Good riding across ND
Hold on to your hat, helmet or headrag. This blog is visual trip across western North Dakota.
If you are a motorcyclist who is used to riding through and in lots of traffic, you would love North Dakota’s motorcycling, especially west river North Dakota.
I followed I-94 across the state for a photographic entry in to my other blog 2wheels2lanes1camera. It was a great day to show what North Dakota looks like this time of year, a perfect entry for North Dakota 365.
From the outskirts of Mandan where “west river” begins, motorcycles are numerous. Near the city, sport bikes or “crotch rockets” are plentiful, speeding down the smooth concrete ribbon of Interstate 94.
Further west, it’s motorcycle touring terrain. Packed motorcycles head west across the state, enjoying the lack of threatening drivers in their cars and trucks — free to twist the throttle and cruise. People whom I’ve talked to from other parts of the nation such as southern California where it’s thought that motorcycling is a popular pastime are impressed with the number of motorcycles in North Dakota. They are surprised to see scenes like this where bikes fill the parking lot of a local pizza joint/beer joint called the Evil Olive. (More about that in a soon to come blog entry.)
Dickinson's Evil Olive
I’m certain you’ll find more pickup trucks with one passenger headed down the highway than any other form of transportation, but it sure seems to me that it makes more sense to take advantage of North Dakota’s wide open spaces to conserve gasoline, leave a smaller carbon footprint and enjoy the ride on two wheels at 45 mpg than to hurl your pickup down the road on four wheels at 12 mpg.
So, if you’re headed across North Dakota, don’t be surprised if you see more motorcycles than you expect. North Dakota is a motorcycle haven of wide open vastness. What would it take to get you to ride across the state with me?
North Dakota has some of the finest highways I’ve ever ridden. Here’s why — it’s constantly construction season. The state has enough people who are spread out across a large region that a network of good roads is essential to safely move people and goods. The North Dakota Department of Transportation is second to none for its work at keeping up the road system. Under-staffed and under-funded the hard-core work ethic of North Dakotans carries the state’s DOT when in other states the road system would be bankrupts. It’s not the legislature, the executive branch or management that makes North Dakota’s roads what they are — it’s the men and women who give all they have well beyond what they are paid for, to keep up the road system
North Dakota is the first state to complete the Interstate system border to border, some 600 miles of four-lane roads intersecting at Fargo give travelers a safe route across the state. But because North Dakota’s Interstate system is as old as it gets and because it is subjected to extreme freeze-thaw cycles expanding and contracting the pavement and bridges, the system is in constant state of replacement.
This project is at the Missouri River crossing, Grant Marsh Bridge on I-94 between Bismarck and Mandan. Farther west in Mandan, more work squeezes traffic down to one lane in both directions. Barrels like this are common sites, and I’m sure travelers groan when they see the yellow markers ahead, but they can be sure that when they come back next year, this section will be smooth sailing.
I’m fascinated by the work that is done, each nut turned on a guard rail to each bucket of dirt moved is just one element of what combined is a huge task of giving travelers a road they won’t even notice because it seems all they really notice is when the road is rough, or under construction.