I clean the solar panels and set out at dawn. I will be riding southeast all day so the sun will be in front of me all morning. With a bit of afternoon cloudiness in the forecast, this will probably not be another 100 mile day.
Ninety minutes after sunrise, I’m getting only 20 solar watts while riding or 200 solar watts if I stop and find the optimal angle. I set the electric assist to a bare minimum, run the battery down all the way and take long charging breaks.
I stop for lunch at Penny’s diner in Glendive. Good fries, lousy pie. I should really wait until the second half of the tour to get my fill of diner-era American nostalgia on “Route 66.”
A local stops to take photos of the bike and I learn about a primitive camping spot 50 miles (80 km) away which is not on my map. It’s basically a picnic table next to a lake with no running water and no toilet. That suits me just fine.
I get on I-94, my first interstate highway of this trip, and find the riding much more relaxing than the two-lane highways I’ve been following through most of Montana. The shoulder is very wide, there is no oncoming traffic thanks to the median and all the big rigs move to the left lane when passing me which means I can ride with the panels fully tilted. I raise my hand in thanks to each one as they pass and occasionally one will toot back an acknowledgment. Grammar of the road.
There are so many animals napping by the side of the road, all covered with raspberry jam. Don’t they know it’s dangerous? Poor dears.
I get my second flat of the trip. Even Schwalbe’s unplattbar “flat-less” tire is no match for a sharp nail kicked up by the front tire. Thirty minutes and seven cookies later, I’m back on the road.
The North Dakota border sneaks up on me. I knew I was getting close but I hadn’t checked exactly where it is in a while and thought I had another day to go. That’s what averaging over 100 miles (160 km) per day for four days will get you, state borders jumping out of nowhere when you least expect them.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is along my route tomorrow. Hoping to see some buffalo. Hold the raspberry jam.