Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour 2015 – Day One

IMG_9029 The first day of the Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour always starts with a rather involved ceremony.  Several lead the festivities, but we all participate.  It involves responsive reading, cheering, and singing.  It also involves the blessing of the bicycles and a message from the Queen.  Red Wing locals must figure suffering this kind of odd behavior from the nutters is an acceptable trade for the money we leave behind in their taverns on Friday and Sunday nights.

IMG_9039Then we take to the open roads.  We take our creature comforts, wear our natty attire, and we tour.  We ride on paved and non-paved roads, we climb and descend, and we do some epic lollygagging.

IMG_9045 IMG_9047 IMG_9053 IMG_9058 IMG_9079 IMG_9081 IMG_9087 We take in the sights, do some hike-a-bike sessions, and pose on vast vistas.

IMG_9090 IMG_9094 IMG_9100 IMG_9105 IMG_9115 IMG_9116 We stop at shops along the way, purchase souvenirs, and acquire goods needed for tomorrow’s “brew-up” at Lake City.  All around were pleasant sights and pleasant people who seem to enjoy them in the same way me and my friends do.  Community, club, or cult?

IMG_9117We ended the day at the historic Anderson House Hotel in Wabasha, MN, and we prepared ourselves for another day of lollygagging to come.

Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour 2015 – Bikes

IMG_8990I was fortunate enough to participate in my second consecutive Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour this year. The link provides a more complete description of the event itself. I’ll use this post (plus two more) to provide a few highlights. This post is simply a photo dump of many of the bikes used by tour participants. These photos will also provide some indication of the dress and assorted baggage used by those of us (nutters of the realm) odd enough to spend a weekend celebrating simplicity.

These were taken at the gathering place prior to the roll-out. Even though this was only my second time here, it was good to see and visit with friends made last year. Once we spent a few seconds reminding one another of names, we picked up the conversation and had a grand time anticipating the adventure before us. What would be a more positive foreshadowing than the aroma of steel, canvas, wicker, tweed, and tea?

The next two posts will include highlights of each of the two days of touring. The big difference this year is the alternate routes we used.  These alternate routes provided a more challenging, enjoyable, and scenic version of the tour this year. Hopefully, the few photos I select will illustrate the visual highlights well. IMG_8988 IMG_8989 IMG_8991 IMG_8992 IMG_8995 IMG_8996 IMG_8997 IMG_8998 IMG_8999 IMG_9000 IMG_9001 IMG_9002 IMG_9003 IMG_9004 IMG_9005 IMG_9006 IMG_9007 IMG_9008 IMG_9009 IMG_9010 IMG_9011 IMG_9012 IMG_9013 IMG_9014 IMG_9015 IMG_9016 IMG_9017 IMG_9018 IMG_9019 IMG_9020 IMG_9021 IMG_9022 IMG_9023 IMG_9024 IMG_9025 IMG_9026 IMG_9030

2015 Tour Preparations

IMG_8867Spring touring preparations are now in full swing. Over the winter, conversations between my touring buddies (Shawn, Steve, and one other maybe) and me were occasional with no particular sense of urgency or excitement. But now, as April has almost passed us by, there are only three more weeks until we roll out of Red Wing, Minnesota to start the 2015 Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour. We are in the midst of that delightful eager anticipation wave, and we realize there are time limitations for our preparing.  So today seemed like a good day to clean up my Quickbeam a bit, and convert it from its recent fixed wheel configuration back to three speed mode.

IMG_8870There are a couple of things different for the bike this year. I’m thinking I’ll probably go with drop bars. Instead of only a Carradice saddlebag, I’ve added front and rear racks. The bar difference is simply a whim. I’ve enjoyed the drops when the bike was in fixed wheel mode, and just don’t feel compelled to convert back to albatross bars just yet. The racks were added because me and the boys are planning a three day self-supported tour out of La Crosse, Wisconsin immediately after the Lake Pepin event. So this configuration should help me carry along all my creature comforts. Today’s post tinker session test ride gave me one more dose of eager anticipation, and I’m almost giddy.

Destination: Spring Creek Bridge

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Since riding a bike for training purposes has been abandoned, other more frivolous objectives have been substituted for my bicycle outings. Sometimes the objective is camping or coffee brew-ups. Often the objective is reconnaissance.

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Numerous delightful places have been found after field investigation of interesting spots identified while perusing Google’s photos.

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There is a curved bridge on County Road 321 crossing Spring Creek up in Cooke County. That was the target destination for today. It was a simple out and back route.

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On the way out, the only sounds were a roaring wind and the flapping of my windbreaker and pants. It was a slow, persistent crawl that promoted keen observation, frequent stops for photos, and brief conversations with the livestock.

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The photo above shows the curved bridge coming into view. It’s the light spot among the trees just left of center and a little below the horizon.

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The bridge is relatively new. It stands out conspicuously in the midst of the same old gravel or dirt roads at both ends.  Even so, there are many similar locations in this part of Texas where old, feeble one-lane bridges have been replaced with higher, wider, safer ones.

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Encounter – Just past the trees that line the road on the left side, a farm truck came slowly slip-sliding toward me in the muddy road. I had pulled over to the left side to take a photo. The truck slowed even more, and stopped next to me. The passenger window was buzzed down, and the first thing I saw was a small child in a car seat.

As my eyes moved right toward the driver, a young mother leaned toward the open window, smiled, and said, “I’m trying to not splash you.”

I simply smiled and said, “Thank you!”

Then she said, “Have a great day!”, rolled up the window, and drove on.  How neighborly.

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On the way home, the fierce wind had transformed itself into my best friend. Extended climbs in the big ring were easier than pedaling downhill in the small ring only moments before.

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Speaking of neighbors, we have interesting ones.

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On the way back, the only sounds were the wind whistling across barbed wire strands and the hum of tires on the road. Even while moving at speed and being so close to home, it doesn’t hurt a thing to squeeze the brakes, pause, and take in a deep, refreshing look at that lovely Clear Creek valley.

“Snow Day” Off-Road Coffee

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It wasn’t really snow. But it was enough freezing rain and sleet that schools closed and a lot of folks opted to avoid driving on icy roads for the sake of getting to work. Since my commute is over 50 miles (one-way), and that makes for a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong, I was one of those who avoided the roads.

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Today’s outing was a completely off road adventure. It was in the mid-20s, windy, and the wind chill was in the low teens. Low gray clouds were sailing across the sky. Sleet was blowing against my bike and coating it in a thin glaze of ice. A great day for a ride, and all day to enjoy it.

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This is far from ideal Pondero conditions, but with so much time available it seemed like a good idea to show my northern buddies I don’t always run from the white stuff.

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It was slow going on uneven range land, riding on top of 2-3 inches of frozen sleet…and then breaking through. Rolling resistance was pretty high. So after a plodding, epic long off road search, an acceptable patch of ice was found in a grove of trees. It seemed a decent spot for a brew-up.

The hot, fresh coffee warmed my insides. The clouds flew silently by, and there was no sound except the wind and the crackling of ice-coated tree branches. As I repacked my gear, I mentally prepared myself for the long, cold ride back home.

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Fortunately, I returned to the house before I succumbed to frostbite and hypothermia. Although I have a reputation as a Leisure Consultant, perhaps you are impressed with my toughness, and you will pretend you don’t know that’s my house you see in the photo above.