|The 2012 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour|
Date(s): May 19 & 20, 2012. Album by STO. Photos by STO. 1 - 97 of 97 Total. 18681 Visits.
|Houston, We Have A Problem.|
The Nutters gathered for pre-launch festivities Saturday morning in Red Wing just before the countdown began. Several things had to happen on schedule before liftoff; 4) check-in, 3) prize drawing, 2) The Message from the Queen, 1) Blessing of the Bicycles.
The Message from the Queen was delivered by John Palmer and, in Her absence and Her honour, Noel was knighted, presented with a medal and “with faith, loyalty, courage and honour” pronounced Sir Noel, Knight of the Realm. The STO was awarded the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) “For God and the Queen”. It is not widely known, but O.B.E. is actually Old Bicycle Expert. After much clapping of hands and gnashing of teeth, we moved on to the Blessing of the Bicycles. We had song, read responsively and with the Vicar’s blessing and Noel’s word, we lifted clear of the platform and blasted forth toward the heavens to begin the 10th annual 3-Speed Tour.
Not surprisingly, only a few blocks later we had our first flat tyre. No matter, a spare tube was offered up by the Vicar, pressure was restored and the journey resumed. The crossing into Wisconsin was deceptively easy with a delightful tailwind. The trouble began as soon as the route turned to the East. The headwind had been waiting for us and while this was not comparable to an exploding oxygen tank in your space capsule, it proved to be the ruling force for all the Riders of the Realm.
The heat was building by the time we began the ascent of Bay City Hill. Up we went; some riding, some walking, and some resting but, without fail, everyone made it to the apogee. The plummet was a controlled descent, not by parachute, but the wind.
Into Maiden Rock, the sight of the Smiling Pelican Bakery was certainly welcome. A special rum-laced treat of Banoffee was waiting for us and we were not disappointed. Well fueled and rested, the heat continued to build until another blast off. Some made the trek to still higher altitude at Rock Maiden; some maintained a lower orbit until Stockholm. More rest and more fuel was needed for the push into Pepin and the heat and wind made progress very difficult.
At Pepin was another catastrophe. One of the tyres of the Lorry trailer had blown. Help was available immediately with Trigger and Keith; they changed to the spare but it was flat. By stroke of luck, a service station with an air hose was within a block. The mission was saved…for now.
The long dreaded journey into Nelson was a treat this time; the clouds had arrived and the trees provided unexpected shelter from the incessant wind. Ice cream and root beer floats were consumed at the Nelson Cheese Factory before the final push into the wind across the river into Wabasha.
Jan and Jim had anticipated our arrival and prepared a feast of The Queen Mum’s Cottage Loaf. We ate, enjoyed ale, wine, cider and sang the evening away.
For the return journey to Red Wing we were hopeful for a tailwind but, to our horror, it was dead ahead again. The temperature was lower but the wind was fierce again. Just outside of Reads Landing, another catastrophe. The STO had broken one his French Chandeeze crankarms and, realizing that this could spell the end of the mission, resigned himself to failure. As luck would have it, many of the Nutters arrived within minutes to offer opinions of French metallurgy and questionable solutions involving tape, sticks and gravel but the real solution was within the 3-Speed Lorry Mission Control. A cotter press and a crankarm from Bobbi’s own Raleigh was procured, installed and soon the old Rudge was ready. One minor, uh, problem not previously discussed; a Chandeeze crankarm is curved. The pedals were no longer 180 degrees apart but were now considerably less. A cruel joke? Perhaps, but a solution nonetheless. The STO continued on into Lake City with a curious new cadence.
The competitive Lake City Brew-Up brings forward the best of the Nutters; hot tea, scones, clotted cream, Pimms, English cheese of all types, picnic blankets, table cloths and the list is endless. Eventually, the wind and light rain persuaded us to continue the journey toward Old Frontenac.
The Old Stone Wall in Old Frontenac is like an old friend. The beautiful dry-stacked wall is festooned with lichen and provides the perfect backdrop for photos of bicycles and Nutters. We rest, chat, take photos and embrace “our inner slowness” as Noel says.
The final leg of the journey was upon us; some chose alternate routes and some took the direct route but all were delighted with a gentle touchdown into Red Wing.
While the Apollo 13 mission was a bit more ambitious than our humble Tour, the plan is the same; a safe journey no matter the destination. Sometimes the path chosen has difficulties but whether the help comes from Mission Control, friends, family, Vicar or oddly-dressed Nutters makes no matter; the noble 3-speed bicycle is the vehicle of choice.