Like a page from a Jeeves-Wooster novel, oddly-dressed Nutters gathered in Red Wing unaware of the task they faced and the history yet to be made. Indeed, this was a cracker; an event imagined by some, overly-anticipated by others.
John Palmer read the Message from the Queen and it was sad news indeed; the new Royal Carlton was involved in a dust-up with Prince William and an un-named immovable object. Facing the prospect of the Prince’s broken leg, the Queen has promised swift repair of the bicycle and she pledged to join us next year.
With the Blessing of the Bicycles came responsive reading, a hymn about Chaps on Bikes and a revelation that it was Whitsun Eve. According to the Vicar, “White Sunday” was the day “the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and they began speaking in tongues so that even those from distant lands (Chicago, New Jersey) could understand”. With that sorted out, the Vicar pronounced it good and commanded us to “go forth and ride”.
The weather seemed pleasant enough; light winds and comfortable temps. A quick stop at the Bow and Arrow marker had us worried a bit; would our rain record remain? The dark cloud overhead seemed reluctant to accommodate but, finally, a mile downstream we felt a few sprinkles.
The darkness on the horizon had us worried as well; not rain, but the Bay City Hill. A little ice cream provided fortification and we took the bit and charged. Some claimed the hill had been changed; either lengthened or raised or both. Some walked, some pedaled but all stopped at the top for rest and a chat.
The descent of the Bay City Hill is always a welcome dichotomy, both cooling and terrifying. All made it and all managed to stop at the bottom to enjoy the vistas while the brakes cooled. We joyfully pedaled along and daydreamed of pie and other treats while views of the lake, bluffs and wildflowers rolled past.
The Smiling Pelican was a welcome sight and we filled the place with hungry Berties, Jeeves, Tuppys, Atillas and Aunt Dahlias. Pies, quiches, cookies and tortes were enjoyed by all the characters. Soon the talk turned to Rock Maiden and those interested in riding to the top were back on the wheel facing the steep climb up AA.
Others pushed on to Stockholm to lunch and a sit-down. An idyllic place to be sure and the Robinson, Miller and Feinan clans took advantage of the fine weather and arranged a family picnic; some arrived by motor with a lavish assortment of treats including Pimm’s cups on ice. A fine idea, this.
No time to dawdle, the play must go on so we remounted and faced the gentle rolling hills into Pepin where we could dawdle some more. The waterfront is a wonderful sight and not to be missed.
The long stretch into [Lord] Nelson is always a bit of a grind but this year there were no flats or mechanicals so with a light headwind to keep us cool, we simply rode with the quiet.
Wabasha arrived with a final climb up and over the big river bridge. Jan and Jim were glad to see us and treated us to mountains of shepherds pie, mushy peas, bread and salad topped off with chocolate cake and rhubarb cake. We sang the evening away while enjoying ale and cider.
Sunday morning gave us a little rain but it soon passed and after a hearty breakfast, Java Jan and Java Jim bade us farewell for another year. With that, we were faced, err, pushed by a stout tailwind. Some chose alternate routes up and over the bluffs, some chose the wide shoulder of 61 but all were serenaded by a riot of songbirds and wildflowers on this fine day. Whether on the bluffs or 61, the vistas of Loch Pepin are magnificent; it seemed hard to imagine the distance one can achieve awheel when viewed in its entirety.
Lake City arrived quickly and preparations for the Brew-Up were underway. Fine linens, English bone china, silver service, vases of flowers, artwork, Pimms, Stilton and cheddar; it all seemed unbelievable and, indeed, many locals wandered by in amazement. Sandwiches appeared out of nowhere, tea was brewed on the spot and as everyone settled in for a leisurely repast, an obvious question bubbled to the surface: Why aren’t all cycle tours like this? But it gets better; Troy Mayne and friends arranged a selected reading from P. G. Wodehouse’s Right ho, Jeeves! Troy won the new trophy (graciously supplied by Christine and Mike Welsh) but a hearty runner-up was the Hollingsworth clan with a stunning variety of treats, 3 vases of flowers and several chaps with pipes.
Eventually we had to leave that cherished spot and find our way to the old stone wall. Find it we did at the corner of Manypenny Avenue and Faribault Street. Photos were taken, stories were told and the neighbors generally regarded us as odd-looking pests. A lovely spot, and one steeped in local history and lovely architecture. One bit of architecture lost was the outhouse at Wakondiota Park. If you are a fan of architecture, you’ll find that no other building will generate the reaction, stories and memories of an outhouse. Positioned at the outfield edge of the base ball field, a liner hit sharply to left center would have garnered quite a story.
We moved on, as cycle tourists must, some ventured up Hill Avenue or Ski Road or Flower Valley Road but all knew what soon lay ahead; Red Wing, a welcome destination but an unwelcome end of the journey.
With a touch of steel in our voices (and cycle frames) we can say there is no flat too daunting, no hill too difficult, no distance too great for all of us Berties. The key to our fortitude is the same as the code of the Woosters; “Never let a pal down.” And, indeed, the ‘umble 3-speed stands ready as our pal. Right ho, Jeeves!
Date(s): May 18 & 19, 2013. Album by STO. Photos by STO. 1 - 147 of 147 Total. 18518 Visits.
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