Like a lot of other folks, I didn't just spring forward on Sunday, I sprang out the door and into the saddle to meet a couple of friends for a "short" motorcycle ride on yet another 70-degree - technically still winter - day. Not a long ride, we thought, just long enough to feel like we made a day of it.
Those who ride have a saying: It's not the destination, it's the journey. But eventually everyone get to a destination and ours happened to be Rusty's, a biker and rancher friendly bar and grill in tiny St. Anthony, 14 miles south of Mandan on Highway 6. A week ago, the place was packed with bikes and locals (putting their brands on the chairs). There was a nice crowd there again. A steady stream of bikes and horseback riders flowed in and out. Being as close as it is to Bismarck-Mandan, it's likely to be a regular stop for a lot of people.
As it turned out, a 14-mile ride on a day like this wasn't going to suffice, so we headed south to somewhere. Staying on Highway 6, we would eventually hit Selfridge and the South Dakota state line or break it off at Breien. Either way was fine. Our lead decided to roll through Solen over to Highway 1806.
It's still early, so the usual sea of green as far as the eye can see from the high ground north of Breien is an ocean of brown yet. But that will change. Looking at the vast expanse, I wondered what others thought when they first crested the rise on horseback and looked west. Then Metallica and a curve snapped me back to the present. Today, the emptiness is a welcome change from daily traffic.
We turned north on 1806 near the village of Cannon Ball (Did you know the town is two words, the nearby river is one?) The highway rises and falls and twists toward the Missouri River, between buttes and past Huff Indian Village, Fort Rice State Historic Site, Fort Abraham Lincoln and the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery south of Mandan.
By the end of the ride, our "short" trip had eclipsed 100 miles through some pretty awesome country. And it helped me bank two of the Scenic ByRider routes for 2016.