It’s been just about six months since Emee and I went to the Midwest to participate in this year’s Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour. It was a lot of fun, as always. Despite telling myself that this would be the only one I’d do for awhile, after I got home I did pursue the idea of going back next year. After word of Noel Robinson’s passing over the summer, the urge to go back so soon evaporated. It wouldn’t be the same event without Noel being there.
And Noel’s death got me thinking exactly why I was willing to go back in 2023, despite telling myself I wouldn’t. Part of the reason is because it’s a fun event. But there’s a more nagging issue that I didn’t want to admit: I felt like I did the event “wrong” and wanted to go back to “get it right”.
You might ask yourself how I got it wrong, especially since 2022 was the fifth time I went to the Three Speed Tour. Well, there was big black cloud of getting a flat right at the start of the Bay City Hill, which put me in the unenviable position of trying to “catch up” the rest of the day. As it was, it felt like I didn’t have as great of a chance to hang out with people as I could have. One of the biggest draws for going back to Pepin is to see folks I’d only see at this event, and when time that should have been spent socializing was spent cursing a mechanical on the side of Wisconsin Route 35, well, I felt denied. Day two was an improvement, but I felt like when Emee and I got to the afterparty social at the Staghead in Red Wing people were already leaving, including Noel, who I’d never see alive again. If only we hustled a little bit more to have more time at the Staghead…
The sudden loss of Noel snapped me out of this idea of “fixing” past mistakes. You can’t go back. Life has moved on. It’s best to go to an event because you feel the urge to, not because you feel obliged to correct something (especially if you didn’t do anyone wrong.) I’ve got only so much time on this planet, and while riding around Lake Pepin is a lovely time, the logistical headache of getting to and from there from Portland means I should only go when I really want to.
That’s not to say I’ll never go back to Pepin. I will at some point. But in the near future I need to find other things to do. One of these things can be the All British Cycling Event (ABCE) that happens in the Twin Cities in September. This event is also organized by Three Speed Tour organizer Jon. It’s basically a city version of the Three Speed Tour, with one big day ride of just about thirty miles and staying within the Cities. This makes logistics much easier, no need to figure out how to get to/from Red Wing. Plus, the ABCE sounds a bit more organized in social activities vs. the free-for-all of Lake Pepin, so this means there’s better opportunities to hang out with folks.
If anything, I need to work on creating my own “big” three speed event. I’ve done smaller three speed rides through the years, and the returns on that have diminished to where the last ride only had four other people. I need to bring back the Three Speed Day Tour to Willamette Falls again. We’ve only done that once, back in 2019. Almost four years ago! I should put my energy that I’ve been using on past rides to make this event one to remember. Stay tuned for more details.
Moving forward sounds like a great plan.
i believe Noel would want you to return to the ride. Maybe not this year or the next, but before too much time passes. Not to “go back” or “correct” any past mistakes or omissions, but for the joy of companionship with people who share a passion, and a simple act of remembrance.