Cycling had never been a post topic in this blog about the goings on around Lake Superior so I would guess I'm overdue, especially given the friends and relatives that are heavily into this form of people powered transport. Some long term friends alerted the VOR and I to the Superior Vista cycling tour of the Bayfield peninsula. The more we talked about it the more we realized that we had other friends that volunteered and local businesses that we frequent that helped sponsor the event. With an array of tours available from 13 to 100 miles we signed on and our gang of five opted for the 34 mile loop. All of the tours begin and end at Thompson West End park in Washburn. Since we had planned to be in that area anyway for the defunct/on hiatus (?) Inland Sea Symposium, it was simple to switch from the paddle to the bad bike shorts and helmet and tour the counryside.
Like most outdoor events in the area, the weather is the wild card. Gloom and doom was forecast and a line of powerful thunderstorms savaged the Minnesota and Wisconsin area Friday night, just to remind us that Mother Nature was the boss. Saturday morning dawned, a word that doesn't really describe the gradual lifting of nightfall in heavy fog, gray and dripping. The VOR had volunteered to help with registration and MadCityMary had to run a wool cape down the hill at 7am to keep her warm as she sat at the registration table. Northeast breezes over 40F lake water will tend to chill things out along Gitchee Gumee. We were all pretty happy that it wasn't 85F and humid however, and ride was pretty comfortable with some minor layering adjustments. The routes, the rest stops, refreshments at the rest stops, and the folks volunteering at the rest stops were all top notch. We saw lots of families including a foursome on a tandem with two kids bikes hooked on behind. Would that make it a quadrem? A few maniacs on the hundred treated it like a race but it was indeed a tour, if not one with any Superior vistas. Fog kept visibility at around a quarter mile, 400 yards, which gave everything a soft and ephemeral sort of lighting and added to what we felt was wonderful ambiance. Including stops and a short hike by the women at Long Lake to see the pink Ladyslippers that were in bloom, we took about five lazy hours to complete the 34 miles. The traffic was practically non existent and the roads were in excellent shape, even for our group members with distressingly skinny tires. One of the unofficial stops was for adult refreshments at the Topside Bar out in the country on Ondassagon Rd. When we walked in with our helmets and obvious bike gear, the lady tending bar pointed and said, "bathrooms are right there". When we responded that shots and beer was what we were after, the whole bar kind of perked up and started conversation. Apparently when people on their $2,000 road bikes and colorful spandex Tour De France style Spandex gear stopped and used the bathroom, no purchases or at times even a polite thanks, it kind of grated on the group at the bar. Rightly so in my opinion. I've always thought that the people powered sports crowd were pretty much cheap SOB's with the old adage, 'they show up with a pair of underwear and twenty bucks in their pockets and don't change either' having more than a grain of truth. A check of The Snug, DiLou's pizza, Patsy's Bar and the book store that evening did not turn up a single sign of any cars with bike racks or patrons who had ridden the tour. Shame on us. Enjoy the area and support the sponsors of the event. Drop a couple bucks on the local merchants. For a paltry $25 we were treated like kings when we returned to Thompson park. North Coast coffee, Hugo's pizza, Tetzners Dairy Ice Cream bars, and a host of other goodies were offered. It is indeed a great event on a number of levels.
The group decided that this should join the ever growing list of annual events. The back roads, county trunks, and even the gravel town roads on the Bayfield Peninsula are great for road biking and have a minimal amount of traffic. I would estimate maybe two dozen cars in 34 miles and five hours of being on the road. I can see some non tour event riding in the not too distant future and yet another opportunity for outdoor fun on the South Shore of our favorite lake.