Written Monday, July 14.
Right now I’m in Monticello, Minnesota. Just a mile or two from the Mississippi River. It’s a cool little town, with 12,000 people. It’s nice to finally be in “civilization”!
My best day this week was probably July 12th. Everything about that day just clicked, and the road was flat as a pancake for 100 miles to the border of North Dakota and Minnesota. My friend Erik and I continued an additional 30 miles once Route 46 ended. We made excellent time, and I racked up my biggest day yet. The only hard part was saying goodbye to my travel partners of six days, Brendan and Stef. They are biking for their honeymoon, and we had different routes, and had to part ways. It was really difficult — we made a pretty strong friendship considering our age gap of 12 years. They are headed home to New Hampshire. After saying bye to them, Erik and I went the 30 extra miles I just mentioned, and ended at the 101st county fair in Barnesville, Minnesota. It was pretty spectacular. The accents were thick, and the food was good.
My hardest day was July 11th, because for 80 miles, Brendan, Stef and I rode directly into a headwind. With hills. It was cold and windy, with some rain here and there. Headwinds are the absolute worst! North Dakota’s way of saying goodbye I guess!
I’ve taken a liking to getting a salad, then eating a whole entire pizza by myself, loaded with toppings — and following it with a milkshake. I did this in Gackle, North Dakota, and I think it’s what fueled my 130-mile day.
130 miles in one day. I’ve still got time to beat that!
The thing that surprised me most this week was seeing the landscape of North Dakota. I didn’t expect what I saw — green rolling hills, lunar rock formations, expanses of grass… It was just all really quite marvelous, and all I had expected was… well, plains.
When I’m alone I think of a lot of things: what I’m going to do after I’m done with my bike ride comes into mind a lot, as well as how I’m going to feel when it’s over. But I usually push those thoughts back and focus on what’s happening at this very moment. How happy I am that I had this incredible dream, I was active about it, and made it a reality. I’m here, doing it now. I think about the land, and if I’m in a reservation, which I was for most of Montana, I think about the history of America and the way our founding fathers treated Native Americans. This is difficult to think about, especially when I see the condition of the reservations. I also spend time thinking about different ways to be mindful. And honestly, I spend a lot of time thinking about home!
If I’m with someone, like Erik or Brendan and Stef we will talk most of the day. We talk like we aren’t strangers. About our family, personal struggles, relationships, goals in life, future plans… We open up like we know each other. It’s like the biking breaks down the walls between us. I love it.
Playlists… I only listen to My Morning Jacket and Future Islands when I do listen. I had to quit listening to country music because I related to the cheesy songs too well.
I usually listen to audiobooks. I love to learn and I don’t think I’ll have this much time to do it all day again! During the trip I have listened to:
Whole by T. Colin Campbell
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
The Art of Power by Tich Naht Hanh
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
I’ve read, although I’m usually too tired to read:
E Squared by Pam Grout
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
And I’ve listened to an uncountable number of RadioLab podcasts.
I have met one person, besides the ones I’m biking with, who actually had even heard of Martha’s Vineyard. He made a joke about Vineyard Haven actually — he used to live there. Everyone else seems to not know it exists! Maybe the closer I get the more it will be familiar.
So far $1,580.90 has been raised, out of my goal of $10,000 for the USANA True Health Foundation. I’m halfway across the United States, too! Don’t forget to donate by going to www.followmeacrossamerica.org/donate.html. Thank you.