It’s been just about two weeks since my participation in the Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour. So I’ve had time to reflect on the experience. I’m not going to bore you with the minute turn-by-turn details, so here’s my impression of the whole durn thing.
All in all it was a great experience. I knew that it was going to be good going into it, but pre-ride expectations are always different than reality. And some of the preconceptions I had didn’t fit the reality.
For one, I thought the ride was going to be more about the bikes than it actually was. Don’t get me wrong, 95% of the 100 participants rode a vintage British three speed, with Raleighs outnumbering other marquees. And there was a lot of “bike porn”, a lot of bikes to ogle, baggage to nerd over. Most of the ogling/nerding happened at the start and occasionally at the stops. And yep, I talked about bikes with people plenty o’ times during the two days.
And I also thought the ride was going to be more about the ride than it actually was. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great ride! The landscape around Lake Pepin was beautiful, but I knew that even before the ride, as I passed through this area on two (two!) previous bike tours. And the small towns along the way were quaint and cute, and gave a good opportunity to take a break. I tried to break from the main roads (Route 35 on the Wisconsin side, US 61 on the Minnesota) at any opportunity possible. This meant either a climb out of the Mississippi valley or a ramble on a gravel road, and sometimes both. Each detour was rewarding.
Or the ride could have been more about “the details”. Granted, people approached this ride with gusto. Many people interpreted the dress code as “tweed ride lite”. Because I was traveling two-thirds the way across the continent and didn’t want to haul a lot of stuff, I didn’t get as flamboyant as others, but I still dressed in the spirit of a mid-century British bicycle excursion. The Lake City Brew-Up was another spot where people strut their stuff, and some folk’s set-ups were impressive, especially anyone with a vintage Primus stove. (I kept it basic with an Esbit pot/stove combo, again due to the distance/hauling crap logistics.)
Nope, the best part of the ride was the people. I got to meet a few people that I knew only through the internets, like Pondero (Chris), Gravel Doc (Steve), azorch (Mark), and bikamper (Mike). This was cool. I also met a ton of new people as well. The whole theme of the ride is “hanging out”, the bullshitting and bike checking before the ride, conversing at one of the numerous scenic stops, swapping stories at a pub. That will be the strongest thing I take away from this event in the years to come.
So it’s nice to finally partake in this great event, and finally know what it’s really about. I hope to take some of that energy and bring it back to my various three speed rides.