Day 51 – Detroit Lakes, MN to Fargo, ND – 55 miles
The day started out with rain, so we decided to wait for it to finish. Our hosts, Mike and Jean, were heading off to church, so we had a five person send off with the two couples and Bala. Bala was taking a southerly route to join up with the northern tier route, and we were heading a bit north to join the route in Fargo. We said our good byes, waved to Bela heading out, and made our way to the north. In a minute or two, Mike and Gene passed us on their scooter and motorcycle. This maybe the closest we will get to a tour d’france rolling send off & it was very fun. Leaving DL for the next town, Audubon, we had about 12 miles of incredible tailwinds – wow! But then…a left turn, and our tailwind turned into a powerful cross wind. The wind would become the story of the day, as the wind direction steadily rotated until it was pretty much a full-on head wind as we rolled toward North Dakota.
Headwinds are a real challenge to us. It seems to put us in a cave of sound that envelopes all we are doing, it makes the pedaling even harder than the extra force required to move the bike. Still we made pretty good progress especially compared to our last bad head wind day in Ontario. In Ontario, it seemed like 6 mph was our top speed, but today we could pretty consistently be over 8-10 mph. Only a small difference, but proof that we are getting stronger.
After a tough afternoon, we finally arrived at Moorhead, Minnesota, the gateway to Fargo. (I wonder if the Moorhead city fathers have ever considered that slogan). We spotted the old Fairmont Creamery building in Moorhead & took a pic for Shawn’s mom. Her sister (Shawn’s aunt), Alice worked there during WW2. We crossed the bridge over the Red River of the North and we were in our 7th state, North Dakota! We were a little bummed out that there was no “Welcome to North Dakota” so we took our picture in front of the Fargo city limit sign.
We had a Warmshowers host here in town, and she told us we should not miss the Great Northern Bike Shop in town. Good thing, because it was a very valuable stop for us! First, the shop is in the old Fargo train station. It certainly looked and felt like an old train station, only there were lots of bikes and accessories around. We had been living or dealing with a rear brake issue since we made a repair in Michigan. Shawn prompted me to talk to the service shop to see what could be done. Larry Skagen was on duty this Sunday and he was a huge help. It turned out he had the exact brake caliper we needed, so it was a no brainer, let’s get it changed out, then he noticed our rear chain had stretched, so we had him change that out. (This is the third new chain we have had on the trip – the rear chains stretch quickly on a tandem!) The most important find was that our rear tire was showing cords, so time to change that out too ( I had an extra with me). So new rear drive train, all new rear brakes and a tire change 128 bucks. Try to beat that at your automotive repair place! Good thing we made the stop at Great Northern!!
Our warm shower hosts, Ann & Ed were wonderful! We rolled up their driveway, tired & half-crazed from the wind & she greeted us with a hug! Then she asked “Red, white or Fat Tire?” We knew just what she was offering (red wine, white wine, beer) & both eagerly said, “Fat Tire please!” She had a platter of fresh veggies on the island in the kitchen & we were in heaven eating fresh vegetables (!!!) and drinking beer, talking with her as she cut up an assortment of cheeses for a cheese & cracker snack. Ann has done a lot of bicycle touring, so she knew just what we needed.
She mentioned that she was getting all sorts of bicyclists calling because they were either flying & going further than expected with a tailwind or not making it due to the headwind. She had a guy from Montreal that was traveling west like us, who stopped due to the headwinds, but had a mother-daughter pair that were coming in a day early as they decided to take advantage of the tailwind & do a 136 mile day. Turns out this mother-daughter pair, Wendy & Casey, were a pair we had been watching online because we were hoping to meet up with them & swap stories, recommendations, etc. what a fun coincidence! They arrived about an hour or two after us & we met them after we had showered. By this time, Ed had finished mowing the lawn & took a picture of us all. Ann prepared a wonderful salmon dinner and we all sat around talking. There is such a wonderful camaraderie with bicyclists! This evening was just what we needed after a very hard 55 mile day!
Our motorized escort! 🙂
Headwinds comfort food:
Shawn’s aunt Alice worked at Fairmont Creamery in Moorhead during WW2:
New state! North Dakota!