It's a different way of seeing the North Dakota countryside and one likely not to be forgotten. It's the Cycling Around North Dakota in Sakakawea County bicycle tour that will take bicyclists around the western part of the state with stops in various towns along the way.
The tour is also billed as a way to experience North Dakota small town hospitality, a family-oriented experience, a peaceful camping experience with beautiful scenery along the way.
The CANDISC Tour will take place Aug. 3 through Aug. 10 this year starting and ending in Garrison, with stops in Velva, Willow City, Lake Metigoshe State Park, Towner, Butte and Turtle Lake. Total miles covered on the tour will be 371.
After a day of touring Sakakawea County by bicycle, participants in the ride camp overnight in tents in various towns along the way. Cyclists cover 30 to 80 miles per day on the week-long tour.
Bicyclists on the CANDISC Tour ride along the highway to their next destination. This year’s ride will take place Aug. 3 through Aug. 10, starting and ending in Garrison. Everyone is encouraged to participate, from beginners to advanced bicyclists.
Participants are encouraged to register early as the tour is limited to 500 riders. Registration cost before July 15 is $195 per person or $380 per family. After July 15, there will be a $40 late fee. For those who do not want to participate in the tour everyday, but would like to ride for one part of the tour, participants can pay $50 per day per rider.
McKaila Matteson, CANDISC director, said they have added a meal plan option that allows riders to bring less money and for host communities to plan for the riders visits better. There's also a stop in Velva, she added, which had been one of the stops in years past and not included during some years, but will be included this year again. "Velva did a good job with hosting," Matteson said, as a reason for including Velva as one of the stops.
This year's CANDISC route will be somewhat similar to the route in 2007, Matteson said. "We've never been to Willow City or Butte, though," she added.
Matteson said they're hoping for a large number of participants in this year's bicycle tour and are doing well in registrations so far. "We're anticipating around 300 people," she added. People have been a little slow in registering because of the long winter, Matteson thought. "We're getting a lot of new people joining," she continued. "It's very family-oriented and the small towns are a highlight. There's nothing like small town North Dakota."
The CANDISC tour is a ride, not a race and daily mileage ranges from 30 to 80 miles each day. Terrain can vary from flat wheat fields to steep hills and will continue on schedule in all weather conditions. Participants coming from out of state find the wind to be a challenge, Matteson said, and the weather can change from the warmest day of the year to the coldest day of the year. "Also, a lot of people think North Dakota is flat, but it really isn't," she added.
"We get people (riding in CANDISC) who are used to bicycling around town and we get the advanced bicyclists. People can do the full week or just a couple of days," Matteson said.
Participants riding in the CANDISC tour love the North Dakota small town hospitality, Matteson remarked, and it's a different experience visiting a small town on a bicycle. Participants also love the scenery because they get a whole different view of North Dakota, she added. People also love the family oriented atmosphere and make lasting friendships, Matteson continued. "We really focus on small town hospitality and the family aspect and getting to see the North Dakota scenery on a bicycle."
Matteson said she encourages everyone to take the opportunity to ride in the CANDISC tour. It gives a great time to experience the hospitality that small towns offer, she added.
"And it (CANDISC) pushes people because you can be a beginner and come out and ride and feel connected."
People interested in riding in the CANDISC tour can register online at (www.parkrec.nd.gov/activities/candisc), or by calling the Garrison Convention and Visitors Bureau at 463-2345.