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