If you’ve never had your breath snatched from you by the awesome western skies, you owe it to yourself to discover why people sang about the western states in song after song. The sunrises and sunsets are like finger-painted fire more days than not. The air is light and fills your lungs like a breeze off the mountains, and the stars – the stars are what really get you.
If you love the outdoors and bicycling, this is the bicycle tour of a lifetime! Don’t miss out on a great adventure that is suitable for the whole family. Bring your wallet for a stay in a hotel, or bring your camping gear. Either way, you’ll be glad you went.
Fort Stevenson State Park, usually known as the “Walleye Capital of North Dakota,” becomes the launching point for wheels rather than fins every year during a very special bike tour. The 400 mile bike ride called “Cycling around North Dakota in the Bakken area of Sakakawea Country,” saw its 20th anniversary in 2012. If the name seems a mouthful, you will be glad to hear it is frequently referred to as “CANDISC,” a much more manageable term.
Twenty years ago there was concern about how to bring more tourism to the Sakakawea Lake area of North Dakota. The suggestion of a bike tour was offered, one that caught on and has continued ever since. Participants from the world over are treated to the beautiful scenery the state offers and return to share it with their friends.
Every year, hundreds of bike riders along with their friends and family descend upon central North Dakota for the seven to eight day event. Scenes along the way include vast open ranges, herds of bison, farmlands, quaint small towns, and western ambiance galore. The casual ride is simply stunning and the atmosphere is one that is not hard core racing, but a relaxed meandering over the landscape, meeting locals along the way.
The 2012 ride drew riders from 24 U.S. states, as well as from three Canadian provinces. According to the Bismark Tribune, there have been fewer cyclists in recent years due to the economy around the nation, but the faithful have still turned out, including four who have ridden every tour for 20 years. With local growth in the Bakken area, these numbers should climb once again.
The route varies some each year, but care is always taken to keep the cyclists safe. With the increased traffic due to the oil boom, the route is being directed accordingly, taking the event onto less traveled roads and byways. Keep in mind, this is traffic compared to the ‘usual’ North Dakota traffic, and not much to be concerned about.
Along the way, a support team of approximately 300 volunteers encourage the riders and give them refreshments to spur on their efforts. Riding the full CANDISC is not for the faint of heart, and even the most experienced cyclists need a little boost in their morale. Some just enjoy the ride part way, as much as they can comfortably accomplish.
As the tour passes through the beautiful North Dakota countryside, cyclists need sustenance and a place to sleep. Many communities make the tour part of their annual event calendar and welcome cyclists with open arms. Awards for best breakfast, best community, and the like add a big of competition to the hosting efforts.
Enjoy this short video by a participant in the tour of the scenes they found along the way.
Lake Sakakawea, the centerpiece of this exhilarating event, covers 368,000 acres, and stretches 178 miles long. The man-made reservoir is home to a host of wildlife and offers great fishing, camping locations, and other water activities. Coming for CANDISC provides a great opportunity to soak in some of the beauty of nature and explore the sights North Dakota has to offer.
Hiking trails, a national wildlife refuge, hatchery, and the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center are all local attractions beckoning cyclists and their friends to make the event a vacation worth remembering. And if some members in your party are not up to biking the tour, many biking trails in the area offer a great way to enjoy the beauty of North Dakota on your own biking tour. Be sure to bring a fishing pole and discover the reason for the big lake’s reputation: the walleye are plentiful and ready to bite.
Author bio : Paul Moore works with a local Bakken area housing provider for the growing oil boom population near Lake Sakakawea. Bakken Residence Suites offers companies the option of luxurious yet affordable housing for their labor forces arriving to North Dakota.