Note: If you're a regular to this blog, notice that this is the fourth post made today. I've uploaded days 27-30 today. It took me a while to catch up.
Total Elevation Gain (ft): 634.6
Weather: Sunny, Hot
Hillbilly Insults: 0
Roadkill: 7 (2Birds, 2 Snakes, 3 Unknown)
Bugs Swallowed: 1
Mean Dogs Chasing: 0
Animal Rescue: 0
Not far from my final North Dakotan destination I had a problem. My rear wheel, under the weight of the engine and gear, coupled with who knows how many hundreds (1000s?) of miles began to give way. Two spokes became loose, like spaghetti, and were about to unravel. It's a testament to the strength of the wheel that I didn't even notice it until a water stop when I casually felt up the bike. When I hit the weak spokes, I panicked and them sighed in relief that nothing happened while I was in the open prairie.
I thought I was prepared. I packed the multi-tool, the chain repair kit, but no spoke wrench! Murphy's law. I couldn't hand tighten the spokes. Just as I started to risk dumping more miles on the injured Fargo, I got a neighborly lift into the city by Marvin, husband of Teddy. Just like those other 44 North Dakotans that inhabit this state, they were as friendly and affable as can be. The details would bore you, but Teddy put in the request to Marvin and the dude abides. (Sorry, it's Fargo, so I can't resist throwing out a Coen Brothers nibble.)
Marvin didn't seem remotely inconvenienced on a lazy Sunday to take a stranger to town. He was a great storyteller and we got on just fine. He's in his 70's but in fantastic shape. Marvin accords his health to ignoring all warnings about butter, eggs and "real food." This is a guy that lived right and ate what hippies think they're buying when going "local."
Marvin isn't a fan of the oil boom here and told me about the negative impact it's had in rural areas afflicted with the fallout from greed. I wanted to spend more time with him and buy him lunch, but he shook my hand shortly after he dropped me off. Once again, people like Teddy and Marvin are making me a softy.
Although it's not the "real" sabbath, Sunday is THE day of worship in 'Merica. However, one god trumps the Judeo-Christian deity on Sundays, even in god fearing country and that god is money. And I say, can I have a hallelujah?! Praise baby Jesus and Allah on his winged horse for unfettered capitalism!
I had a big mechanical issue that needed to be fixed today and traditional bike shops are not open on Sundays, but Scheels is, and it's the A-Bomb.
Family owned Scheels has called Fargo home since it opened in 1928. It had modest growth over the years, but this sporting goods retailer built a 196,000 square foot shopping leviathan on 45th Street just north of Interstate 94.
It's so big that it features the indoor "Scheels Wheel," a 45-foot, 12-car, 1950's Ferris wheel. There's a large cafe, masonry murals, an homage to Roger Maris and an archery range. Most importantly, they have a complete bike service shop with "Barnett-certified technicians" open on Sunday! Sunday!! Sunday!!!
A genial kid named Aaron took my bike and put me at the head of queue. He went beyond my request and cleaned and lubed the chain and warned that I'll need a replacement in about 500 miles. Aaron's help was typical of the type of the service I received at the store all afternoon. Yes, I am raving about this place.
It's apparent that Scheels puts a premium on customer service and training staff to be knowledgeable about inventory as I later confirmed with my new friend and Scheels associate, Cassandra. On top of that, the store gives back more than 10% of its profits to local charities.
Look out Sports Authority, Dick's, REI, Bass Pro! If Scheels plops down in your cat box, you're gonna lose a lot of litter.
I purchased a Fighting Sioux cycling jersey and was told that I chose incorrectly. Fargo is home to rival North Dakota State and the University of North Dakota is the state's lesser red-headed stepchild. Fitting, I surmise, since an Indian is their mascot. I explained to my critic that my choice was based on the sale price and that I needed to represent the aboriginals I've been writing about while excoriating the White Man.
I got help from the Cassie choosing a compression shirt. She asked about my bike and I told her about the ride. When I was checking out, I was pleasantly surprised that she had my mechanic's fees waived and her manager, Josh, gave me a Scheels cycling shirt.
"Anyone going cross country on a Fargo, in Fargo, gets my support," he said. Cassie said she was inspired by the effort, so offered her waiver. I really was touched by these people. It won't go unnoticed and I vow to visit and shop here again.
I did get to take Cassie to dinner to thank her. Plus, I found she deserved a bit of recognition as it was her last day at Scheels before starting a career at mega-giant US Bank. It was a bonus for me as I got a local tour of downtown Fargo. It's going through a revitalization and has all of the proper affectations: fixie bikes locked outside coffee shops, an independent movie theater, converted lofts, buskers playing the hurdy-gurdy and third party Libertarian activists loudly soliciting ballot petition signatures.
I always wanted to see this place. One of my favorite writers, Chuck Klosterman, is from here and he aptly describes it in his article, "Fargo Rock City." This stop was a nice way to finish the lonely march through North Dakota.
I'm heading to a nice event now. My widowed father-in-law is getting married to his widowed high school sweetheart. It's a quaint story of unrequited love, now "requited." I'm
very happy for him.
Fly out of Fargo July 2nd. Back on the bike July 7th or 8th depending on my mood and posterior recovery. Then I've been told that the scenery improves when I cross the river into Minnesota.
Waiting for my flight, I've been staying at most sterile Hilton Homewood Suites. My chamber looks like the bedroom set outside of Neptune from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and I love it.