The motorcycle season went a little longer than I anticipated.
After the long ride of 17 October my next attempt at a big ride was Halloween night, hoping to have some fun on MN 113 east of Waubun. It had snowed the previous day but it was melted off here in Fargo, so I thought conditions would be fine. I rode through Glyndon to Averill, then took county roads and MN 9 to Felton for a gas stop, where I had a conversation rather like this:
(other guy... older fellow, gassing up a Buick): "Where you from, Alaska?"
(me): "Nah just North Dakota"
(buick guy): "People'll think you're crazy out riding that thing"
(me): "that's okay, I already know I'm crazy... the sun's shining, it's above freezing, the roads are clear, I might as well ride, don't know when I'll get another chance!"
Roads were good till I got to Waubun. From there MN 113 had random slushy spots with wheel ruts through them, so I turned back at Mahnomen County 13, took Highway 59 to Callaway, then my typical route through Hitterdal and to home.
I figured that was the end, but then one of the coldest Octobers on record turned into one of the warmest Novembers on record. That allowed me to do a fairly-standard Fargo/Valley City/(Sheyenne scenic route)/Lisbon/Gwinner/(various backroads)/Veblen/Wyndmere/Kindred/Fargo loop on 7 November, which got me to 9,993 miles for the year so I hooned around Fargo a little to get it to 10,001.
Riding opportunities were few and far between with it getting dark so early these days, but the last good ride came on 21 November. As I watched the weather reports the preceding week it seemed I was going to get one last chance; however the motorcycle was in bad need of a set of sprockets and a drive chain, which I had on hand but wasn't planning to install till spring (since I hadn't anticipated another opportunity to ride.) As I installed the chain I found that it had come with a rivet-type master link, which requires a special tool to install (even more special than the press that is used to install a clip type master link.) After a hurried run to the bike parts store for the clip type link, and an agonizing process of properly aligning the rear wheel and chain again, the bike was ready to ride around 2:30 PM.
It wasn't that long of a ride, 220 miles or so; what was special, however, was staying in the saddle for 195 miles, something I've never done before (partly because that used to be my maximum fuel range before the IMS tank.) Here's that route.
As the sun set and cast long shadows from the now leaf-barren trees along Height-of-Land, I knew it'd be my last visit to that road for the year. The lakes were beginning to ice up and even the two puddles in the road were icing too.