Day 30
July 10
Distance Travelled: 73.26 km (Lodging: Ben’s basement, Bismarck, North Dakota)

Today was the first day in North Dakota that we got to bike entirely off the interstate on a county road. As soon as we were off the highway it felt like another state, a lot bigger and quieter. We didn’t get to enjoy the quiet for too long. Just past the small town of Driscoll, a woman was nice enough to drive out of her way to let us know that there was an extreme weather warning for the area, with thunderstorms and hail expected of the next hour and a half or so. This posed a problem for our ride, since there was almost no shelter and we were essentially the highest points on the landscape. We pulled our bikes into the farm next to us, pretty much the last farm on the edge of town.

As I rang the doorbell to ask the owners if they minded us hanging around their shed for a while, a giant hay-bailer pulled up from behind the house. The man inside, whose sunken upper lip was compensated for by a giant moustache, said I had a trustworthy face so he would tell me that the door around back of the shed could be opened just by moving the cement block in front of it. We hung out by the shed for about an hour (spending some time with the man’s wife, who pulled into the driveway shortly afterward), watching a thunderstorm pass to the north but not directly overhead. The skies never seemed to clear but it also wasn’t raining, so we eventually decided to get back on the road.

We biked for about an hour before we saw more thunder and lightning, directly over our road on the horizon. We took a dirt road back to the interstate and spent another hour hanging out under an overpass as a storm passed around us. There was supposed to be thunder and lightning all day, so when the sky partially cleared we made a run for it. In an otherwise dark sky we biked through a slit of blue that thankfully seemed to follow our county road the rest of the way to Bismarck, the state capital. There we stayed with Ben, who lives in a basement below a convenience store which used to be a music hall. Ben is Canadian, hailing from Victoria, B.C. But he grew up as a teenager in Bismarck and it feels like home. Ben had finished part of a diploma in massage therapy but was kind of floating along with life at the moment, working nights in a social work center for at-risk youth. His walls were covered with poetry, bike parts and musical instruments.

There you have it folks: the first 30 days of Gavin’s Ride for Ecojustice.