Big Miles Day
We are completely at the mercy of the wind. It impacts our ability to travel more than any other element. It can restrict us to 40 miles, or it can push us to 120, as was the case a few days ago.
Today we knew we would have a tailwind, and we have now learned how valuable these tailwinds are. It is not just here one day gone the next, but it is here one day and the complete opposite the next.
We woke up at Jim’s house (who we had met on warmshowers.com), and packed up as quickly as possible to drive out to our starting spot. Jim was so gracious to have cooked us dinner, let us take showers, do our laundry, and use his house/materials to clean our bikes.
I think we all underestimated how fortunate we would be with the wind, because it was pushing us very quickly. We soon realized that this day had a lot of potential. We glided over North Dakota between 15-25 miles an hour with minimal effort (which is a gift from above). We took quick breaks because we knew that every minute off the bike was more miles lost than usual. In these kinds of conditions, it is much easier to have good conversations with each other, because we can go so fast without losing our breath. I rode with Jordan until about 4:00 PM, and before we realized it, we had ridden 100 miles.
It was about this time that we began to do some strategizing. We knew we could make up for a lot of lost ground today, and that we could increase our chances of getting to Cloquet, MN by Saturday. So we met at the next van stop to discuss what the rest of the day would look like.
Positive attitudes about the potential of the day were expressed, and big numbers were estimated as to what could be accomplished by the end of the day. Maybe we could do 150? Maybe 180!
“If I get to 180 then I’m going to 200.” –Dan
And so the bar was set.
At 4:00 PM, after riding 100 miles, we decided we would aim to complete another 100 miles before we slept. As soon as the decision was made, we took off. We were separated at first, but came back together about 15-20 miles in, after we realized that our tailwind had dissipated for the most part.
We stocked up on food and water, basically stopped taking breaks, and rode eastward as quickly as possible. As the sun began to set and we neared 170 miles, Andrew got a flat tire, and we had to quickly change it. (The picture above is where the sun was when Andrew had his flat).
After his tire was fixed, we rode on into the night. Eventually, it was completely dark and we still had around 20 miles to go, which would take over an hour. We decided to have the van drive behind us on the shoulder, with the brights on so that we could see and be seen. Fortunately, there was not much traffic this time of day.
The last 20 miles were the most difficult for me. Instead of feeling tired, I literally felt sleepy. I felt like falling asleep on the bike. It wasn’t because I was hungry- it wasn’t dinner time- it was bedtime! We all had different sore spots come up because of the unbelievable mileage we covered during the day, and we just had to push through them in these last miles.
We began counting down the mile markers next to the road, getting so excited for mile marker 279, because we started out that morning at mile marker 79. It drew closer and closer, and my eyelids grew heavier and heavier, but we made it.
Someone pulled over where we stopped just to chat with us in the bug infested night. I jumped in the van to escape the bugs, and eventually we headed back to the church to sleep (an hour drive, since we had gone so far past it).
When we got to the church, Krista had prepared an amazing dinner for us. It was an amazing blessing to end such a wearisome day.