24 September 2009

Tour de Valli: Stage 8 return home

KVLY Mast in distance
At long last the final installment of the bike trip I took in July.

Not sure when I awoke in the Hunter park, but I did and embarked to points north. Points north, you ask? Yes.

North is not the way home, but I wanted to add more mileage and the world's tallest structure was just along the way south of Blanchard. The tough part about seeking this tower out is that it is pencil on the horizon and only a few miles removed from the 2nd tallest mast in the world. Yep. The 2nd tallest tops off at 2060. So the masts can be hard to identify especially if you don't know where Galesburg is compared to Blanchard. (answer: Galesburg is SW of Blanchard.) I snapped a few photos and road onward. Moreover, as I now discover, the KVLY mast no longer holds that distinction of tallest structure. Some skyscraper in Dubai beat the tower's 2063 feet by a little over 600 feet recently. So now it is just the tallest mast I guess. However, when I saw the tower it may have still been the tallest structure because the Council on Tall Buildings would not count it until the entire structure is complete, which is around now, September 2009.

At Blanchard I veered east on Alt 200, which reminds me of a Jayhawks album. It is sort of a gap filler to connect the similarly named MN 200 with ND 200, however I fail to see the logic behind it. There is a stretch of non-alt ND-200 8 miles ahead. I think most northern tier riders must avoid Alt-200 at all costs. I saw nobody this time. I did however suffer a flat in the afternoon just as the heat began to make the mercury crawl up the scale. The tire had been punctured. I patched the tube and re-enforced the tire with duct tape on the inside. In a half hour I am back on the road.
train tracks to Kelso
Another half hour later, I reached the Interstate (and real ND-200) and pondered my food options. Hillboro was north a few miles and had the most options. I passed it up and headed south on ND-81 adjacent to the railroad. Every 6 miles a town straddled the tracks. Kelso, Grandin, Gardner, and Argusville offered little to me. They may have had bars but I did not stay long to find out. Most, however, had water at the city park and I took advantage of that as the heat returned.
Sel potrait at NDSU Finally, in Harwood, I found nourishment besides Gatorade and PowerBars. I sat inside the local convenience store and ate cheddarwurst and something else but I cannot remember. I got back on the saddle after perusing the newspaper. At the corner I saw a couple on a bicycle built for 2. The appeared to be heading my way. I gave a friendly wave but put it into high gear going onward towards The Go.
Before riding the last leg, I stopped at NDSU to purchase a monster cookie. After devouring it, I got on University and imagined it as the Champs-Elysees. My final lap.
There was no cheering except in my mind as I mingled with rush hour traffic. It was exhilarating as I cruised down the boulevard, under the railroad and across Main. I raised my arms truimphantly as I completed the final meters.
The journey was done. The clock had stopped.
I put the bike away, cleaned up, and went to the Texas Roadhouse.
I'm not Lance Armstrong but all tough journeys should end with steak.

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