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Stage 615 – Lords Lake to Belcourt

Uphill virtually the whole way and heading in the wrong direction on the steepest part of the climb near the finish. The start is the lowest elevation of the stage and the finish is the highest. Oh, and there’s only fifty feet or so of descending in the whole twenty miles. What is there not to love about stage 615, except that the total ascent is only three hundred feet? The devil is in the detail. In plain geographical terms, the stage runs east across the northern part of North Dakota, finishing around fifteen miles south of the Canadian border.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the rollout is flat but in reality it climbs five feet in the first mile: and the second, and the third, and the fourth and so on: so that’ll be a no then, it’s not flat if you want to be pedantic. The gradient continues in that gentle fashion all the way to Dunseith at seven miles where Stage Highway 5 even manages to cross Willow Creek without breaking stride on the gentle climb.

Dunseith is an important landmark because it’s where Highway 281 comes down from the Canadian border at the International Peace Garden to meet Highway 5 at a T junction. One might have expected Highway 5 to carry on east but instead it’s Highway 281 that turns left and the continuation of the road heading east is now Highway 281, as in Highway 5 no more. Immediately after Dunseith, Highway 3 heads south and while the route needs some southerly miles to claw back some latitude, this isn’t it.

The road continues on east until a left/right combination of bends at twelve miles where the gradient (finally) starts to increase. Off the right hander, the highway passes by Bia 23 heading north at thirteen miles before passing by Shell Valley at fifteen miles. There, at 39th Avenue NE, the road bends left (and north east) and the gradient increases from there all the way to the finish on the outskirts of Belcourt.

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Ascent: 322 feet / 98 metres

RGT Magic Road: eRpNjf0Tspny

Total distance: 20.49 mi
Max elevation: 1835 ft
Min elevation: 1591 ft
Total climbing: 322 ft
Total descent: -64 ft

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