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Day 32 Starbuck to Sauk Centre, MN 34 Miles (1910 total miles)

Believe it or not…Starbuck, MN is not the home of Starbucks coffee. It is a really nice town along Lake Minnewaska though.

Mary had me back to Starbuck at 8AM and I set off for Sauk Centre, the boyhood home of author Sinclair Lewis.

Where there’s pelicans, there’s fish. Must be lots of fish here.

Love having my camera operational again!

Soybeans to the left of me.

Soybeans to the right.

Here I am. Stuck in the middle with Gerty.

Mary picked me up in Sauk Centre about noon. She had called a bike shop to let them know Gerty would be coming in. No openings until August! Uh oh!!

The second shop said they may be able to get her in if we got there soon. We headed right to Alex Bike Shop in Alexandria, where Barry and Mary live.

The shop said would try to have her ready by end of day but no guarantee. Didn’t open until 10 next AM and I was really not wanting to wait until then to start riding. I would say I crossed my fingers that they would finish today but I can’t. Fingers still not totally functioning.

After we dropped Gerty off we went by Alex’s tourist attraction, Big Ole.

The “Birthplace of America” is local lore. Vikings are said to have visited here in 1382. Personally, I think that may be a stretch but who’s going to argue with Big Ole.

Got a call from bike shop at 3:30 that Gerty was ready. The shop said she looked good and that she had really good components. That was reassuring. Tires are good. Will probably need a new chain along the way because a bit stretched. They even gave her a bath!!

We celebrated by going out to their lake cabin for dinner.

Mary and Barry have been incredible hosts. 2 nights at their house and carting me all over the place. I’m so fortunate to have friends looking out for me. Thanks so much, Mary and Barry!

It was a good night at the lake and Gerty and I will be ready to roll in the AM.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 31 Milbank to Starbuck, MN 76 miles (1876 total miles)

Lots of road construction my last 11 miles of SD. Rough shoulder. Came to a spot where they had a pilot car for 1.5 miles. Told flagger that I would ride as fast as I could.

I can go pretty fast but not 40 mph. Pilot car turned around and was bringing cars back towards me on the one open lane. I just moved to left shoulder. A bit rude in my opinion but I guess, if I had to wait in a car for some idiot on a bike to get past, I may have become a bit impatient.

I survived and made it to MN. Loved my time in SD but have to move on into state number 6.

I had to adjust my intended route from Ortonville, MN. Had planned to stay on Hwy 12 to Benson but road was closed to through traffic for 26 miles. Randy had warned me about that last night. I took Hwy 75 north for 19 miles. Not the direction I’m supposed to be going but…I did get to go through Graceville, the birthplace of former MN Twins manager, Tom Kelly.

The corn through this area looks pretty good to me. It’s tall anyway.

At Morris I stopped at my 3rd Verizon store in the last 24 hours. All closed Monday and Tuesday for “training”. What??

Stopped for lunch at McD’s and there was a Verizon store across parking lot. I just assumed it was also closed. As I was leaving, I planned to take a picture of Closed for Training sign. Lo and behold, it was open.

I got exceptional service from Nikki and Alexis. New phone (and camera) up and running!! Oh, happy day.

The corn is starting to tassel. It’s important, in my professional agronomist opinion, that it gets some rain at that time. I’d go into the details but I really have no clue. Someone just told me that.

Complaint of the day. Hey, MN, what’s up with these shoulders?

It was like this pretty much all day. What do you do? Ride on gravel? Slow and bumpy. Ride on 1-3 feet of pavement on shoulder? Hard to do because gravel is 3” lower than pavement and white line is a rumble strip. Ride in traffic lane? A bit sketchy.

I pretty much rode the lane until I’d hear vehicles coming up from behind and then rumbled over to “shoulder”. Took lots of concentration. Good example of why nothing in my ears (music, etc.).

I wanted to get pretty far today as there’s a good chance for rain tomorrow.

8 miles before Starbuck there’s a car alongside the road. It’s Mary (Cramer) Ronning, a high school classmate. She knew I was heading to Starbuck and wanted me to stay at their house in Alexandria tonight. Sounded good to me!

Mary will give me a ride back to Starbuck in the morning. If I drank coffee, I’d definitely get some of their famous mocha latte.

Planning a short (35 or so miles) ride to Sauk Center tomorrow. Rain possible and Gerty is past due for a check up.

One last thing…if strong thighs are a key to good golf, all of you boys from The Plantation should just send me $100. I’ll be a +4 in 8 rounds. You might as well just pay in advance!!!

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 30 Bristol to Milbank, SD 58 Miles (1800 total miles)

My legs were actually pretty fresh today for the first time in a few weeks. Kind of a nice feeling.

I had some company on today’s ride. Jodi Storley, my cousin, rode the entire way with me.

There was little to no wind and relatively easy terrain for the first 25 miles or so. Temperature was good also so it was actually enjoyable.

The road through this body of water has been raised something like 25’ since I was roaming these parts as a kid. This is the Glacial Lakes region and there are a lot more and bigger lakes over the past 30 years. Roads and farmland have been taken over by bodies of water. The good news is that some of the best walleye fishing in the world is in this area.

If you’re ever passing through Waubay, SD, stop at the Purple Cow. A giant chair with a back and great ice cream!

The wind started to pick up (not a tailwind, of course) as we neared Summit. Obviously it was a bit uphill as we were heading to Summit…thus the name of the town.

Jodi’s husband, Larry, joined us at Summit for the last 25 miles.

I had been looking forward to Marvin Hill. It was a big, steep downhill back in my day. They’ve since leveled it out a bit and is now only a 4% grade. Bummer but it was still a good coast for a few miles. The air was a tad bit smoky from wildfires in the western US.

Down in the valley the wind picked up some more and we were dead into a 15mph wind for a few miles.

We made it into Milbank a little after 2PM.

I’m still having phone issues. A new one was delivered to Bristol today and Kris delivered it to me in Milbank. She’s on her way back home so it was a bit of a drop and dash! Now I just need a Verizon store to transfer all my “stuff” to new phone. Of course, the store in Milbank was closed. Bad phone karma for past week.

I do have a comfortable place to stay for the evening, Randy (college friend) and Robin Patnoe are hosting me and trying to fatten me up with some spaghetti and delicious cupcakes.

I was also able to see a couple of other long time friends, Pat DeFea and Dave Wagner. Fun to chat with them for a bit.

I’ve received a bunch of extra supplies the last few days. Pickle juice, deer jerky, energy tablets for water, energy gel packs, and 2 jars of homemade pickles. Glad I’m not hiking because my 2 saddle bags are packed to capacity.

Only 3000 miles to go!!

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 27-29 Bristol, SD 0 Miles (1742 total miles)

Had a phenomenal 3 days in Bristol. Not a lot of rest but plenty of recreation! Saw a lot of long time friends.

The All School Reunion on Saturday was well organized and well attended.

There was a parade in the morning. Lots of farm equipment!!

My parents (2and 3 from left) with other grads from the 1950’s.

We had a little gathering for the class of 1976 after the parade. 15 out of 25 present. That’s pretty good. Amazing how we all look exactly the same after 45 years.

A few more photos of my hometown.

Bethesda Lutheran Church
K-12 school building. Last graduating class, 2004.
Sun Dial Manor, one of the charities I’m riding for.

Thanks for your welcome and hospitality, Bristol. It’s been a fast and fun 3 days.

Back to work tomorrow AM!!

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 26 Ipswich to Bristol, SD 66 miles (1742 total miles)

Got rolling out of Ipswich at 8AM. Light rain and temperature in the 60’s. Good for pedaling.

My first destination was Aberdeen. Largest city in NE South Dakota (population 30,000) and the home to my (and Kris’) alma mater, Northern State University.

I got a bit of a preview of what the day would be like 9 miles before Aberdeen. Molly Gunderson, a Bristol native, was out by the road cheering and blowing an air horn when I went by!

Had 2 media appointments when I got to Aberdeen. Took care of them and rolled through Aberdeen. At the east end of town, I had another cheering section.

My niece, Hillary’s, son Kroy was even decked out in a Sea2Key onesie!

I also joined up with my celebrity guest rider. My brother, Jay.

Off we went. 35 more miles to Bristol! As we approached Groton (20 miles from Bristol) I noticed my phone wasn’t on handlebars. Must have fallen off somewhere between Aberdeen and Groton. Been having lots of issues with that phone in last 5 days!

At Groton I called Kris from Jay’s phone. She could track my phone so could see it’s location and knew it was still functioning (i.e. not smashed be traffic). She headed out on a search and rescue mission.

By the time we got 7 miles down the road, she had found the phone and met us at the Day County (our county) line. We hadn’t seen each other since Memorial Day so that was fun.

At this point Jay had ridden 25+ miles in a pretty good wind and we both knew that the toughest stretch was coming up. He decided to get a ride. Definitely a wise move.

I reached Andover (10 miles to Bristol) and then the road turns south. Directly into a 10-15 mph wind. Plus the road does a gradual climb of 500’ over 4 miles. Hardest riding I had done for a few days.

When I finally got to the top of the hill and turned east for the final 4 miles, I was met by 2 Day County Sheriff vehicles, the Bristol fire truck, and several private vehicles. We paraded towards Bristol.

People were out in their driveways waving and cheering Gerty and I on.

That sure made the last 4 miles go much faster.

When our convoy got to Bristol, I was amazed and in awe of what awaited us…about 75 people lining Main Street cheering and waving. Even residents of Sun Dial Manor were out there with signs they had made. Pretty emotional for me.

Rolled right up to my parents’ house. Let the party begin!

I am more than ready for a bit of rest. I worked extremely hard the last couple of weeks to get to Bristol today. Thinking I deserve a little R&R!!

I’ll try to give you a tour of Bristol tomorrow.

Thanks so much for everyone’s support. It is overwhelming.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 25 Herreid to Ipswich, SD 76 miles (1676 total miles)

I am loving riding through SD. I know the roads and, more importantly, the people. It’s so neat because I know people in virtually every town…and we’re still 66 miles from where I will know everyone.

I left Herreid about 7:30 heading south to Selby to meet Dan Biel, a fellow Northern State grad for breakfast. A fairly easy 23 mile warm up.

Dan had invited Kim Kightlinger to join us. Kim also went to Northern State and has a Bristol connection. His uncle, Clayton, owned Kight’s Rec in Bristol. The place to be in Bristol after any sporting event when I was a kid. I also spent a little extra time there shooting pool and playing pinball. It actually was LOTS of extra time.

Dan, myself, and Kight

Kight even rode out of town with me for a bit.

This bull would look a lot bigger and nastier if I didn’t have to do this whole selfie thing.

The towns today where spaced out perfectly for me. 23 miles to Selby. 22 to Bowdle. 16 to Roscoe. 15 to Ipswich. Before you know it, 76 miles in the rear view mirror.

I finished today in Ipswich but staying in Roscoe with great friends, Cliff and Brenda Anderson.

Roscoe is a population of about 400 people. Here is a mini-tour.

The smallest public library in the world. Only open Wednesday afternoons.

Roscoe Legion Golf Course. Note the annual membership fees! I pay that to use my own cart 4 times. If nobody is at the shop, just put your cash in the box.

The greens are a bit unique. Sand…and really small.

You putt out and then rake the green. Think I would just dig a trench to the hole before I putted.

66 miles to Bristol. Rumor has it that I may have a celebrity guest rider joining me. All I can say is…good luck!!

Great day. Loving my ride through the homeland. It can’t get much better than this!

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 24 Mandan, ND to Herreid, SD 101 Miles (1600 total miles)

Big day today. Mostly good.

The Missouri River divides Mandan and Bismarck. As I crossed the River, I stopped to take an incredible picture. Camera problem.??

I spent an hour at my breakfast stop trying to fix camera. Eventually realized I could FaceTime and take selfies. Just not normal pics. After the cow pic late yesterday, phone fell off Gerty. Guessing something broke. You’re going to have to deal with my poor selfie skills for a few days.

The first 32 miles were dead into the wind. Obviously, headwinds slow you down but the worst thing is there is no coasting. I like to coast whenever possible. Kind of a life theme.

After that we turned south and had a quartering tailwind. I’ll take it…so will Gerty. She was humming all afternoon.

I was 68 miles down the road in Litton at 3PM. Strasburg, ND was 10 miles but no lodging options. Herreid 23 miles past there. Should I stay or should I go? Obviously I went.

Temperature was quite cool. Wore a jacket almost all day. Cycling is kind of easy when temps are reasonable, no headwind, and gentle rolling hills. Not nearly as many roadside stops needed.

Strasburg is the birthplace of Lawrence Welk. If you’re younger than 55, you may have to Google him. A 1, and a 2, and…

23 miles to go late in the day. Why do I keep putting myself in these situations?

Today those miles were much easier. The cool temperature surely helped but I also had some serious motivation…I was going to be in SD!

Was in Herreid shortly before 7. Local watering hole just across the street. Perfect for some food and a few Buds.

I went to Boys State in 1975. One of the guys in my group was from Herreid. I asked bartender if she knew Dick Werner. “Of course.”

10 minute later, guy walks in. She tells me that is Dick. He figured out who I was pretty quickly. Must be the beard.

It was fun connecting with someone I hadn’t seen in a long time. Possibly high school. Great catching up on a lot of years. Got a tour of Herreid and his farm. Good time.

Other than the camera issue…a really good day. Temp in high 60’s, fast progress, into SD, connected with a friend, 101 miles, 1600 total (1/3 done!), and I’m only 142 miles from Bristol!

Assuming no catastrophe…or major headwind, I should be in Bristol on Th. This has been a mental and emotional roller coaster. I’ve been everywhere between there’s no chance, maybe, and got it.

Couldn’t have done what I’ve done so far without your support. I feel it. Thanks so much!

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 23 Taylor to Mandan, ND 82 Miles (1499 total miles)

My campsite last night was really nice. Shaded and no bugs (that surprised me). Didn’t see Mr. Bloom this AM and didn’t want to ring doorbell at 7AM so didn’t get a chance to thank him once again for his hospitality.

As we progress east, there are more crop lands and less range land.

I discovered the downside to riding on Interstate yesterday. The exit/entrance ramps could be a tad bit dangerous…especially in a metro area. I didn’t have any problems but not many people exiting or entering from these country roads.

Crop duster coming in hot! I thought he was going to tailhook the wires in 2nd pic. Before I got close enough to take pics, he went under on a pass.

Stopped for breakfast at small cafe in Hebron. I believe there may be some folks of German heritage in the area.

Corn is not looking good. This is probably worst I saw. Guessing they will chop this up for feed because they won’t get much of a yield.

Stopped in New Salem (33 miles from Bismarck) about 3. I was pretty beat. I had lunch at a small cafe. It was 24 miles to next potential stop and storms forecast for tonight. I needed to be indoors tonight.

I was doubting whether I could make another 24 miles. It’s easy in the morning, a bit more difficult midday, and really difficult late in the afternoon.

There was a small motel next to cafe. I decided I’d stay there. It would make getting to Bristol on Thursday extremely difficult, if not impossible, but I was really tired.

There was 1 car in parking lot so I assumed it would be no problem getting a room. NOT! Fully booked with roadies setting up for a 3 day country music fest down the road. Bummer for me.

No choice but to suck it up and pedal the 24 miles to Mandan. I knew it would not be a fun couple of hours.

I could see the storm clouds gaining on me as I rode. Got rained on a couple different times but didn’t really bother me. In fact, it was a bit refreshing

These cows were making all kinds of noise and coming from all over the pasture to congregate. As I was stopping to take pic, I wondered if they were doing this because of approaching storm. Loud crack of lightening as soon as I got stopped. Guess they knew something.

I had about 8 miles to go. Got a second wind and pedaled as fast as I could for the next half hour.

Got to a motel 10 minutes before it started pouring…along with thunder and lightning.

Glad I got those miles in now that I’m here. About 245 miles to Bristol. Way better than 270.

3 more days of 80+ miles. That’s a lot and I’ve been going pretty hard the last several days but it’s possible. If I don’t make it, I’ll be really close.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 22 Wibaux, MT to Taylor, ND 92 miles (1417 total miles)

Got my phone fixed early this AM. All those that speculated charger cord was the issue, you were correct!! Thank goodness. I don’t use my phone much except for communication, navigation, photos, blog post, and telling time. Pretty much everything except pedaling Gerty.

Peace out, MT. You were real. Just not real fun. 12 days and 800 miles. 5 off those days in the 100’s. Never been so happy to enter ND. Love the Be Legendary!

Stopped right across the border in Beach, ND (10 miles from Wibaux). Had a Subway sandwich for breakfast. Very happy they were open that early. It was in a truck stop or they probably would have been closed for 4th.

As we approached Medora, the land started getting bad.

Bet you thought ND was flat, didn’t you? Not so fast!

Medora is at the entrance to Teddy Roosevelt National Park. Teddy is one of my favorite Presidents so, today, I was a Rough Rider and Gerty was my trusty steed.

I stopped at a rest area at the east end of the park. They had a vending machine with Coke. I wanted one but only had $20’s. Luckily there was an info center/souvenir shop. Went in to get change. Young girl told me she didn’t have enough small bills to change 20. I was a bit frustrated as I saw her cash register. Was going to start asking people for change until I saw these little $1 medallions. I bought one, she had to give me change and then I told her to keep the medallion. She was so confused, I almost felt sorry for her!

There were some great views of Painted Canyon and The (real) Badlands. So glad I stopped. Smelling the roses, Kris!!!

I got to Dickenson about 4. Figured I could make Taylor (pop 100) and pitch my tent somewhere in town.

I am in a 30 mile swath of land that has, according to a few farmers, gotten moisture this year. Things are greener than anything since Glacier.

When I “got to” Taylor I found out it was 2 miles off Interstate. Understand that if my mind has been thinking of stopping at a certain point for the past hour, 2 miles may as well be 200.

I saw a nice treed area that I assumed was in a farmer’s yard. Pedaled up driveway and rang doorbell bell. Mr Bloom answered. Probably early 70’s.

I asked if I could pitch my tent in his yard. He looked at me like I was totally nuts. “There’s a public park with water 2 miles up the road in Taylor.” I gave him my poor, poor, pitiful me look and he eventually said OK. Even told me I could get water from his hose. We had a good conversation after he realized I was only semi-nuts. Thanks to the Blooms!!

Had a pretty good day. It was “only” 93. Lots of miles so will see how tomorrow goes. Hope to get to Bismarck tomorrow and into SD Tuesday.

Hope each of you had a great 4th.

Ride on.

Just Pete