Badlands & Big winds

Badlands & Big winds

posted in: Bicycle Touring | 6

Why hello!  It’s been a while since the last update.  I’m splitting things up into 2 posts so it’s not such a big read.  This post is July 24th through July 26th.

Day 86, July 24th – Hebron to Sully Creek Campground (near Medora, ND)

Late start today after the morning session on the computer.  Right as I was heading out another cyclist came in who was traveling east.  He had stayed in a monastery the previous night in a town down the road.  Sounds like they had great experience… Would have been a fun stay had I just biked 15 more miles yesterday.  Oh well!  We did get to help a local mail carrier find a geocache hidden under the picnic shelter we were sleeping under.  I turns out while I was typing away I was missing out on some amazing tailwinds so when I finally hit the road around 12:30 I made sure to cover some ground quick.  When the road turned just right you could really fly – It’s a great feeling to be able to pedal 30 mph on flat sections.  Two hours and 40 miles later I arrived in Dickinson where I stopped to visit with my Dad’s cousin (Nancy’s daughter) Terri who works at the visitor’s bureau in town.  My Dad was already there so we chatted for a while andTerri hooked us up with all sorts of good reference information for camping in North Dakota and Montana!

From Dickinson it was about 45 miles to the campground Terri suggested near Medora which is located in the Badlands of North Dakota.  I took it easier on this stretch.  The first 30 miles of the ride were pretty similar to the ride earlier in the day, but with some more hills.  Then, turning onto a gravel road which connects with a road running into the south side of Medora, the landscape all of a sudden opened up with amazing views.  Soon I was tearing down a road which swept into the valley of the Badlands.  It is pretty wild how quickly the scenery changed.  The next 15 miles to camp were the highlight of North Dakota riding thus far.  As I neared camp I noticed dark clouds approaching from the south.  It seemed I pulled into camp just as they were coming overhead.  Luckily the storm clouds skirted by just east of us.

My dad was already at camp waiting for me with a good site picked out.  The campground is in a great location down in the valley with sandy cliffs that surround.  I set up my tent quick (it’s amazing how easy it is to put the new tarp tent up!), showered, and we headed into Medora for dinner and a brew.  There were tornado warnings to the west of us headed our way, but again we were fortunate and the storm broke apart before hitting us.

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IMG_7445This guy was doing the 2nd half of the Northern Tier (Washington to Wisconsin).  Last year he did Maine to Wisconsin.  He’s a teacher and broke the ride up to get it in in two summers.  Nice!

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IMG_7497Skies getting dark again!

IMG_7503Rolling into the campground… storm just missing us.

IMG_7504Cruising into town in the MG.

IMG_7511Essential refreshments.

Summary
Miles: 85
Acts of kindness: 3 – Terri gave us a bunch of maps and good info!; Dad got the campground and bought dinner.

Day 87, July 25th – Sully Creek Campground (near Medora, ND)

Coffee, breakfast, air drying clothes – you know the usual routine.  Today was a bit different though because we were sticking around for a day to explore the area.  And what better way to explore than on mountain bikes!  We drove into town to the local bike shop where we rented mountain bikes and got a shuttle south of town onto the local trail .  The trail, Maah Daah Hey, as one of the EPIC rides in the IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) listing that extends north and south from Medora and is about 100 miles in overall length.  It was a great ride with and a great way to get to some incredible scenic points.  The views were endless as we weaved through funky looking formations, across cliff sides and prairies.  We never saw another person on the trail.

There were some strong winds out of the west today too so another bonus about not being on the road.  Unfortunately looking at tomorrows forecast shows even crazier winds.  Might be some sloooow riding.  After making it back to the bike shop we rewarded our successful ride with ice cream before heading to camp for a shower.  Later we had some delicious BBQ pizza and finished the last light of the day playing cribbage.  After getting my butt kicked so terribly I demanded rematches even after the sun went down.  Eventually finishing games with the glowing light from my laptop.

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IMG_7518Some seriously heavy duty fences.

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IMG_7525Heeeere we goooooo!  Outa my way cows!

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IMG_7578The brush got a bit tall in some spots… That’s me standing ahead.

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IMG_7592Find Jeff…

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IMG_7613That-a-way!

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Summary
Miles:  20 by mountain bike
Acts of Kindness:  2 – Mountain bike rentals and pizza by Dad.  He said he wanted me to add here that he let me win the last game of cribbage… lies!

Day 88, July 26th – Sully Creek Campground to Wibaux, MT

The winds were already blowing strong by early this morning so I knew I was in for some tough riding.  I was up and ready to roll when my dad couldn’t seem to find the car key.  We spent a good hour searching for it before at last it was found in the most obvious place of all – his shorts pocket from the previous night.  Slow going today.  Trudging along at a turtles pace as winds whipped against the grassy plains like invisible river currents.  Even the birds struggled in the wind.  Their attempts to fly into the wind were comical.

It took me about 4 hours to ride the 30 miles or so to Beach, ND where I took a lunch break.  It was a bit frustrating how slow I was moving.  Dad picked up some Subway and I took a short nap on the park bench before heading out again.  Beach was the last town in North Dakota before passing into Montana.  The destination for today, given the winds, was Wibaux, Montana (just 14 miles west).  Once I got to town I met my dad at the Beaver Creek Brewery.  Pretty cool place for such a small town.  After some good brews and food we asked about camping options and one of the employees told us to just camp across the street in the grass near the gravel parking lot.  Good enough for me!  My dad got a slight taste of stealth camping even though we were far from stealthy.  A bit close to the railroad perhaps?

IMG_7639Cocoa Wheats… extra cocoa have been on the breakfast menu lately.

IMG_5918I think my rig might actually be heavier 😉

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IMG_5931You can see the gusts of wind against the grass.

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IMG_5955The stout came with a chocolate chip cookie.

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IMG_5964Perfect!  😀

Summary
Miles:  47
Acts of Kindness:  2 – Lunch and dinner paid for by Dad (I’m digging having a support vehicle!)

6 Responses

  1. Tom Jakab

    Your trip is even awesomer every blog I read. Lol. How did you keep track of the mountain bike trail? Kinda looks like you have to make your own in some places.

    • Jeff Ryan

      You DID have to make your own in some of spots because the wildflowers were literally waist high and they choked the trail out pretty well. They need to send a couple dozen riders out each day just to keep the trail clear 😉

  2. What a great lead-off photo of you riding into the foothills! I really do like the North Dakota scenery. (I always though the Badlands were in South Dakota, but either I was wrong or they stretch across both Dakotas.) That’s awesome that your dad has been spending so much quality time with you. Makes me feel better, as I’m a little concerned that you’re now claiming you can see wind. Uh… yeah.

    • Yep they extend into North Dakota I guess! We’ve been having fun indeed. Nice to have him along! I supposed I can only see the effects of the wind 😛

  3. Gramma & Grampa K

    Hey Brad I believe your dad when he said he may have let you win!!!I remember a game we had!!Love you tho!

    • Ha! I don’t think so Grandma! Better have that Sequence board ready for next visit!

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