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The Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour
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.

Date(s): May 13 & 14, 2017. Album by STO. Photos by STO. 1 - 101 of 101 Total. 0 Visits.
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