Wednesday, August 15, 2012

DAY 21: STUCK IN NORTH DAKOTA

Medora, Nd - Beach, Nd

25 miles - Total: 1960 miles

Coming from Canada and heading off to the East, the storm came and went. It left rain, cold and most importantly for me, cold winds in its path. Today has been an extraordinarily frustrating day. I was ready for a long ride but nothing doing. 25 miles, what a waste of time but hey..I am safe.

I open my eyes, I stumble to the window and gingerly move the curtain. I knew it. I immediately slump back in my bed, resigned, dejected. It is raining and what's worst it is blustering with gales blowing at 25-30 mph from northwest. The weather TV guy was spot-on last night. He announced a cold front coming from the North sweeping through Montana and North Dakota. I was muttering uner my breath "we'll see about that".

Not very enthusiastically I get into my gear, check out of the motel and try to ride back to Interstate 94 which is the only "safe" route all the way to Glendive, my planned stop for today. I set out on the road and the headwind makes it almost unrideable. The bike gets knocked off from the side at every gust of wind and I must grip the bar with all my might to stay a straight course. There is no way I can fight this wind, it is blustery and at times I cannot even move my legs, all I can do is to get off the bike, crouch and wait for the gusts to pass. THe impossibly fierce wind has blown bad clouds away and the rain has gone temporarily becuase more dark clouds are coming in. I don't know which is worse, rain or wind. The wind carries this cold front from Canada, which becomes evident when I read the temperature in Medora, 58F. I try to fight for a little bit, I push on the bike, the chain falls off twice, the shoulder of the Interstate is rough and full of debris, the sky darkens once more. It is all going badly today and I am struggling. I am not feeling great, my feet are cold and my throat a little sore. I cycle 25 miles into the fiercest headwind I have ever challenged on a bike. Some cars passing me on my left slow down to see the face of this crazy man riding on a highway in these conditions. Who is this nutcase..they must wonder! I don't know how but I finally reach the inappropriately named town of Beach, the first town after Medora and there is no question about what to do next. I am forced to stop. If it had been just the wind I would have gone on another 20, 30 miles but it is the cold air that's the problem. It freezes my legs and numbs my ears, fingers, toes. After crawling for 25 miles at the average of 10 mph into a 30 mph headwind I decide it to call it a day. Which is just as well as I'd find out later that the one hotel in the next town is fully booked. I would have been forced to ride another 30 miles to find a place to shack. Riding on the interstate is a stressful enough experience without winds but in these conditions is close to suicide. In the afternoon the storm steps up a notch and I am glad I have stopped after 25 miles. I fight off the feeling of utter frustration and try to relax.

The other bad news is this motel. It's dark and grimy, the people that run it should be in the cast of a Ken Loach movie. They stand by the door chain-smoking wearing cheap garish jewelry and I cannot even look at the soiled carpet in my room. No complaints though, I am out of the cold wind. The guy at the grocery store says that today was the first day of rain in months. Again, great timing for me.

For tomorrow the weather forecast is better: sunny and with a 10mph wind coming from the North. Still a headwind but at least the temperature will be higher than today. They are expecting snow in Northern Montana..I cannot even think of that now. The weather is delaying my journey. Physically, I feel okay and I would be on schedule. However, the elements are turning this bike ride into a slow struggle. I am gonna make it in under 40 days to the Coast. Period.

VIDEO (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_NBE5G8IRA&feature=youtu.be)

 As I enter Interstate 94 at Medora I see the only brief sunlight of the day



 ND sky



 The wind-swept prairie



The shoulder of Interstate 94 



 The sky looks ominous



The trees being kicked by the wind, from my motel room



 From the motel



 The storm in full flow over the prairie



America, the land of "all sizes" and the land of plenty. Yet many have very little.

18 comments:

  1. Ciao Luigi, che brutta giornata! So glad you stopped. A cold front from Canada is no joke even this time of the year so please stay warm and healthy. The weather may be throwing a wrench in your schedule at the moment, but reading your blog (started yesterday from the beginning, almost caught up) I know that with your determination and focus you'll make up for lost time, you'll reach your goal. You have angels with you on this journey... Keep leading from the heart.
    Take good care Luigi. A big hug, Melissa.

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  2. FUERZA NASONE, FALTA POCO!!
    UN ABRAZO GRANDE,
    EL CHICO DE LA PAMPA.

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  3. Carissimo Luigi. Meteo infame e Motel abominevole! Ottima e saggia l'idea di fermarsi un po' prima visto il freddo . Sei in linea con la tabella di marcia ed in buone condizioni: le prossime tappe andranno meglio, vedrai !
    Leandro

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  4. Luigi... it seems like yesterday was perhaps a good metaphor for your journey. Sometimes we just have to ride out the storm knowing that there are better days ahead. I hope that today is a beautiful ride for you.

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  5. ciao luigi, siamo maurizio e la martina, mi sono datto se luigi attavesta l' America vuoi che io nn riesca a scrivere in un blog? abbiamo visto alcune foto ma nn abbiamo seguito l' itinerari quindi non lasciamo commenti ma ti pensiamo e ti siamo vicini. sono la marti se nn era per me papà non riuscivo ad entrare nel blog un bacione martina

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  6. Caro Luigi, giornata difficile, tempo infame?!? so che questo non ti fermerà:) le foto sono terribili...si percepiva il freddo...vorrei mandarti un po' del calore della nuova ondata definita "il Colosso del deserto"...sono diventati pazzi questi metereologi italiani ehehehhe ti mando comunque tutto l'affetto possibile, il più sincero degli incoraggiamenti...continua così :)Carla

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  7. Giorno n. 21: BLOCCATO IN NORD DAKOTA
    Medora - Beach, North Dakota 40 km
    Totale km 3.156

    Proveniente dal Canada e diretta verso est, la bufera è arrivata e se n'è andata lasciando sulla sua strada pioggia, freddo e – quel che più conta per me- venti gelidi. Oggi è stato un giorno straordinariamente frustrante. Ero pronto a una lunga corsa ma niente da fare!

    Apro gli occhi, vado alla finestra e cautamente scosto la tenda. Lo sapevo. Mi ributto immediatamente a letto, rassegnato, scoraggiato. Sta piovendo e, cosa ancora più allarmante, infuriano venti da nord-ovest a 40-50 km all'ora. Il tizio delle previsioni del tempo ci aveva azzeccato ieri sera. Aveva annunciato un fronte freddo dal nord esteso dal Montana al Nord Dakota.
    Poco entusiasta mi vesto, lascio il motel e cerco di tornare indietro fino all'autostrada federale 94, l'unica “sicura” da qui fino a Glendive, la tappa prevista per oggi.
    Mi avvio e il vento contrario rende praticamente impossibile avanzare. La bicicletta viene sbilanciata lateralmente ad ogni folata e devo aggrapparmi al manubrio con tutte le forze per tentare di mantenere rettilinea l'andatura. Non c'è modo di resistere a questo vento, è furioso e a volte sono costretto a fermarmi, scendere dalla bici, accoccolarmi e aspettare che le ventate si calmino. A questo punto non piove più ma è vero che il vento porta questo fronte freddo dal Canada, infatti la temperatura a Medora è di 14°. Cerco di combattere per un po', spingo sui pedali, per due volte la catena viene giù, la banchina dell'interstatale è irregolare e piena di detriti, il cielo si rabbuia di nuovo. Oggi sta andando tutto male e io lotto come posso. Non mi sento in forma, ho i piedi freddi e un po' di mal di gola. Faccio 40 km nel vento più impetuoso che abbia mai affrontato su una bicicletta. Alcune macchine rallentano mentre mi sorpassano per vedere chi è 'sto pazzo che pedala su un'autostrada in condizioni come queste.
    Non so come, ma riesco ad arrivare a un paese dall'infelice nome di Beach, spiaggia, il primo dopo Medora e non c'è dubbio sul da farsi. Sono obbligato a fermarmi. Se fosse stato solo per il vento avrei fatto altri trenta, quaranta chilometri ma il problema è l'aria fredda che mi congela le gambe e m'intirizzisce le orecchie e le dita delle mani e dei piedi. Dopo 40 penosi chilometri alla media di 16,2 km/h contro un vento di 48,3 km/h decido di dire basta. Ottima cosa perché, come scoprirò in seguito, l'unico hotel nel prossimo paese è tutto pieno, il che mi avrebbe costretto a fare un'altra cinquantina di chilometri. Pedalare su una interstatale è già un'esperienza stressante se non c'è vento ma in queste condizioni è quasi un suicidio.
    Lotto contro il senso di assoluta frustrazione e tento di rilassarmi. Nel pomeriggio la tempesta s'intensifica e sono felice di essermi fermato. L'unico guaio è che il motel è lercio, ci lavora gente che sembra presa da un film di Ken Loach, fumano una sigaretta dietro l'altra, portano sgargianti gioielli di cattivo gusto e io non ce la faccio neanche a guardare la lurida moquette della mia stanza. Comunque non mi lamento, almeno sono al riparo dal vento freddo. Il tizio della salumeria mi dice che oggi è il primo giorno di pioggia da mesi. Ancora una volta, ottimo tempismo per me. Ma appena le cose prendono una brutta piega, se mi si presenta l'opportunità cercherò di risolverle.
    Le previsioni per domani sono migliori, sole e vento da nord di 16 km. Ancora vento a sfavore ma almeno la temperatura sarà più alta di oggi. Nel Montana del nord è prevista neve. Non posso neanche pensarci ora.
    Il tempo sta ritardando il mio viaggio. Fisicamente, mi sento bene e sarei in linea con il ruolino di marcia ma gli elementi stanno trasformando questo giro in bicicletta in una battaglia.
    Io ce la farò ad arrivare all'altra costa in meno di quaranta giorni. Punto e basta.

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  8. Hai fatto BENISSIMO a fermarti! Am racmand, non ti scoraggiare! Baci Piux

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  9. Hope better tomorrow kiss m

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  10. The World Bank Internal Communications posted an article of your journey on the "Today" section of the intranet. Simple and to the point...congratulations!
    -----------------------------
    Relentless for a Cure

    Luigi Laraia is on a bicycle journey across the United States. Follow him.

    Luigi Laraia is on the ride of his life.

    August 14, 2012 ― Here at the Bank we are in the business of transformation. That’s what development is. Transforming societies for better livelihoods. It’s very big picture―to borrow a favorite Bank phrase.

    But what about personal transformation? Everyone has their own journey of course. In the Bank we sometimes tell stories about the individuals who have benefited from the work we do―more often than not they are people we will never meet.

    And so… because it’s summer, because we are all on journeys of some kind, because we were touched, because he’s one of us, we draw your attention to something out of the ordinary―Luigi Laraia’s journey. Luigi has Leukemia. He’s not in remission. He works for the Italian Executive Director’s Office. And he’s half way through a bicycle ride across the United States to raise awareness for leukemia research.

    Completely alone, Luigi writes everyday in his blog, about his journey, his transformation.

    Follow him.

    Contributed by Internal Communications

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  11. thank you world bank, we love luigi & we love you too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  12. thanks WORLD BANK, Luigi means a lot for us. EVERYONE HAS HIS JOURNEY INDEED. GOD BLESS LUIGI AND GOD BLESS YOU BECAUSE YOU WORK FOR THE CAUSE OF AWARENESS AND JUSTICE AS HE DOES!!!!!!
    John, Freddie, Amalia, Jimmy, Lucy, Donna & the other guys who suffered from this and other deseases
    .

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  13. GO LUIGI GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Some Italian in the States

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  14. A brave soul for even attempting to venture out in that wind, cold and rain. Good news is that you got 25 miles closer to your goal. You continue to inspire. Stay safe and strong as you continue the journey. Many of us are riding with you throw your blog.

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  15. Luigi sorry to hear that things are not going as well as expected. My wish is that you will have better and brighter days for the rest of your journey. I must say you have handled your challenges well. Your tenacity to complete this worthy journey is commendable.
    Congrats on passing your $20K mark. Keep the faith.

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  16. Hey, good friend, Luigi. Its Karen Dillard who worked in your office last year when Maria was on maternity leave. Had lunch with Maria and she filled me in on your recent journey. I also am on a difficult life journey and you make me feel like anything is possible with positive determination and attitude. I will follow you during the rest of your trip and will definitely contribute to your cause. You are an inspiration.

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  17. Hang tough, buddy! I did three weeks on a bike in June and was done by this point, physically and mentally. And the toughest part was the open plains like where you are! I can just feel that wind pushing against me as you write.

    That was an amazing effort you put in today. Hang tough. I believe you're almost through the hardest part. Paul Critser

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  18. Thinking of you Luigi! Proud of all that your are doing. Anita

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