Some have asked for more detail on the Midwest Rivendell Rally I mentioned earlier, so here's as much as I can commit to nearly 4 months in advance. The ride will be a 2-day circuit around Lake Pepin, much like the 3-speed tour. The dates are June 1-3, with the actual riding being on June 2-3. The event will formally kick-off on June 1 in Red Wing, where out-of-towners and others who choose to spend a night in Red Wing can gather for a social event that evening. I plan to ride down to Red Wing from Minneapolis on June 1. Anybody is welcome to join me on that ride. Anybody who drives to Red Wing should find a legal place to park the car for the weekend, but that should be easy enough. And of course, anybody who is spending that night in Red Wing will need to figure out lodging.
First of all, I would like to clarify what level of support I plan to provide for this, and what each participant will have to arrange for himself or herself. I will provide a route and a basic schedule. I will not provide food or lodging, but it will be easy enough for you to arrange those things yourself (see below). Hand-holding and babysitting will be supplied on an extremely limited basis, so if you're looking for a fully supported tour, this probably won't be your cup of tea. I might be able to arrange a support vehicle of some sort. This is tentative, but seems like a decent idea. The support vehicle may be for emergencies only or it may be to carry your luggage, but that will depend on the size of the vehicle (if any) and how many people need to have stuff carried. Plan to carry what you need and have your body and your bike in good operating condition.
I will provide a suggested route, which is somewhat but not insanely challenging, and an alternate "easy" route for those who feel the main route is too rugged.
On Saturday, we will ride the Wisconsin side of the lake. The main route will include some steep climbs/descents and a few "rustic" gravel roads (possibly with a couple water crossings!), but since it's not a race, riders of any speed should feel welcome. The easier route along a main highway has one large but gentle grade (and a few smaller hills) and is all paved. The drawback of the easy route is that traffic, particularly loud motorcycles, can become tiresome. The suggested route is fantastic and quiet, and should be doable for any halfway fit cyclist. Again, we're not talking whippet-thin racer-boy/girl fitness, but you may become familiar with the low gears on your bike. Single-speeders may be doing some pushing. We all have different levels of fitness and strength and speed, but who cares? This will not be a day to establish the pecking order, but to enjoy the scenery, our bicycles, and our company. The custom will be to regroup at the tops of hills and at intersections and to help each other and keep the group together as much as possible. Nobody should have to ride alone.
The Wisconsin side of Lake Pepin offers numerous cafes and other food sources. Generally speaking, there is a little town with a decent restaurant or cafe every 7-10 miles or so. These towns are all along the highway. The main route will visit these towns, thereby merging with the easier route several times during the day. In other words, there are plenty of bail-out options for those who get tired and want an easier alternative.
By the "easy" route, Wabasha is about 40 miles from where we'll begin in Red Wing. By the suggested main route, it will be closer to 50-55 miles. I am planning to arrange for free camping in Wabasha at the city park, where showers are available. If that fails, there are a couple campground options not far from town. Wabasha has some hotel options, too. Americinn is the biggest place, but I have no specific recommendations. Anyway, non-campers will be responsible for making their own hotel arrangements for Saturday, June 2, in Wabasha. Across the river in Nelson, WI, is the Nelson Cheese Factory, which is my favorite restaurant around there, but Wabasha has a couple dining options, too. Wabasha also has a large-ish grocery store for those who'd like to roll their own dinner and/or breakfast.
Sunday, June 3, we will ride the Minnesota side of the lake back to Red Wing. Again, there will be the suggested main route and an alternate easy route, with a couple merge points. The main route heads up the bluff for a long climb out of Wabasha. Later, the descent into Lake City is thrilling and gorgeous. Lake City is a good place for lunch, with a number of restaurants and stores. From Lake City, the main route starts on a smooth, easy gravel road, and later a long paved climb and subsequent descent into Red Wing. The easy route along the highway is flatter and all paved, but traffic can be tiresome. Total mileage is comparable to that of day 1, possibly somewhat shorter.
Back in Red Wing, I assume people will scatter. Maybe some will get together for a drink and a snack, and maybe some will hit the road for home immediately.