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Ride across America

Highway 46, half way and a tractor pull

Iain Lauren Bike across America

  • Day 22, July 28th: 39 miles
  • Day 23, July 29th: 78 miles
  • Day 24, July 30th: 76 miles
  • Total: 1597 miles

July 31, 2023 | Chris Rea, the Geordie singer-song writer and well-known Ferrari enthusiast, had a hit with the song The Road to Hell.  He was writing about the M25 around London but I have been thinking a lot about this song as we were riding along North Dakota Highway 46 (and have played the album more than a few times as I rode).  If there is an award for the most boring, straightest road in America, Hwy 46 has a good chance of winning the prize.  Or at least a podium.

The photo shows only a few miles of this road. We literally rode two days and saw three stop signs, a couple of bends and one valley.  The scenery has changed, though, from the Dances with Wolves of eastern Montana and western North Dakota to The Little House on the Prairie of eastern North Dakota and Minnesota.  You half expect Melissa Gilbert to come running out of some of the farm houses around here! Corn, alfalfa, and the occasional sunflower field are all we have seen.

And we think we are about half way on our journey in terms of miles.  We plan to take a rest day in a few days in Minneapolis (we need it) and the daily mileage should increase a little as we move further east – no big mountain ranges in the way!

The highlight of the last two days has to be the Marion 5th Annual Tractor Pull in Marion, ND.  We stopped in town on Saturday for some lunch to find the whole town at the tractor pull with a food truck.  We had a couple of burgers and watched the competition.  This was the best thing ever!  Old tractors (some back to the 1940s and 1950s) basically pull a Freightliner truck down a dirt course; as the truck moves, a steel plate lowers to the ground, increasing the drag.  The tractors were all types: John Deere, International, Massey-Harris, Massey-Ferguson, etc.  The tractors compete in different weight classes.

It was surprisingly addictive. Everyone was cheering on the small tractors as they pulled the truck 240 feet before their tyres just spun out.  Surprisingly, the winner was the tractor that sounded like it was misfiring. It just kept going and going.  Looks can be deceiving!

Iain Lauren Bike across America

I spent the rest of the afternoon thinking about a) where I can buy an old tractor, b) where I can keep it and c) where I can drive it around Austin. :-)

So let’s finish with a little history lesson.  John Deere farm equipment, distinctive by their green and yellow paint, are by far the most popular brand in the western U.S.  Everyone seems to have a John Deere and if you listen to the conversations in the cafes between the farmers (as we do), they are the only brand anyone considers.  John Deere was born in Vermont in 1804 and moved to Grand Detour, Illinois after a bankruptcy.  He designed a steel plow that was able to deal with the hard, Midwest soil and sold his first version in 1838. By 1855, his factory (now in Moline, Illinois) had sold more than 10,000 plows.  The use of the distinctive green paint started between 1870 and 1880 to distinguish the plows and equipment from the competition.  John Deere did not start making motorized tractors until 1918.  Today, Deere & Company is listed on the NYSE and has a market capitalization of $125 billion.

Iain Lauren Bike across America

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