We spent last weekend in my hometown of Fargo, ND. It hosted a relatively new, but growing marathon. I don't do 26.2 miles unless I'm pedalling, but when I heard that some family members were walking in the 5k, and others from IA and MI running the half marathon, I thought it would be good to see everyone. Mini family reunion. Added bonus: the weather was really cold and grey (it is North Dakota) so I was asked to spend some time with my great-nieces, 25 months and 16 months.
As we drove through South Dakota, which makes up almost half the trip from KC to Fargo, I thought back to the first organized tour I did. In 2006 I joined my brother-in-law for the 2nd annual Tour de Kota. The route that year started in Yankton and ended in Milbank. Along the way it criss-crossed I-29 several times. Several of the small towns we camped in had names I recognized from exit signs along the interstate I had travelled dozens of times.
We got to ride in a horse drawn wagon, eat spaghetti at the church, and sit in the city park listening to a guy with a very Scandinavian name signing some pretty good blues. We enjoyed the hospitality of people who live in small towns that they are very proud of, and we understood why. A tour of 500 riders coming to some of these towns is a big deal. As we rode into Milbank drivers were honking and waving support for our finish.
Now, every time I drive on that boring stretch of highway, it's a little less boring because of the memories from a week on a bike 3 years ago. Just one of many benefits of being a cyclist.