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The 2014 All-British Cycling Event
Wandering Among the Monoliths

The ABCE may not have a brick or stone edifice but it exists without question in the hearts and minds of all the Nutters. We began with the Friday reception at Barley John’s. A dozen were in attendance to witness the Claiming Ceremony whereby we “Claim Barley John’s in the name of the Queen for all the Riders of the Realm”. After the glasses were clinked, we settled into our seats and shivered in the cold evening air while our ales and porters remained refrigerated.

The Gentleman’s Tour on Saturday morning was a cold start; frosty roofs on the houses proved the temperature. Three layers, long trousers and full gloves felt good in the chilly breeze while we gathered in front of the block building of Merlin’s Rest. After many handshakes and a bit of hot coffee, we were underway. A beautiful vista was soon found on the Sabo Bridge; the glass buildings of downtown Minneapolis were glittering in the clear morning sun.

Moving on, we relished the stop for Elevenses at Freewheel Bike; an example of modern monolithic architecture in the trench of the Greenway. They have no street entrance; all patrons arrive via cycle and this makes for a very friendly place indeed. The treats were many and hot tea flowed like a river.

We stalled and lingered but finally we departed for the lakes. Como was the first and we hugged the eastern shore on the cycle lane. Soon we arrived at Lake Harriet and lingered for a drink at the hand pump near the whimsical bandshell; an award winning open air post-modern structure.

Lunch was approaching so off we went around the north side of the sparkling lake. Sailboats were enjoying the breeze as we glided past on the new-found tailwind. A mile or so found us turning to the east on the Minnehaha trail. A few more miles and we were at 48th and Chicago; our lunch stop. Since it was warming nicely, we enjoyed outdoor dining. Most enjoyed the Town Hall Tap; a lovely brick building in a neighborhood full of bungalows.

Moving on, we could feel the urge of high tea calling us so we continued along Minnehaha Creek, enjoyed a brief stop at the busy falls then underway again across the Ford Bridge into St Paul. We rode North for a bit and soon found our way onto Summit Avenue. A jewel of a street, this, and we viewed brownstone mansions, shingled cottages, half timbered cottages, Italianates, Victorians, Craftsman bungalows and every combination thereof. We were dizzy with beauty and we needed a rest; we found it at Maid Marlis’ Secret Garden.

A more welcome sight cannot be imagined; chairs and tables among the forest with an amazing variety of treats. We enjoyed berry trifle, curried egg salad sandwiches, chocolate torte, lemon curd and the pièce de rèsistance; a chocolate cake in the form of the Union Jack. Pots of delicious tea were welcome on this cool day while we lingered and chatted under the trees.

Rolling on back through St. Paul, we rode parallel to Summit Avenue to view more beautiful houses and soon we were back at Merlin’s Rest for a relaxing evening dinner.

Sunday morning dawned cool again with a bit of wind but this did not deter the Cycle Jumble; bicycles, bits and frames changed hands and many lingered throughout the Social Hour. Excitement was building for the Gravity Race and Pastry Joust and we decided to set off a little early. Down the hill we went and as soon as the first corner was turned, most were hit by the wind and ground to a halt. Many never made it to the pastry but some did quite well indeed. Tim McNamara on his McNamara was the repeat winner in the hub gear category and a controversial winner in the non hub gear category was Mike and Jasper on the Pennine tandem.

Soon we were on the wheel again and we tipped our caps as we rode past Terry Osell’s old shop and down the Diagonal Trail. Speed was increasing a bit as we knew we would soon be tapping the cask of Silver Knight Ale.

Our Keeper of the Cask Steve Brink and our Keeper of the Cask Emeritus Dave Brierley did a bang-up declaration and toast to declare the taps open. Pizza was conjured up and we settled in for the Stories Both True and Otherwise. Steve Hed, Paul McLeete, Dave Sieving, Owen Lloyd and others told wonderful tales as we enjoyed the afternoon. As a cap for the weekend, prizes and awards were given for many, many beautiful bicycles.

Whether our monoliths are cycle shops, glass skyscrapers, brownstone mansions or the glory of Stonehenge, we Vagabonds seek beauty in all we see. We wander among the scenery and, indeed, we choose to become part of the scenery from time to time. We prefer to travel at an enjoyable pace with enjoyable company. We prefer to travel with pride and, without question, we prefer our dignified choice of transport: the humble English bicycle.

www.ABCEtour.com
Date(s): September 12-14, 2014. Album by STO. Photos by STO. 1 - 58 of 58 Total. 1023 Visits.
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