PANTHERS PROWL IN VERO BEACH By Kathy Foster

Once again we are pleased to share a Florida PANTHERS Post-Event Report from our guest contributor Kathy Foster.

Florida PANTHERS have returned to their various habitats around Florida full of enthusiasm after a June weekend of biking in Vero Beach. This year Hugh and Laura Aaron, Vero residents, planned the events. Since I was committed to a reunion that weekend, I got the scoop from Laura.

Now, she and Hugh are vacationing on their boat in the Florida Keys, so I kept the interview brief.

“We had 19 teams,” Laura said.

The first ride was Friday with 10 to 12 tandem teams. Laura and Hugh took them to some of their favorite places in Vero Beach — “a couple of our parks, a marina, two bridges. ” The route was designed to take in a lot of the scenic spots.   They ate lunch at Casey’s Place on the beach. In the afternoon the Aarons invited everyone over to their house, which is on a beautiful canal and has a dock for their boat.

Reg_Bob

gabe_diana“We hung out on the patio, had drinks and snacks and then we left there and went to Archie’s for dinner. There was a band” and Dr. Gabe and Diana Mirkin danced, Laura said.

Saturday the ride left from the riders’ hotel on the inlet in Fort Pierce. Laura said the tandems split into three groups.   “Some teams did the loop down to Jensen Beach and stopped at the farmers’ market in Fort Pierce on the way back.” Other riders went down to Stuart, adding 5 miles each way, then stopped at the farmers’ market, and a third group went straight down Highway A1A to Stuart and back because they preferred a bike lane.

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“Dinner was at Manatee Island and people loved it,” Laura recalled. It was in Fort Pierce within walking distance of the hotel.

fl_freinds“We also had a Sunday ride,” Laura said. The route left Fort Pierce, crossed the bridge over the Intracoastal, went to Vero, crossed the 17th Street bridge and came back via A1A. It was about 32 miles.

Besides good routes, food and fellowship, they had good weather. And, Hugh added, “We got two new PANTHERS teams.

For more about the club, go to floridatandemclub.org.

 

Posted in Events, Tandem Folks, Tandem Rallies | Leave a comment

Longing for some Tandem Time…

For a variety of reasons, our ability to find time for riding the tandem — never mind cycling alone — has been a challenge of late.  And, the less time we spend in the saddle the more difficult getting back in the saddle becomes, e.g., Debbie was pretty beat up after the Friday & Saturday rides at GTR back in late May and had to pass on Sunday’s ride.

Since GTR Debbie has spent the majority of her time attending to her daddy and family as he moved through his twilight and into his final sunset last week. It was a bittersweet passing to be sure: Debbie’s beautiful soul, gentle heart and competitive spirt were definitely something passed on to her from her daddy and she was definitely daddy’s little girl. In case you’re curious, her tenacity, resiliency and  resolve… that came from her momma and that is serving them both well at the moment.

Given that Debbie is essentially exhausted and still helping out her mother we also had to regretfully step away from hosting the June PEACHES (Tandem Club of Georgia) ride this coming Sunday.  We thought long and hard about it, but I don’t think Debbie’s ready to jump back into any larger group activities at the moment: just a lot of us time seems to be the ticket at the moment.  Thankfully, another member of PEACHES has stepped up and offered to lead a ride in our stead so for those who were looking forward to a tandem group ride opportunity in June, they’ll still have that.

We’re still not fully back into the swing of a normal business pace around the house but that’s OK too.  We had dinner our Wednesday and Thursday and will most likely do so through the weekend.  We hope to get in at least a short tandem ride over the weekend from the house just to spin our legs and get our heart rates up a bit as we’ll begin a 10-day motorcycle trip next Saturday putting us off the tandem for yet another two weeks.

Again, on the bright side, we haven’t lost our passion for cycling… just some of the time to pursue that passion.  I think Debbie is going to start trying to get out on her single bike after work again once we’re back from our July 4th week motorcycle trip and I may even get out on my single bike today at some point.  I was hoping to get in some trail time this morning, but the local trails were closed due to some recent rain.

Anyway, that’s probably explains the dearth of tandem cycling-related posts at the moment.  Even my ‘tinker-time’ with the bicycles and tandems has been at an all-time low as I’ve had to spend most of that time fixing a motorcycle that was damaged in a garage incident.

Rest assured, there will be more to report in the future!  We’re into the tandem thing for the long haul… it’s just been a low spot for us over the past few years and this may have been the lowest of the low spots.

Posted in Bloggishnish | 3 Comments

Recumbent & Tandem Rider Magazine subscriptions now available on-line, and in print

For Immediate Release
May 25, 2015

San Dimas, CA. Recumbent & Tandem Rider Magazine, published in printed form since 2001, is now also available in an on-line, digital format. RTR Magazine subscribers can choose between our traditional, printed version of the magazine or the online version, which can be viewed on-line any time, or even downloaded in PDF format for later use if internet access is not available.
The printed and online versions of the magazine are identical, with the online version featuring ‘hot links’ directly to RTR’s advertisers’ websites. Each version features the same great photography, reviews and articles, at the same $12.00 per year subscription rate.
The online version is compatible with laptop computers, desktops and most mobile devices such as iPhones and Android phones.
Preview pages of the current issue of Recumbent & Tandem Rider Magazine can be accessed from the magazine’s home page www.rtrmag.com and clicking on the ‘flipping pages’ icon. Online subscriptions can begin immediately by following the subscription option link at the end of the sample pages.
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RTR Magazine is also producing the 2015 Recumbent Cycle-Con Trade Show & Convention, September 25-26, at the Sharonville Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.
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So, What’s It Like To Ride a Triplet?

Anyone who has ridden a tandem with three or more seats at a tandem rally has most likely been asked, “So, what’s it like to ride a triplet (quad, quint, etc.)?”

 The Triplets of SylacaugaIt’s a fair question and one that I’m sure I asked a few times before teaming up with our friend Brenda on her Co-Motion Periscope triplet at the Alabama Tandem Weekend in March 2011. Yes, that we acquired a triplet shortly thereafter is a testament to how much we enjoyed the experience.

Getting back to the subject at hand, for some reason the “What’s it like to ride a triplet?” question struck me in an odd way from the very first time it was asked at the Georgia Tandem Rally this past weekend. I found myself having a déjà vu moment to those times we’ve been on our tandem at predominantly single-bike events where we were routinely asked, “So, what’s it like to ride a tandem?”

399167_3405086803180_1150186777_32513645_1649977861_nNot surprisingly, the answer to the tandem and triplet questions are very similar in that, first and foremost, we find it a lot more enjoyable and satisfying riding together as a team than we would individually… mostly because individually we wouldn’t be riding together at the same tempo. From a technical standpoint, a team of riders may actually be able to ride faster than they normally would on single bikes, but may also find more technical terrain to be challenging, such as climbing or slow-speed maneuvers.

However, what might come as a surprise to tandem teams who find themselves riding along side a triplet at a tandem rally is that the triplet experience at a tandem rally is very much like the tandem experience when riding with a group of single bikes and for the very same reason. More specifically:

  • GTR%202012%20Sun%20020-2On flat to rolling terrain it’s easier to ride the triplet at the front of a line of tandems than it is to ride in the line for the very same reason it’s easier tandems to pull a trailing line of single bikes: the heavier the bike the more momentum it carries. As anyone who has ridden a tandem in single bike drafting line can probably attest, there’s definitely a “slinky effect” with speed changes that requires a lot of attention from the tandem captain: constant soft pedaling and/or feather brakes to scrub off speed or short bursts to bridge gaps which can become quite fatiguing.  Guess what? The same thing happens when you stick a triplet in a line of tandems.
  • After pulling a line of tandems in the draft of a triplet, unless there’s a really strong team working well together on the triplet, the tandem teams will often times tend to be “fresher” and able to climb hills at a faster tempo than the triplet they’ve been following and will pass the triplet using that temporary advantage. And, just like a tandem that has been pulling a line of single bikes before encountering the hill, it’s not at all unusual for a passing tandem team to say something like, “Those triplets are fast on the flats and downhills, but just can’t climb well.” Hmmm, sound familiar? And, yes, being on the receiving end of that observation while climbing on a triplet resonates about as well as it does when made by single bike riders who were sucking the tandem’s rear wheel for the last few miles.
  • Of course, after a triplet team crests a climb, gravity grabs hold of the 3rd rider and son-of-a-gun if the triplet doesn’t often-times catch-up to and/or move past the tandem teams that passed on the previous climb… similar to how a tandem team will descend past the lighter single bikes that previously passed them on a climb.

All of the to-and-fro that goes on when tandems intermix with singles – especially where the combined power of the tandem team is on par with the single bike riders — is mostly driven by physics. Sadly, some single bike riders never seem to grasp that a tandem with a significantly higher gross weight simply climbs and descends at a different tempo due to physics and mistake the downhill behavior as bravado, sometimes resulting in tension between the riders. Moreover, a tandem team really does need the outside line on descents just to carry the natural speed of the heavier bike which also helps with carrying the momentum needed for the next rise in a series of rolling hills. And, yes, there is a strong likelihood that if there are a series of gradual and long or steep climbs a single bike rider will find themselves trading places with the tandem team on each subsequent climb and descent.

SDC10837And so it is with triplets at tandem rallies. The exact same dynamics all come into play when you have a triplet team that can ride at roughly the same level as a tandem team or teams. Interestingly enough, I sometimes wonder if tandem teams who haven’t ridden with triplets grasp the parallels that exist with respect to the rides they’ve attended where they were the lone tandem in a sea of single bikes.

Anyway, there you have it. That’s what it’s like to ride a triplet. If you can wrap your head around the idea that riding a tandem is twice as much fun as a single bike, then you’ll appreciate that riding a triplet is three-times as much fun as a single bike. Is it also more fun than riding a tandem? Well, yeah… for the very same reason. Riding a triplet with a bunch of tandems is very much like riding a tandem with a bunch of single bikes. The same rush that you get from being able to set the ride tempo for a long line of single bikes, the massive acceleration from a stop, the power needed to tickle 35mph on the flats and the insane downhill speeds you can achieve on a tandem can only be surpassed by adding an extra rider to the same pair of wheels.

Are there any downsides: Absolutely!

  • There is obviously the cost associated with having and maintaining an “extra” bike.
  • Transporting the massively long bikes can be a challenge that requires a lot of forethought.
  • If you can appreciate that a tandem is twice as hard to keep running smoothly as a single bike, you’ll also appreciate that a triplet is three-times as hard to keep running smoothly as a single bike.
  • Being able to ride the triplet means being dependent upon having ready access to a third rider who is willing to be a stoker and to share those stoking duties with another stoker.
  • If finding a stoker who you can truly “be as one with on the tandem” seems like a challenge, just try adding a third rider who can also allow you to “be as one on the triplet.” We’ve been VERY lucky in this regard!

stooges

There are quite a few other considerations when it comes to triplets, quads and quints that are addressed in an article I co-wrote with another tandem enthusiast several years back that you can find here:

Anyway, there you have it. My short answer to the question, “What’s it like to ride a triplet!”

Posted in Advice & Commentary, Technology & Equip. | Leave a comment

GTR 2015, Macon, Georgia

Note: As photos from GTR begin to appear we will update accordingly.  Our apologies for the thin collection of organic photos from our own camera…

THURSDAY:

We were on the fence several times with regard to this year’s Georgia Tandem Rally for a number of reasons, but when May 21st rolled around the truck was loaded with the tandem in the bed and the triplet on top.

However, I had a small crisis at the house before we left involving a motorcycle with delicate parts that fell-over after being parked a bit off-center in a wheel chock resulting in an unusual amount of damage to the aforementioned delicate parts. The idiot who is to blame appears in my mirror every morning: doh! Adding insult to injury, given how the bike fell and noting that fuel was spilling out of the just topped-off tank, I had to use an unusual technique to stand the 600 lb beast up which caused something in my back to “crack” at one point: yes, it was a gift that kept on giving throughout the weekend.

Despite the back pain, I was able to load the triplet on the truck as noted above and we hit the road at 7:00pm sharp after having dinner at home. The hope was we’d miss the afternoon rush hour traffic going through and south of Atlanta. We had a brief delay about 20 minutes from home due to an accident in I75 south in Marietta and then hit another traffic delay in Atlanta where I75 and I85 merge, but generally made good time and arrived in Macon shortly after 9:00pm. Of course, we both noted that we enjoyed making the trip from Atlanta to Macon more on the motorcycle than we did in the truck: just something about being on a bike!

marriottAs we arrived at the hotel we began to see tandem friends coming back from the 7:00pm to 9:30pm social that was held at The Mill in Macon. After getting settled into our room we returned to the lobby / lobby bar to greet more friends, our riding partner for the weekend, Lisa, and have a night-cap with Stephanie & Denny before heading up for the night.

FRIDAY:

The day began with breakfast in a conference room set aside for the tandem rally with it’s own buffet line. The buffet left a bit to be desired for our tastes and pre-ride needs: no meat, very few carb-rich items aside from cereal and sweet breads, and the center piece — hard scrambled eggs — that  just didn’t rock our world. We both made do with the scrambled eggs topped with cheddar cheese and catsup as well as some of the breads.  Oh well, some hotels do better than others, especially when trying to come up with the right choices for cyclists with a wide variety of eating preferences.

Photo by Jeff Sammons

Photo by Jeff Sammons

The ride was a remote start 18 miles from the hotel out in Tripp County. It was an easy drive to the starting point at the Old Marion Baptist Church. After sorting out the triplet’s setups for Debbie and Lisa we rolled up to the rider’s meeting and were off shortly there after.

Friday’s route was billed as the flattest of the three days and it was a great route. Like most triplets, quads and quints, our triplet did a little complaining with drive train noises that didn’t exist the last time we rode it and that eluded diagnosis. Early in the ride it also threw the chain into the granny ring on a hard-to-execute shift from the big to the middle chain ring (most likely being held-up by mega-stoker power) that put us off the side of the road for a few minutes. We quickly made up lost time with a brisk bridge back to our group. True to form, the aforementioned noises disappeared throughout the day such that by the end of the ride the bike was pretty quiet.

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 2.39.19 PMWe opted to do the 51-mile route given it was billed as having only 1,600’ of climbing. We spent most of our time riding with our friends Eric & Linda and a number of other long-time friends from previous Georgia & Southern Tandem Rallies, often times with a different mix throughout the day. I think we may have over stayed at the first store stop and ended up riding with just Linda & Eric until we hit the second store stop across from the Twigg County Court House where we found most of our riding companions from earlier in the day. I’m pretty sure Debbie was gassed on the last two climbs coming into the second store stop and she confirmed that her legs had turned to rubber once we arrived at the store. We made some adjustments to her saddle – a new Selle Anatomica Titanico – which for some reason had lost tension and was sagging at least a ½ “ lower than it should have been to give Debbie the proper riding position.

lee_eddiesAfter finishing our ride the five of us – me, Debbie, Lisa along with Eric and Linda – headed to lunch at Lee & Eddies BBQ in downtown Macon, a division of and adjacent to the Cherry Street Cyclery. Wow, what a great place. The BBQ was tender and moist, the sauce was a delicious South Carolina mustard sauce that was as good or better than anything like it I’ve ever had. Then there was the shop, which was as much of a museum dedicated to 70’s – 90’s era European racing bikes.

20150522_134736The owner, Damon Allen, served up our pulled pork sandwiches and then gave me a wonderful tour of the shop. Damon and his wife clearly have put their heart and soul into the shop and BBQ restaurant that has a bittersweet history. You can read about it by doing a Google search on “the story of lee and eddies bbq” since the direct link to the article will take you to the wrong article.

bikestorageAfter lunch we headed back to the Marriott to cleanup and relax a bit before heading off in search of dinner. We socialized with friends in the lobby and the hospitality suite that doubled as Ric & Marcia Becker’s “House of Tandems East” tandem shop, as they had an endless line of tandems that were in need of their attention or new wheels. It was a nice, relaxing afternoon.

doughboybgFor dinner, our group of 18 headed down to Doughboy’s Pizza on Cherry Street. We were split into a table for 10 and another for 8, but that worked out fine. We had time to catch up with friends and polished off a little Caesar salad and a couple of slices of pizza: it’s so nice to find a place that sells pizza by the slice! Debbie had the lasagna and I had the buffalo: yummy!

After dinner and on our way to the ice cream social at the Douglass Theater we ran into Ric & Marcia who were having dinner on the patio at the Market City Café. It looks like a great place and one that we’d like to visit.

douglassThe ice cream social was nice and the theater was interesting. The special showing of a video history of the Douglass called, “They Played the Douglass” with still photos and video that captured some of the entertainers who performed at the Douglass from the 1920’s to 1972 was a wonderful blast from the past with greats like Cab Callaway, Duke Ellington, Little Richard, James Brown, etc.  It was somewhat curious that the introduction still photo showed the Macon Opera House with its three distinctive boxes flanking the stage, whereas the Douglass only has two on each flank.

We retired to the Marriott for the evening where we once again visited with friends in the lobby and spent some time keeping company with Ric & Marcia who ended up working on tandems until 12:30am; yikes! Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty.

ric_marciaFor those who aren’t aware, Ric and Marcia attend these rallies on their own dime and donate their time and talents to support riders at the event. Yes, they do a little business – selling wheels and parts as needed to bring tandems that have fallen into mechanical distress back to their full potential – but do a ton of pro-bono work, often times when it’s really not pro-bono, i.e., hey folks, if they put a new tube in your tire out on the road, you really should be paying for at least the tube! Seriously, I think some folks who attend the rallies assume that Ric & Marcia have been brought in by the organizers and are somehow compensated for their efforts. Uh, no… that’s not how it works. So, next time you see them at a rally say thanks! If they fix your tandem, ask ‘em, “How much do we owe you?” or if nothing else, by them a cocktail or perhaps dinner if they’ve make your weekend possible by an unplanned overhaul of your tandem.

SATURDAY:

After seeing that breakfast was basically the same as Friday – albeit with some fresh fruit added – we opted to visit the Marriott’s restaurant. Debbie did the buffet with a nice assortment of egg specialties, bacon, grits, fruit and breads and I had a wonderful stack of buttermilk pancakes with sausage. It definitely hit the spot and gave us the kinds of calories we were in need of. The wait staff was also really a pleasure, which is what we found of everyone who worked at the Marriott or in the businesses we visited in Macon. Really, they were just the nicest folks who really understood customer service and Southern hospitality.

Saturdays ride started at the Marriott and was led out by the Bibb County Sheriffs and Macon Police; they did a great job of shepherding us through the city to the more rural roads where traffic was no longer an issue. The ride out-of-town had a bit of climbing to it; something we’d get to enjoy throughout the day.

triplet_GTR (1)

Photo by Christen Hunter and, yes, I blurred out the GoPro camera mounted on my helmet.

My original plan for the day was the 39-mile option with about 2,000’ of climbing, just based on how we rode on Friday. However, somewhere along the way Miss Debbie got it in her mind that we needed to join our friends for the 52-mile ride with 2,500’ of climbing. As we hit the 15-mile point where the 39 & 52 mile routes split off from each other I suggested that I didn’t “feel a 52-mile ride” in the triplet during the first 15 miles and recommended the 39-mile. However, I was overruled. I predicted that it would be an “I told you so” ride as we pressed ahead on the 52.

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No doubt, Bibb & Twigg Counties were great places to ride; just lovely, lightly traveled roads many covered by trees. We had very few if any motorists that gave us any concern, notwithstanding one Chevy Silverado that blasted by us on a two-lane road a bit too fast to be prudent.

We captured Saturday’s ride on one of two GoPro cameras, noting that I may have  inadvertently wiped the video off one of the cameras before verifying it downloaded correctly.  However, we were saved in that Linda Wood & Eric Osgood shared the video they shot with their GoPro off the front of their tandem.  So, between their footage and ours, I was able to come up with a one-minute and 43 second-long collection of clips that gives viewers a pretty good idea of what Saturday’s ride looked like.  As a bonus for us, Linda & Eric’s camera caught us riding from a 3rd person perspective, something we’ve not seen except in still photos:

Getting back to the ride, and as I feared, we had to throttle way back around 44-miles into the ride and make our way into town at a touring pace. I’m also to blame in that there were several times that I pushed a hard pace for which we really didn’t have the base mileage.  As a result, saddle fatigue, some nasty sore spots and the heat combined to wear down my sweetie — never mind putting a big burden on Lisa and exacerbating my own struggles with back pain — such that at times our ride was bordering on “not fun”. The touring pace did a lot to help with some recovery, as did the generally downhill nature of the last 6 miles that put us into downtown Macon on Cherry Street as our final home stretch to the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame where the catered lunch was being served.

20150523_123129After rolling up to the Hall of Fame and taking a look inside at the buffet offerings and indoor seating, we decided it was just too nice of a day to not take advantage of the patio at Market City Café.  We were back on the triplet after just a few minutes at the Hall of Fame and rode the three blocks back west to the Café; it was the right call!

20150523_124753We had a nice table for three in the shade on the patio where a wonderful breeze was blowing. Our hostess / server did a great job of getting us watered and fed and the food was wonderful! I had a California burger and Caesar salad that I washed down with some beer, Debbie had tuna salad on fresh bakery croissants with fresh-made chips, and Lisa had a lovely Asian salad. Again, it was just too nice of a day not to be outside and Macon truly is blessed with a lot of great restaurants.

We had a somewhat subdued afternoon back at the Marriott. Debbie’s tookus had a couple of nasty abrasions and she had a pulled muscle in her left leg so a visit to the whirlpool bath was a must. I did a little editing of the GoPro videos while she soaked, unfortunately somewhere along the way I lost all of the data from one of the cameras: that’ll teach me to do editing next to a pool instead of a more quiet place with fewer distractions, i.e., I’m always distracted by my sweetie: can’t take my eyes off of her!!!

We cleaned up and then headed down to the lobby to visit with friends a bit before the Saturday evening banquet at the adjacent convention center. It really is a nice when the host hotel and banquet facilities are within walking distance!   We had a great time visiting with long-time friends Ron & Shari, Heidi, Margaret and others before taking the short walk – all indoors – to the banquet room. We shared our table with Denny & Stephanie, Ryan & Christian and another couple whose names escape me: very nice folks to be sure. The meal offerings – themed around Tuscany – were outstanding. Some of the presentations were a bit odd, such as the Caesar and pasta salads being served in Martini glasses: really? But, the quality and selection of foods was outstanding, a great meal!

We were pretty tired and didn’t spend much time socializing back in the hotel lobby bar before heading up to bed around 9:30… 9:30.  Yeah, I knew that would be trouble as I only sleep about 4 hours a night. Sure enough, I was wide awake by 12:30 and saw the clock click-through 2am, 3am, 4am and 5am before finally giving in and getting up around 6am.

SUNDAY:

Given how “chewed-up” Debbie’s saddle contact points were, there was no way that she’d be able to ride on Sunday. Therefore, our options included:

  • Set up the tandem for Lisa and leave Debbie back at the hotel to relax while we did the Sunday ride, something we did last fall at the Southern Tandem Rally in Columbus, Georgia.
  • Find out if Eric and Linda might be interested in teaming up with Lisa on her Mango triplet for Sunday, noting they’d ridden together on Thursday and would be doing so again on Monday.

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After talking through the options at the breakfast room, putting Lisa with Eric & Linda seemed like the best choice. Debbie really needed to get back home where she could truly relax and tend to her sore bits.

With the days riding partnerships sorted out, we opted to head for the hills before the riders went out with the mass start. We had the truck loaded and were on the road by 7:45am that put us home by 9:30am.

Again, it was the right call.

POST SCRIPT:

If you thought my write-up was a bit lacking in enthusiasm & detail compared to others, you’re not imagining things. This was a very strange-feeling Georgia Tandem Rally for us. We normally can relax and decompress at tandem rallies, but I believe we may have had a few too many mental distractions to ever “get in the zone” for this weekend.

We’re both struggling with a decision on when to make a major lifestyle change, Debbie has a close family member who is in hospice care which has been weighing heavy on her mind for the past two weeks, and as noted in the intro to this blog I hurt my back on Thursday afternoon. While I tried to wear my best game face and treat the pain with Advil, my back was killing me all weekend long… and still is.

Our pre-rally time on the tandem had also been far less than we’d like, a continuing trend. Between bad weather, other demands for our time and our motorcycling hobby, we’re just not getting in the miles that we need do, and when we do get in miles they’re not high-quality workouts, just fitness rides. The less than stellar cycling fitness and stress combined to create a few rare moments of tension between Debbie and me as well. Add to all of that her saddle sores and, well, it just wasn’t a great weekend for us.  Hopefully Lisa’s weekend didn’t suffer because of it; she’s a trooper and we love being able to ride with her at these rallies.  If nothing else, we owe it to Lisa to get in better shape for these events so that we can run with the big dogs without making her work so hard all the time. But, I digress.

Being back at home early today was a very good thing, as being “back on home turf” and able to fall back into some familiar routines served us well. It’s also really a blessing that we will have one more day to compose ourselves and recover before facing work on Tuesday.

But, in retrospect, it was great getting out on the tandem (er, triplet) with Lisa and all of our tandem cycling friends. Those are always great times. So, looking forward, we’ll make a point of getting more miles under our belt and may begin to look to the local bicycle charity rides as an outlet for cycling. After all, early on when we were at our best it was chasing the single bikes at local cycling events that kept us working hard all the time. Riding alone and at the occasional tandem group ride just doesn’t work to fill that void.

In closing, we would be remiss if we didn’t thank our long-time friends and co-organizers of the Georgia Tandem Rally, Roger Strauss & Eve Kofsky. Year-after-Year since 1999 they have endeavored to provide tandem enthusiasts with “the perfect tandem rally,” covering all of the bases from catered meals, to local eating tips, porta-potty’s for stops that don’t have adequate facilities, and on-and-on.  They truly outdo themselves every year and this year was no exception.  Macon, who knew!?  We really didn’t get to experience downtown Macon when we first visited in 2011 and were blown away by all that the city has to offer.  The riding was exceptional, the residents were bike-friendly and when you factor in beautiful weather it made for an exceptional weekend.

Posted in Events, Tandem Folks, Tandem Rallies | 2 Comments

New Entries At Riding Two-Up

369252Recently posted at Riding Two-Up: A couple spawned as follow-ons from our last motorcycle rally and my latest self-inflicted wound:

Posted in Cross Post: Riding Two-Up, Motorcycle / Equipment | Leave a comment

Wow, What a Week That Was!

We had a bit of a whirlwind week that bears some documentation, if only so I can one day read this after my memory begins to fail.  After all, that’s really why we do these blogs, as a back-up copy of our memories!  No, really… you’d be amazed how often I go back to find out where we went, who we were with, etc. when I’m a little bit fuzzy on the details or even when something occurred.

Anyway, this past week was one of those weeks that really does require a little documentation as it was jam-packed with highlights.  It all began last weekend:

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Friday, May 8th:  Every other Friday Debbie and I meet for lunch at the Red Eye Mule and the 8th was no exception. However, what cracked my sweetie up in this photo was her realization after sitting with me for 10 minutes that I was clean-shaven again.  Yeah, I’m guessing I’ve been struggling a bit with managing the appearance I’d like to have with the one my employer expects me to have.  I pushed the boundaries for two years with hair down past my collar and a bushy goatee.  But, more recently went high & tight + clean-shaven.  Of course, as soon as I’d cut my hair I wished I hadn’t so I’ve had a few fits and starts with the facial hair.  So, over the course of two to three weeks I’d gone from fuzzy to spit-polished. As I write, I’m headed back to fuzzy… fuzzy is good.  The clean-cut corporate look might give folks the wrong idea!

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The rest of Friday was consumed by “stuff at the house” plus a nice ride on the Wide Glide (yes, I still have it) and then ‘Finally a Friday’ at Loco Willy’s with Miss Debbie and our friends David & Deb.

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20150509_171427Saturday, May 9th:
We started off the day thinking that it was “our day” where we could do whatever we wanted. So, the first thing we did was to go out for a nice ride on the tandem.  Without the tailwinds that we were treated to a few weeks back — going out and coming back — our average speed was more in line with our usual expectation for the relatively low number of miles we’ve been racking up.  Once we returned home Debbie figured out that she’d gotten the dates for our granddaughters piano recitals confused with another weekend (which almost caused us to cancel out on the Georgia Tandem Rally) and we had to do a quick-turn-around at the house to get ourselves up to Reinhardt College for the recital.

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Of course, being with the family for the recital also meant that Nama got to have some quality time with Wesley & Julie’s little-one, Vivian Rose.  It’s amazing how the right stimulus can bring us back from the brink of exhaustion, noting that neither of us had eaten lunch after our tandem ride and were in dire need of sustenance.

After getting back home we changed clothes and headed off to dinner at Loco Willy’s and followed that up with a movie: The Avengers: Age of Ultron.  We’re both huge fans of the Marvel Studios productions, but both of the Avengers movies have struck us as a bit too ambitious. I personally believe they’ve figured out how to make sure as many Marvel fans go back and see the movie again to pump up box office receipts because there’s no way to catch everything that’s going on in these movies in just one viewing.  Once you know the storyline you can pay more attention to the lines and other things going on in the background which makes the movie a bit different on a second viewing.  Anyway, we’ll wait until it comes out on Blue Ray to watch it again.

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tandem2Sunday, May 10th:  We started off with a quiet morning around the house doing that ‘weekend stuff”.   We planned to meet Wesley & the three granddaughters for lunch around 11:30am at Loco Willy’s.  After confirming that they opened at 11:00am per their Facebook page, and given how nice the weather was, we hopped on Blue for the ride over.  Imagine our surprise when we arrived to what appeared to be a very much still not open Loco’s.  We stuck our heads in the door and saw Christian behind the bar who informed us that they didn’t really open until 12:00 / 12:30.  Whoops!  We sent a note off to Rex who manages their social media suggesting an update to the hours of operation for Sunday were in order, and then redirected Wesley and the girls to Olde Towne Grille who we knew would be open.

20150510_114929We decided to sit outside on the patio since it was a bit too early for the smokers to be out having lunch so that we could enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.  Debbie loves being with her little granddaughters and had a great time helping Caroline & Charlotte with their project books and coddling Vivian for a while.

After lunch we headed back home to enjoy Mother’s Day afternoon with a tandem ride that I covered in detail in a previous blog entry, so no need to revisit that: just watch the video!

We got back on Blue for a return ride over to Loco Willy’s in the late afternoon for our weekly wing fix and ran into our friend Gator: always a pleasure to visit with him.  There’s a guy who either needs to write a book or be the subject of a biography.

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Monday, May 11th & Tuesday, May 12th:  Work days and nothing special about that; however, I should probably note that Debbie’s dad has been waging a battle with health issues for a few years and is now receiving hospice care at home.  So, Debbie has been spending time visiting with her dad.  It’s put a lot of stress on her, both physical and emotional… which is true of the entire family.  We’re scheduled to attend the Georgia Tandem Rally next Thursday through Sunday; however, that’s all subject to change if her dad should happen to make his transition to whatever’s next between now and then.  Yes, life is filled with all kinds of challenges. We try to take them all in stride and give them the proper context.

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ArthurMurray_horilogo_darkWednesday, May 13th: Wednesday was special because it was our 2nd scheduled dance lesson at Arthur Murray’s in Kennesaw.  Our instructor last week had been Mr. Edwards who had us brush up on the rumba & waltz that we’d learned in our introductory lesson and he then introduced us to the swing dance steps.   So, on Wednesday Mr. Q had us do a few rumba & waltz steps to see if we had committed them to memory — we did pretty good — and then he introduced us to some new turns with the swing dances.  I struggled a bit as I’m more of a visual learner and just couldn’t seem to make the connections between what I was seeing and trying to do: I was trying to add steps where they didn’t exist.  All-in-all, we learned a lot — although we’re still robot dancing — and had a good time keeping it lighthearted but still learning.

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Thursday, May 14th: The Geek turned 55 today!  My co-workers were kind enough to surprise me with a birthday celebration in the afternoon that I almost derailed when I had to run off and get my cell phone fixed.  Thankfully, I was only gone an hour which left a few minutes between meetings to slip in the surprise, some cake and a little social banter before diving back into work.

Debbie had asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate and my druthers were a nice dinner for two vs. having the entire family around, etc.  As for where to go, I offered up Capers, Henry’s, Aspens and Fish Thyme and we decided to give Fish Thyme a second try because Debbie saw where they offered charbroiled oysters on Thursday nights!  Sadly, the chef had to go over to their other restaurant (Capers) so no oysters!  However, the ahi tuna & crab stuffed salmon that we had instead were excellent!  It wasn’t as quiet as we’d hoped (probably need to stick to Capers for quiet), but it was just so nice having dinner at a table across from my sweetie!

We’ll do dinner with the family at some other time in the future, as the weekend ahead was already booked and we’ll be out-of-town the following weekend.

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f851031113839ed8baabc87ceed5c455Friday, May 15th: Friday was a normal Friday right up and until we hit the front door at Loco Willy’s for our usual Finally a Friday / Fajita Friday celebration.  I had a pretty good idea that Debbie was up to something, but wasn’t sure what she had planned: lots of text messages (and she rarely texts), phone calls made from upstairs, etc…  Hey, it doesn’t take a federal agent to figure out when someone’s making plans and, well, I was a federal agent so it’s all pretty obvious.  Of course, when I got home and saw what she was planning to wear — a killer dress with killer high heel shoes — it was clear that we’d be doing something special at some point that night.  My guess was, we’d do dinner at Loco’s and then she’d suggest going over to Jimmy Mac’s where friends were already celebrating another birthday for Robyn, one of the gals who took care of our needs on Friday nights, or perhaps to Brewsters, where most of our motorcycling friends congregated on Friday nights.

Loco’s was packed when we arrived and I was anxiously surveying the bar to see where our friends David & Deb were sitting in the hope that they’d been able save seats for us.  As I kept scanning the bar David finally caught my eye and pointed down to a table where our friends Ryan, Chuck & Kim were seated along with David’s wife Deb: you could have knocked me over with a feather, as I was truly surprised.  I was also a bit peeved since I don’t like surprises, especially when they disrupt my routine!  I also don’t like sitting at tables when we go to Loco’s because it takes too long to get served and, well, other things tend to get screwed-up.  However, the gal taking care of us got up to speed, got me my soft drink and side-car and I finally started to relax and other friends kept arriving.  I think we had 11 at the table by the time all was said and done: Jeff & Sharon and Bobby & Carrie Ann rounded out the crew.  Kim, Chuck & Ryan were all stag, which made for a lot of fun at our end of the table.  Given how chaotic things were I decided to pick up the tab for everyone — hey, it’s my birthday and that means I get to do what I want — and that made getting checked-out very easy for all concerned.  Out next destination was Brewsters.

David & Deb rode along with us in the truck and we carved out our own piece of real estate near the back of the place and had a good time listening to the live music and enjoying each other’s company until around 11:00pm.  Nothing all that obnoxious; I drank a ton of Diet Coke and sipped on a single shot of Patron and Debbie nursed a Fireball shot: pretty sure that was the smallest tab we ever had at Brewsters!  Debbie signaled it was time to leave since she had to be up at her folks house by 8:30 so we headed off before Ryan arrived with Jeanette who he’d had to go to the airport to collect.

It was a great evening and I’m ever thankful for our friends taking time out to help celebrate!  And, of course, a huge thank you to my sweetie for pulling it all together!

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Saturday, May 16th:  As mentioned, Debbie had to be up early so she could go and visit with her dad while her mother went and had her hair done on Saturday morning.  I spent most of the day working around the house: bleached & power washed the porch columns and other “white” trim, power washed the breezeway and veranda furniture, walls, rugs, etc., to flush away the pollen that had been collecting all spring and then hit the yard: trimming hedges and cutting the lawn before calling it a day.

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Debbie had been signed-up to sit with the grandkids from 3:30 until midnight while the kids hosted a retirement party for Julie’s mother. So, I was going strong doing much-needed yard work up and until 7:00pm.  I did my best to stay awake until Debbie came home just so she’d have someone to come home to: it had been a long day for my sweetie.

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Sadly, where I really wanted to be most of the afternoon and evening was the Shaky Boots Country Music festival at Kennesaw State University’s Soccer Stadium.  Most of our motorcycling friends were there and, well, it was honky-tonk music to the max. Yeah, no wooden floors to dance on, but good friends & good music make for a good time.  Maybe next year!  It was a two-day festival, but Sunday would also be a non-starter since Debbie would be in recovery mode most of the day while I did pull-ahead honey-dos to get us ready for being out-of-town from the coming Thursday through Sunday.

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20150517_092519Sunday, May 17th: Priority #1 for Sunday was a tandem ride, since Saturday had been a bust due to other commitments. We targeted 9:00am for our ride start, but were keeping an eye on the weather as local radar suggested rain squalls were popping up all around us. Sure enough, about the same time that Debbie came down ready to ride the skies opened up for a good 20 minutes.  However, looking at the radar and the sky seemed to suggest that while the roads might be wet for the next hour or so, the skies would open back up and give us some sun.

With that being our biggest opportunity, I quickly threw-on the mud guards so that we’d be able to ride on the rain-soaked roads without getting soaked or covered with road grime: gotta love the SKS quick release mud guards!

20150517_101456We were able to enjoy a nice 25-mile / 1+ hour ride with lots of blue skies and increasingly dry roads, which made it all worthwhile.  I’d also rotated the timing rings front to back / back to front on the Calfee and that eliminated the lingering chain noise I’d mentioned in some prior blog entries.

mark@debbieAfter finishing our ride we jumped on Blue and rode over to Loco Willy’s for our weekly hot wing fix.  I’d stashed the rain gear in the saddlebags as the weather forecast called for more showers in the early afternoon.  The wings were hot and the drinks frozen, so it was a good lunch date to be sure.  After lunch we headed over to see if we couldn’t catch our friend Doc at the new Indian Motorcycle dealership in Marietta.

The new Indian dealership had moved into the store space just vacated by Atlanta BMW Ducati, a place where I’d spent way too much time and money over the past five years.  Doc wasn’t on hand, but his buddy and former co-worker at the local H-D dealer who had also come over to Indian was on hand and showed us around the fairly sparse showroom and back shops.  It was hard to believe it was the same space formerly occupied by BMW, as the BMW dealership had every square inch of floor space filled with fixtures and merchandise.  The one Indian that continues to catch my attention — the Classic in the green & cream color scheme — was only to be found in the back shop where it was being assembled for display.  Just looking at their Facebook page, it would appear that color scheme is a very popular choice, which is to say, perhaps not as desirable as I originally thought.  Anyway, it was good to see a familiar face at the dealership even though we missed Doc.

After that we stopped by to visit with our friend Nick at Hellbender Harley Davidson. It’s always good to see him, they don’t come any better than Nick!  After taking a stroll through the store — it’s definitely not the same place it was a year ago — we said our goodbyes and headed for home, hoping to avoid the rain.

20150517_153152Yeah, well… no such luck.  We made it to the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park and surrendered to the fact that we weren’t going to end-run the rain. We threw on the rain gear and were rewarded with a warm, dry ride home in a pretty good rain storm.  About the time we arrived home the skies really opened up with a vengeance: thunder, lightning and a pretty good driving rain.  However, it was all gone about as quickly as it blew through, which was good news for our friends over at the Shaky Boots festival.

I spent the better part of the afternoon working on our tandem (swapping out Debbie’s saddle and doing some derailleur adjustments) and then turned my attention to our three-seat / triplet which we’d be riding on Friday – Sunday at the Georgia Tandem Rally with our friend Lisa Davis.  We only ride the bike about two to three times a year at the regional rallies or when heading up to ride with friends in Tennessee. The rest of the time it’s stored up in the “rafters” between two garage doors, collecting dust as it were.  So, today was the day it got pulled-down, cleaned and prepped for some serious riding.

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I always get a bit more excited about the cycling events as they draw near. Fingers crossed, we’ll be able to attend most if not all of this event!

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