It started as an unremarkable day. We had a 60-mile ride from Valley City into Fargo, and we knew that there were no frontage or suitable parallel roads, which meant another day on T’interstate. Still, knowing that this was the “short-cut” we had chosen across North Dakota, and that we were staying at a nice hotel at the end of the day, with a few decent restaurant prospects, we were suitably sanguine about the ride.
And so we motored along and covered 40 miles before stopping for a short break. It was just like another day in the office. It wasn’t until around 50 miles in that a few unusual things started to happen. We had exited the interstate and were trying to pick our way through West Fargo and into downtown, while avoiding playing chicken on the busy 6-line highway that went directly into town (since it had no shoulder and was packed with Friday rush-hour traffic). Every so often, as if by magic, a cycling path would appear, unannounced. Then, as suddenly as it had started, it disappeared again in a cloud of smoke, and a prominent “End of Cycle Path” sign (they were good at telling us it had ended as we perched on a piece of sidewalk in the middle of a busy junction, but not so good at suggesting what we should do next). Anyway, we decided to make a detour through a residential area, which required a short ride between a gap in a fence and across some pretty uneven ground…hey, this is supposed to be adventure cycling, you know. Just as Kat went over a particularly large bump in the ground, she suddenly felt something major happen at the back of the bike. Oops… the whole of her pannier rack had come apart and her Pan-As were dragging along the ground, hanging helplessly…
On closer inspection by Anthony, it all became clear. A couple of key ring-shaped components had come loose and fallen off, allowing the rack to deconstruct. After a bit of rummaging around in the brush, Anthony managed to find Kat’s ring-pieces, and emerged triumphantly holding both of them in the air. A bit of ad hoc repair work outside a bemused man’s trailer, where his small dog barked at us incessantly, and we were back on the road! Thank god it didn’t happen as we were whizzing down a hill somewhere.
As we neared downtown, things became a little easier, and we cruised the last couple of miles without too much difficulty. As we rolled into the hotel, a car pulled up behind us. A distinguished looking gentleman emerged with an entourage, introduced himself as “Kent” and told us that a member of his “staff” had seen us cycling not only twice today, but also earlier in the week just outside Bismarck, and asked about our journey. If we were not sure before that this person was “someone”, we were certain of it when he told us that he had flown in from Valley City, while we had cycled the same journey!
It turns out that we had been introduced to the senior senator for North Dakota, Kent Conrad. Fancy that. Obviously, we Googled him as soon as we got into our hotel room, and found that he is a Democrat (yay), although he’s not been on board with all of the things Obama is trying to do. We’re not sure about all of his views, but we can say that he seemed like a very down to earth and friendly man.
After a quick shower, we were out to a nearby restaurant, the HoDo at the Hotel Donaldson just round the corner. We were thrilled to find a rooftop bar, where we sipped a cocktail in the sunshine, and then a cool and airy restaurant inside for dinner. The restaurant had positive reviews, so we were hoping for something good, but nothing could have prepared us for the quality of tonight’s meal. The highlight was a horseradish mashed potato which tasted like heaven on earth, but really we could wax lyrical about the whole shebang. We were lucky enough to meet the talented chef behind all of this: Timothy Fischer, an American originally from St Paul, MN, but who has worked in restaurants all over the world. No exaggeration, this was the best meal we have had on the whole trip… in Fargo, ND. Who’d have thought it!
A rest day tomorrow, giving Kat the opportunity to continue coming up with quotes from Marge, the policewoman from the movie Fargo, and one of her favourite characters ever… poor Anthony!