Spring in North Dakota opens new horizons: the next landmark, the next vantage point, the next hill (everywhere except the Red River Valley). An advantage to being a sparsely-settled state is the open roads for bicycling.
In the eastern part of the state, with the flat-as-glass terrain, bicyclists cruise along and over the Red River on gentle paved paths.
Communities such as Grand Forks, Mayville and Fargo offer well-used paved recreation trails.
On the western end is the grueling challenge of the Maah Daah Hey trail. It’s more than 130 miles long through the Badlands and Grasslands of North Dakota. Every year, mountain bikers attempt the Maah Daah Hey 100 — and last year, the winning time for the 100 mile ride was just under 10 hours.
A few places are easy challenges, but the greatest share of the Maah Daah Hey trail is a world-class mountain bike route. It is a tougher pedal than I’ll ever do. For those families who want to enjoy the scenic Badlands, they can take an easy ride through Medora and the recreation trail, or can venture on to other nearby easy routes.
In the middle of the state, here in the Missouri Slope region, open gravel roads allow a mix of level and sloped rides.
Take northern Burleigh County, for example.
On the nights I ride the gravel roads, I find an evening pedal out to the hills gives a chance for a good strong exercise in not only physical, but a visual exercise. On high-traffic evenings, I may see as many as three vehicles sharing the gravel roads in one or two hours. Most evenings, there are none.
Sometimes a farm family may stroll the gravel roads with their dogs.
Other times, kids will use the family’s ATV to spread dust. Most of the time, it’s just the lone bicyclist (me) out to capture evening atmosphere.
Overhead, geese follow the Central Flyway across the North American Continent. They’re always talking to themselves so you will hear the flocks before you see them. Some evenings there will be as many as four or five large flocks with hundreds of geese talking among themselves and heading north.
As long as I’m out in the country in the evening, I try to time my rides to capture sunset. The golden hour and the long contrasting shadow give much greater evidence to the uneven terrain when shadows roll over the hills and valleys. The environment picks up that warm golden glow. Across the river the sun drops behind Oliver and Mercer Counties.
An endless variety of weather conditions create an infinite variety of sunsets – the reward of an evening pedal on the back roads of North Dakota.
That’s my recommendation. Where do you recommend bicycling in your country?