June 23: Hitterdal to Fargo, North Dakota - The Great North American Sticky Bun Hunt - CycleBlaze

June 23: Hitterdal to Fargo, North Dakota

Fargo's cinema: so charming that we stopped by and watched a film in Swedish.
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Street entertainment in Fargo.
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TODAY WAS ANOTHER short hop, leaning on a crosswind for two and a half hours on one of the dullest roads man has devised.

Fargo is a fair sized place but you'd never know it, thanks to the cleverness of the Adventure Cycling route, You're into Moorhead, on the other side of the road, then over the bridge into downtown Fargo without any fighting traffic, suffering suburbia, swallowing smoke. Even the man on the toll bridge from Minnesota to North Dakota seemed too relaxed to give more than a half-hearted wave to show we had neither to stop or to pay.

I made a decent enough fist of replacing the spoke - which was on the drive side, of course - that the wheel had just a little wobble in it. I don't like finishing the job completely, though. I could, but then I'd worry that I had overtightened the spoke and that it would twang out in the wilderness in a storm and in the middle of a bad mood.

We already knew which bike shop we were heading for to complete the job but our confidence got a huge boost when we met Michael Stonart and Jean coming the other way. No mean riders, these two, and

Michael Stonart and Jean, experienced and level-headed riders
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without airs, which hasn't been the case with one or two we have crossed along the way. Michael has ridden across Europe from Damascus and in Thailand. Jean worked for Unesco in Paris, "but don't ask me to speak French, though!"

Together they are riding from Heron, Montana, to Rye Harbor in New Hampshire, the state which has "Life free or die" as its somewhat contradictory motto. They are raising money to help children caught up in the earthquake in Haiti. You can catch up with their "updates, art, photos, poetry and more" at http://rollinghometour.blogspot.com.

Great Northern Cycles is in the Amtrak station in downtown Fargo. It's a gem of a place with a cafe in its entrance and a barn of a bike shop beyond it. It goes on for ever.

Great Northern Cycles: trains pass all day but the single Amtrak passenger train stops in the middle of the night.
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"This was the main train station in the days before we let railroads decline in this country," said Tom, a bright-eyed athletic man who appointed himself our guide to the shop. "After that, it stayed empty for years, full of nothing but pigeons. Then in the seventies someone spent a lot of money on it and turned it into a restaurant. There were several restaurant businesses here and they all failed. The building fell unused after that and then, unbelievably, we were able to buy it as a bike shop."

We recommend it thoroughly. You may know it as Island Park Cycles, named after another area of the city, but Great Northern is what it's called now, named after the rail line that passes it. It is an Amtrak station, "but the one train a day stops here in the small hours of the morning, so we never see it," Tom said.

Among the customers when we were there, a slow-talking, bespectacled man from Las Vegas, maybe in his 30s though it was hard to tell. Ian is spending 10 years riding and sailing to Australia. He wears ordinary clothes and desert boots.

"I've already noticed that everywhere I go in America, I'm 'from here,' And I have the word 'homeless' printed across my forehead." He gestures trying to tug the word off his skin. "I'm travelling with a computer but I'm still 'homeless.'"

We asked how the trip came about. He shrugged, as though it was nothing. "I was divorced," he said. "I didn't have a house, I didn't have children. I had no ties. Now was the time." You can follow a man escaping life and finding a new life at biketoaustralia.roflforum.net.

AMERICAN FLAGS SEEN: 32

STICKY BUNS CONSUMED: 3

BIG GOOEY ICE CREAMS: 1

SWEDISH FILMS WATCHED: 1 Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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