Pepin-Minneapolis 2022 Trip, Part Two: The Tour

The Brew-Up in Lake City, 15 May 2022. Minolta XD5/Ilford HP5+/Ilfosol 3 1:9 at 5:30 in Rondinax 35U

This wasn’t my first Pepin rodeo, nor was it Emee’s. I’ve been to the Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour four times before, Emee once. Heck, I even wrote a “tips and tricks” blog post for newbies. Yet even after all the previous tours, I felt both rusty and like a first-timer again. I guess four years away and two years of pandemic can do that to a person.

Saturday May 14th started off great. The weekend would see clouds to sun, temps in the 70s F, with a very slight chance of showers. (I heard a report of a few drops from someone.) This is good, as May in the upper Midwest can be a bit iffy in the weather department. (The 2019 Tour had pouring rain and a high of 50F on Sunday, many people bailed half-way through.) Emee and I got to the start point of Colvil Park a little on the late side, as the ride was just about ready to go.

And then the grand depart. This year’s tour had just under 120 participants, supposedly the biggest yet. Crossing the Mississippi River in Red Wing was a breeze this time around, thanks to the new bridge and a wide sidewalk. We used this opportunity to get a good shot from the bridge. Soon we were in Wisconsin, cruising the back way into Bay City and having a pit stop at a bar for Bloody Marys. (We did say this was a pub crawl, right?)

Next would be the “hill” of the trip, the 2 1/2 mile climb out of Bay City. It’s a pretty steady 6% or so climb. But this would be where tragedy would strike, as I got a flat at the base of the hill. After two rear tire destroying flats before the trip, it was time for a front flat. I fixed it OK, but the half-hour lost meant I was now at the back of the ride. No one was waiting for me at the top of the hill (Emee took off so we could make sure we got pastry at the Smiling Pelican Bake Shop) and the special “Loch Pepin” sign erected at the overlook just for the ride was taken down by the time I got there, no photo op. Andy, who was taking down the sign, offered me a ride to Maiden Rock, the next stop. While I wanted to “ride the whole way”, because I was behind I’d rather shave off three miles to catch back up.

After a good piece of pie at the Smiling Pelican, my spirits lifted a bit. Emee and I pushed on to Stockholm and had a nice picnic at the riverside park. We had the goal of eating at the Harbor View Cafe in Pepin (birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder), so we wanted to get there by 4 when they started to take in-person reservations for dinner. We got there a little after 4 to find out that they were already open, and getting a table for early dinner would be no problem at all. We enjoyed the meal.

After Pepin is the second slog of the Wisconsin side, the ride through the Chippewa River Delta. While this delta created Lake Pepin by slowing down the main river here, the straight, flat, open highway is not the most fun for biking. But we got through it without incident, and after the “last chance for New Glarus” stop in Nelson, we’d cross back over into Minnesota again, 45 miles down for the day. We’d stay again at the “getting more decrepit each year, but it’s historic” Anderson Hotel for the night.

*****

While Saturday was fun, I was a bit bummed about the flat and the delay it caused me. It didn’t seem like I hung out with people as much because of it, and the social aspect is a major part of the tour. I hoped that the shorter Minnesota side ride (just about 35 miles) and the smaller amount of stops would remedy that. Plus the stops that do happen are more major.

We took off from Wabasha around 9 AM. Initially I wanted to do an alternate route out that climbed to the bluffs and stayed above until almost Lake City. But after not riding much lately, the previous day’s ride definitely took its toll on me. I’d be sticking to US 61, which is flatter but busier. By the time we got into Lake City I was definitely ready to get off the highway. We broke here for the big Brew Up at Ohuta Park on the lake. I brought my Trangia 27 stormcooker set to boil water for tea. It’s always amazing to see the elaborate setups some people bring. It definitely makes us jealous! But most of these folks are driving to the ride, and some have people drive their stuff to the park.

The next part of the ride was my favorite part of this day, and possibly the whole ride. We departed Lake City the back way, instead of more 61 we’d use Territorial Road, a quiet and bucolic mostly gravel road through woods and farmland. This road basically dropped us off in Frontenac Junction. Rather than go to the stone wall we went to B. Wells, a divey bar that’s now become a major stop on the ride for some. Here was another great opportunity to hang out with folks.

The last nine miles was the toughest. We stayed on 61. While mostly flat with a good shoulder, we were fighting a stiff headwind. It was a slog. I had to stop half-way through to eat some food, otherwise I’d bonk. We finally made it back to Colvil Park, retrieved our extra bags from the “three speed lorry”, a van that acts as sort of a sag wagon. We rode to The Staghead, a gastropub in downtown Red Wing, where the post-ride celebration was happening. This was the last opportunity to hang with the folks who were left. But most people left pretty early. We then headed down to the Red Wing depot to wait for the Empire Builder to take us to the Twin Cities…

So many tags. 15 May 2022
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3 thoughts on “Pepin-Minneapolis 2022 Trip, Part Two: The Tour

Add yours

  1. Hello Shawn – I’m curious how the Brompton’s did as travel/touring bikes. I’m becoming more intrigued by the idea, particularly since I would like to do the Lake Pepin ride someday, but I don’t want to drive up there, and I have had an everlasting paranoia about handing the airlines, or Amtrak for that matter, my bike in a box. The Brompton seems like the perfect solution to my paranoia.

    1. Hey Paul, as someone who’s traveled at least a dozen times or so (probably more) boxing a bike for Amtrak, I’ve got no qualms about them handling a boxed bike. Anyways, for the most part you can bring an unboxed bike on Amtrak these days.

      Anyways, my thoughts on Bromptons as a travel bike are in my last Brompton post here: https://urbanadventureleague.wordpress.com/2022/05/27/traveling-with-a-brompton/

      You should check out my “Brompton” tag or search Brompton on my blog for more thoughts and impressions on the bike. Thanks for reading!

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