I had been advised by the lady at the motel in Culbertson that I should take the (AC) route that goes through New Town rather than stay on 2 after Williston ND. That meant that I could either ride the 40 odd miles to Williston or ride 110 plus miles to New Town as there is nothing in between. The weather was overcast and the wind was from the east (again!) at 10 - 15 mph. I decide to do the short day and to treat it as a half rest day.
I ate in my room and then headed east on highway 2. I stopped in the very small town of Bainville for a second breakfast. The locals regarded me as weird - I guess not too many bicyclists stop there - but I enjoyed my, quite inexpensive, breakfast. There is a neat church at the end of the street that leads from 2 into town, so I rode on up to have a better look after breakfast. It looks almost like a mission in California, but is Protestant.
At this point I was anxious to get out of Montana, but the road was under construction for the last 5 miles or so. Those were also pretty hilly miles. I was lucky in my timing and got to ride at least 3 miles with no overtaking traffic; it was all stopped by the construction folks. Then I got lots of traffic and, with loose gravel on the road, some stones thrown by the cars dinged off of my bike. The last milepost in Montana said 667 (666 was missing..). It is a long way across this state!
The Casino (what else!) at the Montana State Line
The first part of highway 2 in North Dakota was fairly bumpy, but it had a wide shoulder that was often smoother than the road. The wind wasn't too bad, the sun was shining and it was nice to be in North Dakota. It felt more like the Midwest than the wild west. It is amazing what cultural changes occur at state borders! The other change that I noted was a lot of radio towers in Western North Dakota. I don't recall seeing many towers in Montana, and there certainly wasn't much (anything) to listen too on my radio until I got near to North Dakota and could listen to North Dakota stations. North Dakota, like Minnesota and Wisconsin, has good public radio. Northern Montana doesn't seem to have any radio. I advise bringing a shortwave receiver if you tour there.A welcomed sight indeed!
Williston is about 20 miles from the border. There are no services in this stretch except a 'rest stop' that really is just a parking area. I rode into Williston on a service road that starts where highway 85 joins highway 2 about 5 miles from the center of town. As I approached the downtown, a local cyclist pulled up alongside me. We talked and I told him I'd like to ride to the local bike shop and have them clean and lube my chain. He said he'd show me the way.
When we got the shop, in the back of a Coast to Coast hardware store, it was closed. My companion asked the manager of the Coast to Coast if it was OK for me to use the shop and he unlocked it for us. I cleaned (sort of, the parts cleaner solvent needed changing) and lubed my chain and visited with the local rider. I never got his name, but he certainly gave me a good impression of Williston. After I did the chain, my friend left and I went to a downtown cafe for a good lunch. Then I headed north through town to find a motel. Williston is a big town (by local standards) and all the motels are located on the other side of town from the AC route. I had a relaxing afternoon (complete with nap) and evening in Williston and I did my shopping for supplies that lasted me through North Dakota. 45 miles, an easy day.
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