Day 6 – Mandan to Dickenson, ND

Thursday, June 18, 2015 – 91.6 miles

With plans for a shorter day, I woke up later than planned and hit the road about 8:30, shopping for breakfast at Ohm’s Cafe. I couldn’t resist charging my meal. After breakfast I headed out of town. At the last stoplight I shifted down before stopping so I could start again – but something didn’t feel right. I look down to see that my shifter cable housing had come apart, leaving my without the ability of shift my critical gears at the back. This is not a good thing! I was, however, very grateful it happened only about 7-8 miles from a bike shop – something you don’t find too often in this part of the country.

So I pulled into a little motel and called a cab. It took me over three hours to get the new cable housing, return to the motel where my bike was parked, replace both right and left shifter cable housings, and get the bike adjusted again. In finally hit the road about 12:30, grateful that I was able to get it fixed that easily and that I had planned a shorter day of under 50 miles.

It felt good to be riding again and I had a tailwind that help push me along.

Part of the route included a 12.5 mile stretch on I-94 as there were not good roads parallel to the freeway. I wasn’t looking forward to this, but quickly changed my mind once on the freeway. I had a wide, smooth shoulder with a rumble strip separating me from the traffic. It was like my own bike lane. Most of the roads I had traveled didn’t have a shoulder so cars had to go around me. I actually felt safer on the freeway than on the regular roads. In addition, the freeway is designed for truck traffic so has very gentle grades. After the extreme ups and downs of following the Missouri River valley, this was a welcome relief.

I came to a rest area and stopped. While there I double checked my route and found I had make an error calculating and the town I was planning on stopping in was actually closer than I expected. So I decided to go a bit farther to the next town.

After I started rolling, I saw ahead of me another cyclist and worked to catch up with him. This turned out to be easy as he was going very slowly. We stopped and chatted a bit. He was on an old mountain bike and had ridden to eastern North Dakota and was not returning to the west coast using a standard highway map and camping alongside the road. He told me he thought there was a closed rest area about 8 miles ahead that he was going to camp at.

After we parted I got to thinking about his traveling all the way on the freeway. In most places, riding a bike on the freeway is prohibited, except in a few places where there is no other way. But was that the case here? If I stayed on the freeway a couple more exits, I would save about 6 miles on my planned route for the day and avoid the rollers of the county roads. When I approached my exit I looked for signs saying that bicycles must exit or signs on the on ramp prohibiting bicycles. I saw none so kept riding.

With a strong tailwind I was able to make good time. I got to the exit and pulled over to look at my map. I choose a town further down to stop at instead and kept riding on the freeway. And kept riding. I realized that Dickenson wasn’t that much farther so kept going. I stopped in town to grab a Subway sandwich do I wouldn’t have to cook supper and headed for the campground just out of town. I got there and setup camp, feeling better than I had on previous shorter mileage days. The tailwinds and freeway made a big difference.

As I setup camp, I realize one downside to the campground. While very nice and located on a beautiful lake it was also next to some railroad track. I woke up several times in the night the sound freight trains speeding by, but then quickly went back to sleep.

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