Note: This is the fifth in a six-part series of blog entries regarding our Santana Rally in Chattanooga. The Introduction can be found HERE, Day 1 can be found HERE, Day 2 can be found HERE and Day 3 can be found HERE.
As foreshadowed in the last paragraph of my Day 3 entry, Sunday started rather early for me around 4:00 am as I’d gone to bed way too early on Saturday evening. On the bright side, it gave me time to catch up on Email and a few other things before knocking out a few more paragraphs on my Santana weekend blog entries.
Because today was the last day of the event, and just like our 1999 Santana Mother’s Day Rally in Asheville, North Carolina (yes, I was writing journals back then as well), today would start out with a Continental Breakfast as Sunday brunch would be served around 11:00 am so that rally goers could begin to make their trips back home shortly after noon. This was a good thing for me, as I was able to dive into the muffins and O.J. around 6:30 am, noting I’d already been up over two hours by then.
As a follow-on to the previous days minor cue sheet issues, today’s cue sheets became the subject of various one-on-one pre-ride meetings by Jack & Susan Goertz since there wasn’t a formal pre-ride meeting on the schedule. Part of the change was actually a simplification of the ride start that cut out several unnecessary turns and about .6 miles by taking a shortcut out of Coolidge Park onto Manufacturers Road. The other parts involved one street name edit and some added emphasis on where to look for turns, more so than any major changes or corrections to the cue sheet. Jack and I did a virtual ride of the Sunday route on my laptop using Google Maps and that helped to clarify a number of potential issues that were baked-into the pre-ride updates.
Today’s primary destination was Moccasin Bend, followed by a trip up and over the hillside community above Coolidge Park. As on previous days, there was no clear start time so riders trickled off the Delta Queen with their tandems and headed off in pairs or small groups. Our friends from Florida decided to pass on the Sunday ride as they had a long drive and wanted to get on the road early. However, we were able to find our other friends from Pennsylvania when we arrived at the street in front of the Delta Queen for the start of our ride. So, we headed out together and enjoyed each others company for one last ride before we went our separate ways.
We were able to successfully navigate the Sunday route with only one minor mis-cue where we mis-read a right turn as a left turn. Of course, per Murphy’s Law, the erroneous left turn took us downhill such that our course correction now required an extra climb. Speaking of climbs, there were actually several stout climbs on Sunday’s ride… none of which proved to be a problem for our Santana Beyond’s compact drive’s gearing.
About 1/2 way through the Sunday ride we found ourselves back on some of the same roads that we rode on the short, 25 mile Sunday ride at the 2007 Southern Tandem Rally… which made me wish I’d downloaded the maps and cue sheets from STR as that would have been a nice ride option into more rural areas than where we found ourselves today. I’ll talk a little bit more about STR 2007 in my sixth and final Blog entry in this series, something I’ve decided to entitle “A Tale of Two Rallies”. Anyway, as we made our way back towards Coolidge Park the roads suddenly looked very familiar as we’d ridden these same roads several times in a number of different trips to Chattanooga over the years. It was a good ride, albeit somewhat short at only 16 miles.
When we arrived back at the Delta Queen the valets had already lined all of our cars up along the curb and, as luck would have it, our truck was parked right along side the Goertz’s truck, noting they’d be taking the Santana Beyond we’d ridden back to Tandems Limited in Birmingham after the rally. So, I dropped Debbie at the walk way to the Delta Queen and rode on over to our truck to begin the final parts swap-out of the weekend. It took about 10 minutes to remove our pedals, water bottle cages, computer mounts, tail light and swap out our saddles for the Terry Fly and Butterfly saddles that were on the Santana when we arrived. About the time I had the Santana all squared away Jack and Susan Goertz rolled-up after their ride and I bid a fond farewell to the tandem we grew to become quite fond of over the weekend. More on that in a future Blog entry as well.
With all of the tandem gear stowed back in our truck and ready for the trip home, I headed onto the Delta Queen to take my final shower in our state-room before packing our bags and checking out. It had really been a wonderful escape spending those four days on the Delta Queen with all of our new friends and acquaintances. However, once checked out of our room we realized we still had about 2-hours of time to kill before brunch would be served. Debbie used her time to visit with several different guests whom we’d met during our trip while I spent a few moments out watching other guests who flew into Chattanooga or Atlanta pack their travel tandems for their return flights.
I eventually ended up pulling out my laptop for one last time, camped out alongside Bill McCready who was also busy catching up on Email before they headed off to Atlanta for a flight that would take them through Chicago and then on to Budapest for a rally scouting trip. I believe it was Susan Goertz who busted us tapping away at our computers…
Brunch was delightful and we found ourselves sharing a table with our friends from Colorado once again, and another couple from Virginia whom we’d actually met back in 1999 at Santana’s Asheville Mother’s Day Weekend Rally. Just the nicest folks you’d ever met and, well, that’s what we like about tandem rallies: you always meet the nicest people! The latter is always the highlight of any rally. After Bill’s closing talk during the brunch, we reluctantly made our way around the crowd to say our goodbyes to our hosts and other guests.
It was a great weekend that we will cherish and remember for many, many years to come. And, I must confess, that while all of the rallies we’ve attended over the years have been wonderful events with lasting memories, there IS something special about what is now our 2nd Santana Rally that makes them extra-special. I’ll talk more about that in my post-rally entry “A Tale of Two Rallies”, as it does bear some thought and discussion.
To any of our new friends who happen to be reading this, let me just say Thanks! Your company during our weekend and your easy-going, open and always warm smiles and willingness to reach out and share your time and thoughts with us are a significant part of what makes these Santana Rallies so special.
As a bonus, and with full credit to Susan & Jack Goertz, here is a link to their Santana Rally Photo Gallery on Picasa, noting I’ve pinched a couple of photos from their gallery for this blog entry. As you’ll see in their gallery, just lots and lots of smiling, happy tandem enthusiasts…