A total of 94 Nutters on the bummel have again successfully proven the heart and soul of fine English cycling is alive and well, thank you, and thriving comfortably in a scenic and pastry-laden corner of the Colonies. The Vicar regaled us all with another inspirational responsive service during the Blessing of the Bicycles and the nagging question of the chicken vs. egg was cleared right up. Numerous prizes were bantered about and once the dust settled, we were off. Remarkable weather seemed to be the order of the day and Noel and I glided away on the 1938 Saxon tandem 3-Speed Command Vehicle. Trundling across the Mississippi and turning onto 35 put the wind at our backs and we were able to pedal effortlessly in high gear all the way into the village of Bay City. Fortified with ice cream, we progressed up the 2.5 mile Bay City Hill with aplomb. Not with ease, make no mistake, but with a steady determination born of creaking knees, hips and gasping lungs. Victory all! Once at the top, it was time to face the descent. With caps reversed to the aero position, I called out the speed: “45…50…55…60” and on it went into the abyss. Tears streamed back from the wind as the rock-steady Saxon proved her worth. Eventually we came to a halt; disheveled and shaken but with a charge accumulated that was not measurable. Pushing on through the hills, Noel and I discussed the merits of a hub gear that can stand the rigors of tandem use and I pondered the curiosity of having low and normal gears so close together on the AT-8. English Raspberry Trifle was the 3-Speed Tour Featured Pastry at the Smiling Pelican Bakery, and a fine treat it was! Fortifying to say the least, it would prove worthy all the way to lunch. At lunch in Stockholm, the Sacred Record went unbroken as the rain came down. We have never had a 3-Speed Tour without rain because, of course, it rains in England. The scenic overlooks were numerous and welcome and we enjoyed them all without fail. Eventually we found ourselves in Pepin enjoying a bit more rain and a sit on the patio of River Roasters coffee shop. The wind had shifted to the side but we were undaunted as we made [Lord] Nelson and enjoyed the ice cream at the [Lord] Nelson Cheese Factory. The Vigilant Vicar reported they were out of clotted cream. Horrors! What shall we do on the Brew-Up? The crossing into Wabasha was the home stretch after the hard work of the day. After dropping Noel off I rode solo on the Dreadnought and straightaway noticed a skipping in the drivetrain. Further investigation revealed the rear wheel was no longer in alignment, the cable adjustment was curiously awry and, to my surprise, low gear was no where to be found and, in fact, had been missing all day. Jan and Jim at the Eagle’s Nest proved once again they have no equal in hospitality as the thundering hordes descended. The Coventry chicken was without equal. The desserts were stunning and the Newcastle was plentiful. The Keeper of the Cask (Dave Brierley) led us all in a toast and declared the taps well and open; the Carrigan Quarrel provided the usual fine Irish music and The Vicar conducted us all in the sing-along to end all sing-alongs and the term camaraderie seems inadequate to describe it all. Then it was off to bed. On the way to breakfast, the Saxon unceremoniously cast the questionable shift cable onto the cold bitumen. A bad omen indeed. Not one to let jettisoned parts get in the way of a delicious breakfast, I limped the rest of the way to the ‘Nest in high gear. Indeed, all the Riders of the Realm again enjoyed the fare provided by our friends Jan and Jim. I managed to knot the cable and jerry-rig it to the shifter using the proverbial bailing wire and chewing gum; somewhat inelegant to say the least but sufficient to enable normal gear. With bells a-ringing we were off! We marveled at the views as we gained Reads Landing, Camp Lacoupolais and eventually Lake City. The head wind proved a worthy adversary and high gear for the crew of the Saxon was but a memory. Normal was all we had for the day. The new Lake City Brew-Up was a remarkable success; the waterfront park was a beautiful setting for all the stoves, fine china teacups and biscuits. Some napped in the grass, some ate lunch in the wind but all enjoyed the moment. A new tradition is born! Pressing on into Old Frontenac, everyone enjoyed the 19th century architecture and, of course, the beloved Stone Fence. Photos were taken and we lingered as long as possible but soon we faced the task at hand. Some enjoyed pass-storming up Hill Avenue and some chose alternate routes of many varieties but the wounded Command Vehicle pushed on into the relentless, remorseless wind. Noel and I took the bit and charged; we gave it our all until Red Wing and the Staghead loomed into view proving once again the secret to building character lies not in pushing your personal limits but in the fellowship of good friends, good food and drink.
Date(s): May 17-18 2008. Album by Jon Sharratt. Photos by Jon Sharratt. 1 - 89 of 89 Total. 9382 Visits.