2008 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour: A Timeless Cycling Adventure


2008 Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour Slideshows

Video One: Redwing, MN, the Mississippi River, and environs, as seen from atop Barn Bluff on Friday.
Video Two: A Bald Eagle, as seen from astride a 3-Speed bicycle en route between Wabasha and Lake City on Sunday.
Show One: Hiking Barn Bluff and Exploring the Red Wing, MN on Friday, then the Start Line on Saturday
Show Two: Leaving Redwing, Bow & Arrow Marker, Bay City Hill, Maiden Rock, Stockholm, Laura Ingalls' Home, Pepin, Nelson, Wabasha Finish
Show Three: Wabasha Start, Lake City Cafe and Tea Brew-Up, French Trading Posts Sign, Old Frontenac, Hill Ave. "Rough-Stuffing," Redwing Finish
2007 Lake Pepin Tour slideshows and my feature article from Bicycle Quarterly
2006 Lake Pepin Tour slideshows and report

Imagine a two-day cycling event which doesn’t allow Lycra, requires no training (but lots of good attitude) and features riders in 1930s era “street” clothing who stop at every single scenic overlook, roadside historical marker, and café they encounter, while riding old British 3-speed bikes that are commonly seen offered for a few bucks in garage sales. This is the Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour and it’s the coolest, most fun, most enjoyable, and perhaps the most thought-provoking bicycle event I’ve ever attended. The sixth annual edition was held May 17-18, 2008 and I rode it with my girlfriend Elizabeth, her sister Alison, and bro-in-law Dave. It was my third Pepin Tour, Elizabeth's second, and Alison & Dave's first.

According to the ride website, “The Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour is based on cycle touring in pre-war England.  It was a gentlemanly time; few people owned a car and recreation based on automobiles was extremely limited. To get away for the weekend they would pack a few things, mount up and head to the country. Most every farmstead had refreshments or a room to rent, every little village had a family-run restaurant; just look for the ‘Cyclist Teas’ or ‘CTC Recommended’ sign. It’s a romantic image to be sure but firmly based in reality.”

The spirit of the “gentleman cyclist” runs strong through the organizers of this event, Jon Sharratt, the “Shirt-Tail Organizer,” and Noel Robinson, the founder. For the third year in a row, Jon and Noel offered to loan classic 3-speed bicycles to our entire group. That amazing generousity once again confirmed for us that the whimsical attitude featured on their website is not just their Internet persona, but an authentic way of life.

The route of this two-day event features a 75-mile, clockwise circumnavigation of Lake Pepin, a stretch of the Mississippi River which is wide and distinctive enough to merit the “lake” appellation. "City dwellers need go no farther than this if they seek romantic solitude," wrote panorama artist Henry Lewis in 1848. "One can not imagine a more lovely expanse of water than Lake Pepin in quiet, clear weather." So said one of the many roadside historical markers along the route, and I couldn’t agree more.


I want to offer a giant "bravo" to Jon and Noel and everyone else involved in the organizing of this stupendous weekend. The 3-Speed Tour is a real pleasure and a true treasure and Lake Pepin is easily one of the nicest, most charming, and most hospitable areas in which we've ever cycled! Thanks as well for the great company, conversation, and support of all the other riders. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves out there.

For more info on the Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour, visit www.3speedtour.com

For info on the All-British Cycling Event held in the Twin Cities each September, visit www.abcetour.com.

To join the e-mail discussion group, look up “Gentleman Cyclist” at Google Groups.

For some new 3-Speed Adventures in California, visit www.3sa.com.

We got extra into the spirit of the event by producing a small batch of 3-Speed Aventure Society hats in both "English Car Cap" and "American Baseball Cap" styles. Here they are, modeled by two-time Lake Pepin tourists, and charter 3SA members, Keith and Poosa Kostman. We have a few left in stock - baseball plus the car caps with the logo on the front not the back - so contact us if you'd like to get one. Write to style <at> 3sa dot com or use the Contact button at left.

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