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Day 11: Richardton, ND to Bismarck, ND

Well! Today was sure eventful. Or should I say yesterday, since this is going to post after midnight?

The day started at the monastery. (Considering that’s where I went to sleep last night, it would be worrisome if today hadn’t started there.) I didn’t sleep great because the church bells play the Westminster chimes every hour on the hour through the night. What is it with the Westminster chimes anyway? Historically, every belltower played its own set of chimes, but then Big Ben got so popular that everyone felt the need to imitate it.

Anyway, I awoke for good at 6 and joined the monks for breakfast at 7. July 11 is the Feast of St. Benedict, and this was a Benedictine abbey, so they actually served a pretty hearty breakfast, which the monks told me they usually only get on Sundays. I hit the road at 7:40 and discovered that unfortunately there was a southerly wind today. Since I was mostly heading east, this was mostly an annoying crosswind, but the road also curved north and south, so in the first 25 miles I experienced about 10 miles of tailwind followed by 10 miles of headwind.

At 9:45, just over an hour after I left the monastery, I stopped for a break in the small town of Hebron. Yes, you read that right. In the course of that hour I crossed into the Central timezone. However, since I was on a local road they didn’t bother signing this. I guess they figured all the locals know when they’re changing timezones. I only knew because the bike map I’d gotten at Adventure Cycling called my attention to it.

At about 27 miles I came to the town of Glen Ullin, which actually has a grocery store. It seemed to have some defunct restaurants too, but I couldn’t find an active restaurant. East of Glen Ullin, Old US-10, the road I’d been following, becomes unpaved, so the bike route detours up to I-94 for 13 miles. To get to I-94 I had to cross train tracks. To cross the train tracks I first had to wait for a really long line of coal cars to pass.

I-94 was singularly boring, but I got off at each exit to take a breather, and one exit had a nice view of this cool-looking hill.

Once off the interstate, I came to the town of New Salem 5 miles later. It was now about 88 degrees with the sun beating down, so I was looking forward to grabbing a sandwich at this coffee shop that had gotten good reviews on Google. Turns out the coffee shop was as defunct as the restaurants in Glen Ullin. So instead I wound up at a bar a couple of blocks away, where I could sit in an air conditioned room and munch on popcorn. (As I pointed out to the bartender, carbs are carbs.)

Leaving New Salem, it felt like the wind had turned to the southeast, and I was really fighting for the next 25 miles to Mandan, a suburb of Bismarck. In reality it was probably the air leaking out of my rear tire. More on that later.

I finally made it to Mandan at 4:30, completely exhausted, and went straight for Dialectic Brewing. Dialectic may only be a year old, but they’ve really got a strong selection of very good beers. My favorites were the Pitter Patter grapefruit radler, which was incredibly refreshing in this weather; the Not Quite Narcolepsy coffee blonde; and especially the Perpetual Motion peanut butter porter, which just confirms that I’m a sucker for any dark beer containing peanut butter. I was also impressed with the fact that all of their beers were really flavorful despite all being under 6%. I tried 6 different beers and liked them all.

Now, two interesting developments happened while I was at Dialectic. First, I was telling the owner/bartender about my ride and this blog and everything, and a man came over and said that he had overheard me and he worked for KFYR and he would love for them to do a story on me if I was willing. I agreed, and he put me in touch with one of his reporters. But actually meeting with the reporter would have to wait, because when I went to leave I discovered my rear tire was flat.

I actually carry all the equipment needed to change a flat, and if it had been my front tire I could have changed it right then and there in the brewery. However, I’m really bad at getting rear wheels on and off, dealing with the chain and everything. So I first used my hand pump and determined that the tire could hold air and I didn’t hear anything hissing, so it must be a really slow leak. I then looked up bike shops and discovered there was exactly one in Mandan, but it was on the other side of town 3.5 miles away. Also, they closed at 7 and it was already about 6:20 and getting later.

So I hightailed it over to The Cyclist’s Cove, spare tube in hand. The owner changed my tire in short order and also found the cause of the leak⁠— I had picked up a small, sharp piece of metal that looked like it might have been part of a staple. Let’s hope this is my one flat for the trip. [Ed. note: It was!]

I then went back to Dialectic, where I had left most of my stuff (thanks, owners, for watching it for me!) and headed a block over to Laughing Sun for dinner.

Laughing Sun had been recommended by a number of people as one of the best breweries in Bismarck. Unfortunately, their brewery is pretty far south in Bismarck and my AirBnB was on the north side, and I didn’t want to make the schlep. However, they recently opened a taproom in Mandan that also features a barbecue restaurant, and that was much more convenient to me. So I got to try a handful of their beers and had a delicious high-protein dinner. Maybe it’s just the weather, but I was really partial to flavored beers today. My favorite beer at Laughing Sun was the Red Dwarf, their raspberry sour (which is more tart like a raspberry than sour like a typical sour beer). My second favorite was the Lemonade Sundress, which is their lemonade radler. Radlers seem to be a big thing in Bismarck at the moment; I had one at every brewery I visited and really liked them all. [Ed. note: My esteemed father pointed me to this Wikipedia article, which notes that “radler” is German for “cyclist” and that radlers were originally created about a century ago to refresh cyclists with a drink that had lower alcohol than regular beer. So I guess it’s particularly appropriate that I’ve been drinking them!]

I finally left Laughing Sun at 8:30 (the flat tire incident ate up about an hour of my evening) and crossed the bridge into Bismarck. I had agreed to meet with the reporter at Bismarck Brewing, which was the other must-visit brewery that had been recommended to me. But first, I had to stop and admire the North Dakota state capitol.

Not really that impressive, all things considered. It looks like an office building.

Bismarck Brewing is kind of tucked away, being located on top of a restaurant (but licensed separately, so you have to go upstairs if you want the full beer selection). They do however have a very wide selection of some pretty creative brews. Once again the radler was my favorite, in this case the #Caturdays watermelon lemonade radler made with fresh watermelon. Also props to the Ginger Plum Serendipity saison.

While I was enjoying my flight, the reporter came in with her camera crew. I’ve never been interviewed at length by a reporter before. It’s quite a production getting all the camera angles right!

By the time the interview finished, it was well after 10 and I was beyond exhausted. The reporter was nice enough to give me a ride to my AirBnB to spare me having to bike over a big hill at that hour. I’m actually meeting with her again tomorrow morning so she can film me by daylight with my bike. We’ll see how it all goes if/when this airs! I think I’ll take the rest of the day easy though and limit myself to like 50 miles. That flat tire really threw me for a loop today in terms of both extra distance and keeping me out much later than I otherwise would have been.

Total distance: 92.8 miles (including detour to bike shop)
Average speed: 14.4 mph

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