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Matt's Home Page Two Cities Two Wheels (Matt's Cycling Blog)

Bicycling is a lot of fun. I've done it for ages. On the serious side, transportation cycling addresses many of the problems of modern society; pollution, carbon emissions, traffic congestion, dependence on foreign oil, cardiac disease, obesity, diabetes and stroke. While doing all this, it can also be a delightful way to get around and see things. I've written a number of things about cycling over the years and this page links to them because I'm sure the world is breathlessly awaiting my writing! Have fun!

Links to Matt's Bicycling Articles

Bike Lane Icon Bicycle Commuting Handout I commute to work by bicycle some of the time and have done so for many years. I put together a handout on Bicycle Commuting originally for a talk I was asked to give, and have used and updated it since.

Bike Touring Circa 1980 Bike Touring Circa 1980 Right out of college with no job lined up I instead went travelling. I took my bike. This page is about the bicycle and equipment I used that happy summer. This is one of the earliest pages on my website, from about 1997, and still picks up comments from others who did something similar.

The kids ride North on Highway 61 Riding to Duluth In 2005 I rode to Duluth with my 13-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter. We did over 80 miles each day. This page is adapted from the original blog entries about the trip.

The 2006 Three Speed Tour baggage tag The 2006 Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour The Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour is a brilliantly-conceived event involving, as the motto says, Three Gears, Two Days, One More Reason for your spouse to ask, What Now? Dress up as 1930s Englishmen, ride three speed bikes from stop to stop, it's a great time. The 2006 ride was my first. This is my account, put together from the original blog entries.

The Quicker Vicar The 2007 Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour My second participation in this event. I went as the Quicker Vicar this time, and celebrated The Blessing of the Bicycles ahead of time.

A Sturmey-Archer AW Hub Thoughts on Three Speed Gearing After the 2007 Three Speed Tour, I wrote about the gearing of three-speeds. I compare stock gearing, my somewhat-lowered gearing for the Tour, modern Nexus 8-speed internal hub gearing, classic 1970s ten-speed gearing and modern 27-speed gearing, with notes and a graph of which I'm very fond. This article is boring in the extreme to all but the worst bike nerds. You Know Who You Are!

The Order of Service for A Blessing of the Bicycles

I ride the Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour as the Quicker Vicar and we celebrate a short service at the beginning of the ride and do a singalong on the Saturday night. To my surprise, I've had some inquiries about this from actual clergy based on posting just the 2007 service, so have decided to post all the Blessing of the Bicycle bulletins here.

The 2007 Blessing of the Bicycles was the first. I got ordained by the Universal Life Church and put together a service. Rather than use a Biblical reading, I adapted Shakespeare's Saint Crispin's Day speech from Henry V to fit with Saint Dunstan's Day, which matched up with our weekend. I like the ending of this particularly:

and cyclists everywhere now-a-bed
shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here
and hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
that rode with us upon Saint Dunstan's Day.

The service proved to be a success, and we decided to go with it again the following year. This was also the year of the nascent Brew Up when my buddy Paul and I brewed up tea on the lakeshore in Lake City (and nearly caused the Great Lake City Fire of 2007 from the unfortunate combination of piles of driftwood and careless disposal of the ashed out of the Kelly Kettle).

The 2008 Blessing of the Bicycles was for Whitsuntide, the week after Pentecost, which was very early this year. Pentecost is based on Easter, March 23 this year, and it hadn't been that early since 1913 and won't again until 2160. The reading this time was an adaptation of Genesis from The Cyclists' Apocrypha, slightly modified and done so as to include congregational participation. We also had a brief serious bit, remembering Sheldon Brown, who died in February.

The 2009 Blessing of the Bicycles was for The Feast Day of Saint Caroline Chisholm. I was a bit hard up for a relevant saint's day! This year I went with a Cyclist's Lamentation from New Zealander Annie Welborn, wailing and gnashing of teeth over missing a bike on ebay written as a very traditional Church of England prayer. I made this interactive as well. Caroline Chisholm was an Australian saint, so it was an Antipodal service. We stuck with Amazing Gears for the hymn but actually had the music written out this time. This ride started off on Saturday with the temperature in the 40s.

The 2010 Blessing of the Bicycles was for Whitsun Eve, as Pentecost was near, and we returned to the Cyclist's Apocrypha and did The Flood and the Ten Commandments portion, slightly adapted. For the first time, we also switched hymns, to I Sing a Song of the Chaps on Bikes, an adaptation of Lesbia Scott's I Sing a Song of the Saints of God. There was another moment of silence, this time for midwestern bike nerd Phil Wood, who died earlier this year.

In 2010 we went from just a songsheet to The Vicar's Hymnal with all the songs we sing. This repertoire keeps growing but currently includes our versions of folk songs (Danny Boy, Loch Lomond), hymns (Amazing Grace, Comfort, Comfort Ye My People) and even a 1930s Cycle Touring Club song (I Like to Jump Upon A Bike). We have actual music for most of these and a short bit about the original underlying piece. The lyrics are generally tailored to the Three Speed Tour specifically, but perhaps they'll inspire you to write your own.

The 2011 Blessing of the Bicycles was for The Rapture. Elderly Christian talk show host Harold Camping had predicted, based on a close study of the numerology of the Bible, that the Saturday of the Three Speed Tour was the day that Christians would ascend to heaven (around 6PM, though it wasn't clear if that was Eastern time or Central), and that the Earth and the universe would be destroyed October 21. He was pretty confident about this, his prior prediction of September 6, 1994 having been predicated on incomplete information. A lot of his followers sold all their stuff travelled around warning us to get ready. The fact that this paragraph is written in past tense might be a clue that Camping got it wrong again, and the Three Speed Tour carried on undisturbed on Sunday and not just because we were lacking in good Christians to get raptured. This is Year A in the Blessing of the Bicycles Liturgical calendar, based on Genesis Chapters 2 & 3, in which Adam and Eve get thrown out of the Garden of Eden. On the ride this year it was pissing down rain early on Saturday and then we had big thunderstorms Sunday afternoon starting at the Brew Up from the same system that hit Northeast Minneapolis with a tornado. This did lead to the discovery of B. Wells Bar (aka the Tornado Bar) in Frontenac Station, a regular Sunday stopping point ever since.

The 2012 Blessing of the Bicycles returned to our Feast Day, St. Dunstan's Day, and the non-Biblical adaptation of Shakespeare's St. Crispin's Day speech from Henry V.

And cyclists everywhere now-a-bed,
Shall think themselves accurs╩╣d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That rode with us upon Saint Dunstan's day.

Stirring stuff, that, makes you want to go out and shoot a Frenchman with a longbow. Or ride to Wabasha on your bicycle, it can be taken a couple of different ways. St. Dunstan's interrupts the usual Liturgical Calendar and is used when the ride falls on St. Dunstan's Day. This is the ride where Shirt Tail Organizer Jon Sharratt broke his French crank arm in Reads Landing on Sunday. Sunday was also pretty chilly and overcast for most of the day but at least there were no thunderstorms.

The 2013 Blessing of the Bicycles was Whitsun Eve. Sunday of the 3ST was Pentecost, Whitsunday. In Britain, the newly baptized would wear white robes, hence the White Sunday, Whitsun. Also in Britain, Whitsun Ales (referring both to beer specifically and boisterous celebrations generally) were popular and involved boys and men getting drunk in the streets, young people dancing, bowling, and shooting their bows and otherwise carrying on with an enthusiasm more vigorous than the strictly religious celebration required. The Vicar is all for observing these traditions and expects rigorous observance from his congregation! This year the Tornado Bar worked against us; lingering a bit too long meant a group of us was caught by a massive thunderstorm just short of Red Wing and had to take to the ditch or other cover. The reading is the Cyclist's Lamentation by Annie from New Zealand and in the Blessing liturgical calendar is Year B.

The 2014 Blessing of the Bicycles celebrated the feast day of the obscure Saint Madern, who lived and died in a hermitage near Lands End in Cornwall. Yeah, I'd never heard of him either. He was cured from an affliction by waters from a well near Lands End in Cornwall. This well is said to still be venerated in the Celtic tradition but my main familiarity with Celtic Christianity comes from watching Father Ted and I don't recall any mention of it. This is the first Tour in memory with no rain whatsoever. Ever other year we've had at least a modest sprinkle. This year: nothing.


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by Matthew Cole, Saint Paul, Minnesota