July 15, 2014



I’ve always envied good bicycle riders. I never figured they were real smart, but I admired their dedication. And their strong legs. When you see some of those men and women cycling across North Dakota, you kind of wonder what they do for a living. I mean, if you can spend the summer going nowhere at 10 miles per hour, you must have some means of support that is not visible to me.
And now, with the traffic because of the oil development, it looks to me like a suicide mission. Be careful out there! And you drivers, like the motorcycle ads say, “Look, then look again!”  
One of the first times I ran for the State Senate was in the ’70s. Which is a long time and several pounds ago.
I was running against the late Senator Garvin Jacobson. As part of the campaign, we were urged to join a bike ride from Watford to Arnegard and back. It was a fundraiser for cancer research. Being an athlete, at least in my mind, I gladly accepted. It would be a fun event. I mean only about 15 miles on pavement!
Now, I grew up, and some would question that, in the country. On a rough gravel road at the bottom of a hill. I wasn’t too much into biking. Saddle horse, tractor, motorcycle (Super 90!), trucks and pickups and cars. I seldom walked across the yard and very seldom rode a bike. No big deal, the other guys were old.
The ride from Watford to Arnegard went pretty good. My legs were fresh. A little trouble on some minor hills, but I was doing pretty darn good. For a country boy.
Then we turned around and started back. My legs were getting a little weary. I didn’t have a real good bike. Wasn’t one of those with gears and stuff. And it was a little small for a big guy. And I think it had wheel weights on the tires. It was starting to get a little heavy.
As we approached Watford City, I could see that in our absence, they had moved the city to the top of a large hill. And I was getting weaker.
As I began the ascent to the top of this mountain, I was pondering how Rep. Ralph Christianson, who was probably 20 or 30 years my senior, would make it. I mean he must have been in his ’60s!
As I pedaled up this steepening incline, I envisioned the throngs of people waiting to cheer me on to victory. It would be like the Tour De France.
But my legs were turning to spaghetti! I stood and pedaled hard. The bike must have had a bearing going out. It would hardly go. I pedaled harder. Sweat broke out on my brow. But the thought of those old guys behind me brought a small sense of satisfaction.
As I neared the crest of the hill, my legs were beginning to cramp up. But I could see the peak of the mountain.
Just then, Old Ralph came pedaling by, giving me a small, polite nod. He looked as relaxed as could be, enjoying a nice bike ride on a nice morning.
Just like when I was a kid, I got off my bike and pushed it up the hill.
And you know, when I got to the top, I looked back. It really isn’t that big of a hill.

P.S. I lost the election.