Glad Tidings Upon the Dakota Plains
Day 86: August 27, 2002
My new frame arrives around 12:30 PM. By 3:30 I am back on the road on a red and white Jamis Dragon. It is somewhat ironic in an Alanis Morisette kind of way that it is the same color as the cyclist's bike I had helped just west of Lake Itasca, MN, and that I am relinquishing the yellow and black Dakota XC in Fargo, gateway rail city of the borderlands between North Dakota and Minnesota.
As I cross the final railroad tracks and bid Fargo a farewell the sun casts my shadow long behind me. The words of Tom Smith of Island Park Cycles ring through my mind: take 200 West; it's a real "road less traveled by"; you want to be a writer, and writer's like to "suffer", we'll this may give you something to write about; it has stretches of road eighty miles long with nothing but windswept prairie and desolation between one stop-sign towns. Needless to say I take 200 West.
Just west of Fargo I meet another cyclist. He is from New York, though he is cycling from Seattle and on his way home. It had taken him four weeks of eastward bound cycling to get to this point of our meeting. He tells me that it had snowed on him in Montana. Glad tidings, indeed.
The Road to the Western Wilderlands
Day 87-88: August 28-29, 2002
I ride across the dry green plains. Once upon an empty crossroads, nexus of nowhere whose endless beams of asphalt stretch to the four horizons and possibilities, each looming hazily where the yellow-green wild grass matrix meets the cloud wispy sky, I stop and wonder where I should go. There is only the sound of prairie wind rustling upon this lonely road to the western Wilderlands.
From here I can go any where-Tierra del Fuego, the southern end of the Americas, eight thousand miles; Hudson Bay, ice-shrouded trader's bay of the north, two thousand; Mt. Olympus overlooking the shining blue Pacific, two thousand miles; or I can go back to Washington D.C., twenty eight hundred miles. I stay upon my westward course with a southern tailwind and the sun arcing over my back and finally blazing the road ahead of me.
I pass through corn and sunflower fields. Hawks and falcons cry from above. Canadian geese honk at me as they fly south in their V formations. Grasshoppers dodge my wheels occasionally making the spokes sound with a ping, as if they were plucking a string instrument. The occasional grain elevator is the only relic of man that greets my eye. They arise upon the ethereal distance, wind beaten and sun tarnished like spectral keeps in the first days of the Age of Gun Powder.
I have revised my route plan. Instead of going north to Devil's Lake and then striking west along the great trucking route of US 2 of the Northern Tier States I have decided to take Tom Smith's advice and go west by Route 200. This new route will take me through the North Dakota Badlands and into Montana via Ft. Mandan and Lewis and Clark country.
Something primal excites me when I feel the Dakota wind upon my face as I follow the sun with nearly three thousand miles of truth and beauty behind me and maybe thrice that amount to go before journey's end.