I am currently sitting in the Billings County Resource Center in Medora, North Dakota, the beloved home of Teddy Roosevelt! My riding partner, Adam and I, decided to come here from Dickinson after riding 58 miles in the early morning, which added another 46 miles to our day giving me my second 100+ ride day in just 2 weeks!
We were graced with another beautiful sunrise along the Enchanted Highway, rode through a light thunder storm and some ranch dirt roads through the Badlands, arriving in Medora last evening at about 7pm where we met up with a couple other Green Riders at a cook off festival. We were welcomed by all the vendors and given TONS of free food, which we very happily scarfed down in about 5 minutes. Next we rode up an ENORMOUS hill, (I definitely cried a little bit while pulling my loaded bike up an, at least, 12% grade), to watch the nationally recognized, outdoor Medora Musical, something that locals across the State have been telling us is something we shouldn’t miss, (it was a very entertaining and quite stereotypical show of American patriotism!). Initially, we had nowhere planned to camp, but as seems to be the theme for this trip, we met someone along the way who called a friend in town to get us set up in her backyard. This wonderful woman, Sharon, not only let the 4 of us camp out at her home, but the next morning, she greeted us with muffins, jam, honey, yogurt, strawberries and freshly brewed coffee! She ALSO offered us all showers, a very welcomed gift after sleeping in your 100 mile sweat and road grime!
I have had many amazing travel experiences in my life, but nothing compares to how I’ve been treated and welcomed so far on this trip. One of my personal goals in doing this was to reaffirm a sense of community in my home country. I remember feeling so disillusioned with American culture after returning from the Peace Corps back in 2012, feeling like their was too much instilled “stranger danger” fear, mistrust and judgement that one needed to fight through that it wasn’t worth trying to explore this country in a rucksack way. In just 3 weeks, this bike trip with the Green Riders has completely transformed my outlook and reignited hope in humanities ability to come together despite our various perspectives, upbringings and values. One evening, while resting at a bar in the small farming town of Hazelton, ND, the conflict in Standing Rock came up in conversation with a few of the locals there who had purchased us a couple drinks and a pizza upon hearing of our adventures. I excitedly made a comment about how Adam and Rob (the organizer of the Green Riders group), had been there to help out. To my surprise, this immediately created a thick cloud of tension in the room. I learned a lot about how this conflict has had many negative repercussions for locals as many people’s livelihoods here depend on oil and gas. Their personal views on Standing Rock were that the media falsified many of the issues, the pipeline was not on tribal lands and about how many folks are now out of much needed and well paying jobs. It was quite the eye-opening experience for me to just listen to their thoughts and feelings and even after all this, 2 locals were still making phone calls to friends to help us find a place to camp for the night, a lesson in deep listening to fully hear someone without judgement.
The adventure continues this evening. We will be heading out about 5pm to escape the 95 degree weather and head winds, riding 70 miles through the night to reach Glendive, MT. This will be my first night ride and I’m so excited to cruise along under the stars. We will be about 45 miles ahead of the rest of the group, which will allow for us to have another full day of rest before heading on to Wolf Point, MT for our next group stop and volunteer project. So far, this incredible group has salvaged over 3,500 lbs of food from dumpsters, pick up over 28,000 pieces of trash and planted 50 fruit trees and helped out in dozens of urban gardens and farms. I’m so blessed to have found this new, nomadic family of sustainable nature nerds and have a feeling that this lifestyle may grow on me more than I could have possibly expected.
Bicycle and Gear Update: Jen and Lauren at Dakota Cyclery here in Medora set me up with a brand new chain and rear cassette with 4 more climbing gears, so no more crying on big hills! Bring on the Montana Rocky Mountains!
My back big saddle bags are RIPPING!!!! I have learned that duct tape is not the best solution for this problem, so if anyone has suggestions, please let me know!
Special shout out to Vail Valley Vixens! The t-shirt has initiated some great conversations already.
AND Venture Sports, my racing bike has taken quite a beating on some not so friendly gravel roads, but she’s still going strong!
Thanks so much for following!
Peace, Love & Sustainability,