The 2018 All-British Cycling Event (September 14, 15&16, 2018)|
|The Lernaean Hydra|
The mythological Hercules slayed the nine headed Lernaean Hydra, Stymphalian Birds and the Nemean Lion, as the stories claim, but to our Riders of the Realm, the name Hercules is associated with strength, of course, but also quiet competence, utility and beauty.
Not subject to myth was our Friday reception; a wonderful gathering on a warm evening to renew friendships, chat about which Hercules was being ridden by whom and can Hercules actually clean the Augean stables in a single day. A bit later it was time for the Claiming Ceremony whereby we “claim Barley John’s in the name of the Queen and for all the riders of the realm.”
Saturday we gathered at Merlin’s Rest at the appointed time, mounted our Steeds and set out across the countryside in search of Elevenses. An easy choice, this, since Freewheel Bike was an easy 2 miles down the path. A nice mug of tea and a treat and we were underway again. We glided past lakes Calhoun and Harriet and soon found lunch at 48th and Chicago. Pressing on, our next stop was Minnehaha Falls and we were relieved it was roaring along at a great clip. Our next landmark was Fort Snelling and the stairway down to the Highway 5 crossing. The stairway was tough to spot but soon we were gliding above the river to the St. Paul side. We took Shephard Road down to the Red River Kitchen for some welcome cold water. Since we had been running a bit slow due to the heat, we pushed on to find Irvine Park, Grand Avenue and the long climb to the top. Some went to find ice cream at Grand Ave Creamery but most decided to beeline back to Merlin’s. Authentic English Fare was the order of the day along with an ale of choice. Some had a cool Pimm’s cup to finish the day.
Sunday was off to a running start since the cycle jumble is so popular that most of the vendors arrive early but the real thrill of the day is the Gravity Race and Pastry Joust. “Distance via dignified coasting” is the rule and what could be more dignified than skewering your own pastry! Back at Barley John’s, the taps were declared open as well as the ovens so various pizza’s were the choice. We told “stories both true and otherwise” and had a grand old time.
Our beloved English Hercules is indeed famous for strength and far-ranging adventures. Adventure on the wheel can take many forms; physical challenges, beautiful vistas like no other, or simply revelation. What better way to enjoy a challenge than the ‘umble 3-speed.
2018 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour (May 12 & 13, 2018)|
Julian’s Bower is a unicursal (one way in and one way through) turf maze in North Lincolnshire near Alkborough. More accurately termed a labyrinth, it is a much-loved curiosity of the region and for proof-of-passion you need to look no further than the local church; a 19th century stained glass window records the full pattern. The same church porch floor also records the pattern and the nearby gravestone of Constible James Goulton records the pattern as well. Some think the labyrinth was sculpted by monks in the 12th century but others contend it is of Roman origin.
Some believe a labyrinth can provide healing powers through light and energy and indeed, through workshops, books, tours and even music, this can be explored.
Our beloved 3-Speed Tour is best defined as multicursal; we have one entrance into Wisconsin and one entrance back into Minnesota and either entrance opens up to a world of route choices. But unlike a labyrinth, none are wrong. Our Saturday crossing into Wisconsin was restricted by bridge construction and heavy traffic but once across, our way was clear. Immediately, an alternate route presented itself at the Highway 35 junction; an interesting back road that is quiet and will eventually take everyone to Bay City.
Our arrival at Bay City means one thing; the 2.5 mile Bay City Hill; there are no alternates in this part of the labyrinth so we had no choice. Up we went; some riding, some walking and all were breathing hard. The church at the top was a welcome stop to cool off, take some photos and prepare for the fast descent. A series of overlooks and historic markers allowed our brakes to cool off and soon we were heading to Maiden Rock.
The Smiling Pelican is our only choice if we want excellent pastry and over the years, the SP has proven how good they are. Good enough, in fact, to empty the display case. We Nutters lounged in the garden, rocked on the porch and mulled about; telling stories and taking photos.
After Maiden Rock, some braved the climb to the overlook and visited the Maiden Rock Cidery and some took the long alternate route (courtesy of Ralph) that eventually descended into Pepin. Most traveled directly to Stockholm for treats and a little sit-down.
The segment from Pepin to Nelson is the longest of the day. It is mostly flat and to verify this is an English Ride, it sprinkled light rain the whole way. Not unpleasant since no-one was soaked and the Chippewa River delta is so very beautiful with wild plum blossoms and their perfume filling the air.
Nelson is the last village in Wisconsin; some stopped at the Cheese Factory for ice cream and other provisions. Others braved the final climb over the bridge into Wabasha and the Eagle’s Nest.
That evening, Javas Jan and Jim refueled our tired bones with a feast to remember; no-one left hungry. Some stayed to enjoy the new “Beer Choir”; Tim’s rollicking addition to the evening that had everyone in stitches.
The next morning, it was back to the ‘Nest for gallons of hot tea, coffee and an excellent breakfast to fuel us for the morning ride. Many planned their alternate routes through the Minnesota side of the labyrinth. Not many chose to ride the climb up to the top of the bluffs, but all were looking forward to the next stop. No-one wanted to leave, but leave we must; that is what cycle tourists do.
Lake City’s Ohuta Park is a lovely location for the Brew-Up; we have incredible views of the lake plus the bluffs on the other side where we were cycling the previous day. Blankets and tablecloths were spread, the kettles came out and treats were found seemingly everywhere.
After a little nap, we moved on to the Light Up; a great place to learn a little history, take some photos of beautiful bicycles and enjoy the Old Stone Wall.
The final leg through this labyrinth was upon us. Hill Avenue, Ski Road, Flower Valley Road or good old flat Highway 61 are all good choices to get back to Red Wing. Most are quiet back roads with wild flowers in full bloom along with more plum, apple and cherry perfume.
Riders of the Realm have many choices in this labyrinth known as life but the route you choose is yours and yours alone. Eventually you will find your one true path of truth, vision and healing powers. Indeed, that path is best followed upon your ‘umble 3-speed.
The 2017 All-British Cycling Event (September 15-17, 2017)|
|...and Robin Hood Festival|
Robin Hood was a myth of course but the riders of the ABCE Robin Hood Festival elevated the story of Robin Hood to absolute fact; placing the Robin Hood bicycle into the stuff of legends. Many Robin Hood bicycles were in attendance and all proved their worth by traversing hill and dale, fen and field. Without question a worthy steed, this, and a prize possession to those lucky enough to find one.
Departing from Merlin’s Rest, the 30-some-odd Riders of the Realm easily glided to the Vento Bridge overlook for a quick break but it wasn’t long and we were off to Elevenses at the Freewheel Co-Op. A perfect combination of cycle store, bakery and tea vendor, we lingered while the commoners looked in wonder at the numerous and lovely bicycles.
Off we went down the Greenway, past Lake Calhoun and Harriet and on to the Minnehaha Creek trail. A busy day indeed as the paths were filled with cyclists and walkers but as long as we kept a modest pace there was no delay to speak of. Lunch was the order of the day and soon we arrived at 50th and Chicago for a variety of options.
We needed to move on and the plan was to cross the Mississippi at Fort Snelling but reports said the path was inaccessible. A quick u-turn put us back on track for the Ford Bridge and we made an easy glide down the St Paul side of the river to the beautiful overlook across from Fort Snelling. The next stop was the St Paul City House; a new place that was a flour mill and barge/rail loading facility on the waterfront. This is a lovely new spot that includes a restaurant, river views and historical significance.
We did not want to leave but as tourists, we must. The next obstacle was Ramsay Hill; a formidable barrier in the landscape that intimidated some to seek a rout with an easier grade. No matter; a long climb or easy walk was the choice and all the breathless Nutters regrouped at the top. On we went; wandering the lovely houses of St Paul’s Summit Avenue area as the anticipation of our return to Merlin’s Rest set in.
Whether you see yourself as Robin Hood himself, Maid Marian or Friar Tuck, your choice of Steed for riding the forests of Nottingham needs to be stout, reliable and smart. City streets, quiet paths or country lanes should pose neither limits nor problems. Without question, your bicycle of choice can only be the ‘umble Robin Hood 3-speed.
The Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour (May 13 & 14, 2017)|
|Floating in the Bournemouth|
Many years ago, a curious vision could occasionally be seen above the fields of Cardington; this large cigar-with-fins was an airship. Quite small when compared to Graf Zeppelin standards, this was the result of a lifelong fascination with lighter-than-air craft by Lord Ventry of Bournemouth and the newly formed Airship Club of Great Britain. Built from a surplus barrage balloon from the war, it was the first such craft built in Britain since 1929. By July 1951, the little Bournemouth was ready for its inaugural flight; 3 crewmen and Lord Ventry climbed aboard. It would not budge. Lord Ventry had to vacate and be replaced by a lighter man.
The maiden voyage exposed problems; it was tail heavy and had engine and steering problems, more work was needed. By August, it was ready and it was flown with Lord Ventry aboard. The view must have been spectacular. After a 35 minute flight, the Bournemouth attempted to land but instead, crashed into the roof of the station’s gymnasium. More alterations and repairs were made and, interestingly, a modified city bus was used as a mobile base for the mooring mast.
More trouble in the spring of 1952 resulted in the scrapping of the Bournemouth. Lord Ventry lived until 1987 and left behind a wealth of airship related written material assembled during his lifetime.
Fast forward a few decades and we find ourselves with an eager group of plucky aeronauts. Casting off from Colvill Park, we rambled through Red Wing, across the Mississippi and on to the Bow and Arrow Marker. In the distance we could see it, but over the years the marker has faded and become overgrown but it still make a valuable marker for cyclists and aeronauts alike.
Bay City provides a good location to catch our breath and prepare for the ascent of the Bay City Hill. Once free of our mooring, up we went, toward the sky with ears popping and legs aching. Once at the top, the view was the same as from the old Bournemouth; open vistas for miles and the entire valley was laid open before you.
Soon this flight had to descend and down we went; no-one crashed into a gymnasium roof but instead, we moored at the Smiling Pelican Bakery for Elevenses and a relaxing moment in the garden.
Airships are quite affected by the wind and as we set off for destination Stockholm, we were carried by a gentle and welcome tail wind. Many had lunch in Stockholm and with a little walkabout we noticed that every year, one more building is restored to perfection.
Rambling on, the heat was building and like the Bournemouth, overheating became an issue but with water available in Pepin, we did fine. Pepin to [Lord] Nelson was the usual long and difficult stretch but the tailwind continued to help and soon ice cream was the reward at the [Lord] Nelson Creamery.
Pressing on to Wabasha is difficult since we need to do one more ascent and the old airship was getting tired. All of us finally made it and Jan & Jim at the Eagle’s Nest provided a wonderful refueling stop.
Sunday morning at the ‘Nest was delightful and again, the fuel tanks were filled and we cast off from our mooring mast.
Onward we glided; through Reads Landing, Camp Lacupoulais and Lake City. A quick pause at the rest stop found many lying in the grass while others pressed on to Ohuta Park and the Brew-Up.
At the Brew-Up, picnic blankets were everywhere, tea pots were bubbling and treats of all kinds were being sampled. Perfection does not describe how amazing this was; beautiful vistas from this unknown lake shore park with the Wisconsin bluffs in the distance, light tail-wind breezes, fair skies and not a care in the world.
Pressing on, we enjoyed the quiet solitude of Old Frontenac and the Light-Up next to the Old Stone Wall at the corner of Manypenny Avenue and Faribault Street. We talked of rides past, rides future and simply enjoyed the day. Pipes emerged and if you were lucky, a whiff of pipe tobacco would come your way and instantly, your Father or Grandfather was there in spirit.
Whether you prefer the old Bournemouth or the old 3-speed, the advantages of 2 wheels cannot be denied. The vistas are the same; indeed, they are better earned and appreciated on a bicycle. The same with the sun, the wind and the odd pastry; all are enjoyed without guilt. New friendships are made, old friendships are renewed and the miles will melt away with joy, all courtesy of your ‘umble 3-speed.
The All-British Cycling Event; (September 16-18, 2016)|
|We Go Out for the Day|
If you were to choose a way to effortlessly enjoy a brilliant day or days, what would it be? Travel of some kind would probably be the most common answer. These days, travel is only concerned with destination, not the journey. We Nutters, on the other hand, prefer a different style of travel; one without time restrictions nor worry, in fact, a journey that lasts all weekend is a good start. On the ABCE, our travels begin on Friday with a modest reception at Barley John’s. A gathering of a dozen or so rekindled old friendships and enjoyed the evening. Later in the evening we clicked our glasses and declared “We hereby claim Barley John’s in the name of The Queen for all the Riders of the Realm”.
On Saturday, all the Nutters gathered at Merlin’s Rest for what could best be described as an “improbable journey” by modern standards; travelling leisurely, enjoying the sights along with polite conversation and treats at nearly every street corner. At a bit past 9am, we saddled up and began our journey. Moving down the trail, all 32 riders were an impressive sight and chit-chat was the order of the day as we wandered to the new Sabo Bridge. An impressive sight and a good view of downtown Minneapolis was our reward but we did not stay very long since the coffee shop at Freewheel Bike was waiting for us. “Elevenses” is a long lost tradition among cyclists; a bit like afternoon tea but with a very different time schedule. Treats were abundant and buckets of late morning tea were welcome.
We needed to move on; this seemed improbable but we had a loose schedule to maintain and, oddly enough, we were right on time so far. A lovely ride past Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun and quick stop at the water pump at Lake Harriet put us in line for lunch at 48th & Chicago. Plenty of choices here; pub fare, Mexican and a wonderful bakery add up to plenty of energy for riding the rest of the afternoon.
We pushed off and found our way back to Minnehaha Creek and followed the trail to Minnehaha Falls. The Falls were roaring; an impressive sight with the cascading water and mist filling the gorge.
Next was the Mississippi crossing at the Ford Bridge; another impressive sight and the view upstream through the wooded river valley was beautiful. As we continued on, we found Summit Avenue with all its impressive architecture. By then it was time for more treats and we found them just off Summit on Cambridge and Grand Avenue. Many more choices here but most went for something from the case at French Meadow Bakery. Impressive, yes, but a poor substitute for Marlis’ secret tea garden.
We hated to leave but we eventually mounted up and moved on through a quiet neighbourhood on Otis Avenue in St. Paul; impressive architecture and a quiet road. We then turned on Marshall, crossed over the Mississippi again and this put us on Lake Street for the home stretch. Our destination for the day was back at Merlin’s Rest and soon we were there. Merlin’s Rest offers plenty of selections from a menu that seems perfectly English and with the appropriate beverage, was a delight to all.
Sunday dawned warm and sunny and it appeared that another ABCE would sneak by without rain. The Cycle Jumble is always an adventure with many Steeds on offer with enough parts available to fill your lorry. We soon departed for the Gravity Race and shorter Gentleman’s Tour and found the competition to be formidable; we had many a rider gliding to the runout area in contention. Barry took the crown for the hub gear category and Gary took the non-hub gear. After enjoying our pastries and discussing various strategies for next year, off we went for a short tour. We rode through St. Anthony Village and tipped our caps at the old location of Osell Cycles.
Arriving back at Barley John’s, the taps were opened and pizza ordered. Soon it was time to begin the “stories both true and otherwise”; a favourite of all. Stories and presentations were given and then prizes were given as well.
Indeed, a day well spent and a model for all our days to come.
The 2016 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour (May 14 & 15, 2016)|
|Beware the Boggart|
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.
The 2015 All-British Cycling Event (September 18, 19 & 20, 2015)|
|Leading the Way Along A Different Path|
Only three Nutters braved the steady rain and rode their Worthy Steeds to the reception on Friday, but they were rewarded with warm handshakes, hugs and greetings of friends that have not been seen for much too long. Indeed, a small and enthusiastic group gathered that paid no mind to the chilly breeze since all were warmed by laughter.
Craig brought a Union Jack, a photo of the Queen and copies of “God Save the Queen” for all. We stood, hats in hand, and sang a beautiful rendition. A quick peek at the rest of the patrons confirmed it; everyone in the outdoor dining section was standing and singing. Proof that leading the way will guarantee others will follow.
Saturday morning was clear and cool; perfect for a nice cycle tour. We departed about 9:30 and soon found ourselves at the Sabo bridge admiring the views and the perfect weather.
A quick glide down the Greenway and it was time for Elevenses at Freewheel Bicycle and coffee shop. A delightful place, this, and you may find yourself lounging in the comfortable chairs with a treat or doing a bit of shopping. An industry leader without question since access is by bicycle and bicycle only; the front door is on the path.
Soon we were rolling down the trail but the sound of an exploding tube had everyone pulling over and checking for bullet holes. The cause was much more innocent; a worn-out tyre had exposed the tube and the tube had worn through. Not a quick fix since it was a roadster but fixed it was. Lesson learned: replace the original cotton carcass tyres.
We rode around Lakes Calhoun and Harriet as the wind picked up and the sailboats on the lakes were clipping along nicely. Next was Minnehaha creek and it was quite high for September and we followed it to our lunch spot at 48th and Chicago. Plenty to choose from here and we enjoyed a long slow lunch.
Eventually we made our way to the falls and it was spectacular with plenty of water cascading over the ledge. While we enjoyed the view, we also enjoyed the coincidence of a great blues band near the pavilion. We chatted with many visitors curious about the odd vision of well-dressed ladies and gentlemen on stalwart bicycles.
Crossing the Mississippi at the Ford Bridge encouraged us to make a bee line to High Tea at Marlis’ secret garden. A lovely spot indeed and we revelled in Welsh Rarebit, cucumber sandwiches, raspberry trifle and chocolate torte. All this was served with pots of hot tea and fine china. Janet and Betty did the honours and no-one had an empty cup. A bang-up job and Marlis leads the way in hospitality, presentation and courtesy.
We hate to leave that treasured spot but leave we must. Up the steep alley to Summit Avenue and crossing over to Oakland gave us a break from the traffic of Summit. Lovely houses lined the streets all the way back to the river.
Crossing over at Marshall/Lake St put us within sight of Merlin’s Rest and our destination for the day. Pints of cider and ale were hoisted: pastys, fish and chips, steak and pudding, proper steak and mushroom pie were all consumed.
Sunday was windy, cool and the gravity race was a hoot. Mark Gutzmer was the non-hub gear winner and Ralph Karsten took the hub gear category. When we returned to Barley John’s, the cycle jumble was winding down to make way for the Keeper of the Cask to “…declare the taps open!”
Silver Knight Ale was the order of the day and everyone lined up for a pint. Soon we were judging all the fine bicycles and casting ballots for “Nutters Choice”.
Many stories were told; wonderful little tales of fine bicycles and how they didn’t get away this time. Stories of how lovely machines come together as if by magic; the only magic is the generosity of friends.
We may seem odd to most but in our hearts and minds we have chosen a different path in life, indeed, a path seldom chosen; a path of dignity, substance, vision and a path that has no end. What better way to travel that path than with our ‘umble 3-speeds.
The 2015 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour (May 16 & 17, 2015)|
|The Missing Man Formation|
The 2015 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour was expected to be a difficult one. As the Nutters gathered in Red Wing the main subject was the weather. Missing from the start was a good forecast; rain was predicted for both days and Sunday was predicted to be severe but we pressed on with our opening festivities anyway. John Palmer read the letter from the Queen; she apologised again for not being present but wished us well and congratulated us on carrying the spirit of the United Kingdom upon which the sun never set, blah, blah, blah. The Vicar did a bang-up job with the Blessing of the Bicycles and soon he bid us to “Go forth and ride!”
With that, we were off. Ian and I hopped on the old Saxon tandem and soon I realised that proper tyres were missing; not more than a mile into it, the rear tyre broke a bead and the tube failed explosively. I managed to get it to the side of the road and both Ian and I were relieved. As we changed the tyre and tube (thanks to Andy and Noah) an unidentified gent rode up and wished us a safe journey on behalf of Dave Brierley. We scratched our collective heads because Dave was missing; having moved to Connecticut months before. The unidentified gent was his brother-in-law delivering a long-distance message.
Pressing on, we had a quick stop for some ice cream at Flat Pennies then faced the issue; the Bay City Hill is the nemesis of all the Riders of the Realm. Up we went, sometimes riding, sometimes walking, but it was up indeed. Some gathered at the top to catch their breath and courage but some (Ian and I) pushed off quickly and plummeted down the backside. The BCH is always a thrill but try it on a heavy tandem sometime and the term “terminal velocity” may have a new meaning.
A few more hills found us welcoming the hospitality of the Smiling Pelican Bakery. Sondra had prepared Bakewell Tart as the feature of the day and it was delicious. Many Nutters were overcome and had no choice but to nap in the garden or chat on the porch. We lingered as long as possible but the call of the road was unmistakable. Off we went, admiring the scenery, ignoring the slight headwind and enjoying every minute.
Just outside of Stockholm a front tyre problem nearly had us over the guardrail; another defective wire bead caused us to walk the ¼ mile into town. A tyre, tube and rim strip change went well but the highlight of Stockholm was the pie; chicken pot pie and vegetable pot pie to be precise.
On to Pepin; Marlis, Jeff and Rob made an important find on the Municipal dock; 2 gents with a pontoon boat were willing to transport the group, including bicycles, down to Wabasha. The first SAG ferry! If possible, we would like to arrange this for next year as well.
The rest of the non-aquatic Riders of the Realm had to trudge on through the Chippewa River delta and on to [Lord] Nelson. The renamed [Lord] Nelson Creamery provided ice cream for those needing a break, the rest, including the Saxon crew, pressed on to Wabasha.
The Eagle’s Nest provided a comforting sight and Jan and Jim provided a hearty meal for everyone; nothing missing here. Dark clouds and threat of heavy rain ended the evening early so we could not do our usual howl-a-long.
Sunday morning dawned with hope that the showers would continue to be missing but of more immediate importance was Ian; he was worn out and would be unable to continue. Now my stoker was missing and I was faced with the task of riding solo on the Saxon. Formidable it seemed. I faced the issue head-on and decided to load my gear in the Lorry to lighten up as much as possible. I had ridden the old Iron solo before and knew it shouldn’t be much trouble. The trouble would be the same as riding 2-up; the hills. At any rate, we had plenty of egg bake, oatmeal, pastries and fruit to get us to Lake City. After many good-byes, handshakes and hugs I was off.
In case of trouble, Melanie stayed close on the Moulton and we both flew down the road with the big tailwind. A little extra effort got me up the hills and the old Iron handled perfectly with only the captain on board.Lake City came up quickly and we were busy with the Brew-Up by 11am. In short order, blankets were spread, stoves were bubbling, crisps, cheese, tea, and sandwiches were appearing everywhere. Pimms Cups were a treat (where did Troy find fresh cucumber?) as well as Port and perhaps a spot of brandy for medicinal purposes. Again, nothing was missing here. Eventually, Noah and Andy Holzer were declared the winner of the newly-named Malcom Merriweather Trophy.
We wanted to linger all afternoon but the skies were getting dark and we wanted to gather at the old stone Wall in Old Frontenac. A cherished spot, this, and a welcome tradition; we chat, take more than a few photos and linger. The architecture of this neighbourhood is comforting and reassuring in a way that is missing in all modern architecture.
We eventually left that lovely spot and many Nutters chose an alternate route. Hill Avenue, Ski Road or Flower Valley Road to name a few. It’s all an adventure, of course, and these lovely roads are a way to make it last just a wee bit longer. Red Wing was the final destination and a wonderful place to bring the Tour to a close.
We all have voids in our lives; whether it is a missing stoker, friends or opportunities but we all press on. Not from desperation, but of hope. Eventually we fill that void with an alternate; new friends, routes, abilities and vistas. What better way to travel this path than the humble 3-speed.
The 2014 All-British Cycling Event (September 12-14, 2014)|
|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.
The 2014 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour: (May 17 & 18, 2014)|
|All Hands Were Lost|
HMS Holland 1, launched in 1901, had an original compliment of 8.
The Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour had an original compliment of 14; now 100+.
Our Tour of Duty began with anxious anticipation of the weather; will it hold for our launch? Will it present us with unknown challenges? No matter, we are a hearty lot and always enjoy new adventure and meeting new friends. We also enjoyed the Message from the Queen delivered by Willy and John; The Queen was kind enough to send her regrets. The Vicar delivered the delightful Blessing of the Bicycles and since no rain was predicted, we were sprinkled with Holy Water.
“A rising tide lifts all boats” is a certain truism but, as we discovered, it also blocks our route out of the harbor so the certainly curious HMS Redwing Police provided an escort out into the channel. And with that, we were underway.
Crossing the Mississippi river out of Redwing gives and odd feeling that your ticket is stamped “one-way”. Thankfully, that is not the case and as we found Highway 35, we turned with the strong tailwind, passed the Bow and Arrow marker and settled in to the long journey ahead.
The Bay City Hill loomed in the distance and some prepared with a bit of ice cream but all leaned into the task at hand. Up they went, one and all; some egos were sunk, some were nearly out of fuel but all were able to complete the herculean task and meet at the top.
The Bay City Plummet was a delight; with caps reversed, the speed on the new pavement was impressive and all made it down the back side with brakes burning and wide grins.
On we sailed to the harbor of Maiden Rock and the Smiling Pelican Bake Shop. Sondra knew we were coming and we were delighted to see the many treats including the White Chocolate Rhubarb Rasberry Parfait. Indeed, a torpedo below the waterline. Many Sailors lounged in the garden on shore leave after sampling these delights.
Pressing on, we ventured to Stockholm; another safe harbor with many choices of treats, restaurants and sights. Some descended from the Maiden Rock Bluff but most arrived at sea level.
The town of Pepin was the next port of call and some took a quick tour of the waterfront. The old depot museum seems permanently closed since they lost the only volunteer.
The tailwind was certainly welcome as we crossed the long flats across the Chippewa River delta. Yes, a bit of a slog but the chattery birds were delightful and the trees seemed to leaf out as we watched.
Steaming into [Lord] Nelson is always a relief; many enjoyed more ice cream but most enjoy the fact that the long day is nearly done.
Wabasha was a welcome sight and Jan and Jim were ready to stand the push of so many hungry Nutters. Nottingham stew was on the menu, along with mash and our favorite; mushy peas. Noel did a rousing bout of poetry that was a great crowd pleaser plus a couple of volunteers did as well.
Sunday dawned clear and beautiful and again, Jan and Jim outdid themselves with various egg bakes, coffee, tea, bagels plus other treats to get all the sub-mariners to the port of Redwing. We feasted, gathered for a few words, and then shoved off for Lake City and the Brew-Up.
Many thought Ohuta Park would be, ironically, under water. It was not, but it was close. The Brew-Up is always a big hit and all the picnic tables are quickly taken and many blankets are spread in the grass. Elaborate displays and food seem to come out of nowhere. In the end, all were winners but the judges settled on one kit in particular; Sandra Muzzy and Mark Wagar were declared the winners.
We lingered at Lake City and truly hated to leave that treasured spot but a tour this is and so tour we must. Old Frontenac was in our periscope sights and soon we were underway.
The Old Stone Wall soon came into view at the corner of Faribault Street and Manypenny Avenue. We dearly love that shady spot and proudly line up all the Trusty Steeds along the wall for photos. The new Light-Up was a modest hit and many pipes were on display and exactly 3 were lit.
Moving on, we had many choices; Hill Avenue, Ski Road or Flower Valley Road. All are spectacular and all are lined with wildflowers and offer views that cannot be seen nor imagined from any boat.
As we rolled into Redwing, we experienced waves of grief that this lovely little tour has to end. Disappointing, yes, but the tour lives in our hearts and minds, and indeed, the friendships and memories are refreshed every year.
As the original HMS Holland 1 was an exploration into sub-marining, our merry band of 3-Speed Nutters are explorers in their own right. Happily, all hands were lost in our favourite diversions, bakeries, overlooks and routes. All hands were lost in the challenge of the hills, the flats, the naps in the grass. All hands were lost over hill and dale and back home again. Once again, the ‘umble 3-speed is the choice for all hands.
The 2013 All-British Cycling Event (September 13, 14 & 15, 2013)|
|Irksome Tasks and Weighty Responsibilities|
The 2013 All-British Cycling Event was another in a continuing series of High Adventures and much like Robin Hood; our arrow flew right to the heart of the target.
The Friday reception and claiming ceremony was well attended and we bore our weighty responsibilities with a pint of cheer. Barley John’s was “Hereby claimed for the Queen and for all the Riders of the Realm”. Glasses were clicked and it finally settled in; another ABCE was underway.
The Gentleman’s Tour on Saturday morning started from a new location; Merlin’s Rest. A warm and friendly gathering spot that proved perfect as a starting and finishing point. 28 Nutters took aim and were let loose down the trail. The Sabo Bridge was our first stop at less than a mile and the view of Minneapolis is not to be missed. We did not linger since the call of Elevenses at Freewheel bicycle shop could be heard. Treats and tea were served while some shopped and some relaxed in the warm sun.
Eventually another arrow was pulled from the quiver and off we went to Lake Calhoun and then the vintage water pump stop at Lake Harriet near the band shell. We lingered a bit but we had to fly; our target was lunch at 48th and Chicago. A grand place it is, with many choices for lunch that include indoor plus outdoor dining. With fine temperatures and partly cloudy skies, it was perfect and we enjoyed it all.
Once we realised our next target, we jumped up and moved on. We had a long stretch to cover to get to Marlis’ garden and High Tea. We wound along Minnehaha creek, gathered and re-grouped at Minnehaha Falls and found our way through the Sherwood Forest trail to the Ford Bridge. The view from the bridge is always spectacular since it hovers hundreds of feet over the only gorge on the Mississippi. We found our way to Summit Avenue and we never tire of it. Fans of architecture and vintage houses were thrilled with the views. After a time, if you watch in the distance, you will see the avenue seems to disappear; the Ramsay Hill is the culprit since it plummets seemingly off the edge of the earth. Thankfully, we turned left, a quick right and hit our target; Marlis’ garden.
Home baked cakes and cookies served with tea were the order of the day. All of it absolutely delicious! We relaxed in the hidden forest and enjoyed it all. A truly magic spot, this, and three cheers were given to Marlis; our very own Maid Marian!
One arrow was left for the day and we regrettably had to move on. Merlin’s Rest was calling and raindrops were beginning to fall. It seemed a false rain since we stopped to don the capes and shortly after the rain stopped. We found our way back to the River Road, the Marshall Street Bridge, and finally, Merlin’s.
Fish and chips, buttys, pies, pasties and mash were all served with ale and cider and we laughed the evening away while the rain came down in buckets.
Sunday found the Cycle Jumble well underway at 10am. The weather was perfect; cool and with a light breeze. Many deals were to be had and soon we were anxious for the Gravity Race and Pastry Joust. An odd event indeed but it’s great fun to watch the Nutters take aim and pull a straight shot down the hill and struggle for every last inch of distance while dealing with irksome day-old pastry. Winners were declared and a quick tour past the long-lamented bicycle shop of Terry Osell and down the Diagonal Trail found us back at Barley John’s.
Dave, our Keeper of the Cask, declared the taps open and soon we were enjoying pints of Silver Knight Ale. Judges were busy and many were preparing for our favourite: “Stories, Both True and Otherwise.” Many tales were told of bicycle adventures, tours and discoveries. Many were humorous, some were historic and all were coveted.
Eventually the awards were given, prizes drawn and we clicked glasses one last time. Sadly, another ABCE drew to a close.
Whether our personal arrows are family pheons, Office of Ordnance designations, a hard-earned scouting sash worn with pride, or simple markers on a distant hillside, it is just the adventure known as life and few know the adventure like the Riders of the Realm. In the realm of Robin Hood or the modern Scout, the Order of the Arrow means brotherhood, cheerfulness and service. For the Riders of the Realm we cherish much the same; the brotherhood and reunion of old friends, the cheerfulness of conversation over a cup of tea, and the faithful service of our devoted steed; the three speed bicycle.
The 2013 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour (May 18 & 19, 2013)|
|P. G. Wodehouse Would Be Proud.|
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!
The 2012 All British Cycling Event (September 14, 15, 16, 2012)|
|Victory of the Afflicted |
On Friday evening, the Nutters gathered in New Brighton for ale and a renewal of friendships plus building of others. Glasses were raised and a toast was made during our claiming ceremony; “To claim Barley John’s in the name of the Queen for all the Riders of the Realm. With that, we knew we were afflicted.
Saturday morning was cool with light winds, in other words, perfect for a Gentleman’s Tour. Hands were shaken, friendships renewed and soon the Nutters were on the wheel. Threading our way through downtown Minneapolis is enjoyable riding since you can get a glimpse of the old Island Cycle warehouse and all the interesting architecture of the warehouse district, riverfront and the Post Office.
Soon we were southbound with a quick stop on the Sabo bicycle bridge and then eastbound to the Freewheel bicycle shop and tea house. The coffee cake was the treat of the day and, thanks to Peter Jourdain, they had laid in extra supplies. GC mugs were filled and drained and soon we were off again.
Rambling around the lakes was the next adventure and we enjoyed the sparkling waters of Calhoun and Harriet. The Harriet Bandshell is another sight to see and we stopped at the nearby hand-pumped well to fill our mugs again.
We easily found the wooded trail of Minnehaha creek but one ingredient was missing: water. It was dry; so dry, in fact, we saw one chap merrily jogging down the ex-watercourse.
Pressing on, we found our favourite lunch spot at 48th & Chicago. Plenty of restaurant choices ensured that everyone found something to their liking.
Eventually we left that idyllic spot and made our way to the Falls of Minnehaha but, alas, no reason to stop since it was dry. We continued on to Fort Snelling, crossed the Mississippi and continued on the trail along Shepard Road eventually gaining downtown St. Paul. We had a quick stop at the Irving Park fountain and then on to Cyclist Teas at Marlis’ secret garden.
If you travel over hill and dale, through fen and forest, a better setting could not be found. Tea was served in abundance and treats included savory scones, finger sandwiches, chocolate cake and clotted cream. We rested and chatted, reclined and dallied. Indeed, we were afflicted with this form of repast and revival. Must we leave?
But leave we must; cycle touring demands it and after all, the adventure is found in the journey. We tottered down Summit Avenue and eventually found our way back to the Mississippi. Our next diversion was the Park Rash switchback trail down the river bluff to the riverside. We wandered on to the boat house and dallied a bit since it was quite hot by then. Eventually we moved on and some parted for home, some to their automobile and some to dinner.
Sunday was another example of perfect weather; the Cycle Jumble was set up quickly and many deals were to be had. An affliction may easily be witnessed here; those infected souls are attracted to shiny objects, cannot see rust or dirt and have a shed/basement/garage with bulging walls. A most enjoyable disease, this, as it has the ability to sharpen the eyesight (for most anyway) and lighten the wallet.
The Sunday Gentleman’s Tour began with a curious bit of adventure in the form of a Gravity Race and Day-Old Pastry Joust; another odd affliction in that the object is “…distance via dignified coasting”. What could be more dignified than having a pastry during a race? Is this another affliction? No question it is.
Carrying on, we made it back to Barley John’s and without hesitation, our Keeper of the Cask (Dave) declared the taps open and soon we were giving out awards and telling stories both true and otherwise.
We all have our various afflictions whether they are collecting oddly heavy bicycles, stories of touring in strange lands, drinking tea in a hidden forest or even suffering the spectre of health issues but rest assured the noble English bicycle is the panacea for all.
The 2012 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour (May 19 & 20, 2012)|
|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.
The 2011 All British Cyclling Event (September 16-18, 2011)|
|Spitfires and Hurricanes Filled the Skies|
No Messerschmitts or Junkers were in the skies over New Brighton for The All British Cycling Event. Indeed, no hostile forces including German bicycles were to be seen anywhere. With air and land superiority, we opened the festivities with a modest reception at Barley John’s on Friday evening. Glasses were raised and we claimed our most familiar spot in the name of the Queen, for all the riders (and fliers) of the Realm.
Saturday morning dawned quite cool and a light mist was noticed but takeoff was soon underway! Across the airspace of Minneapolis we flew and, in time, we found ourselves on Minnehaha Trail and viewing the sights of Milwaukee Avenue, the Sabo bridge and the Greenway. Elevenses were found at Freewheel Bicycle and we were fortified with pudding and tea.
By no means was this a direct flight and so our next stop was the Peace garden at Lake Harriet; we lingered, chatted and took photos.
A refueling stop was secured at 48th and Chicago and the choices (and portions) were generous; no airline food to be found.
Off we flew to the Falls of Minnehaha, the Ford bridge and the Fort Snelling overlook and soon we were landing in St. Paul at Marlis’ tea garden.
A more beautiful setting, a more accommodating hostess could not be imagined as Marlis and her attendants served treats and tea to the weary travelers. We enjoyed the bonfire, the English cheese and even the weather seemed to sweeten as we rested.
The final leg of this flight took us down Summit Avenue, through the U of M campus, across the Stone Arch Bridge and back to the start.
The banquet at the Great Dragon gave us time to relax, enjoy dinner and recall the sights of the day.
Sunday dawned rainy and cool and, with time, grew wetter and cooler. A finer day for English cycling could not be imagined. The Cycle Jumble was held in the rain but the rain held off for the Gravity Race and Day-Old Pastry Joust. John Thompson, oddly enough, was the winner on a lightweight Vicount outdistancing all challengers on much heavier steeds. Peter Akimoto was second overall on his Raleigh Sports but taking first in the Hub Gear Category. A heavy mist was in the air so we decided to take the most direct route back over hill and dale.
As soon as possible, our Keeper of the Cask declared the taps open and pizza and ale was enjoyed by all. Sadly, our Silver Knight Ale was on a delayed flight and eventually a no-show due to pressurization problems.
“Stories both true and otherwise” were enjoyed by all and the highlight was Peter Jourdain’s telling of the Maurice Selbach story.
After awards and the overly-anticipated prize drawing, we realized it was time to come back to earth and return Barley John’s to the colonials.
Our own Spitfires and Hurricanes (whether they be Raleighs or Hercules) allow us to see the world unlike any aeroplane. We can enjoy both field and wood from an open cockpit and silently wander the beautiful landscape at will. We are not bound by gasoline or landing strips; we need only choose a direction and our humble Steed shall take us there.
The 2011 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour: (May 21 & 22, 2011)|
Oddly enough, the day began with a cessation of the incessant rain that had plagued the area. We were then able to renew old friendships, load the lorry, and enjoy the Blessing of the Bicycles from the Vicar. Godspeed from the Queen was delivered by John Palmer and Willy Gobert. The Nutters were inspired enough to mount up and begin the journey to the Holy Land of Wabasha. Construction of the Ark would have to wait.
The First Commandment of 3-Speed Touring is “Thou shall not pass a bakery” so Noel and I, along with Mike and Courtney Bullis paid a visit to Hanisch for a treat; 4 blocks into the Tour seemed about right for a rest stop. 1 block later we found the beginning of The Curse; Henry Cole was the first of the flats. 1 block further it was Peter “Wrongway” Jourdain. The flats and mechanical issues continued all day.
Noel and I pressed on. We chose an alternate route that took us closer to the Bow and Arrow marker and, in places, right to the base of the river bluffs. Next was Bay City; a place to gather your breath, ice cream and inspiration before The Ascension.
We could delay no longer and our climb to the Heavens began. The Bay City Hill was the first moment of Rapture; a beautiful canyon lined with wildflowers and moss that continued up without end. Along the climb we heard Nutters talking in tongues; others were praying for mercy but in the end, all made the journey to the summit.
We flew with angels wings down the back side and since the rain had begun in earnest, braking was out of the question. A small canopy at the next wayside provided shelter for some but others continued on hearing the siren song of the Smiling Pelican.
Communion at the Smiling Pelican was a vision! Cookies, quiche, breads, hot coffee, pies of all descriptions fortified the faithful. We lounged in the gardens as the clouds parted and strength was regained; surely, this must be Rapture!
Capes were stowed as the journey began to the Maiden Rock wayside; a lovely spot beneath the infamous bluff where one sacrificed herself for the love of another. Indeed, Rapture can be found here with the sun, wind, rock, the view and the legend.
Pressing on into Stockholm alone, I stopped for a photo since a beautiful flower garden and shed had caught my eye. I posed my bicycle then stepped back onto the road for the quick photo. Oddly enough, there were no cars, no motorcycles, no freight trains and no bicycles. I stood quietly for what seemed an eternity. I could hear the songbirds and the waves on the shore. In the gentle wind I could smell the lilac and apple. Here again was Rapture.
Pepin came soon enough, some Nutters stopped to join the Vicar’s Table at the Harbor View and some napped in the grass. The pace was relaxed; the weather was pleasant and no-one felt the need to hurry along. Before Nelson, I had the pleasure of riding with Bob Gibbs. I pray that all us Nutters will still be riding so strong at 92.
Riding into Wabasha, we attempted a parting of the Mississippi. It didn’t take long before we decided to take the bridge. Surely, here is Mecca; the Eagle’s Nest Coffee House. Jan and Jim created another English masterpiece; bangers and mash with excellent mushy peas, several desserts and English Ale. A greeting was delivered by mayor Rollin Hall. The sing along was moved to the outdoor patio much to the chagrin of the neighbors.
Sunday dawned clear and pleasant; breakfast was another treat from Jan and Jim with various egg bakes, porridge, fruit and sweet breads. Not much time to linger after breakfast; the Nutters were eager press on to Lake City. Goodbye hugs were distributed and we were off.
Several chose alternate routes upon the bluffs where the views were spectacular. A bit of rain to keep us honest came and went but all-in-all, high road or low road, the journey into Lake City was all vistas and tailwinds sprinkled with the odd flat tyre here and there.
The Brew-Up was well underway by the time I arrived. Marlis Schmidt and Juston Anderson had set the bar quite high with her silver tea set, English bone china and, believe it or not, victrola. This truly was heaven. Waiting in the wings was the combined 4-person team of Melanie and Chris Foss from Iowa along with Mike and Christine Welsh from Illinois. Sandra Muzzy and Mark Wagar were back with a formidable presentation as well. Ultimately, Melanie and Chris, Mike and Christine prevailed to take the Brew-Up crown just as the Heavens opened up and another downpour began.
The rain let up and soon the wayfarers moved on to Old Frontenac with a visit to the 1830s cemetery. Noel described it as a cathedral and certainly it was, for these lucky souls were buried in Eden. Before long we gathered at the old stone wall at the corner of Faribault Street and Manypenny Avenue. Photos were taken as we were humbled with the beauty of the architecture and landscape.
The final leg of the journey was upon us; some chose Hill Avenue but I prefer Ski Road as an alternate route. It borders a State Forest and rises gently to wonderful views. It was soon apparent that I was quite alone and a strong thunderstorm was upon me. It grew darker and the thunder and lightning was continuous. Fog was rising from the road and fields. I considered seeking shelter but I thought if my ticket has been stamped, what better way, what better setting and what better event to experience the final Rapture.
Obviously, I lived to tell the tale and I soon joined up with the group that descended from Hill Avenue. A final spin into Red Wing was upon us and soon a sinking feeling befell us; another Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour was over.
Rapture isn’t the Second Coming, end of days or an immediate ascension into the destination known as Heaven; it is simply a passionate journey right here on earth. Heaven is truly all around us for everyone to see. Beauty in excelsis is here with us and around us every single day of our personal journey; all we need is something to show us the way.
The humble 3-speed is, indeed, The Way.
The 2010 All British Cycling Event (September 17-19, 2010)|
|The Voyage of the James Caird|
“Riders Wanted. For memorable journey. No cost, moderate weather, many miles of scenic views, constant conversation, safe return ensured. Honour and recognition upon completion.”
The 2010 All British Cycling Event would have been welcomed by Shackleton and his crew. No pack ice, no winter winds, no Antarctic darkness. In fact, pleasant weather was abundant as we gathered Friday for the reception and Claiming Ceremony at Barley John’s in New Brighton. Hands were shaken, old friendships were renewed and all the hearty souls reveled in anticipation of the coming journey.
Saturday dawned a bit cool and rainy but the musty oiled canvas capes were left under wraps as we set out to navigate the new route of the 35 mile Gentleman’s Tour. Scenic vistas were the order of the day as we left downtown Minneapolis on the Minnehaha Trail and traveled past car-free Milwaukee avenue. The Sabo Bridge connected us with the Greenway and soon we were having elevenses at the Freewheel shop and store located just inches from the trail.
Suitably fortified, we were off to the Peace Garden for another rest and lookabout. The next stop was lunch at 48th and Chicago; plenty of restaurants to choose from.
Minnehaha falls was next on the epic journey and from there we paralleled the Mississippi River all the way to High Tea at Marlis’.
No finer setting could be imagined as the tea flowed and treats were consumed by the hearty Explorers. Many photos were taken as we rested and revived in the hidden garden. We hated to leave that idyllic spot but, as explorers must, we shoved off for more adventure and vistas through St Paul and the University of Minnesota campus. Soon we found ourselves at the Falls of St. Anthony on the 1883 Stone Arch Bridge. Alas, time was running short and we departed for dinner at the Great Dragon.
Sunday provided another cool start but it soon cleared and warmed. The cycle jumble was a great success as many parts and cycles exchanged hands. Excitement was building, however, as it was soon time to depart for the 5 mile Gentleman’s Tour. New this year was the incorporation of the Gravity Race and Day-Old Pastry Joust. Off we went!
Soon we were at the top of the grade and an impressive bit of grade it was as the competitors flew downhill with caps turned to the backside. “Distance via dignified coasting” was the goal and it was provided in spades as Nutter after Nutter rolled out to the “Blue Fence of Victory”. Craig Holmlund was the victor; bettering all by a considerable margin and setting a new ABCE distance record.
Back to Barley John’s we went and immediately the taps were declared open by our Keeper of the Cask. Silver Knight Ale was a refreshing treat indeed and it was welcomed by all the thirsty Explorers.
Pizza and “stories both true and otherwise” were next on the schedule; many were told and some were believed and some were rebutted.
After awards and prizes, Barley John’s was returned to the colonials and we were both saddened and revived by the closing of our journey. Our ship of choice, of course, is the venerable English bicycle and whether we make South Georgia Island or tea in the garden makes no matter; it’s still high adventure indeed, and our humble Steed shall take us there.
The 2010 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour (May 22 and 23, 2010)|
|Force 8 on the Beaufort|
The Riders of the Realm assembled with their ship-shape Worthy Steeds at the Red Wing waterfront for another mission to sail around Lake Pepin. Baggage was deposited in the hold of the 3-speed lorry, old friendships were renewed, hands were shaken and soon the Vicar was delivering the highly-anticipated Blessing of the Bicycles from the Bulletin. The message of Godspeed from the Queen was delivered by Petty Officer John Palmer and First Mate Willy Gobert. This year included a signed letter of recommendation from the Canadian Parliament to Admirals STO and Noel Robinson. Gone are the days when we questioned the ability of this leaking old vessel to complete the appointed tour of duty; this English Navy is hale and hearty, thank you, and quite up to the task.
Soon we shoved off from port Red Wing and those friends and family left behind were waving their kerchiefs as we floated off into the unknown. Cool and cloudy with a light breeze at Force 3 on the Beaufort Scale proved near perfect sailing weather as we cruised past the Bow and Arrow marker. Soon, a rogue wave appeared on the horizon; the Bay City Hill. Some fortified themselves with ice cream and readied themselves for the charge. Full speed ahead was the call to the engine room as the bow rose up to meet the challenge. At the top, the Nutters felt the wave to be nothing more than a gentle swell and they paused to gather their courage for the descent. Down they went into the trough hurtling at high speed. Several more waves were encountered plus a welcomed rain shower that kept our record intact (there has never been a 3-Speed Tour without rain) and soon we were in Maiden Rock.
With the Smiling Pelican Bakery in dry dock, Maiden Rock proved to be an empty port-of-call and so we moved on. Wave after wave came our way but we rode them all and soon Stockholm harbour was in view and shore leave was granted for lunch. While we ate, and without warning, Force 3 became Force 4 and so the die was cast. By the time we hoisted anchor, Force 5 was upon us and we could do little but ride it out. The pier at Pepin soon was a welcome sight. For one unlucky Sailor who was enjoying the day on the pier, his 3-speed was caught by a Force 6 gust and off it went to Davy Jones Locker in 12 feet of water. A rescue mission was immediately mounted and soon both rider and steed were found dripping safely on shore. From Pepin, the Force 6 wind turned into a Force 7 gale. We fought our way toward [Lord] Nelson whereupon we were greeted with Force 8 and hapless Sailor Scott was cast adrift and blown off course to Alma; several miles down stream. A chance encounter with good friend Dave Siskind who happened to be on tour in the area, fixed Scott’s rudder and set him back on course. At that time we received word about another castaway, Peter 'Wrong Way' Jourdain, who became separated from the group early on and then rode to Wabasha mistakenly on the Minnesota side.
We finally made Wabasha and the Eagle’s Nest proved a welcome port for the evening. All the appreciative Nutters were well fed by Java Jim and Java Jan as we shared an entire roast hog fresh off the spit along with our favourite; English mushy peas washed down with English ale. Cap’n Porter, our Keeper of the Cask, declared the taps open and rations of grog was issued to the crew. After dinner we honored our oldest rider Bob Gibbs at 91 years of age, Ron Grogg, our Opportunist, announced a toast and the Vicar then led us in boisterous song with accompaniment by the Carrigan Girls.
Sunday morning dawned pleasant with Force 2 winds but humid and cloudy and after another amazing breakfast by the Eagle’s Nest we set sail on course for Lake City. The hills seemed like pleasant waves as the miles rolled by. Beautiful views of the lake were at every curve. Lake City could be seen in the distance like a beacon as the tailwind push us along. Finally, safe harbour was gained, supplies were procured and the Brew-Up was under way. Truly a new Gentleman’s and Gentlewoman’s sport, the competitive tea brewing proved popular to contestant and spectator alike. Some Nutters watched, some napped, but all were impressed when fine china was pulled from the saddlebags, tea was brewed and treats were served. The crew of Sandy Muzzy and Mark Wagar were declared the winners but Peter Jourdain and Juston/Judy Anderson were very, very close behind.
The next port-of-call was Old Frontenac and a quick visit to the 1850s cemetery was in order. The Old Stone Wall was next on the list with many photos taken and lots of chit-chat. By then, the heat was becoming oppressive but we had one more stop to make: the geodesic treehouse. An amazing structure placed well up in an ancient hackberry tree, it proved a worthy curiosity and completely unexpected in this idyllic setting.
We pressed on through New Frontenac and down Ski Road; a delightful alternate route that was lined with wildflowers and scenic vistas across the valley.
Eventually we made Red Wing and dropped anchor. Sadly, our tour of duty was over for another year. Dinner at the Staghead was a welcome relief from the heat and all the Nutters raised a glass to our successes, failures, discoveries and promises. Once again proving the humble 3-speed is the ship-of-choice for adventure both nautical and otherwise.
The 2009 All-British Cycling Event (September 18, 19, 20 2009)|
|A Mad Dog Never Sweats|
The 2009 ABCE was burdened with light winds, pleasant temperatures and clear skies. Some may scoff and brag about their ability to deal with difficult conditions but when you have several Nutters of the Realm from all across the land demanding an authentic English cycling event, the lack of rain, fog and sodden wool suddenly becomes quite serious. Indeed, with the ABCE we pride ourselves in authenticity but when the weather becomes uncooperative, we simply must resign ourselves and soldier on in relative comfort.
The Friday festivities were successful despite the warm summer evening; we had impromptu show-and-tell of a very impressive collection of flasks with single-malt energy drink readied for the longer Gentleman’s Tour in the morning. Pints were hoisted and soon we claimed Barley John’s “In the name of the Queen and for all the Riders of the Realm”.
Saturday dawned cool and clear; no improvement. The Nutters gathered for tea, scones, jam and clotted cream courtesy of the Queen Mary. Presented on fine linen and china, it was a lovely way to invigorate before the gravity race. Despite the somewhat amusing inability of the STO to locate the start, the Gravity Race and Pastry Joust was soon underway. The repeat (and overall) winner in the hub gear category was Tim McNamara. Scott Arbit was the champion in the non-hub gear category. The dust-up between Ian and Tom was solved by Tom; the advantage being just a few feet.
After all the pastries were consumed, we were off to the Minneapolis overlook then progressed through the U of M campus. The views were stunning along the Mississippi river and soon we arrived at the Minnesota version of Park Rash. Most walked the incline but all agreed it was an impressive bit of grade. With that, we were off and several mad dogs were spotted as we rode along in the mid-day sun.
Lunch on Grand Ave was simply grand and most enjoyed the Coffee News Café. We lingered at the sidewalk tables and enjoyed beverages while discussing the chances that we would receive a break in the weather.
Soon were off to High Tea at Marlis’ garden. A more elegant setting and service could not be imagined as we were regaled with 3 varieties of the finest loose leaf tea partnered with English cheddar, cranberry tarts, raspberry crème treats and a delightful chocolate cake. All was served on fine china and linen.
We hated to leave but leave we must; cycle touring requires one to move on to the next adventure. We traveled on through St Paul, through Harriet Island, across the impressive Mendota Bridge, past Fort Snelling and eventually the Falls of Minnehaha. The relentless sun continued its devious work as we built our mileage and deepened our thirst.
The Great Dragon buffet was a welcome respite and provided rest and revival to the Nutters who braved the difficult conditions of the day.
Sunday was no better; wind was conspicuous by its absence, the temps continued to moderate and the occasional clouds provided neither English fog nor rain. An unsuccessful vote was taken to cancel the Cycle Jumble but calmer heads prevailed in hopes of at least a drizzle in the offing.
A new movie; A Gentleman Never Sweats, was shown by the producer/director Alice Shindelar. A nation-wide success at several bicycle film festivals, it is now being translated into Japanese. Alice reveals the seamy underside of cycle collecting and what it means to be a Gentleman or Gentlewoman Cyclist. Funny at times and prophetic at others, it is a must-see for anyone interested in cycling. Needless to say, we presented Alice with our first ABCE Oscar; a modest framed print by Frank Patterson.
The new ABCE Brew-Up was a delight; lovely little stoves (one from 1904) were set up here and there. Tea was in abundance as scones, muffins and crisps were consumed.
The Gentleman’s Tour was soon underway and the route through New Brighton was a delight. No mechanical issues were to be found; no punctures nor lost wingnuts and, alas, no rain either.
Upon our arrival back at Barley John’s, the taps were declared open by the Keeper of the Cask and final judging was underway. Conspicuous by his absence was Noel Robinson. No need to worry; he is doing well and will be back with us soon and he promised better than ever. We raised a glass in his absence and wished him well.
Stories both true and otherwise were then told; some technical, some romantic but all were delightful. Awards and door prizes were handed out and another first for the ABCE; a 3-way tie for the coveted People’s Choice award.
We know the ABCE is an obscure English cycling event that is sometimes cursed by adversarial and uncooperative non-English weather. Our adventure was saved simply because we Nutters are a hearty lot and we continue to prove our ability to weather the [non]storm, stay the course and use sunscreen.
The 2009 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour (May 16 & 17 2009)|
|High Adventure Indeed|
Riders of the Realm establish base camp in Red Wing for an ascent of the many summits of Wisconsin and Minnesota that make up the route around Loch Pepin. Our baggage was deposited in the Sherpa 3-Speed Lorry, the sign-in was completed and the general fussing continued until our opening ceremony. We started with a greeting from the Queen, who seemed a bit confused as to why Englishmen were riding bicycles in the Colonies. The greeting was delivered by Canadians John Palmer with Willy as the standard bearer and the message of Godspeed was very well received. We noted with interest that the standard was a hockey stick.
The Vicar’s frozen lamentation warmed our hearts but, sadly, not our fingers or toes. The group photo seemed to go well but the images were blurred from the shivering. Eventually we had to face the task at hand and we were underway.
Crossing over the Red Wing bridge proved character building and, indeed, Sir Edmund Hillary may have had it warmer on the Khumbu for the frozen cross wind seemed to blow directly through the layers of wool. Once the turn was made on Wisconsin 35, however, some relief was felt since the threatening cross wind turned into a glorious tail wind.
A brief base camp was established in Bay City and for some, a fortification of ice cream and a rest was welcome.
With that, the ascent began. Up we went. Up and ever up. Rounding every curve was a new challenge, for above you loomed yet another grade steeper than the last that continued as far as you could see. The seconds turned to minutes, the minutes to hours.
And still we climbed.
We could not be denied success and, in time, everyone gathered at the summit in the cold foreboding wind for rest, a brief celebration and to prove the feat was accomplished, a photo. Everyone seemed to be doing well and any trouble with altitude sickness or hypothermia was averted by a ration of single malt. We must move on, we thought, as the cold began to catch us again. We needed to establish the next base camp in Maiden Rock for there was reward in this one: strawberry trifle.
The miles melted in anticipation and soon, there it was; The Smiling Pelican. No, not an oxygen-starved bird apparition but the bakery. The display cases were filled with trifle, banana cream pie, triple berry pie, chocolate cake, quiche, bread, countless cookies and other treats beyond description. Once the cases were emptied, the ascent of Rock Maiden was underway! The grade was formidable and for some, the route was a bit mysterious but eventually the overlook was found. The careful descent was done at high speed and the John Bulls were tested to the limit at the stop sign in Stockholm lest the Nutters end up in the frozen Loch.
Pepin was the next base camp and the still-strong tailwind made sure we made the journey while trundling along at ease in high gear. [Lord] Nelson was the next destination since home-made ice cream awaited at the [Lord] Nelson Cheese Factory.
The final base camp of the day was Wabasha and our beloved Eagle’s Nest where Jan and Jim simply outdid themselves with an outstanding dinner of shepherd’s pie and English peas. None of the Climbers of the Realm walked away hungry. The Carrigan Quarrel proved themselves with excellent Irish music and accompanied us in the many sing-a-longs.
Sunday morning dawned cool but the winds had blown themselves out and after another glorious breakfast at the ‘Nest we wandered away in the warm sun looking for our next summit to conquer. In other words, when do we get to the Lake City Brew-Up? The Nutters of the Realm swarmed the beachfront park and, it seems, a new sport was born. No, not rock skipping but competitive tea brewing.
Our final base camp was Old Frontenac where we visited a civil war era cemetery and then met at the Old Stone Wall at the corner of Manypenny Avenue and Faribault Street for our traditional photos and to contemplate our achievements, our mountains, our hills and vales.
In summary, this low-gear high-adventure tour cannot be done alone. We ride with a group of like-minded Nutters who share the discoveries and the hardship, and together celebrate the triumph of making it back to Red Wing and the Staghead. To quote Sir Edmund, "Today, it is still not hard to find a man who will adventure for the sake of a dream or one who will search for the pleasure of searching, and not for what he may find."
The adventure goes ever on.
2008 All-British Cycling Event (September 12-14, 2008)|
|Of Steel Frames and Iron Men.|
The 8th annual All-British Cycling Event tested the fortitude of Nutters from near and far. We had riders from New York, Illinois, and Iowa join us and that is a long way to travel to drink a pint in the rain; not that it isn’t worth it, mind you, since the Silver Knight Ale was simply spectacular but it proves how far a devotee will travel to be amongst those with the same affliction.
Friday evening we opened the festivities with a reception for the out-of-towners and Barley John’s was claimed “In the name of the Queen and for all the riders of the Realm”. We posted the flag and raised our glasses. Proving their remarkable endurance, Alan and Owen closed the bar. Little did we know that was to be the last time any of us would be dry.
Saturday began with drizzle but that was no deterrence for the Gravity Race and Pastry Joust participants, who were forced to pedal up the face of the steep incline due to construction on the other side. The Pastry Joust went remarkably well with none of the little darlings cast upon the bitumen (pastry or participants). Tim McNamara was the repeat champion in the hub gear category and Jim Hulbert the victor in the non-hub gear category.
Soon after the winners were crowned, the drizzle turned to light rain. Capes were donned and we pressed on and made our way past the new 35W bridge, Wiseman Art Center and the new U of M rowing clubhouse. It would rain off and on for the rest of the day.
Park Rash was revisited when we made our way out of the river valley with a 20 degree grade and a switchback. The legs, gears and frames were all pressed to the limit but the fine English steel prevailed and all of us found ourselves at the top and starved for our efforts.
The Grand Avenue lunch stop was, in a word, grand, with most of us enjoying the excellent fare at the Coffee News Cafe.
The rain intensified as we stopped on the Irvine Avenue switchback to have tea with Marlis. Marlis and her assistants Darlene, Elaine and Janet served an incredible High Tea in the garden while it rained; if you didn’t drink it quickly, your cup would eventually re-fill. High praise indeed for the heartwarming tea, finger sandwiches, chocolate cake, shortbread, crumpets and chutney; exactly what we needed to continue the adventure.
Pressing on through St. Paul and turning upstream along the Mississippi, Noel and I crashed together; no broken bones to be found but Noel had a nasty cut. Bloodied and bruised, Noel and his iron resolve insisted on continuing the ride. Noel was a sight with Paul’s cut-up shirt wrapped around his head. Upon our arrival, Dan pieced Noel’s head back together and we were off to dinner.
The Great Dragon buffet was a welcome sight; I had been wet and chilled for nearly 9 hours by then. No matter, we are a hearty lot and with a change of stockings and a dry waistcoat would do it again at the drop of a pith helmet.
Sunday was our day to shine; at least that is what the weather report said. The sun was nowhere to be seen but “Light rain by 1pm” was the prediction. Going on a hunch we moved up the time for the shorter Gentleman’s Tour as best we could and it paid off. It sprinkled throughout the tour but upon our return, the rain intensified. Luckily the Keeper of the Cask declared the Silver Knight Ale “well and good” and we were warmed from within.
The presentations, as usual, were the hit of the day with both Paul McLeete and Dan Shindelar telling incredible stories and both winning “Best Background Story”. Noel was presented with our first “Founders Award”; an original watercolor by Sandra Muzzy depicting Noel himself at the Lake Pepin overlook.
Alas, the noble Silver Knight Ale was no more; emptied by the thirsty Nutters of the Realm and their iron resolve. As the rainy day drew to a close, our claim upon Barley John’s was released from the Commonwealth and returned to the Colonists.
Best along the path,
Jon Sharratt, Shirt-Tail Organiser
The 2008 Lake Pepin 3...2...1 Speed Tour (May 17-18 2008)|
|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.
The 2007 All British Cycling Event (September 14, 15, 16, 2007)|
|Fanfare for the Common Man|
If the 2007 ABCE had one fault, it was the perfect weather; it was not quite English enough. Indeed, the Nutters of the Realm had to endure neither drizzle nor rain, nor heat or wind. Granted, the Friday evening reception was eventually moved indoors due to the Hebrides-like chill in the air but even so, our claiming ceremony was unfazed; Barley John’s was claimed “…in the name of the Queen for all the Riders of the Realm”.
Saturday dawned clear and cool; perfect for a Pastry Joust down the Cotswold Hills of St. Anthony. Ian Lindridge led the group of 20 competitors off to the starting line while playing Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. Tim McNamara was the humble victor with pastry-in-hand. The reigning champion Ian demonstrated that adding a great lump of Dynohub iron seems good strategy but the induced magnetic drag is so great that not even pastry can overcome it.
Pressing on with the 40-mile Gentleman’s Tour, we made our way through the University of Minnesota campus to the Washington Avenue Bridge where we could observe Bohemian Flats and the forensic reconstruction of the collapsed 35W bridge. A few furlongs downstream brought us to the new training facility and boathouse for the U of M rowing team. A lucky coincidence brought us a full tour of the building by Assistant Coach John Flynn.
Further riding along the Mississippi brought us to Summit Avenue and lunch. Most found excellent fare at the Coffee News Café but there were other Asian and pizza choices as well.
Trundling east down Summit we marveled at America's longest span of Victorian homes including the Governor's Mansion and the Brownstone where F. Scott Fitzgerald once lived. The pace seemed to quicken as we anticipated High Tea with Marlis Schmidt. The amazing plummet down the switchbacks of Irvine Avenue dropped us at Marlis’ front step. We were escorted to the garden and amid the vintage pergola, fine china and garden furnishings; we were served an amazing tea including cucumber sandwiches, pecan chutney, chocolate cake, fruit tarts and buckets of steaming Earl Grey. A hale and hearty Thank You! to Marlis and her assistant Janet for such fine hospitality.
Pressing on through St Paul we made our way across the river to Harriet Island, through Mendota and over the Minnesota River to Fort Snelling. The next stop found us at Minnehaha Falls, the south Minneapolis sinkhole then on to the Great Dragon buffet where 17 hungry Nutters gathered for the evening.
Sunday events opened with the Cycle Jumble and many bargains were to be found including many orphan 3-speeds and parts. The Social Hour was highlighted by the delicious treats brought by nearly everyone. We had The 5-mile Gentleman’s Tour began at noon through the streets, paths and parks of St Anthony Village and New Brighton. SAG wagon support was provided by Gregg Richmann and his delightful Ford Model T. This wonderful automobile ran perfectly but, in an ironic note, we had to stop occasionally to let the SAG catch up.
Thirsty riders waited patiently while our Keeper of the Cask tapped the pin of Silver Knight. After careful and dramatic inspection, the pin was pronounced well and good and the taps were declared open. After pizza and a bracing pint or 3 we were telling stories both true and otherwise with wild abandon. To draw the event to a close, we awarded certificates and drew for prizes. Sadly, the time had come to raise a glass and return Barley John’s to the Colonists but not before we had proven, without question, the common 3-speed was the mount of choice for the common Nutters of the Realm.
The 2007 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour (May 19, 20 2007)|
|Dear Parishioners of the Realm, (please read responsively)|
At the 2007 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour, the tone was set during the Opening Salvo when, during the Blessing of the Bicycles, the Irreverand Matthew Cole stated:
"He maketh me to lie down at lunchtime:
He leadeth me beside back waters."
After the (Raleigh) Lenton Observance, we were instructed:
"In the name of the Trinity, High Gear, Direct Drive and Low, go forth and ride."
With that, we were off!
It didn’t take long before the reality began to set in:
"…protect and shield thy tyres from flats…"
Did not work. The poor Riders of the Realm suffered all weekend with flats from burst sidewalls, defective rim strips and glass. Shifters were out of adjustment, mudguard struts let go and baskets, chains and lockrings were cast upon the bitumen. If you were a victim, the only comfort was knowing there would be plenty of assistance in the form of a good-natured ribbing and plenty of questionable humour and jokes.
"For he today that rides his steed with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile
This day shall gentle his condition"
The Bay City Hill is still present and accounted for, thank you, and few complaints were heard as oxygen-depraved Nutters trudged up the 2.5 mile incline only to be threatened by sprinkles and a clap of thunder from the Heavens.
"We all wish that we had more lower gears
Than just these bloody three"
The Smiling Pelican Bakery was a welcome sight but sadly, the banana cream pie was exhausted quickly. There were plenty of worthy substitutes including Kirsch torte, triple berry pie and vanilla bean cheesecake.
"Twas then that we parted
At the Pelican,
Near the steep, steep side of Rock Maiden"
It seems the 2007 3ST was fraught with high adventure. The Tourbook had an error (my humble apologies) in direction to the Maiden Rock overlook; Larson Lane should actually be Long Lane. The bewildered farmer that lives on Larson Lane had a steady stream of visitors seemingly dressed for Sunday service riding odd bicycles and scratching their collective heads. For some, the overlook was eventually found and Keith Dukavicius, for one, admitted to having a Julie Andrews moment and wandered off to find a quiet place to sing “The Sound of Music” at the top of the bluff while the rest of us enjoyed the overlook and debated his whereabouts.
"The hills are alive with the sound of 3-speeds"
The heat of the day continued to build as we left that sacred spot and continued on to lunch at Stockholm. Enjoying the gentle tailwind, we pressed on to Pepin in search of Holy water at the Depot Museum. We debated whether to take a quick tour but the temptation of ice cream was too great; we were off to Nelson with the scent of vanilla and strawberry light in the air and heavy in our hearts.
There was a tumble just outside of Nelson; Jane Stonich hit a hole and crashed. She is doing well and was in fine spirits Sunday morning.
"And say ‘These wounds I had on Dunstan’s day’."
The Eagles Nest did a fine job with feeding 73 hungry Tourists; our compliments to Java Jim and Java Jan. As a surprise, Jan had baked a miniature wedding cake for Scot and Carrie McCollum since they were married 1 week after the conclusion of the 2006 Tour. Ron Grogg, our acting Keeper of the Cask, did a bang-up job with tributes to the Queen, all the Riders of the Realm and those who could not join us. Jim and Jan arranged entertainment by a remarkable un-named Irish band comprised of local members no older than 13. They also provided accompaniment while we sang Loch Pepin, or, The Maiden Rock Ballad:
"Where me and my Raleigh
Were ever want to gae
On the highway thirty five of Wisconsin"
Sunday breakfast at the ‘Nest was stunning as usual, and fortified the Choir for the task at hand. After a quick Wabasha newspaper interview, Java Jim escorted the group out to the edge of town just as the heavens opened up with a cold shower. Capes were quickly donned and smiles were seen all around as we resumed the pilgrimage through Reads Landing and into the hills beyond.
The cold tailwind pushed us quite well into Lake City but not before 2 more flats en route. The Chickadee Cottage Tea Room was a welcome break with tea and scones all ‘round. Some Nutters found refreshment at Rhythm and Brew coffee shop and were treated to live bluegrass music. We were anxious to continue the journey since the tailwind was delightful and swift; we were able to trundle along in high gear with no labouring.
"Where in purple hue
Old Frontenac we view
And the moon coming out in the gloaming"
Old Frontenac is becoming a favourite tradition with all the 3-speeds parked along the civil-war-era stone wall at Manypenny Avenue and Faribault Street. Photos were taken and after a quiet break we were on our way to more pass-storming up and over Hill Avenue. The descent is a cracker with S-curves and 1-lane bridges to negotiate on gravel at high speed. We gathered at the bottom and pressed on to the conclusion in Red Wing. We then gathered at the Staghead for post-tour Belhaven Scottish ale and a delightful Ploughmans Lunch.
"But me and me old bike
Will always ride again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Pepin"
Best along the path,
Jon Sharratt, Shirt-Tail Organiser
2006 All British Cycling Event: (September 15, 16, 17, 2006)|
|Of Ovals and Good Fortune.|
“…English weather guaranteed” as it seems, was a misnomer. Wind for 3 days notwithstanding, we had a wonderful weekend for an epicyclic adventure. The Lords of Good Fortune were with us on several levels.
Friday evening was perfect weather for an outdoor reception and we welcomed Aaron and Rhonda Whaley from North Carolina with a modest group of Nutters.
Saturday dawned perfect for the Gravity Race and Pastry Joust. Ron Grogg, the ABCE Opportunist, donned his finest yellow Sowester and transferred the “individually moisture sealed” pastries as we hooligans sped past one by one. Some of the treats were lost during the exchange but it proved to be an excellent challenge to a delightfully daft event. We were well and truly mogadored by Ian Lindridge who out-coasted us all by an honest 50 yards. His secret? 100psi and replacing the grease in his hubs with lightweight chain lube. I can see the challenge is on for next year!
Proceeding with the 40-mile Gentleman’s Tour we struggled through the headwind to the Ridgeway Parkway overlook, the Minneapolis stone arch bridge, Mill Ruins Park, under the new cantilevered Guthrie Theatre then onto the new path along the Hiawatha rail line. The route was an oversized figure-of-eight and as luck would have it, we found a Dairy Queen at the centre so some Tourists were able to enjoy an ice cream before and after lunch. Hungry tourists invaded the numerous shops along Grand avenue in St Paul for hearty fare whereupon a small group split off to head back while the rest pressed on to Irvine Park and downtown St Paul. Crossing the Mississippi on the Wabasha St Bridge, we turned to head upstream through the thickets and parks along the river to old Mendota. We sailed across the mile-long Mendota Bridge as we used high gear for the first time that day. Coasting into Fort Snelling we were running for cover by cannon shot as we were taking a group photo; it seems the Colonists were staging another uprising. Minnehaha Falls was the next stop and we hovered about a water fountain as we were wilting in the heat. 7 Oaks Park was our next destination; a geographic oddity that places an enormous sinkhole in the middle of this fine residential area. Local residents concerned with their property values prefer to call it “7 Oaks Oval”. Hopefully their luck will prevent any foundations from tumbling into the abyss. We rolled into Barley John’s with just enough time for a refreshing Belgian then we pushed off to the Red Dragon for the delicious all-you-can-eat banquet.
Sunday’s Cycle Jumble started a bit drizzly but luck was with all the Totters as the skies parted and chilled sunshine greeted the Social Hour. Nutters of the Realm brought plenty of treats for all including Peter Jourdain's egg salad with Bovril sandwiches washed down with Robinson’s Barley Water. The 5-mile Gentleman’s Tour was a delight that included a bit of rough-stuff due to a train blocking our normal rail crossing. After the Tour our Keeper of the Cask, Dave Brierley, informed us of tragic news; our pin of Silver Knight Ale had exploded during conditioning and all was lost! Not to worry, the taps were declared open with plenty of substitute. Pizza along with lies and libations were enjoyed as stories were told, awards were given and prizes for all. Congratulations to Bert Schlauch for winning Best of Show with his lovely olive green Raleigh. A special thank you to David Skelton for donating a small-frame ladies Raleigh Colt and as luck would have it, won by modest-stature Rhonda Whaley who was looking for a suitable steed for the Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour.
Best along the lucky path,
Jon Sharratt, Shirt-Tail Organiser
2006 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour: (May 20, 21, 2006)|
|Records Broken, Traditions Preserved|
Several new 3-speed Tourists gave us a record attendance of 47 Riders of the Realm. The weather was perfect and spirits were high as we began our day with historic markers, scenic overlooks and the ever-looming Bay City Hill. We celebrated the climb with a friendly gathering at the summit then the welcome plummet down the back side. We noticed a rare tailwind was starting to build and push us down river.
The Smiling Pelican survived the arrival of hungry Tourists and we laid claim to their garden as we lay in the grass and ate pastry, pie, quiche, torte and cookies. Our tradition of re-decorating their beautiful garden with rusty lumps of English iron has been firmly upheld.
The optional route to the top of Maiden Rock bluff was altered because of the discovery of a good map and advice from 3-speed Tourists familiar with the area. The route began on County Road AA; a Wisconsin “Rustic Road” and a cracker of a climb. Most everyone walked this vertical challenge and once to the top we realised what we were doing: a traditional English phenomena called Pass Storming! Turning off the pavement onto a dirt road we approached the kiosk provided by the Wisconsin Land Trust. To get to the overlook we were then required to ride through the fields, ruts and woods; traditional rough-stuff cycling! The view from the top was worth it; almost the entire length of Lake Pepin was visible. The descent into Stockholm was quite memorable indeed; the sweeping bends and high speed required a steady hand and complete faith in our Trusty Steeds as our velocity approached a record-breaking 40mph.
During lunch in Stockholm we upheld another 3-Speed Tour tradition: rain. It was light rain and not enough to don the capes but the tradition continues; we have never had a 3-Speed Tour without rain.
Riding the tailwind, the eager Tourists pressed on to more scenic overlooks and markers plus the familiar Depot Museum in Pepin. We hated to leave that familiar spot but we heard our calling: ice cream at the Nelson Cheese Factory. Nutters of the Realm are not known for watching the clock but after enjoying a cone (or 2) we realised there was only 2 hours before dinner so we pressed on, crossing the Mississippi and settling in Wabasha.
The Eagle’s Nest coffeehouse simply outdid themselves with a reception on the patio including English ale and inside we had live music from John Bernadot plus the Carrigan girls. Outstanding food was provided by the Wabasha Bicycle Club. Our Keeper of the Cask Dave Brierley declared the cask open and our glasses half full then we had our traditional toast to those who could not join us; indeed, they were sorely missed.
Sunday morning dawned clear and cold but Jim and Jan at the ‘Nest warmed us with more hospitality, excellent breakfast and hot tea. They were outside to bid us farewell as we began our return journey upstream. The wind was against us but had died a bit from the previous day and provided little resistance.
Some of us made a quick detour through Reads Landing for an interesting look at the local architecture but in short order we were back up on the highway and on our way over hill and dale.
Lake City provided a welcome break at the Chickadee Cottage Tea Room with scones and hot tea. Some 3-Speed Tourists explored the backroads out of Lake City and found an interesting gravel road that connected with the Old Frontenac optional route. The group gathered at the traditional spot along the old stone wall at Manypenny Avenue and Faribault Street for photos.
Pressing on, we quickly agreed to explore an interesting side-road around Frontenac State Park that promised a diversion from the busy highway. The gravel lane was a delight; well-maintained and very scenic. We passed through a narrow valley with old farms and soon found ourselves pass storming again! Most everyone walked the grade but a pair of fierce cycle-chasing dogs encouraged a re-mount and a quick sprint over the top. Descending the other side was very unusual; the downhill kept going and going until it seemed like we were below river level. It also provided our first casualty; Karl had a pinch flat on a one-lane bridge. Chris stopped to help and later they claimed the bridge was “…haunted by trolls”.
Rolling into Red Wing brought our little Bummel to a close. Hands were shaken, hugs were given and promises made to see each other again for another record-setting traditional tour.
2005 ABCE (September 16, 17, 18, 2005)|
|The 2005 All British Cycling Event and Gentleman's Tour|
By Jon Sharratt, Shirt-Tail Organizer.
The 2005 ABCE was a 3 day success! The Friday evening reception was modest with only 5 attendees enjoying dinner and ale at Barley John's. What we lacked in attendance that evening was regained the next day at the Cycle Jumble; several English enthusiasts with cycles and parts made it a huge success. Many interesting bits exchanged hands including a Claud Butler tandem frame, Raleigh DL-1, a Hercules Royal Prince, no less than 2 Robin Hoods plus many others. Good parts were in abundance; Brooks saddles, Dynohubs, cotter presses and more.
Soon we packed up and pushed off for the longer Gentleman's Tour. There were a few raised eyebrows when the 20-mile ride (as stated on the web page) turns into 40 miles. No complaints were heard as the good-natured bunch pressed on regardless. The riders quickly arrived at the starting line for the Gravity Race; the line was drawn and the competition was on! Tim McNamara took top honors by a good margin with honorable mention going to Dave Brierley with the best distance among the hub geared machines.
The group moved on and soon arrived at the first of many scenic overlooks; a great view of the Minneapolis skyline. The next stop was the 1883 Stone Arch Bridge across the Mississippi in downtown Minneapolis. We crossed from West Bank to East Bank on the University of Minnesota campus and started the long journey downstream. The wind was starting to pick up and we were hoping for lunch soon but once we entered Hidden Falls Park we would have to wait. We made quick work of the Crosby Farm trails and enjoyed the tailwind into downtown St. Paul. Our planned stop was the Wabasha Deli but they were closed; apparently unaware of the arrival of the Riders of the Realm. A suitable substitute was found with the Boca Chica taco shop. Eagar to move onto the second half of the tour we rode through the ghost town of Sunfish Lake and under the beautiful sandstone cliffs along the Mississippi through Mendota, the birthplace of Minnesota. Turning north across the old Mendota bridge we had great views of Pike Island and Fort Snelling State Park below. We had a time for a couple of photos at historic Fort Snelling and then it was on to the Minnehaha depot for another stop and more photos. ¼ mile later Minnehaha Falls was the next stop with more photo opportunities and odd looks from the tourists wondering why anyone would ride such odd machines. Light rain placed a sense of urgency on completing the route and before long we were back at Barley John’s enjoying post-slog ale. We soon packed up and gathered at the Red Dragon for a great and plentiful buffet dinner.
The Sunday 10 am Social Hour was underway well before the actual start time; eager Nutters had been mulling about since 9 am and thanks to Becky Street we had English potato pie for all.
The Hetchins Toss was highly anticipated and many doubted we would be throwing an actual Hetchins. The answer was hidden inside a well-padded box suitable for a disgruntled baggage handler. All the curious took a turn at throwing the box with some being reluctant just in case it was a real Hetchins inside. Denny Schwartz took top honors with a throw of 26’ 6”. The moment of truth was upon us as I opened the box to reveal a genuine pre-war Hetchins Brilliant with curly stays, fresh paint and chrome.
The Gentleman’s tour was soon underway through New Brighton; always great scenery and chit-chat as we wind our way though the route.
The news of the day was presented by Dave Brierley, our Keeper of the Cask. The pin of Silver Knight ale was opened and Declared Good as well as the rest of the taps declared open. Pizza was ordered and the Riders of the Realm settled in to enjoy the presentations, awards and stories both true and otherwise.
Thanks to all the Riders of the Realm who proved this royal event Worthy in the name of the Queen.
Jon Sharratt, Shirt-Tail Organiser
2005 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour: (May 21,22, 2005)|
|Climate Control Malfunction|
By Jon Sharratt, Shirt-Tail Organizer
The 2005 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour was, shall we say, character building. The planned invasion of pastry encampments was delayed by true English weather; we managed to arrive at the first rest stop dry but as we remounted, rain began and continued for an hour or so. Spirits were undampened, however, as we took the Bay City Hill. The descent was a refreshing relief except for the stinging 40mph raindrops in the forehead. We pressed on to the first of the aforementioned pastry encampments; the Smiling Pelican Bakery. The surprise waiting for us was a crushing defeat: a tour bus. We tried our best to repel the marauding hoard of retirees but it was futile; they simply had the upper hand and forced us to wait in line. The humility.
Our determination paid off and soon the rain stopped as we enjoyed our rations. Capes were stowed as we were beginning to dry. We pressed on to other downstream rest stops and overlooks but not without a visit from another nemesis; the headwind. We battled our way up hills and down with 30mph gusts taking their toll. There were no complaints to be heard as we soldiered past Maiden Rock and on to Stockholm and lunch. Hearty fare was found at Gelly’s; a new restaurant with a new outdoor dining area. The menu was a bit of an enigma with both “grilled ham and cheese” along with “grilled cheese with ham” listed. Undaunted by the attempt at confusion; we hungry tourists broke the code and manage to plough our way through it all.
Pressing into the wind we managed to gain a foothold on the Pepin Railroad Museum for reconnaissance and a short break. Soon we were off to Nelson with the promise of ice cream. 3-Speed Tourists are a remarkably diverse lot when it comes to ice cream preference; no two alike. Some even mixed flavors with 2 scoops. Brilliant maneuver!
Wabasha was a welcome furlough to a fine day; compliments were heard about the fine English weather and the Newcastle Brown Ale was welcome refreshment for the entire Battalion.
Sunday morning required something never needed on any previous 3-Speed Tour: sunscreen. For the first time in 3 years we enjoyed a bright blue sky.
The Eagles Nest Coffee shop served an amazing breakfast including English toast (the precursor to French toast). Eggbake, fruit, bagels and jam served with buckets of hot tea warmed the spirits and prepared the troops for another confrontation with our arch nemesis. Yes, even though we reversed our direction for the return to Red Wing, the unbroken headwind returned for the second day.
Marching on through Reads Landing and other scenic overlooks we made our way to Lake City. Several Tourists enjoyed tea and scones at the Chickadee Cottage Tea Room and the locals marveled at the rusty iron littering the gardens. Alas, the Red-Hat ladies were AWOL this year.
A welcome break from the wind found us gliding through the forest into Old Frontenac, a village founded in 1839. We found the familiar stone fence on the corner of Manypenny Ave and Faribault St and staged a fabulous photo with all the 3-speeds lined up against the ramparts. We then visited the old Lakeside Hotel; a historic steamboat era resort that is in danger of being lost from neglect.
The final press into Red Wing was difficult but manageable. The wind was still very strong and now it had clouded over.
The old 3-speeds proved their worth by handling the difficult conditions with ease; rain or wind made no matter. We were all transported reliably and in relative comfort. We were able to climb the biggest of hills in the worst of conditions and carry all our gear with no complaints from our favorite trooper: the Trusty Steed.
We shall return!
Photos by Brady Robinson, Larry Bontreger, Jon Sharratt, Rob Riggins, Ken Keberle.
Web page: www.3speedtour.com
2004 All British Cycling Event (September 15, 2004)|
|and Gentlemans Tour. |
Reported by Jon Sharratt, Shirt-Tail Organizer.
Thank you everyone for another successful ABCE! As usual, I fuss and worry about the details and forget something I wanted to do or leave something at home. But, as proven again, a gathering is not made by the organizers but by the wonderful people in attendance. My hat is off to all in attendance!
I did not have a chance to count heads but we had roughly 45 people. We had enough beautiful bicycles to line the fence inside AND out. We had enough displays to fill about ¼ of the indoor dining area. All in all, VERY impressive.
A few highlights:
We had tea, cookies and quiche(!) during the social hour. White linen on the serving table too!
There were no mechanical problems during the Gentleman’s Tour unless you count the time I had to stop to re-adjust my shifter.
We forgot to give away the ABCE Collector Print. We discovered this discrepancy after everyone had left but we still had the box full of names so we drew anyway. Scott Davis is the winner.
Peoples Choice was won by Mark Stonich with his stunning Jack Taylor Tourist. Mark also won a “Best Background Story” award by telling us how it all came together with a little help from his friends.
Some of the bicycle names in attendance: Rudge, Baines, Carlton, Holdsworth, Raleigh, Robin Hood, Phillips, Airnimal, Pace Maker, Moulton, (only 1, sorry Kit) Hawthorne, Claude Butler, Brompton, Jack Taylor, Elswick, Dunelt, Eaton's, etc, etc.
As usual, the pizza, beer and service provided by Barley John’s Brew Pub was outstanding. Hats off to Lanae and John.
2004 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour (May 22, 2004)|
|3 speeds, 2 days, 1 more reason your spouse will ask "What now?"|
By Jon Sharratt, Shirt-Tail Organizer.
The second Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour came off without a hitch! Surprisingly little rain but plenty of English mist added up to perfect 3-speed weather. The mechanical failures amounted to Terry “Flat Tire” Osell with his annual puncture and me with a Loose Wingnut but I’ve been called worse.
The Bay City Hill was a challenge and everyone made it to the top; some walking, some riding but the backside was true relief with a 35 mph breeze in your face and a breathtaking view at the wayside at the bottom.
The Smiling Pelican Bake Shop survived the barrage of hungry Tourists and we enjoyed decorating their garden with rusty English Iron and little droplets of Sturmey oil.
Saturday lunch was a treat at the Pickle Factory in Pepin, or some of us back-markers (Ron, Dave, Noel, Melanie and I) found hearty fare at the Star Café in Stockholm.
Steamboat Lanes was a pleasant surprise with a special purchase of Bass Ale for thirsty English Tourists and a very good menu. Some of us stayed for open bowling after dinner and the, uh, clown shoes were certainly interesting especially when they turned on the black light.
The Eagle’s Nest coffee shop provided a hearty breakfast of French (Gasp!) Toast to fuel everyone on through Read’s Landing and into Lake City. Undocumented markers at the Lake City pier were discovered and may appear in the TourBook next year. The Chickadee Cottage Tea room served buckets of hot English tea and scones to the Riders in the Mist. Some of us lingered to chat with a gaggle of Red Hat Society ladies that trundled in and there I was; one of the back-markers again. We (Ron, Dave, Richard, Melanie and I) pushed on to the next rest stop and found another undocumented marker and we were still within the Lake City limits.
The tailwind seemed to strengthen as we moved on to the French Trading Posts on Lake Pepin marker. It was a unanimous decision to press on through the Old Frontenac optional loop and I must say it seemed like a page from the turn of the last century. It was well worth the time as we found Manypenny Avenue and a stone fence that looked to be from 1840s New England. We also found little cottages, picket fences and a quiet tone that was a welcome respite from busy Highway 61.
We hated to leave that treasured spot but even back-markers have to move on. We skipped the alternate route to the top of the bluffs on County 2 and 5 but vowed to try it next year. As we approached Red Wing the sky darkened and we had moderate rain for the final leg of the journey.
2003 All British Cycling Event (September 14, 2003)|
|and Gentleman's Tour*|
We had presentations, displays, prize drawings, hub gears, gifts, treats and awards along with stories both true and otherwise.
This year was our first at Barley John's Brew Pub in New Brighton Minnesota.
*A true Gentleman would be sure to invite a woman.
2003 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour (June 7 & 8, 2003)|
|3 speeds, 2 days, 1 more reason your spouse will ask "What now?"|
By Jon Sharratt, ABCE Event Chairman and 3-Speed Tour Shirt-Tail Organizer.
The first Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour was, shall we say, different. I've tried to summarize various facets of it in this report but it's a bit like your first warm English beer: It doesn't sound appealing but the effect was spectacular.
We had an incredibly diverse cross-section of cycling enthusiasts. Here are a few highlights: No less than 2 professional framebuilders and 2 authors, 6 (or so) collectors and cycling history buffs including 4 members of The Wheelmen, 2 cross-country cyclists, a River Rat and 3 people who actually make (or made) a living in the bicycle industry who aren't bitter. I know this adds up to more than the total of 14 but most people qualify for more than one category. The interesting part of this is I've only touched the tip of the iceberg.
Normally I don't like to chase numbers but I'll quote a couple to make a point. For Saturday we averaged about 5mph for the day. That's right, a brisk walking pace. Keep in mind we stopped at every historic marker, every scenic overlook and every bakery along the way. We stopped to let rain pass and lingered in Stockholm to look through an antique shop and get an architectural tour of the 1860s hotel. We ate ice cream in Nelson and at one point we realized our stops were coming about 8 minutes apart.
Many thanks to Noel Robinson; it was his idea that came to fruition in this wonderful event.
NOTE: MS is Mark Stonich, RB is Richard Booth. Thanks for the photos guys!
2002 All British Cycling Event (September 15, 2002)|
|The 2002 ABCE was held at Long Lake Park in New Brighton Minnesota. If you find any errors or omissions, please let me know.|
2001 All British Cycling Event (September 16, 2001)|
|The second ABCE!|
"Going Places" at MN Historical Society (January 17, 2004)|
|The Minnesota Wheelmen at the grand opening of the new exibit "Going Places" at the Minnesota Historical Society.||10592 Visits|