Week Three: Circle, Montana to Medora, North Dakota on Electric Bicycle

Week 3: September 6th – Sept 12th

Wolf Point, Montana to Medora, North Dakota 

Total Miles Pedaled This Week: 179

Total Miles Since Starting: 794

ebike_worldrecordtour_camperclan

Summary of route:

Week 3 of our electric bicycle world record ride found us touring through eastern Montana and western North Dakota, through a landscape transitioning from gently rolling hills covered in golden wheat and cattle pastures to the increasingly rocky and dry canyons and ravines of the badlands. From Wolf Point, Montana we headed due south on route 13, an incredibly straight paved road with a modest shoulder and minimal traffic. The 200 south to Glendive provided similar riding conditions, though with a few more curves and less hills. After Glendive, Montana we encountered Interstate 94 and suddenly there were no paved side roads so we meandered our way through dirt (actually mud) farm roads until we reached Wibaux – the last little town we stayed in before crossing to North Dakota. After trudging and sliding our way in the rain and mud, Tomas decided he would rather risk riding on the freeway shoulder – which was nice and wide – than deal with the added hassle of navigating through farm roads!

Highway13_CircleMontana_CamperClan_ebike

Tomas riding the e-bike on Highway 13 in Montana

Bicycle status:

The e-bike was still holding up well by week three with no major issues. After our cold muddy (mis)adventure riding on farm roads in the rain from Glendive to Wibaux however, we began to hear some grinding in the motor which we assumed was from dirt and small rocks which must have gotten in. To remedy this, we added an abundance of oil (actually poured engine oil onto the motor as we turned the pedals) and eventually the grinding noise receded. In Medora we experienced our first flat tire after about 800 miles of riding, which we were able to easily change using our spare parts surplus.

Ranch Life 

The highlight of week three was without a doubt our short stay at a cattle ranch owned by family friends outside Circle, Montana. We were spoiled by Gramma Peggy who served delicious meals made from tender beef raised right on the ranch and vegetables from a local garden. Tomas and I relaxed on the shady patio with a sweeping view of the (unusually) green pastures as we watched the cows walk slowly to their watering hole and back out to the field again, and we couldn’t help but imagine that ranch life just might be for us. 

Needless to say, the kids had a blast playing in the beautiful garden and huge sandbox, and especially loved the ride they got to take in a real tractor! We even had the opportunity to shadow Chuck, the resident cowboy, as he made his rounds around his fields checking on his cows and closing gates – because the careless farmer he leases his land to always left them open! I guess the joke among cattle ranchers is that farmers don’t know how to close gates, which is a big problem if you want to keep your cows contained.

It was deeply fascinating to experience life on the ranch; having lived so many years in urban areas it’s easy to become disconnected from the land. There is something so raw and elemental about living close to the earth, being in tune with the seasons and the rains – not because of some hippy-dippie feel-good reason, but because your very livelihood depends on it. Chuck, who until very recently did all of his ranching from horseback, says that real cowboys are a dying breed. Today, most ranchers use quads or trucks to do their work as riding horses is more time-consuming and challenging. It’s a sore spot with him. “Then best thing for a man is a horse between his legs,” he told us. 

gardenswing_kids_camperclan

Eva and Coco eating “ice pops” with Gramma Peggy

recycledmetal_sculpture_camperclan

Gramma Peggy makes amazing sculptures out of recycled metal she salvages from surrounding ranches

horses_cowboy_ranch_circle_montana_camperclan

Cowboy Chuck shows Eva his beloved and beautiful horses

Dinosaur Trails

In the following days we passed through Glendive, Montana and visited Makoshika State Park, which is the largest state park in Montana. At the visitors center we checked out a large array of dinosaur fossils found on-site, including a real T-rex skull. Later we grrrrr-ed and roared our way to the Diane Gabriel trail which snakes through the badlands and is a fairly easy trek for the little ones. An abundance of sturdy wooden steps and a nice solid bridge kept our toddlers from slipping down the ravines as we ascended to the top of a butte to take in the view. On the way we got to see the fossil of dinosaur vertebrae right from the trail (and from behind a railing)! 

makoshika_dianegabrieltrail_badlands_camperclan

Hiking the Diane Gabriel trail at Makoshika State Park

makoshika_dianegabrieltrail_montana_camperclan

“Let’s hop down the stairs Eva – you first!!!”

makoshika_dinosaur_camperclan makoshikastatepark_butt_dianegabrieltrail makoshikastatepark_dianegabrieltrail_sign makoshika_dianegabrieltrail_view_camperclan

Muddy Misery

But the rain caught up with us and we were forced to stay two nights in Glendive waiting for the weather to clear. On the third day we said to heck with it and Tomas rode anyway – through the muddy slippery farm roads that crisscrossed the I-94. I tried following him in the support van, but even our big monster of a van was slipping in the mud and I was concerned we’d get stuck so I had to keep driving without stopping until I made it to Wibaux. Unfortunately there was only one hotel in this tiny town, and it was all booked for weeks out by seasonal highway, construction, and oil workers, so we stayed in the only RV park in town and hung Tomas’s muddy soggy clothes all around the laundry facilities there. 

electricbicycle_mud_rain

Tomas demonstrates that we are not on an endless vacation as he slips and slides through the freezing rain on his electric bicycle.

Theodore Roosevelt’s Stomping Ground

Our spirits picked up when we reached Medora, a cute if touristy western-themed town at the entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. By the time we rolled in the weather cleared, though a cold snap set in. No problem – we had two electric heaters to keep us toasty all night as we camped in an RV park there. Here we stayed two nights so we could explore the park, which was created after Theodore Roosevelt’s death, partially from ranches that he had owned. We spent a whole day driving a loop around the park, photographing bison, wild horses, and prairie dogs, and having a picnic by a lake. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to hike, but the kids were able to earn their Junior Ranger badges and bonded with the friendly ranger who donned her impressive ranger hat to swear them in.

Week three of our family travel adventure was not a very productive one in terms of chipping away at the miles towards breaking the world record, but we knew that with so many fantastic places to visit in the west we just couldn’t pedal by without stopping!

theodorerooseveltnationalpark_family_view_camperclan

Theodore Roosevelt National Park – a great place to visit with your family!

theodorerooseveltnationalpark_bison_camperclan

Wild bison are plentiful throughout Theodore Roosevelt National Park

theodorerooseveltnationalpark_prairiedogs_camperclan

Literally hundreds of prairie dogs live together in the prairie dog towns at he park.

theodorerooseveltnationalpark_view_child_camperclan

Doing the happy dance – also known as the I’m Not Afraid of Heights dance.

theodorerooseveltnationalpark_wildflowers_camperclan

An unusually wet summer kept the landscape green and flowers blooming into September.

theodorerooseveltnationalpark_maltesecrosscabin_camperclan

Theodore Roosevelt’s Maltese Cross cabin still sits in it’s original place right behind the visitor’s center.

Detail Summary of Week 3:

Day 15: September 6th

Total Miles: 41

Start: Wolf Point, MT

End: Circle, MT

Lodging: Stayed with family

 

Day 16: September 7th

Total Miles: 0

Rest Day in Circle, MT

Lodging: Stayed with family

 

Day 17: September 8th

Total Miles: 59

Start: Circle, MT

End: Glendive, MT

Lodging: Riverside Motel 

 

Day 18: September 9th

Total Miles: 0

Rest Day in Glendive, MT

Lodging: Riverside Motel

 

Day 19: September 10th

Total Miles: 40

Start: Glendive, MT

End: Wibaux, MT

Lodging: Beaver Valley Haven RV & Cabins

 

Day 20: September 11th

Total Miles: 39

Start: Wibaux, MT

End: Medora, ND

Lodging: Red Trail Campground

 

Day 21: September 12th

Total Miles: 0

Rest Day in Medora, ND

Lodging: Red Trail Campground

2 comments to Week Three: Circle, Montana to Medora, North Dakota on Electric Bicycle

  • Stephen Wilbraham  says:

    Just wanted to thank you for allowing us to share vicariously in your adventure. I am enjoying reading and viewing your entries and can fully appreciate both the electric bike experience and your times with the children and people you visit. I had similar experiences when your age with two young daughters in a VW bus. And now at age 71 biking around Tampa, FL with my electric bike kit your experience and writings are especially enjoyable. Hopefully my wife and I will be able to meet you later when you are doing the east coast.
    Steve Wilbraham
    http://www.tampaelectricbikekits.com

    • Dylan  says:

      Thanks so much for your encouragement Steve, it means a lot. I bet it was fun touring around in your VW bus with your daughters! We know quite a few families doing this now and with current technology they can do it full-time and work from the road! We’d love to meet you when we get to Florida, hopefully by the end of December! Happy and safe riding!

Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>