Dear Riders of the Realm:
The ABCE Meet-and-Greet opened to some light rain but that is no surprise and, in fact, welcomed since an English event such as this needs authenticity and what better way to do that than to sit in the rain watching your pint refill with raindrops.
Slowly, the Nutters began to show; the Chicago Mob, the Canadien Loonies, and all the other “Personalities” that make the ABCE what it is. All but one, that is.
Hugs and pints were distributed, smiles and belly laughs were enjoyed and, before we forgot, the Claiming Ceremony* was completed whereby we “Claim Barley John’s in the name of the King and for all the Riders of the Realm.”
*The Claiming Ceremony was never un-done, so technically, we still have possession. We will take care of that at our next F.W. (First Wednesday) meeting, so until then, what can we/should we/should we not do?
Saturday dawned cool and delightful as we all gathered at Merlin’s Rest for our Gentleman’s Tour. We chatted, buzzed about and eventually decided to head to the Turtle Bread Company for pastry and a sit-down. It’s all of 6 blocks or so and yes, some were lost. Through the curse of modern communication, we soon found out that there was a group of Nutters doing an entirely different route; one that had not been used for years.
Eventually we saddled up and moved on to the site of the former Minnehaha Falls. No water means no falls so it is, at best, an overlook but still an impressive sight. Moving on to the St. Paul side of the Mississippi, we found ourselves at the Memorial of the Great War; an impressive lump of granite, this, and some said it was lighter than our bicycles. Lunch was calling so we rode east on Summit to Cambridge and then over to Grand Avenue and an excellent selection of restaurants. Next on the tour: ice cream at the Grand Ole Creamery.
From the Creamery, Grand Avenue does a nice long downhill run that can be played like a slalom run between the potholes. Very soon we were cycling past Irvine Park and on to the City House for another rest. We did not rest too long since we had to get back to Merlin’s by 4pm.
Merlin’s is always a perfect choice; excellent old-world fare including traditional Fish and Chips, Mussels, Ploughman’s Lunch, and a beer menu second to none.
Sunday was another cool and perfect day as we gathered at Barley John’s. The Cycle Jumble was heavily attended and offered a great selection of obscure parts, frames and complete relics. After everyone completed enough “milling about” we were off to complete the new Robinson Ride and Gravity Race. No question, this was hotly contested but the Hub Gear and Overall winner was Tim MacNamara on his Raleigh and a surprise winner in the Derailleur category was Sir Ian Lindridge on his Trice. We needed to get back to BJs to open the taps and continue the festivities so the decision was made to head back.
Eulogies, tributes and stories were the order of the day to honour our fallen hero Noel. We were all a bit misty-eyed and extra hugs were distributed to all. We shall miss him dearly.
Eventually, we all suffer the loss of a friend, family member or even a Queen Mother. In our case, we have shoes to fill that are so big, it cannot be done. We can move forward, with difficulty, and with time the grief will ease a bit. That is when you must raise a glass and say “Here’s to you Sir Noel!”
The task is not complete, of course. Soon thereafter you’ll need to wheel your Trusty Steed out of the shed, look skyward and say again “Here’s to you Sir Noel!” and mount up.
Your ‘humble 3-speed knows the way.
Best along the Path,
Jon Sharratt, Shirt-Tail Organiser,
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As always, there is an ABCE group at flickr to add yours from all years of the event.