Into the land of the bison

We’ve made the final major shift in route, and are headed purely west through North Dakota! This opens up another tough stretch of flat land, strong winds, and another two weeks without a rest day. But we didn’t take off without some time off in the state’s biggest city: Fargo! Bookending those great days of riding with stays in Minneapolis and Fargo made it feel like we’ve had a whole rest week, and I’ll speak for everyone in saying we’re bummed to see it go.

North Dakota is the third-least populous state in the country, and we’re certainly feeling that now as I’m writing this from Kathryn, a town of 52 people per the census. We literally increased the town’s population by 50 percent when we rolled in.

But Fargo was an interesting little city, and a nice way to be welcomed in. We couldn’t quite tell if it was a full-on college town (as North Dakota State’s colors dominate the town), or if it was leaning on becoming a bigger metropolis. However Fargo may swing, it wasn’t devoid of great food and nice people. I was thrilled to have my first fish taco in over a month, and a local pub brought me a chocolate stout which could’ve been a meal in itself. Our service project required using a jackhammer and moving a shed, neither of which any of us were qualified to do. But we found a way to get it all done, and Aaron, the MS patient we were helping, seemed thrilled about his new backyard digs.

Fargo is decorated with multicolored bison much like how Blacksburg is decorated with Hokie birds.
Fargo is decorated with multicolored bison much like how Blacksburg is decorated with Hokie birds.
JL Beers offered free postcards and postage for those sitting at the bar. If you've given me your address, you have a postcard coming. Possibly two.
JL Beers offered free postcards and postage for those sitting at the bar. If you’ve given me your address, you have a postcard coming. Possibly two. Possibly half a dozen, if you’re Justin, Matt and Reid.
The home of the bison
The home of the bison.

With the Tour de France starting, the number of weird looks we get strolling into pubs have gone through the roof. People stare enough when there’s 20+ of us strutting around smelly and spandex-clad, but when we run up to the barkeep asking to change the channel to the Tour, the locals look at us like we’ve lost our marbles. Which may be true, but that’s a story for another day.

Minnesota saw us off on the Fourth of July in Fergus Falls. Our favorite bike path and tailwinds brought us up to town like a jet-stream, and we had a small cookout on the lake in celebration.

Minnesota truly was the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and this one hosted us in Fergus Falls. The catch to having so many beautiful lakes is that it was also the land of ~20,000,000 snakes.
Minnesota truly was the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and this one hosted us in Fergus Falls. The catch to having so many beautiful lakes is that it was also the land of ~20,000,000 snakes.
Without my US soccer jersey on hand, I had to celebrate the Fourth with a tiny flag off of my bike rack!
Without my US soccer jersey on hand, I had to celebrate the Fourth with a tiny flag off of my bike rack!

Now, we’re all hunkering down with our sights set on Bismarck, a glimpse of the Badlands, a mail-drop, and of course, Glacier! Being so well rested and stronger has made the tough headwinds of North Dakota more tenable, but they’ve been a challenge nonetheless. Going forward, WiFi and resources in general may be scarce, so wish us luck as we close in on 3,000 miles.

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