Hwy 10, West of Mandan

Hwy 10, West of Mandan

Saturday, September 6, 2014

August Rides and a Trip to Hungary

Preparations for my upcoming 600k involved a series of shorter rides, ranging in distance from 50 to 70 miles, usually early on Sunday mornings.  Riding early – by starting no later than 4:00 a.m. - is especially difficult for me, but I force myself out of bed with the knowledge that doing so should help simulate the difficulties of a 600k, especially on the second day (which typically starts before sunrise).

Routes for these early morning excursions rely heavily on the paved trail network in Bismarck and Mandan, as I’m not particularly keen on riding alone for long stretches on two-lane roads during the weekend.  Fortunately, the trail network is extensive on both sides of the Missouri River, thereby affording many interesting riding options.  Personal favorites include rides to Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park (7 miles south of Mandan), University of Mary (5 miles south of Bismarck), and Harmon Lake (11 miles north of Mandan).  When combined with limited mileage on paved and/or gravel roads, it is easy to accumulate 50 miles or more without having to venture too far from city limits.

As one might expect, starting early in the morning increases the chance of encountering wildlife, of which we have plenty in North Dakota!  Deer and fox are common, particularly in Mandan.  I enjoyed one memorable wildlife experience on August 3rd, when I rode alongside a young whitetail buck for about 20 seconds before he darted down a ravine toward the Heart River.  An experience I won’t soon forget!

(Full moon reflecting off the Missouri River)

(The Schmidt Edelux II projects an excellent beam for night riding)

(Overlooking the Heart River at dawn)

Work had me return to central Europe in late August, this time to Hungary for two meetings in Debrecen.  I came away impressed by the use of bicycles as a means of transportation in this bustling college town.  Separate pedestrian and bicycle paths were common, and awareness of bicyclists on roadways was an eye-opening experience (even the bus drivers were courteous to bicyclists!).  While bicycle-related facilities weren’t as extensive in Budapest (despite a bike share program, which seemed rarely used), I left with a favorable impression of Hungary as a bicycle-friendly country.  Now, just don’t ask me about my stolen briefcase!!!

(Separate paths for pedestrians and bicyclists)

(Bicycle path, grassed tram corridor, and traditional road)