Monday, May 18, 2009

2009 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour

As some of you may remember, last year Pete and I did the Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour. It was a blast*. This last Saturday, we did it again. I am not a really bike-y person (meaning, that while I like to bike, I don't own 14 of them), so I'll leave the bike-talk, i.e. makes, models, etc., for Pete. What appeals to me about the 3-Speed Tour is the slow pace, the leisurely attitude, the camaraderie, and the sheer civility of this whole pre-WWII cycling tour mindset. It's a lovely way to spend a few days. And then there's the pie. More on that in a bit.

We left the kids and dogs with the in-laws, loaded up our 3-speeds, and headed out to Red Wing. We got there a little late, but we did make it in time for the letter from Buckingham Palace and then the Blessing of the Bikes.

The Sons of Norway gave us a great little send off.

It was chilly! I don't know what the actual temp was, but my knees were freezing. It wasn't too bad when we were moving, but when we were stopped: brrrrr. We didn't linger at the Bow & Arrow Historic Marker but got right back on our bikes to attack the Bay City Hill. And get pie at the Smiling Pelican in Maiden Rock. Mmm. Pie.

Last year, the Bay City Hill conquered us/me. This year, we conquered it.

After the hill, we stopped at Lake Pepin Historic Marker, but thanks to my chilly knees and pie focus, we were ahead of the group and didn't have anyone to take a "together" picture of us. Nor did we have a tripod on which to mount the camera and use the timer setting. So, we took pictures of each other.

Last year, I rode a borrowed 1971 Dunelt. After the 3-Speed Tour, I went out and found a 3-speed of my own, a 1967 Robin Hood. Coincidentally -- truly coincidentally -- Pete's 3-speed is a 1959 Robin Hood. Aren't we cute.

We got back onto our bikes and coasted down into Maiden Rock, where, after all that talk of pie, I got the strawberry trifle instead.

Properly fortified, we decided to do some pass storming and went on the optional climb to the top of the Maiden Rock overlook. It ended up being quite an adventure, as we (inadvertently) took the road much less traveled.

Fortunately, the view was worth the hike.

We rode our brakes down from the overlook into Stockholm, had a well-earned lunch and a pint at the Bogus Creek Cafe & Bakery, then went in search of pie. (I was a woman on a mission.) A fellow Nutter had given us the tip that there was a great pie shop in Stockholm, with pie so wondrous that it's made grown men weep. I'm made of sterner stuff than that, so I did not weep, but I did make the "OMG RAPTURE YUM" face. Truly, I've never had pie this good outside of a grandmother's kitchen. Fan-freaking-tastic.

We were sworn to secrecy, so I'm afraid I can't reveal the location, but here's a hint.

We meandered our way through Pepin and continued on to Nelson and the Nelson Cheese Factory, where we sat out on the patio with some of our fellow Nutters and enjoyed some lamb and beef sticks. Yes, I know, you're supposed to get ice cream there, but after that wondrous pie, ice cream wasn't appealing. I can't believe I just typed that.

From Nelson, it was on to Wabasha. Did anyone ever find out who put up the sign?

We checked in to our lodgings,

cleaned up, and went across the street to the Eagle's Nest for dinner, where Jan and Jim did their usual bang-up job of making us feel right at home.

The next morning, we set off for Lake City. The forecast had called for more cold in the morning, perhaps even frost -- but the forecast was wrong. It was beautiful.

One of our fellow Nutters gave me this for my bike. How adorable is this?!

A bunch of Nutters at the River of Rafts at the Lake Pepin Geologic Marker. I'm pretty sure the cars were slowing down to take a look at us, not the Marker.

Last year, we saw so many eagles along the way from Wabasha to Lake City that we pulled off and stared up into the sky, and kicked ourselves for not bringing the binoculars. This year, we had the binoculars, and saw nary an eagle. Sigh.

Lunch was at the Rhythm and Brew Coffee Shop in Lake City, followed by dessert -- surprise, more pie! -- at the Chickadee Cottage Tea Room. It couldn't compare to the stuff in Stockholm, but it made a valiant effort.

From Lake City, it was on to Old Frontenac and the old stone wall. Last year, we didn't get a picture there (I don't know why; not only were we there, but I took pictures of other people getting their pictures taken). Hmm. I don't see much of that wall behind us. Ah well. I guess that means we'll have to do the 2010 3-Speed Tour.

I'm not sure what the story is with this, but Pete said it had to be taken for the guys at Hiawatha Cyclery. So, here you go, guys. And look, there's that stone wall that you really can't see in our picture.

While we were there, Ron Grogg asked if I wanted to take his Moulton Standard for a little spin. Oh, my. That is a FUN bike. Me want now.

I think I'm not the only one who'd like to take this little darling home.

Pete got to ride it, too.

After Old Frontenac, we meandered our way back to Red Wing, and a final meal and a pint at The Staghead with our fellow Nutters.

And that concluded the 2009 3-Speed Tour. For two days that are so delightfully slow and easy, it went by much too quickly. It's a cliche to say that I'm already looking forward to next year (and more pie)...but I am. What a marvelous, lovely time!

*I wrote an article about the 3-Speed Tour for the Red Wing Republican Eagle, which you can read here.