#acaNoTier New Salem to Hazelton, 79 Miles | To and Through Bismark

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Dang that was quite the storm last night. Check out the image in the vid at the end of this post.

Today we rode on the southern side of Bismark, one of the biggest cities we have seen in a while.

After enjoying a large first breakfast at a cafe right next door to our motel we were soon on our way to Hazelton on a sweet tailwind.

Again there was some climbing but no I-94 and the rumbles were manageable. And honestly you would not believe how friendly people are if you wave to everyone. If anyone is coming up behind me I wave and many times give them a thumbs up. Everyone is happy.

We again crossed the Missouri River today and I saw what I think might be the most hilarious company name. I saw the truck twice today. It’s a septic tank pumper and the company name is “Turd Burglar”. Seriously. I wonder if they franchise.

We had a picnic lunch stop at University of St. Mary, a Benedictine university just outside Bismark.

Since there were very few services on the afternoon route we cycled up a pretty impressive incline to get water bottles filled in their admin building. Carmelita, also a cyclist, was super accommodating and even introduced us to Sister Janet, the president of the university. Pretty cool way to wrap up a lunch I think!

When we got to Hazelton we stopped at the grocery for a couple items and had a second lunch just outside the store in the shade and guzzled down some cold drinks.

On to the city park to camp for the night. In case you’re wondering about tent set up we’ve included a special clip for you. We sped up the video but have it down to a science and can easily set it up in less than four minutes.

One of the best things about the ride is meeting people and we heard from someone we met early on. Eric and his daughter Luci were cycling from Banff to Boise (and also playing a lot of cribbage) and checked in to let us know they finished.

Can you imagine how Luci is going to answer her high school buds when she returns to school and they ask what she did over the summer?

We had bean and rice burrito bowls with fresh tomatoes for dinner- yum and threw leftovers in a ziplock for lunch tomorrow. Watch for them to appear in Tom’s bike bag.

Since it looks like another storm might be coming we moved our tent under the shelter. Just a little camping trick. You’re welcome. 😊

#acaNoTier Richardton to New Salem, 51 Miles | Not Always Rainbows and Unicorns

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After coming off of yesterday’s high and waking up as a guest in Assumption Abbey this morning the day presented as a bit more of a challenge.

Although we only planned for half the mileage, the entire day we rode through headwinds, hills, huge rumble strips on I-94 east and a gnat festival in which we were the main attraction. πŸ™„

To be honest it wasn’t all that bad, it’s just that it was juxtaposed with the most perfect day yesterday.

After morning Mass at St. Mary’s we had breakfast with Fr. Claude, a retired 93 year old Benedictine monk who was as much entertained by us as we were with him. We could have chatted with him all day.

We packed up, received a blessing from Fr. Odo, and headed toward Taylor. The all-out headwinds started immediately.

Outside of Taylor the moving gnat festival began. Our faces, arms and legs already covered with sunscreen made a cozy resting place for the gnats.

We pushed on to Glen Ullin and were hungry, thirsty and wind beaten. It’s a small town with some nice gas stations and an awesome park but nowhere to eat. It was too hot to get food out of our pack. We just needed prepared food, shade and something cold to drink.

And guess what? Turns out Western Coop Credit Union was having an Open House with baked beans, grilled burgers and brats, lemonade, cookies and chips. They invited us to lunch so we bee lined it to the chow line. Very tasty meal and very nice folks. Now I know why North Dakota is called “legendary”. It’s because their hospitality is indeed legendary.

After lunch and snapping a few pics we headed toward I-94, 12 more miles of all out head wind, rumbles and hills. At one point I had to make the decision between riding over a dead skunk or the rumble. Rumble it was.

Since strong storms are predicted this evening we are staying at an old school motel ($62/night). It’s very clean with an old style room phone and chairs you can sit out front of your room and watch the storms roll in.

We are planning to ride through Bismark tomorrow and it looks like a scenic bike trail goes all through the city. I’m pretty stoked for that!

In case you are wondering about how the camping for cash challenge is going or our total mileage, click here to access our Google sheet.

And oh yes… today is the FIRST day I forgot to do planks and pushups so I guess I need to follow through.

Hoping for some tailwinds tomorrow!! #norumbles

One more bit of info. The purple fields we captured in pics and vids aren’t wildflowers at all but instead, alfalfa. And the yellow fields, canola. Just an FYI. And I saw my first field of corn today. I feel more close to Indiana than ever. ❀️

#acaNoTier Wibaux to Richardton, 100 Miles | A Century Ride!

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Yayyy we finally rode a hundred miler! There were a couple days when it was within our reach but it slipped away. As you may recall we have our 100 mile challenge going so we were especially pleased.

A century ride, a new state and a new map. Plus we had a real salad for lunch, as we were treated by two ride angels, Tom and Chris.

We finally finished about 8:00pm and were welcomed by Fr. Odo at Assumption Abbey where this Benedictine monastery radiates the ministry of hospitality.

Thanks Fr. Odo!

And Fr. Claude you made us laugh! Yes Jim there are some Notre Dame fans here!

Although I don’t normally single out vids I thought these two were worthy of doing so.

Here’s Tom and Chris Hong (excuse the orientation of the vid) as they mix the dulcimer and mandolin. Yep they’d just finished mountain biking and stopped into the bike shop in Medora shortly before us. Here’s what we walked into:

If anyone wants to know how to power through 3,000 feet of elevation increase, 100 miles on a heavy bike with about 40 pounds of gear pizza is the answer.

When we finished the day before in Wibaux the only open restaurant was the Tasty Hut. We both bought pizzas but Tom saved some of his and put it in a to-go box on the back of his bike. All day long he kept snacking on it.

This was such a full and eventful day and Tom has thoughtfully articulated it. Grab your fave bevvie… maybe even a cinnamon roll, some popcorn or beer nuts – you will need a bit of time.

From Tom:

I have to confess that I am a bit anal. Not in a bad way, but in an organized way. I like to get up in the morning, get our chores done, and get on the road towards our destination. I like the feeling of accomplishment of crossing the finish line and a job well done.

But several times this trip I look back on the day and noticed I might have cut that conversation a little short or did not stop to take that picture just to keep going and meet that goal. Each morning I start my first 10-15 miles with prayer. I have been ending these prayers asking that I can slow down and smell the roses and keep the spiritual antennae up for opportunities God has given me during the day.

Today God definitely answered my prayers. I had just finished my prayers when Gay approached riding westward following the Lewis and Clark trail. We had a great conversation. I didn’t cut it short and listened with total interest as he told us about his ride, retirement, etc.

A mile later here comes another rider, Danny who was also riding westward. Once again I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about all his experiences and he told us about the abbey he stayed at in Richardton.

A few miles later we entered the town of Sentinel Butte and we roll up to the gas station and look into the front window to see a group of locals sitting around the table drinking coffee. We walk in and Rick pours Deb and I a cup of coffee. He had homemade cinnamon rolls with homemade icing to spread on top.

We grab a seat join and into to the conversation. Another great opportunity to smell the roses and a great conversation with the locals. During our conversation we discussed BoMF and St. Vincent de Paul. Marceola reached into her purse and handed me a $10 bill. 😁

We ride out of town and a few miles later on top of a butte I look up and see a cross out in the middle of nowhere. Right then I get this wonderful feeling and it hit me that God is talking to me with these wonderful conversations I have had this morning. The remainder of the day was just more of the same.

We ride into Medora and want to stop by the bike shop that multiple people mention is super cool. We walk in and a couple, Tom and Chris, are playing music 🎢. Deb has a nice conversation with them while I add some air to our tires.

Later we were having lunch in Medora and Deb mentions if we ride to the Abbey we would be close to 100 mile ride. That would be another 52 miles from that point. We look for our waitress to settle our bill when the couple we met at the bike shop comes over and tells us they paid our bill. From that point on I can’t believe the energy I had.

As we rode into Richardton at mile 98 I felt like I could have ridden 50 more 😁.

Sometimes it takes time to strip off the layers that have been built up over the years. I lost a lot of those layers today I believe this is the true beginning of my bike ride today. I am typing this while sleeping in the Abbey.

I can only imagine what tomorrow will bring. πŸ™πŸš΄β€β™‚οΈπŸš΄β€β™€οΈ


#acaNoTier Circle to Wibaux, 79 miles | Thunder

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From Tom:

As we looked out the tent at 5:30am this morning and saw dark clouds approaching, we jumped out of our sleeping bags and hustled through our morning chores. We jumped on our bikes and headed east towards our destination of Wibaux, 77 miles. At about mile 10 the skies surrounded us with winds, thunder and lightening. Although there was no shelter we pulled off to the side of the road, got prepped for rain, and found a place to sit to let the lightening pass. Ten minutes later we were on our way riding in a light shower until we reached Lindsay.

After visiting with Ed in the Co-op over a cup of coffee, we were back on our way east. The sun was back out and the tailwind was 10mph with a slight downhill into Glendive 25 miles away. We pulled into Glendive one hour later. Several times I looked at my Garmin and saw 27mph πŸ˜πŸ‘.

Needless to say, this was a Nirvana for bike riding. So here we are 11am with 49 miles under our belt. Yes a century ride was definitely on our mind and we pulled out the map to check on potential camping/hotels in 50 miles. We would need to ride an additional 70 more miles to have a place to stay the night. Not out of the question since we were feeling so good.

On we went after a snack for another 25 miles to our original destination of Wibaux feeling so good. That feeling quickly disappeared after 5 miles. We merged on to a major highway (I-94), which was actually really nice, then we exited to a frontage road for 12 miles. How do I describe this road?

Chip and seal, major cracks every few yards that sent shocks up your hands/elbows/shoulders every time you road over one. The wind had disappeared and I looked at my Garmin and it read a temperature of 103 degrees. Yes a very, very long 12 miles and the 100 mile century ride left my mind as well as my positive attitude.

When we arrived to the next town, Wibaux We rolled into Wibaux I definitely needed a Snickers Bar. We roll into the Tastee Hut and Deb orders a 12” pepperoni pizza/lemonade and I a 12” chicken, pineapple pizza with Rhubarb Milkshake (yum, yum). With our tummy’s totally satisfied, we headed to our campground to set up our tent, shower and get organized.

We met another Northern Tier thru-biker camping at the site, Paul from New Zealand. He filled us in on all his adventures of mountain climbing, hiking and bicycle touring. He has done four long tours with his longest circumnavigating the United States. It took him 10 months. His route: LA to SanDiego to Key West to Virginia to the Transamerica route to Oregon and 101 back down to LA. Adding to Tom and Deb’s bucket list???? Time will tell.

Finally, needing to catch up on our blogs we found a brewery (Beaver Creek Brewery) and said we aren’t leaving until we are all caught up on our blogs 😁

Cheers 🍺

#acaNoTier Wolf Point to Circle, 52 Miles | God Bless Montana Farm Families

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That’s how I would describe today.

It began and ended with hearing personal stories of Montana farm families and getting a better understanding of their concerns and their day-to-day lives.

When we were checking out of our campsite at Steamboat Dry Goods we asked Alice how the Dry Goods store came to be.

One story led to another and we found out Alice and her husband farm a very large ranch 15 miles away from the store. She explained what family farming is like, the economics of it, how the Montana drought last summer affected their crops and how tariffs might affect profit margins this year. Irrigation, insurance, the machinery, bank loans, and more.

I could have listened to Alice all day, especially since these are issues I don’t know a lot about but seem pretty important. To all of us. Do you like chick peas? They may have been grown in Montana. Lentils? Montana – and the list goes on.

Let’s just say I’ve added Alice, her family and all farmers to my prayer list.

So now for the end of the night, the other bookend.

When is the last time you handed someone a hundred dollar bill to support a cause you learned about only 15 minutes before?

This happened to us last night at the Circle City Park. Tom and I had just set up camp and were beginning our evening routine when Kevin stopped by to chat. He said he was meeting his “hay crew” in a bit to bale hay that night – apparently this is the best time to bale hay in Montana.

He was curious about our bike ride and we gave him the deets. He was particularly interested in Back on My Feet and their work with veterans.

Soon after his “hay crew” showed up. It was his beautiful wife Dawn, and their five children. The eldest sons, David and Donavan were meeting dad at city park to work all night. Dawn stayed behind to play with the children at the park before returning home.

This family visited with us for some time and it’s hard for me to explain how special they are.

This family. Salt of the earth. Good solid, faith filled folks who shared their stories with us and were interested in what we were doing. Again, the intentions they shared… on the prayer list.

Haha in case anyone is interested I keep a Google spreadsheet of everyone’s request so I don’t forget.

Back to our family, Kevin and Dawn, I don’t know your last names, and I was only able to give you a quick technology lesson about accessing our blog but know that you inspired us in BIG ways. Thank you.

And your idea of charity? It’s bold. And that’s something I need to practice more of. Bold charity.

Oh and about the riding, although it was a shorter day of only 50 miles, the rollers (over 2,000 feet worth) and the steady headwind wore us down a little. However we stopped more and ate more so all was well.

There were no “hangries” today for me but I almost threw a rock at Tom when I climbed to the top of a rise and found he’d gotten got his chair out and was sitting by the side of the road catching up on email waiting for me. And that was early on at mile six!

Between that and taking my pic when I fell asleep with the phone in my hand calls for action on my part. Watch out, Tom!

We crossed the mighty Missouri River today and Tom auditioned for a new job and danced a jig (I believe that puts him at three jigs, Mikey). 😊

Shortly after our picnic lunch next to the audition location we realized we were about out of water. Every ready Tom went to scout out some water and met Aaron and Lindsey who were eager to help. Seriously these Montanans are uber nice.

After a burger and grocery shopping we called the sheriff about camping in the city park and it was no problem.

We are ready for a longer riding day tomorrow!

#acaNoTier Glasgow to Wolf Point, 61 Miles | How Things Get Done

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We’ve had some questions about how the videos are created, who does what in camp, and also concerns about riding day in and out. Soooo…. we thought it might be fun to give you an inside look at how things get done here on the road.

When camping, we usually wake up about 5:30 or 6:00 without an alarm. If there isn’t a big reason to jump up and get things going like sprinklers systems starting or rain, we lay in the tent and do a little dot-coming.

Dot.coms are checking weather, texts, news, sports, social media or blogging. Takes about 10-15 minutes.

Once out of the tent we usually both dash for a bathroom. Then Tom uncovers the bikes and lays the tarp out. Everything comes out of the tent and laid on the tarp and the tent is taken down. Tom then rolls the sleeping pads, and stuffs all the bags.

While he is doing that I’m making breakfast which is oatmeal with chopped walnuts and raisins, coffee and sometimes a bagel or breakfast bar if a second breakfast won’t be available. I finish up the blog if needed.

We get dressed in our cycling clothes, load our panniers, put them on the bikes, do push ups and planks, say our prayer and we are on our way!

Without rushing this all takes about 90 minutes but we can finish faster if we don’t cook and instead, get breakfast on the road.

Our fave time to cycle is first thing in the morning with fresh legs as we anticipate what the day will bring. We ride quietly and complete our own prayer time individually: Rosary for me and Tom says a litany of prayers daily.

At about 20 miles we plan for a second breakfast or a cup of coffee and snack at a gas station.

After that we may turn some music or a podcast on until the next stop which is never soon enough for me. I like “resties” a lot. These are when you get off your bike for 10 minutes or so.

If winds are favorable resties don’t happen quite as much. If unfavorable, they happen a little more often. If there are mosquitoes… We. Don’t. Stop.

We usually eat lunch on the road anywhere we can find a place to lean our bikes and sun (if it’s cold) or shade (if it’s hot) and always out of the wind.

Generally we know each day what our end point will be and if we will be stopping for dinner or cooking in camp. If stopping for dinner in town we do so on the way to camp.

The ACA maps are super helpful in providing mileage, services, elevation and even interesting field notes.

Sometimes we have to do a little exploring to locate the campground and if needed, we call ahead for details.

Once we arrive to our campsite, which may be a National Park, City Park, bike campground or RV/private campground we reverse the order above.

Bags off and unloaded. Both of us set up the tent (in about four minutes tops), we each get out our pads and bags and lay them out in the tent.

I like to get out of my bike shorts as quickly as possible. I usually cook up dinner and then it’s shower time if they are available. If not a spit bath works, too.

Tom looks the bikes over and every couple days cleans them and lubes the chains. Every single morning he checks air pressure in the tires.

We like to plan three or four days in advance where we think we may stay and we add up the mileage for each day. That’s one of my fave things to do, planning the upcoming days.

We’re usually in the tent reading and blogging by 9:00pm. It’s light here until about 10:00pm but we don’t have any issues getting to sleep at all.

An important part of the whole bike travel experience is keeping the devices charged – mostly the Garmin with the digital maps and our iPhones. We also have rear and front lights, Shuffles and an iPad with Tom’s books. The Garmin and the phones are prioritized for charging. Tom has a little gadget where multiple USB devices can be charged. We plug this hub in whenever we can to charge up (lunch stops, etc) . So far it hasn’t been an issue but just in case we both carry one charged portable battery pack.

As far as the blogging we both take pics and vids all day with our iPhones. After dinner Tom airdrops them to me. I then import them all into an app called VivaVideo where I can sequence the clips and add music. All the music is on my iPhone and if there is a song that fits particularly well and I don’t have it, it’s easy to buy and apply.

The vids are saved to my iPhone, and uploaded to WordPress.

After doing the video it’s pretty easy to write a blog post since the pics refresh the memory. We take turns blogging either at night or in the morning.

I snag the riding stats from Tom’s Strava account and link them at the top of the day’s post. Then we summarize the day.

The blog not only lets our friends, family and followers know what we are up to and where we are, it’s a journal for us that we will enjoy and use to plan our next bike travel adventure. The whole blogging process with video takes about an hour each day.

WordPress automatically posts to Facebook and Twitter. And it means SO much to us to get likes and comments on any and all of these platforms. We read every single one. Tom is reading them now!

Lastly folks are asking how the bodies are holding up. After all we are grands lol. And yes sometimes I affectionately call Tom “gramps”.

We feel pretty good! No soreness and we feel like we are getting stronger. And we’re going through a good amount of sunscreen now that the rainy cold weather is behind us. Fingers crossed.

We rode to Mass yesterday without bags on and the bikes felt so weird. It’s as if it was harder to steer them without the bags. So I guess it’s all what you get used to.

I struggled with energy a little yesterday but I think it had more to do with what I ate the last 24 hours than anything else. A nice big Caesar salad with grilled chicken for dinner sometimes isn’t enough. I’m still figuring that out although it hasn’t been a big issue. We miss our morning protein smoothies with greens, fruit, flax and chia seeds. Any my goji berries! I need goji berries!

Tom is riding strong and always positive! We have figured out that we say “huh” a lot to each other and might be losing some of our hearing. Can anyone else relate?

Oh and by the way, yesterday’s ride was sweet! Tom’s comment was “If I died and went to heaven this is what it would be like cycling.”

The roadside flowers kept me grinning yesterday while riding on Indian Highway – just miles and miles of wildflowers- mostly violet, some yellow, some white. All magnificent.

The place we are camping is super cool. There is an outfitter store in the front of a stone and cedar ranch. We are camping in their backyard and they are letting us use their deluxe kitchen and bathroom (yay). It’s out in the middle of the country and it is a lovely setting with horses grazing next door and an uber blue cloudless sky.

#acaNoTier Malta to Glasgow, 71 Miles | Skeeters

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There’s a little something something for all in today’s recap. Where to begin…

Maybe with animals.

Several pronghorn antelope were spotted and if you’ve never seen a herd trot away, put that on your bucket list. Seriously. They will make you smile.

And the cattle. Usually the curious cows look up and stare until we are out of site. (Yes I ring my bike bell at them.) Today we practically had an all out stampede.

And I’m very sorry to report many more deceased birds today than snakes yesterday. I don’t mind snakes but I like birds a lot better. Sorry to see so many casualties today.

But the biggest impact today was the smallest animal – the mosquitos. They were tortuous. Apparently Saco is known as mosquito central. Who knew? As we made our way east they got worse.

Montanans kept asking how we could tolerate being outside. They told us the swarms had been know to take down a horse.

When we stopped for a drink at a convenience store and talked to a woman whose Ford pickup looked like she’d been four wheelin’ she related instead – mosquitoes. Check the vid for a visual.

Who knew? Montana. Mosquitoes.

Then there is always weather. Storm clouds skirted around us all afternoon but the heavens didn’t break open until we were safely checked into the hotel.

Some tailwinds and a bit of crosswinds for good measure kept us right near our target of 70 miles a day.

Solid shoulders with moderate rumble strips today made for good riding.

Montana drivers were alert, courteous and scant.

So much of today was just big sky and long roads. Just the way we like it!

Laundry is done. Devices charged. Maps checked and Tom discovered Spotify. Life is good.

I’d say it was an awesome day for bike ridin’.