severance program. More details Monday.

6/25/05 Saturday, Glasgow MT

Layover day in Glasgow. We checked out the town garage sale and I got a free copy of Lance Armstrong's "It's Not About the Bike." The car show later only had 8 or 10 cars.

Breakfast at the Oasis was excellent. Lunch was chicken salad at Dairy Queen. Dinner at Johnnie restaurant was disappointing.

6/26/05 Sunday, Wolf Point MT 60 miles

Dave is still not feeling well and has decided to abandon the tour. He says if he starts to feel better he will ride home, otherwise he will take Amtrak to some place where he can catch a bus to Knoxville. Trailers seem to be jinxed on this trip - Jeanne has been having trouble with hers and shipped it home a couple days ago in favor of panniers and now all three BOB users (Jim, Ray, and Dave) have had to drop out.

It was an easy ride today - about 55 miles not counting 5 miles riding all over Wolf Point looking for the town park. We had light tailwinds most of the day.

As we were stopped on Rt 1 for a snack break a vanload of Assiniboine indians stopped for a chat. One mentioned we should be careful in the Sioux part of the reservation as we continue east. (I suspect the Sioux say the same thing about the Assiniboine.) He gave Maddy a sprig of sage to burn for good luck.

This evening after the map meeting there was a discussion of group issues. Jeanne wanted some kind of designated sweep to keep track of possible stragglers. There was a big blowup with Bill storming out of the meeting, feeling his job performance was being criticized.

6/27/05 Monday, Culbertson MT 61 miles

Train derailment in Poplar In the town of Poplar we saw work crews cleaning up a train derailment.

We're camping at the city park in Culbertson, MT. There are showers at the city pool six blocks away.

6/28/05 Tuesday, Williston ND 50 miles

Maddy, Brendan, and Don at the Welcome to North Dakota sign We only did 50 miles but had strong headwinds most of the day. We stopped at the North Dakota border and Maddy and Don mooned the "Welcome to Montana" sign. I got a photo but they won't let me show it. I even have a caption all picked out: "We were glad to see the 'end' of MOONtana!"

Shortly afterwards Brendan rode by and the three of us mooned him in retaliation for his mooning us a couple days ago.

We're staying at Buffalo Trails RV park in Williston ND. Real showers and a laundromat!

6/29/05 Wednesday, Stanley ND 69 miles

We're camping in the city park in Stanley ND. It's Ron Etzel's and my first cook night together but it's been decided to eat out. We only had to buy breakfast and lunch for tomorrow.

The first 31 miles today had strong headwinds and sidewinds. The last of the ride was a quartering tailwind. Instead of following the official Adventure Cycling route through Newtown we are staying on US 2 to Minot.

After dinner Maddy went to the store and bought ice cream and cookies for dessert.

We're right by the railroad tracks again, which should make Eric happy.

6/30/05 Thursday, Minot ND 53 miles

Easy ride today - strong tailwinds the last half of the ride. It rained last night and was cold in the morning but then it turned into a nice sunny day.

Field of wildflowers with farm in background Thanks Brendan for the photo.

The local paper reports they had 11 inches of rain in June - an all-time record. There has been an annoying small leak in my tent's flysheet which causes a drip through the vent screen in the tent roof. So I bought a can of silicone water repellant in the camp store and sprayed the fly and bottom of each side of the tent. Now it probably won't rain again for the entire tour.

We're staying at the Rough Rider campground in Minot ND.

There was quite a shock at the map meeting tonight. Bill has decided to quit as tour leader. Maddy will be taking over. In the past, she has trained for and led a couple youth tours and has passed a wilderness first aid course. Apparently she interviewed with Adventure Cycling over the phone and accepted the job. I had noticed some intense conversations between Bill and Maddy the last couple days and some long phone calls that Maddy had been making, but I didn't guess what it was all about.

Bill has rented a van and will follow the group for a couple days to help with the transition, then go home. His friend John will also leave the tour. Bill says this is not due to anyone on the tour but he just prefers to tour his own way at his own pace.

We divided up Bill's group gear. I agreed to carry the tool kit. I plan to go through it and suggest changes to Adventure Cycling.

7/01/05 Friday, Minot ND 14 miles

Don working on his bike, suspended from a tree Layover day in Minot. Among other things, layover days are for bicycle maintenance. Here's Don with his homemade bicycle repair stand. I bought a tube at a local bike shop but I still couldn't find a suitable bar-mount mirror to replace the one I broke several days ago. I had borrowed John's spare Take-a-Look glasses-mount mirror and Bill says that John said I can just keep it. I checked my email at the library and printed out some information about the voluntary severance package my company has just announced.

Nordic stave church Some of us visited a replica Nordic stave church and also an actual circa 1700 house that had been moved from Norway. Actual circa 1700 house moved from Norway

Bill dealing with baloons, motorcycle in background Bill bought a used Goldwing motorcycle which he plans to ride home and returned the van he had rented. At the library earlier today I had to leave my driver's license to use the Internet and forgot to retrieve it when I left. Bill kindly rode back and got it for me.

Maddy ordered pizza for dinner and everybody chipped in.

This was Bill's birthday. Jeanne bought a bunch of baloons and filled Bill's tent with them when he wasn't looking.

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