A most unassuming group of cyclists gathered at Coville park in Red Wing were witness to an unusual bit of English folklore. Indeed, many legendary local events including earlier events during previous 3-Speed Tours will bear proof of the inescapable conclusions that we will make.
In 1856, Thomas Grant and Wilson Davis, both of Lancashire England, were beginning construction of The Pickwick Mill. While attempting to slide a boulder into position on the millpond dam, they were both distracted by something moving in the bushes. In that instant, the boulder slid off the side of the ramp and tumbled down the millrace. They were unhurt but old Tom and Will knew what it was and they took it to their graves; it was a Boggart, the Pickwick Boggart. In some of the old photos, you can still see the rock.
In 1995, a 55 ton boulder rolled down the bluff and into the house at 440 North Shore Drive in Fountain City WI, crushing the master bedroom. A freak occurrence, you may think, but in the spring of 1901, another boulder crushed the previous house in this exact spot. Was this the work of the Pickwick Boggart?
Compare the oddities above with the smaller, yet no less inexplicable, events below.
In 2005, Karl and Chris stopped to fix a flat on a small bridge on the west side of the Hill Avenue summit. After hearing something rustling under the bridge and in the woods, the flat was repaired in record time.
In 2010, a “gust of wind” sends a 3-speed toppling off the dock into Lake Pepin when the owner turns his back.
In 2013, the STO’s crankarm was broken on a slight rise out of Reads Landing; how often do crankarms break? Is it coincidence that Reads Landing is just a few minutes down the road from Pickwick?
In 2016, a strong and unexpected cold front found the Nutters of the Realm shivering in the wind while enduring the rigors of the check-in, prize drawing and Blessing of the Bicycles. Setting off from Colville Park, ice cream headaches were the order of the day as everyone struggled to cross the river into the headwind. Turning onto Highway 35 in Wisconsin, the headwind turned into a strong tailwind. It helped everyone up the Bay City Hill but did not help anyone stay warm since the sun had now disappeared.
The plummet down the backside was colder still, and the Nutters pressed on, seeking relief in any possible wayside rest, historic marker or bakery. Arriving at The Smiling Pelican, was it coincidence that Ian has a flat tyre when fingers are too cold to repair it? Nay, ‘tis the work of a Boggart.
Rolling on to Stockholm and then Pepin, most everyone had to ride hard to stay warm. Many found shelter in the odd restaurant or bar but most pressed on to Nelson and the final push over the bridge to Wabasha.
No inexplicable events at The Eagle’s Nest with Jan and Jim in control; they were ready for us and had a magnificent spread ready for all. Ham, mashed potatoes, mushy peas, salad bar, soup bar, dessert bar were the fare and there were no excuses for being hungry. Music was provided by The Ditch Lilies; Lisa and Kari were a delight and even managed to lead us in a stand-up version of God Save the Queen. A quick cycling poetry session and the Vicar’s delightful sing-along rounded out the evening.
Sunday found us shivering at the sight of frost on the roofs of all the houses but hot coffee and tea at the ‘Nest warmed our hearts. The breakfast buffet was stunning as usual and everyone was fortified for the journey ahead. The Mayor and Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce were there to offer thanks, encouragement, and safe journey.
A few miles past Reads Landing, Mike had his Sturmey hub lock up; surely, an act of mischief since this is not common for a normally bullet-proof hub. Mike managed a ride into Lake City and was done for the day. Again, an inexplicable occurrence in Reads Landing, not far from Pickwick.
Arriving in Lake City, the temps were moderating but no-one was warm enough to reduce the layers. It seemed a little better at the Brew-Up since the wind was moderating and we had a bit of shelter. Kirsten & Lew teamed up with sisters Carrie & Nancy to be declared Brew-Up Champions. Highlights included English cheese and sausage, tea with brandy and English crisps. The clincher was Plummer family heirloom silver service and an authentic English lace table runner made by Carrie & Nancy’s Grandmother.
Everyone was slow to leave but leave we must; a cycle tourist must continue since adventure waits around every bend. The next stop was the Old Stone Wall at the corner of Manypenny Avenue and Faribault Street in Old Frontenac. A cherished spot and it didn’t take long to find the entire length of wall covered with lovely English bicycles of all descriptions. Photos were taken, stories were told and a few curious locals stopped by to say hello.
A short distance out of town was the turn for Hill Avenue and some Nutters braved the climb and the mysterious bridge on the other side. Some Nutters did not, and glided the rest of the way into New Frontenac. Making the turn onto busy Highway 61 is a disappointment but alternate routes such as Ski Road will provide wildflowers, beautiful vistas and a bit of gravel to test your chaincase.
With that, Highway 61 is the last and only choice to get back to Red Wing. It is busy and noisy but it gives you time to collect your thoughts and realize that you have regained feeling in your fingers and toes.
While Boggarts may be folklore, they prove that there is much in the world that we don’t understand. No matter who you are, no matter what you believe, you, and only you, must be the legend. You must create your own story and your own path. No better way to do so than from the saddle of the ‘umble 3-speed.
Date(s): May 14 & 15, 2016. Album by STO. Photos by STO. 1 - 119 of 119 Total. 2033 Visits.