This area of North Dakota is littered with literally hundreds of tiny lakes and it’s the task of stage 617 to make its way between them on the journey east towards Minnesota. There’s also a need to regain some southerly latitude having headed back north, albeit slightly, over the last couple of stages, and to a degree, the stage does achieve that. It’s a jaggy stage, as in it’s very lumpy and although the total ascent and descent are within the same ballpark, this stage is, and will feel like, a climber, more about which in a moment.
The rollout continues on the south easterly trajectory from the end of stage 616 and descends steeply for a mile to 63rd Avenue NE where the first climb kicks in. It’s steep and lumpy, with respite at two and three miles in the form of short descents, and the summit, just around the left hander at 96th Street NE, is the highest elevation of the stage at the four mile mark.
Highway 281 then descends steeply around the right hander at 66th Avenue NE before ATW waves farewell to 281 as that highway heads on south at the junction with State Highway 5. Remember how the route needs to head south as well as east? ATW hangs a left at the junction and starts heading east on Highway 5.
It cuts across the southern end of Rock Lake and past the town of the same name before hanging a right/left combo of bends either side of six miles that set up the fourteen mile straight that runs east to the finish. It’s lumpy up and down at seven miles and there’s a down/up at twelve miles where the road crosses a small river not once but twice. But apart from that, it’s a lumpy climb all the way from eight miles to twenty miles where the summit comes within a few feet of dislodging four miles from its perch as the highest elevation of the stage. The long slog of a climb peaks at nineteen miles then there’s a flattish mile before the final short run down to the line just after the junction with Highway 20 south of Calvin (which is where H20 heads).
Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres
Ascent: 440 feet / 134 metres
RGT Magic Road: 40XWgrvGYeE7
Max elevation: 1574 ft
Min elevation: 1460 ft
Total climbing: 441 ft
Total descent: -418 ft
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