Three for Three…. Tandem Club Rides in August that is.

Well, we went three-for-three on tandem club rides this month!  A huge thank you to Roger & Eve for hosting all of these rides. It brought back fond memories of our very early years together when “the usual suspects” would get together just about every Sunday morning for a tandem ride somewhere in the metro Atlanta area followed by lunch.  It just made for a great routine.  Of course, that was also when there weren’t nearly as many demands on everyone’s time.

The third PEACHES ride for August was a 48-mile loop out in Cumming, Georgia that put us on familiar roads from July’s ride out in Alpharetta, albeit with a few different twists.

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Photo by Eve Kofsky

I think this just underscores how popular the riding is north of Atlanta in the Woodstock, Milton & Alpharetta areas.  The turn-out was on par with the previous rides. I sometimes suspect that we’d be able to get more folks to show up if we hosted a luncheon with an optional ride instead of the other way around: turn-out for the annual PEACHES planning party is always 3x – 4x as large as the average ride!!

Can you figure out who was photoshopped into the picture so that everyone was in the photo?

Can you figure out who was photo-shopped into the picture so that everyone was in the photo?

I should also note, it’s been great to be back on the tandem and bicycles. When the weather cooperates and there aren’t other pressing demands, such as birthdays (grand child #4) and the arrival of fifth grand child on Thursday morning, Debbie has been getting out for a 25-mile late afternoon ride when she gets home from work and we’ve been very good about getting in at least one tandem ride each weekend, if not two when time allows.  I’ve even started to get out after work for a short off-road ride in the trails near our home and that has been a welcome addition to my daily routine.

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Photo by Eve Kofsky

I should probably note that this was just the start of a rather ambitious day of ‘riding’ for us.  During the ride I’d posted out a photo of us taking a mid-ride break on Facebook and when we finished the ride I found a comment from a friend who said they were going to invite us to join them for a ‘ride’ (motorcycle) but could see that we were already tied up.

Knowing that they don’t typically head out until around noon, I shot back a message to let them know that we might be able to meet them at their destination, depending on when they left and where they were going.  The destination was Chattanooga and departure time was slipping to the right.

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Julie looks on as Chuck makes short work of a massive cupcake. That’s Don working on his in the background.

To make a long story short, we were able to get home, cleaned-up and meet-up with our friends for a big-bike ride to Chattanooga where we had a light meal at Sugar’s and desert before heading back home: about a 200-mile round trip.  We got caught in a little rain on the way up — of course there was zero chance of rain in the forecast — and had a humid-cool ride home.  We capped off the day with a late night pizza and beer at Olde Towne Tavern & Grille before calling it a night.

Just a great day!

Posted in Club & Org Notices, Tandem Folks | Leave a comment

A Good Week of Cycling…. For a Change!!!

It was a good week of cycling for Team TG…

After getting in two days on the tandem last weekend, Debbie was able to get out on her single bike for a 25-mile post work, early evening ride on Monday through Thursday… something she truly enjoys and that she’s not been able to do for quite some time.

garmin705Of course, with her return to regular weeknight riding came the reminder that her 10-year old Garmin Edge 305 (a hand-me-down from yours truly) was still having issues, e.g., cutting-out for no particular reason.  I picked up a previously owned Garmin Edge 705 and she’s now quite happy with it.  I even figured out why I couldn’t get my own Garmin Edge 705 to take .gpx file uploads (aka, GPS route maps) once I had the second one to compare it to: turns out, my Garmin is missing all kinds of system files and folders.  She was really thrilled with how the GPS route maps worked! So, I’ve got a very happy cyclist with a new-to-her toy.

As for this past weekend, we were able to get out for a very nice 25-mile tandem ride from the house on Saturday morning before it got too hot. It’s been great making time to get out on the tandem two times per weekend and something we hope to do up and until we hop on the big Harley and head to Thunder Beach at Panama City Beach in early October and then get a second helping of big bike fun at Biketoberfest in Daytona Beach later in the month.

Today we joined a few teams for the 2nd of three Tandem Club of Georgia rides being hosted by Roger Strauss & Eve Kofsky in August.  It was out in Covington, about an hour and 10-minute drive from our home.  The ride start was at 9:00am so we were out of the house by 7:20am, just to make sure we didn’t miss the start as we did last week.

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It was a very nice ride with a total of 7 teams on bikes and an 8th team that had to call an audible when they had a pretty serious bike issue on their way to the ride.  Uh, yeah… whilst moving a long at freeway speeds it somehow became detached from either the rack or the rack with bike somehow became detached from the car: not quite sure as we didn’t want to ask them to relive the episode.  Suffices to say, there was definitely some damage but, again, the extent is unknown to me.

The one thing that this ride had that no other tandem ride has had this year was searing heat!!!  I mean, it was HOT… The kind of HOT we haven’t had yet this summer: 95°F with very high humidity and poor air quality.  We were definitely “spent” by the end of the 48-mile ride and more than ready to sit down for a post-ride meal at Bullrito’s.  I was able to score a cold Bud Lite along with my soft drink and that really took the edge off after the hot ride.  Yeah, yeah… I know. Alcoholic beverages are not the correct thing to consume when  you need to re-hydrated but, what the heck: I earned it and I’m old enough to know what works for me!!!!

I will say that I may take my tool box to next week’s third of three August tandem club rides as there were a number of noisy tandems on today’s ride.  There was one tandem with FSA cranks where the rear crank clearly wasn’t installed with enough torque on the crank bolt; a common issue with FSA tandem cranks.  There was another tandem that has either a noisy from skewer, hub or eccentric: not quite sure about that one.  And, last but not least there was an older tandem with conventional bottom brackets where the rear bottom bracket seems to be a little light on torque as well.

I’d actually vanquished my own persistent front wheel noise before today’s ride — one of those pesky hub end caps on White Industry hubs that tend to loosen-up — so I was pretty pleased that we weren’t contributing to the symphony of mechanical noises.  However, I also realized how dirty our tandem had gotten so it got a quick wash down after today’s ride when I got back home.  I also cleaned and re-lubricated the chains and polished the cranks which had collected some nasty stains.  So, we should be in pretty good shape next weekend.

We also got in some ride time on our big Harley “Blue” Saturday afternoon, had a nice evening out with “dinner and a movie” on Saturday and of course the regular list of house hold chores thrown in to fill-in the gaps.

 

Posted in Bloggishnish, Club & Org Notices, Technology & Equip. | Leave a comment

Motorists Are Just Getting Worse…. A Rant.

Sorry, no cute photos or links to videos here: just a serious rant about the deteriorating situation that exists for cyclists who refuse to give up their right to share the road.

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There’s been a lot of social media attention brought to bear on a few motorists who have taken to Social Media and YouTube to express their disdain for cyclists.  I featured one such case from Alabama in a recent blog entry and there have been at least two or three other “prominent” social media uprisings aimed at a ditzy chick from California who was also a reserve police officer who expressed her desire to “run down” cyclists, a city mayor from some small city out west who got in to an on-road dispute with a seasoned cyclist racer, a couple of kids in a big Dodge Ram diesel pick-up on PCH out in Orange County California and of course very close to home we had  a long-time friend who was truly assaulted with deadly intent by a motorist who used their SUV as a weapon to run down our friend after a verbal altercation.

As truly bad and un-defendable as these actions and statements are just on face value — really, you want to run-down another human being because they impeded your progress in a 4,000 lb vehicle for 20 seconds? — the larger issue is that motorist skills have simply eroded to the point where a large percentage of people behind the wheel of cars have no business being there.

Seriously, the poor judgement I see exhibited by motorists on a daily basis while driving, riding my motorcycles or cycling is mind-boggling.  I really don’t worry so much about being run-down by a motorist who simply hates cyclists — Good Lord, Why? Please, oh please share your insights on that with me so that I can understand… as it truly seems to be on par with why religious extremists hate people who subscribe to a different belief system — as I do about the people sitting behind the wheel of a car who have 90% of their attention focused on something other than driving.

On yesterday’s tandem ride, we were cycling side-by-side with Randy & Claudia Rowe on our way back into Taylorsville about 40 miles into our 44 mile ride on a slightly hilly and curvy section of road when a beat-up green Ford Crown Victoria following a late-model car far too closely crossed the center line and began to bear down on Randy & Claudia. Thankfully, the inattentive african american driver who had his oh-so obvious Mac iPhone or iPod white ear phones plugged in and whose completion attention was focused down to some place near the bottom of the steering wheel were he was most likely holding his phone or iPod had his window down and it was only Randy’s outcry of ‘HEY’ that made him look up and quickly correct his steering to put himself back into his own lane that kept us from having a disaster on our hands.   Yes, time truly does slow down when disaster strikes: I can clearly recall that much detail.

On today’s ride I had a “mother” with her daughter in the car pass us within 50′ of a stop sign, clearly cutting us off so she could make her right turn while we were signaling a left turn: God help you if you were delayed by 10 seconds in your haste to get to….????

We also had at least a dozen vehicles “buzz us” on Due West Road — remembering that Georgia has a stealth law called the Better Cycling Bill that includes a 3′ safe passing distance requirement that only serious road cyclists know about — putting our lives in danger without a thought other than “why hell are these idiots on the road slowing me down” as they were no doubt running late for Sunday services where they’d spend an hour listening and agreeing with their pastor’s sermon about the need to practice patience, tolerance and have love for thy fellow-man.  Well, at least love for the folks who happen to belong to their particular religious club.

Yes, if you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m one of “those people” who, like the founding fathers of the United States, believes there is some higher being that we generically refer to as “God” but beyond that level of “faith” in those things that seem to be controlled by non-scientific “fate” rely on science for our understanding of why things happen.  In other words, I tend to spend my Sundays on a bicycle or motorcycle enjoying the world that God created for us (noting there’s still not a good scientific explanation for how this physical world we live in came to be, just theories yet to be proven beyond doubt) thinking about God than sitting around listening to some colorful speaker talk about his understanding of a religious text while I sat there day dreaming about being out on our tandem or motorcycle enjoying God’s creation — Earth — with my soul mate.

Back to motorists, the number of “drivers” who I now see with a phone at their ear or beneath their gaze as they text while driving is mind-numbing.  Clearly, at least 60-70% of the people I see behind the wheel of cars have their attention focused on a phone conversation or reading an Email, Text, FaceBook post or “cat videos” while “guiding” their 4,000 lb lethal weapon down the road.  The number of distracted motorists I see on a daily basis suggests that a lot of pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists will be killed in the future, at far higher rates that we have seen in the past.  Moreover, read-end collisions will clearly be the norm rather than the exception.

Seriously, it’s not hard to pick out who’s texting and driving or watching cat videos while driving a car. They look and behave just like drunk or stoned motorists who drift towards the center of the lane into the on-coming lane or shoulder of the road and then make abrupt corrections to put themselves back in the lane before returning their attention to that all-important text or video.

Sadly, it’s not hard to find reports / videos / blog entries regarding the increasing number of motorist “kills” and “suicides” caused by “smart phone” technology, never mind screwing around with on-board infotainment systems, GPS and other things that take their attention off the road.

Now, bear in mind, most motorists these days seem to have generally poor driving skills to begin with, as well as poor judgement about driving situations.  Add to that 2nd or 3rd generation animosity towards cyclists — and I’m still clueless why motorists harbor anger towards cyclists as much as your average dog — that cause 16-year olds like the one in the passenger seat of a Nissan pickup last Saturday on lightly traveled Holland Road to flip-off the lovely Miss Debbie — a grandmother of 5 who was doing nothing more than riding placidly along a backroad — and me as they drove by easily exceeding the 35 mph posted speed limit by 15 mph: yeah, bicycles are the problem…

It’s just a sad and sorry situation that will get worse before it gets better: you mark my words.

Posted in Advice & Commentary | 7 Comments

August PEACHES Ride: #2 Taylorsville, Georgia

Roger Strauss & Eve Kofsky signed-up to host the Georgia Tandem Club (aka, PEACHES) monthly tandem ride for August and decided to raise the bar on the “monthly tandem ride” by hosting four rides.

This was fine by us, as we’ve been doing our best to get out and ride our tandem on both Saturday and Sunday mornings from the house and having the chance to ride with friends in some different locations would be a nice change.  As much as we enjoy riding the motorcycle as a form of recreation, it doesn’t do much for your fitness and health and lacks the sense of accomplishment that has served us so well since we started tandem cycling some 17 years ago.  But I digress…

The first August PEACHES ride was to be down near Newnan, Georgia on Sunday, August 3rd and cancelled due to a lack of interest / rainy weather forecast.

The second ride was held yesterday on Saturday, August 9th out in Taylorsville, Georgia.  Regular readers may recall I have a mild case of dyslexia that seems to mess with my ability to keep track of numbers, days and dates: yes, it’s very frustrating at times but I’ve been dealing with it most of my life.  So, even though I’d noted when the events were on the kitchen calendar, going into the weekend I had it my head the ride would be on Sunday. Since we were having spotty weather again this weekend I’d decided to hold off on RSVP’ing until Saturday evening after doing a weather check for Sunday.

When I woke up on Saturday morning I decided to check the calendar “just to be sure” I had the day right as I now was thinking I’d once again gotten my dates confused: sure enough.  The weather was iffy so I sent off a late-breaking Email to Roger & Eve to see if the ride was still on and went to see if Debbie would be interested in quickly getting ready so we could make the ride start.  Never heard back from Roger & Eve, but to be fair they’d probably left their house already and were on their way to Taylorsville.
Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 5.11.49 PMTaylorsville is about a 40 minute drive for us so we really needed to be out of the house and on our way by 8:10am to make it in time for the 9:00am ride start.  Well, we hit the road at 8:20am and I was able to make great time… three times!  Unfortunately, as soon as I had us “back in the box’ with an 8:55 arrival time we ran into some type of a delay. The first was a road closure, the second was slow traffic near Cartersville and the third and coup de grace was a piece of farm equipment going 10mph on a 5 mile stretch of 55mph road that had been reduced to two lanes from four for construction with no ability for us to pass the 9 cars and semi that were backed up behind the tractor.  Ugggg.

When we pulled into the parking lot in Taylorsville at 9:08 it was clear the four other couples who decided to do the ride had already headed off. Thankfully, Eve had left an extra route map on the back of their car so we’d at least be able to enjoy the route and possibly catch up at the 13-mile store stop.

It was a cloudy start to the ride with a little light rain mixed in, but conditions continued to improve throughout the morning in defiance of the weather forecast.  As hoped, we found our friends at the 13-mile store stop and were able to join them for the rest of the ride.

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The Taylorsville ride is one we’ve done once before and it truly is a wonderful ride with flat to rolling terrain and just a couple of moderate climbs through very rural, lightly traffic’d areas.  However, in all of our years of tandem club rides I don’t think we’ve ever been caught by a train: we were caught by two on yesterday’s ride!

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We had a good time riding with Roger & Eve, Randy & Claudia Rowe, John & Mitzi Boland and Bob & Kay O’Neil and followed that up with a very nice post-ride lunch at “udder delights”, a small family restaurant and ice cream parlor out near Taylorsville.

As is often times the case, these PEACHES ride days pretty much consume the better part of a weekend day. We arrived home around 3:15 which didn’t leave much time for getting to work on any projects around the house before it’d be time to clean up for dinner and an evening out. But, it was truly a great way to spend the day, so no worries and we’re looking forward to a second helping next Sunday out in Covington.

Posted in Club & Org Notices, Events, Tandem Folks | Leave a comment

How Do I Get My Tandem Through The Airport Bill?

Photo shamelessly poached from Santana’s Website. Yeah, that’s Bill stoking and getting busted “doin’ biznezz’ at the same time!

Bill McCready of Santana Tandems is someone we’re fortunate enough to have spent time visiting with on two Santana tours and via countless hours on-line or on the phone.  He truly was the driving force behind the American tandem cycling renaissance that paralleled his career as a tandem enthusiast and entrepreneur / founder of Santana Cycles.  He was also a pioneer when it came to marketing and selling the tandem lifestyle and Santana’s tandem tours & rallies have long been the benchmark for tandem cycling vacations.

Of course, if you have to fly to get to one of these events the prospect of attempting to get your tandem bicycle onto an aircraft without spending hundreds of dollars or otherwise having a traumatic beginning and end to an otherwise wonderful vacation can indeed give one pause as they ask themselves: how do I do this.  Or, more to the point, cause Santana’s clients to call the home office out in LaVerne, California to ask, “How do I get my tandem through the airport Bill?”

Having been asked that question hundreds of times over the years, Bill sat down and drafted the first edition of “Bill’s Tips for Traveling.”  A plethora of information that answers just about every question a would-be traveller with a tandem in tow might ask.  As you can imagine, the earlier versions published before 9/11 and the advent of the TSA, baggage restrictions and astronomical baggage related fees is quite different from the more current revisions.

Bill recently sent me a copy of the 2014 appended to an Email from someone who had asked “the question” after Bill and Jan had recently returned from a trip to Kona for a Santana tandem rally wherein he noted:

Tom,

Another uneventful check-in. Well tipped sky cap handled our 5 checked items (that included 2 tandems in SafeCases) for free. Then lead the way to oversize check in, where he tagged the bike and put it through while I pulled out my credit card and paid a “bicycle fee” of $100 .


6 items including 3 tandems for $100. YMMV.


Don’t phone the airline!!!

-Bill

As he noted to Tom in reference to “Bill’s Tips for Traveling,” read it twice!  You can find Bill’s comprehensive collection of tips — and I do mean comprehensive; it’ll take a good 15 minutes to read through them twice — in three different ways:

  1. You can download the .pdf version that Bill sent to me by clicking HERE.
  2. You can find it in three parts on Santana’s Website by clicking HERE.
  3. You can call or write to Bill at Santana and I’m sure he’ll send you a copy!

Well worth your time as you plan your vacation!

 

Posted in Commercial Tours, Events, Tandem Rallies | 1 Comment

Oh… Yeah. That’s Why We Used To Be Stronger Riders!

Well, we were treated to a big old piece of humble pie yesterday morning when we decided to join a Saturday morning group ride of single bikes.  It’s known at the Saturday morning ‘Sky Loop’.  Long time readers may recall we last rode this route (not the organized ride) on the tandem back in 2010 as part of an impromptu “pop-up” PEACHES ride where just one other couple took us up on our invitation to come out for a weekend spin.

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Back when we last participated in the organized group ride the folks who showed up were what I’ll call civilian cyclists: folks who were avid riders who rode hard on the weekends, but not hammer-heads who train all week long, race on the weekends, and use rides like these to fill in the gaps.  We were able to hang with that group for the entire ride which made for a nice outing. Sadly, we weren’t able to make it a regular thing.

Well, when we arrived at the starting point yesterday imagine my surprise when with few exceptions all of the folks who showed up were 30 to early 50 something guys with $4k racing bikes who looked very serious about their cycling.  There were one or two riders who, along with us, didn’t fit the bill as hammerheads:  we were likely the oldest folks there and of course the only people on a tandem.  The guys were all pretty nice and few chatted us up before the start.  There was a glimmer of hope that we’d be able to hang with them for a few miles before getting shelled out the back, but it was just a glimmer.

Once we rolled out of the parking lot and hit the road the pace quickly jumped to 18-20 mph during the warm-up and that glimmer of hope quickly began to fade as it cranked up to the low 20’s.  I think we found ourselves getting dropped just after the 2nd or 3rd mile as the group had a tendency to make hard accelerations when they hit the climbs.

We weren’t the slowest riders, as there was one gentleman who got dropped during the first 1/4 mile who knew all of the short cuts, i.e., we’d see him turn off behind us and then show up coming in on a cross street a few minutes later.  There was also another rider who was sitting on the back of the group who didn’t quite look like he was able to ride at the level of the other riders who eventually got dropped.  One of the regular riders, perhaps even one of the current ride leaders, fell back to shepherd us along as it is billed as a no-drop ride.  We told him to go on as we knew the route and had a map, but he politely suggested that he was nursing a bad knee and didn’t plan on riding hard.  He ended up guiding us and one other rider to the store stop at 19 miles.

As we approached the store stop Debbie and I decided that neither of us really needed to stop and waved at our guide and the rest of the group as we by-passed the store and continued on to make it a non-stop 36-mile ride.  I was familiar with the route which was good as the original road markings were pretty hard to see and aside from one map check we didn’t lose our way.

Well, sort of… I somehow missed the turn back to the starting point along the Silver Comet trail and we ended up riding another 2.5 miles before I came to grips with my error.  So, all told, we ended up making it a 41.5 mile ride, about 1.5 miles than the standard route.

We rode hard over the entire route, which was the goal and purpose of attending the group ride.  As expected, we were both spent with aching legs from the higher intensity effort and I think that’s a good thing. In years past, it was ‘hanging with the single bike riders’ on group rides like these that kept us in shape and gave us the legs that let us ride with the big dogs at tandem rallies.  So, while it was a humbling experience, it did remind us why these types of rides are important.

On the down side, my sweetie was pretty much spent and aside from getting to the nail salon for a noon appointment, she used the rest of the day to recover.  I fought off the urge to “chill” by immediately jumping into my weekend chores: cutting the lawn and other yard work under the hot noon-day sun, oil changes for my BMW R1100S commuter motorcycle and the black Harley-Davidson Wide Glide that doesn’t see all that much use these days. I followed up the oil change on the Harley with a trip to buy new rain gear for my daily motorcycle commute as my 7-year old gear didn’t quite get the job done on Friday when I rode home in a pretty strong thunderstorm.  Thankfully I’d elected to dress down on Friday and didn’t end up with soaked suit pants and a big dry-cleaning bill.

We ended the afternoon with a stout batch of frosty Margaritas before heading off to dinner at our usual place with our usual friends.  The evening was spent back at the house relaxing on the breezeway.

A good day, to be sure!

Posted in Bloggishnish, Health & Fitness | 3 Comments

Tandem Time in Tennessee over the 4th of July Holiday

Intro & Getting Ready For the Trip To Tennessee

Regular readers may recall that Debbie’s employer shuts down for a week at Christmas and around the 4th of July as a way of managing production workforce efficiency during what would normally be weeks with low productivity due to personal leaves of absence for holiday vacations.  Last year we did a vacation at home for ½ of this same week and then headed down to Key West for the last four days.

10502455_736732689698149_197510544094218948_nThis year we split the week three ways with 3 days spent visiting my folks in Pennsylvania, then two days back at home and the final four days dedicated to a motorcycle trip to Tennessee for some down time and tandem cycling with friends at “Club Fred”… aka, a freeloader weekend!

The visit to Pennsylvania was a bit of a whirlwind trip in that we made the 11-hour / 772-mile drive up on Saturday and arrived around 5:00pm then headed back home at 6:30pm on Monday, arriving back home after an “all-nighter” around 5:30am.  I got about 3 hours of sleep before diving into the post trip chores on Tuesday.  Wednesday was a busy day in that I needed to have a new rear tire installed on our Harley-Davidson Road King, aka, “Blue” along with getting in a tandem ride, doing some yard work and packing for the trip to Tennessee.

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The packing was made a bit more interesting in that we’d taking our take-apart tandem with us in our Bushtec motorcycle trailer.  Hauling the tandem around with the motorcycle was an idea that came to me during our drive over to Cullman, Alabama for last year’s Southern Tandem Rally in September and it was the primary motivation for finding the used Bushtec trailer.  However, up and until this trip, the Bushtec had only been pressed into service for non-cycling trips to Daytona, Panama City Beach and Nashville, Tennessee.

With a fresh rear tire on ‘Blue’ and our tandem ride completed, I quickly knocked down the Calfee into a semi-compact state for transporting in the trailer.

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The level of disassembly is far less than is needed for putting it into suitcases for air travel:

  • the wheels come off and go into two separate wheel bags;
  • the timing chain comes off and goes into a small storage bag (no mess with wax lube);
  • the stoker’s section top and bottom tubes are removed with the S&S couplings to create two major frame sections and those two tubes along with the frame pump go in a special bag that I made out of marine vinyl;
  • the rear section goes into a large protective marine vinyl bag that I made  with everything else still attached, e.g., cranks, pedals, stoker’s saddle with tool bag & rear tail light still in place; and
  • the captain’s saddle and stoker bars come off, but the rest of the front section goes into another large protective bag without any further disassembly.
  • That’s it… about 5 minutes to take apart another 5 minutes to pack in the protective bags and then into the trailer it all goes, along with duffle bags that hold our cycling clothing, street clothes and other personal items.

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Thursday, July 3rd and the ride up

20140703_141439We rolled out of the driveway around 9:30am on a beautiful day with mild temperatures and mostly sunny skies and arrived at our first stop in Tellico Plains, Tennessee about 1 hour and 20 minutes later. That first stop was Kat’s deli which, IMHO, is one of the best places to eat in Tellico Plains. Our friend and host for the weekend in Tennessee, Tim, was already there eating lunch and waiting for us to arrive as he was going to join us for the scenic drive over the Cherohala Skyway to Robbinsville, North Carolina where we’d turn North and head into Maryville, Tennessee via US 129, aka. The Dragon’s Tail.

Words can’t really do these rides justice so I’ve decided to simply include a link to the composite video that I made during the scenic ride over the Skyway and through the Dragon.

 

patioWe arrived at Tim & Sharon’s home nestled in a cove on the Tennessee River around 3:30pm where we found our friends Eric & Linda from Atlanta and Denny & Stephanie from Chattanooga had already arrived and settled-in for a leisurely afternoon.  Shortly after we arrived our friend & frequent guest stoker on our triplet, Lisa, arrived: she’d be riding with Tim on Friday, Saturday & Sunday.  I had the trailer unpacked and the tandem built back up in about 30 minutes after we arrived,  after which we got into some serious relaxing ahead of a wonderful homemade dinner (shrimp etoufee ) on their deck that lasted well into the evening.

Friday, July 4th

Friday began with breakfast out on the patio, everyone pretty much munching on whatever they decided to bring along for breakfast.

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The target mileage for Friday was around 30 as none of us had been getting in any serious cycling miles; a far cry from previous years when these get-togethers and tandem rallies were suffer-fests where we were all hammering each other into the ground.  The moderate mileage goal allowed us all to sleep in a bit before the appointed departure time of 9:00am.

Friday’s ride was very nice, even a bit cool at the start.  We rode the 30 miles without a stop and covered a lot of familiar roads from previous year’s visits and the Tennessee Tandem Rallies that Tim & Sharon hosted for 10 years.

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We were back at the house before noon and had lunch by the pool while being entertained by Kylie, Tim & Sharon’s new Australia Shepherd puppy.  We spent the better part of the afternoon out on Tim & Sharon’s very luxurious pontoon boat exploring the shores of the Tennessee River and seeing how the 1% lived: many of the homes, boat houses and boats that adorn the lakeside lots are eye watering, to say the least.

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We enjoyed cocktails and another homemade dinner (chicken & steak tacos with chorizo quesadillas) out on the patio and deck next to the pool at Tim & Sharon’s home and then headed back out to the lake on the pontoon boat to watch fireworks being shot-off from homes along the lake and local communities.  There were a couple of very impressive lakeside home shows, but not so much from the surrounding communities that were visible from the lake.

We retired back to the house and pretty much everyone retired for the night before 11:00pm.

Saturday, July 5th

Saturday began like Friday with breakfast out on the patio.  Today’s ride would be something closer to 40 miles and once again we targeted 9:00am for our departure so that we’d be off the road before the hottest part of the day and back at the house around lunch time.

For Saturday’s ride I elected to capture some video from two of our three GoPro cameras, with one mounted on my handlebars facing forward and another on my helmet facing backwards.  Again, if a picture’s worth a thousand words, then this video should cover most of the important ride details, i.e., good times with great friends spent cycling in some of the most beautiful countryside you’ll find.

 

Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in my attempt to clear the SD cards on the two cameras that I took with us on Saturday, so the SD cards filled-up before we finished the ride, hence the unusual ending shot. The same had been true on Thursday’s motorcycle ride where the batteries died ½ way through the Tail of the Dragon. I still had more than enough video, but the closing shot was a bit contrived.  In other words, I’m still learning more about these little cameras and clearly have a lot to learn.

After left-over shrimp etoufee and tacos for lunch we headed back out on the pontoon boat to explore parts of the Tennessee River that we hadn’t covered on Friday’s tour.  Some of the homes and homesites we saw on Saturday were actually in the realm of “moderately affordable” for upper middle class types. Again, still too rich for our blood short of a lottery win, but good to see nonetheless… not that I’m a boat person, as I’m not.  I love to sail, but lake sailing is too frustrating and power boats make even our very expensive Harley-Davidson motorcycles seem like chump change by comparison, never mind the cost of boat houses, fuel and maintenance associated with ownership.

Saturday evening had us back on the patio and deck for another lovely home-made dinner, this time featuring beef tenderloin wrapped with bacon and other yummy stuff followed by an awesome New York cheesecake made by Sharon.  I was chased away from the dinner table by mosquitoes and the nagging desire to finish editing and publishing my video composite from the morning ride and that’s how I finished the evening.  No kidding, I’ve really got to either figure out how to monetize the time I spend doing on-line “stuff” and blogging or simply knock it off.  I spend way too much time looking at computers and writing for really no good reason.

Oh, and lest I forget to mention it, we were treated to the most amazing fireworks display we’d ever seen when Mariner’s Village launched into what seemed like a 10-minute long show with hundreds of air bursts going off around 9:45pm that we could see just over the tree line.

Sunday, July 6th and the ride home

I think everyone slept in a little longer on Sunday than the previous two days, but the day’s ride was only going to be about 18-miles. So, a short ride allowed for a slightly later start at 9:30.  Once again, just a delightful route and good company: sadly, Denny & Stephanie had to leave on Saturday night so it was just us along with Tim & Lisa and Eric & Linda.

The plan for lunch was actually a plan for brunch which would entail a fairly-long boat ride over to the Lakeside Tavern in Knoxville.  We thought out joining our friends, but ultimately decided that it would put us back home far too late in the early evening to work with our pre-Monday to-do list.  So, we let it be known that we’d be heading home as they headed off to the Lakeside Tavern before we started our ride.

Once we returned from the ride I had the tandem broken down and packed in about 20 minutes. It took another 30 minutes or so to shower and pack up the rest of our things in the trailer before heading off for home on ‘Blue’ around 11:00am.

We had a lovely ride home on a new route for us: Tennessee Route 68 through the Chattahoochee National Forest.  It added a good 30 minutes to our drive time but was so much more scenic than the more direct route home on US Route 411.  It also allowed us to stop for lunch at Harvest on Main in Blue Ridge which was also a nice treat.  In the interest of time I did elect to skip the more scenic but also much longer trip over Yukon Road to Jones & Burnt Mountains that would have kept us off of the 70 mph, semi-freeway known as Route 515 for 20 miles.  But, after being away from home for four days and with over 150 miles of twisty mountain roads under our belt, faster seemed to be the right choice.

We arrived back at home around 4:00pm and immediately started back with several loads of laundry while washing road grime off of ‘Blue’ and the trailer.  Debbie also had a number of phone calls to make and we finally had enough of our chores done by 7:30pm that we were able to take a break for a quick dinner at Loco Willy’s.  We split a burger, had a couple margaritas and just enjoyed the moment before heading back home to get ready for the return to work in the morning.

It was truly a great weekend and being able to combine motorcycling with tandem cycling made for a very special vacation experience that  we’d like to repeat in the future.

Posted in Events, Motorcycling Events & Trips, Tandem Folks | 2 Comments