Blogging, Tandeming and Count-Down Clocks.

Why so few postings here at The TandemGeek’s Blog?

I sometimes get notes from long-time readers who wonder why I don’t post more often.  They remember when I wrote about broader topics and then, when I limited my posts to things that were pretty much focused only on cycling and tandems, I’d occasionally post a summary of posts from my other blog.  Checking back, I guess I haven’t posted one of those since July 2017.  We’ll, I’m not going to post a summary of nearly 9 months of posts which is to say I’m still doing a lot of writing on that other blog.

In part, it’s because my other blog serves two purposes: one is providing me an outlet for motorcycling related content, but the other is hosting a weekly journal that I primarily write to share with my mother so she can see photos and learn a bit more than she’d get from our weekly phone calls.  No, at 90, she’s not tech savvy so reading the content on-line doesn’t work: I print out the weekly journal and mail the hard copy to her.   We also gave her and my step-dad a wifi enabled Nixplay digital picture frame where we post photos of our own, as well as those my sisters, my mother’s brother and his kids and Bill’s son share out on Facebook.  Whatever it takes, right?


Riding Two Up

So, if you’re interested in keeping up to date on almost everything that we’re up to, my other blog — Riding Two-Up — has all of the weekly journal content.

Here’s an example of the kind of stuff that you’ll find in the weekly journal, as this is what I’ll most likely print and send off to my mother for this week’s installment.

It was pretty much a typical weekend for us with an occasional Friday night out at a bar for live music and dancing, and a tandem ride on Saturday and/or Sunday if the weather cooperates and we have a free couple of hours.

 

Of late we’re spending more time at home on weekends than we previously did. That’s in part because the weather has improved enough to let us enjoy our outdoor living space. As I move into retirement at the end of June you can bet most of our afternoons will wrap up with cocktails on the breezeway during the spring, summer and fall!

Something else we’re also beginning to embrace is having friends over for dinner rather than meeting at local restaurants and bars. It’s a lot more relaxing, it costs a lot less since we all enjoy a few adult beverages over the course of an evening and if we over-do there are spare bedrooms and no one has to Uber home if they don’t feel like it.  And, since Sunday was mother’s day, we also had the kids and grandkids by for lunch.

So, as you can see, all-in-all it’s probably not that different from what everyone else does once you add in yard work, washing cars, doing laundry, making minor home repairs, doing a little home banking, keeping up with Email and texts on work-related topics and developing plans for future weekends.


A Tandem@Hobbes Moment: My Tandem Rally Blog Entry

So, getting back to cycling, I hope readers enjoyed the “discussion stimulator” that I posted regarding tandem rallies; I found it bringing back fond memories of the great “discussions” I was part of at Tandem@Hobbes for so many years.  As I noted, when we were down in Daytona back in March and then in Panama City Beach last week for “bike week” events I could clearly tell that attendance was off. Moreover, as I looked around at the various different venues I could clearly Debbie and I at 60ish were right in the middle of the bell curve for the average age of the folks at the rallies.  Right on the heels of that I received a couple of Emails regarding the Southern Tandem Rally (STR) and as we checked our schedule for October to make sure we wouldn’t have to choose between our 6th grandchild’s due-date, the fall motorcycle rallies and STR I was reminded the average age of folks who attend tandem rallies has also been creeping up: we can remember when we were the youngsters at our late 30’s some 20 years ago.  And, as I’ve noted before, the growing number of retiree’s who attend rallies have caused organizers to find ways to provide stretch the length of rallies to make long-drives to the rallies easier to swallow, even if it means an extra night or two at the hotel or perhaps spending a night with friends.  The added nights and added events clearly come at an added cost; it’s just the way it works.  And, again… this parallels what we see with motorcycle rallies.  Instead of spending just 2-3 nights in a 3 star hotel for $600 – $900 (yes, you pay a premium during bike weeks), being retired means you can find other folks who can spend a few more nights at the rally and team up to rent a condo or home for a week for the same or less $$.  Yes, we end up eating out a few extra days, so there’s no real net savings.  But, it does make the trip a bit more leisurely and the long ride home easier to deal with: the ride down, those are the best!  Something about the destination and anticipation I suspect.


Tandem Cycling Stuff

While we couldn’t carve out the time needed to make the 1.4 hour drive out to Madison, Georgia, for the May PEACHES (aka, Tandem Club of Georgia) ride, we were able to get out for a nice 1.5 hour-long / 25-mile tandem ride from the house on Saturday afternoon after spending the morning doing yard work.  The weather couldn’t have been nicer with temps in the upper 80’s, low humidity, lots of sun and a light breeze.  Well, OK: to be fair, it felt pretty darn hot!  It’s been a long time since we’ve had temps in the upper 80’s here in Georgia, so our heat resistance was pretty low.  But, again, the low humidity helped the sweat evaporate quickly which helped to keep us cool.  In a few more weeks we’ll have 90° humidity to go with those high 80’s / low 90°F temps and nothing evaporates with that kind of weather, other than any interest in riding any later than noon!!

In one bright spot, my right elbow has remained pain-free since the cortisone shot on 23 April.  Ever since I was rear-ended on my Honda F6B back on 21 November my back and left elbow have remained a bit problematic whereas the big concern at the time of the accident was a possible scaphoid fracture in my left hand.  The left hand got better, but the back and elbow just didn’t want to recover.  My back was simply tight from the trauma and there was some fluid along my lower spine that wasn’t supposed to be there that have given me a lot of discomfort which is just now letting up.  However, my right elbow gained an instant case of Golfer’s elbow in the accident that physical therapy and steroid have not been able to address.  So, I finally gave in and took a cortisone shot that has pretty much worked… so far.   Just this weekend I’ve been getting a bit of discomfort right on my elbow, so this next week will be important.  If the ligaments are still inflamed then we can try two more cortisone shots before minor surgery may be needed. Fingers crossed, I’d really like to avoid that.

As mentioned, we received a note regarding STR last week and this weekend we received a wake-up call from The Georgia Tandem Rally, which is a mere 11 days away.  Guess I’ll need to call the hotel and confirm how many nights we booked for; geez, I do hope we booked a room: couldn’t find the reservation confirmation (yes, we’re booked: just checked).  But, yes… 11 days until we head to Athens for our 20th Georgia Tandem Rally.  Hard to believe Roger and Eve have been doing this for that long. Clearly, setting aside some of the events put on by people in the tandem business, this has to be the longest running privately-organized annual tandem rally.  The only thing that organizers can’t control is the weather, so we’ll look to mother nature to be kind to us and give us warm, dry weather.  We’ll be taking the triplet and teaming up with Lisa Davis for GTR, looking forward to that!  We cherish our time at tandem rallies and really enjoy our time on the triplet with Lisa.


Count Down Clocks

Speaking of count-downs, there are two others that are clearly on my mind.  In one day I’ll be 58 years old and in 46 days — after 34 years — I’ll be retiring from Lockheed.  From a working days standpoint, there are only 29 more get-ups so I’ve already started to clean-out my office just to remove any doubt about my intent to follow-through with this significant milestone.

I’ve never retired before, never mind never taking anything longer than a 2-week vacation, so this is going to be a big change for us.  We plan to do some traveling in July, 1st to celebrate my retirement.  Then, noting we’ll celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in 64 days, we’ll be taking some time to get away from it all.  Once we’re back home, I’ll cut the lawn and then we’ll head off to Pennsylvania to visit my folks for a week or so.

When August rolls around I’ve got a couple of home projects that I’ve been putting off until I’d have enough days-off in a row to knock them out since at least one of them will be really disruptive: tearing out the shower stall in our master bath.  And, in and amongst all of those activities I plan to be hitting the exercise room every morning and getting out on a bicycle as often as possible — mostly with Debbie on the tandem — as we work to rebuild our base miles and get back into proper form for cycling.

We’re also considering a possible change in housing, but that will be one of our big retirement projects, i.e., figuring out where, when, etc.  As much as we love our home, our neighborhood has gotten a bit tired and home values have stagnated.  We probably should have moved about 15 years ago, but as I said… we really do love our home.  So, that decision and related planning will be right at the top of the list.  I doubt we’ll move out of the area, as Debbie likes being close to the kids so they can visit and so she can help out as needed. With a 4th granddaughter on the way in October, you can imagine why.  Ideally, I’d like to find a small patch of land and build a home with a large outbuilding to suit our needs but with all of the urban sprawl around us there’s not much in the way of affordable land left close-in.  So, who knows what we’ll find.  But, as I said, that’s our first big project and who knows, we might just hang-in here a little longer.

Exciting times.

 

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Are Tandem Rallies Really Just for Old Folks With Deep Pockets?

Here’s something to chew on: I’ve come to suspect the ever-escalating cost and time requirements for tandem rallies may be a bit of a barrier to new participants who may or may not yet see the value.  More to the point, here’s what I was pondering on the 6-hour long motorcycle ride home yesterday from a motorcycle rally down in Panama City Beach based on what I saw there and similar questions regarding the future of motorcycle rallies: 

What must younger, 30-something, would-be tandem cyclists think when they do the math and discover the cost of attending a tandem rally is something around $500 – $750, or even more for a 2-3 day event.

Put yourself in the shoes of a late 20’s to mid-30’s couple who have just discovered tandem cycling and learned about tandem rallies while surfing the web.  Assuming they decide to give it a go, they arrive to find the average age of the attendees to be something at or close to 60, maybe even 65?  Even more amazing is seeing nearly 1/2 of the riders aboard $8,000 – $10,000 tandem, with a few even costing quite a bit more than the car they drove to get to the event.

And, what did they get for their $200+ and sometimes plus-plus registration fees?  Some cue sheets, snacks that may or may not be anything they like, some kind of limited lunch fare that really doesn’t have much of what they’d normally eat when cycling and a buffet style dinner. So, how does that break down at $100 – $170 per person anyway remembering that we’re still paying our own way for cocktails & dinner-out on Friday and lunch on Sunday?

A free breakfast is included in the hotel cost so that wasn’t part of the rally fee.  That leaves $5 for snacks, a $12 dollar lunch and a $25 dinner?  Wait, that math doesn’t work. What if they double all of that? Nope, still not enough. Porta Potties?  Well, OK. They may assume old folks need those a lot more often than they do. And, there is of course probably insurance but how much can that be per-person? What ARE they missing that adds value to THEIR tandem rally experience?  No, they weren’t able to attend the Thursday social event or Friday ice cream social because they both work for a living and, well, in addition to having  to burn a vacation day or two they’d have to drop another $150 a night for the hotel room, once all of the taxes and other fees get added in.

As for the riding, they’ll just find a few other couples to ride with because, after all, what makes tandem riding special is the social interaction, right?  But wait, most of the couples at the rally already know each other and seem to have their own group ride plans sorted out even before the mass start?  Wait, someone said there’s no mass start at this rally?  Oh, that’s a different rally, but they’ll still need to decide pretty early in the ride which of the various ride options to take. Now, what if they pick a route, distance or have a riding tempo that leaves them riding alone at the rally when they could have done a ride at home for $15 with a stop at Subway for lunch at the turn-around point.


So, I rhetorically ask: Has tandem cycling become an exclusive activity for older couples with a lot of leisure time and disposable income?  To be perfectly candid, it sure looks that way to me, at least when it comes to domestic road tandem events here in the United States.  Again, I fear there may be a cause / effect relationship to why we’re seeing the same people at tandem rallies today as we saw 20 years ago, with very few “youngsters” either showing up or hanging around. We love our tandem friends and family and look forward to seeing them, but where’s the next generation that tandem cycling will need if it’s to thrive and survive beyond the old guard?

Food for thought.

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I’m Thinking We’ll Be Doing Social Riding at GTR….

Try as we might, we’ve just not been able to get out and build a whole lot of base miles this year due to a variety of things.  So, as we look forward to the Georgia Tandem Rally in late May, we’re thinking that we’ll be hooking up with friends who are more interested in social riding vs. hammering away at the hills around Athens, Georgia.  Mind you, we’ll have our able-bodied Turbo on the back of the triplet, Miss Lisa. So, we’ll have power to spare in certain situations; however, we may be range limited by that lack of base miles.

So, our apologies to Lisa in advance; just know that we’ll endeavor to get in as many miles as you’d like!

With that in mind, I would note that we have been riding… just not lots of long road rides of late.  I’ve been able to get out on our local trails with my mountain bike for a few heart-pounding loops after work and on an off-Friday which really felt good.  One of my retirement goals is to entice Miss Debbie back out on the Ventana for some two-up riding on our local trails.  If I can make that part of our regular routine, perhaps… just perhaps we’ll one day be able to try another group off-road tandem ride.  Not wanting to push my luck, mind you.  I’ll be more than happy to spend the rest of my days getting her out to play in the dirt by our lonesome now and again.

If I fail in my quest to return her to the dirt, rest assured we’ll be getting a lot of base miles on the tandem after June 30th.  Yes, we’ve got a few trips lined up for July and August, but we’ll no longer be constrained to my one or two weekend days-off for riding opportunities.  We had a little bit of a sampler of what lies ahead in retirement on Saturday when we headed off to lunch on the Harley, but returned to the house and got in a nice 20+ mile ride on the tandem.  Sadly, the pollen was pretty darn oppressive on Saturday which is why we opted to cut our ride a bit short.  But, in spite of having watery eyes, raspy throats and sneezing fits throughout our ride, we still had a good time and felt pretty good about our pace.  The tandem even cooperated pretty darn well, with just one over-shift that was clearly of my-doing.

Anyway, just wanted to reassure our readers that tandem cycling is still alive and well in the Livingood household.

 

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Finally!

For the first time in I don’t know how long, we finally had a nice spring day.  Temps in the 70’s, sunshine, a moderate breeze and, well, a pollen count of 6,000 (unhealthy)…  3 out of 4 was good enough! 

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Rain Insurance for Rides & Rallies

It’s an organizer’s least favorite thing to hear, but there are a lot of times when we’ll go ahead and pay for the Rain Insurance on pay-to-play cycling or tandem event where you’re not locked into a situation where you’ll forfeit a significant portion of your registration fees.

For those who’ve never heard of rain insurance, it’s quite simply paying the added cost for late or same-day registration fees associated with an event.  Or, in some cases, simply eating a non-refundable registration fee but cancelling your lodging reservations before you hit the cancellation deadline.

This weekend we’d planned to make the 2 hour and 15 minute drive over to Scottsboro, Alabama, for the Alabama Tandem Weekend.  The event kicked off on Thursday night with three subsequent days of cycling.  However, since I still work for a living, we decided we’d just get in two days of riding and pay the non-discounted room rate at the host hotel for a one-night stay and get in two days of cycling.

We used this approach for a couple of reasons, the biggest was the weather in April and — more to the point — the weather of late: we’ve not had many weekends with nice weather thus far in 2018.

As the weekend approached it became pretty clear by Tuesday that the weather for Scottsboro’s weekend was taking a turn for the worse and by Thursday it was looking bad enough for the organizers to move Saturday’s longer, more scenic rides to Friday so that the folks who made the trip to Scottsboro would have at least one great day of riding on a warm, sunny day in Alabama.

We’ve only had to invoke the big write-off of a tandem rally registration fee once, three-years ago when the 2015 Southern Tandem Rally was held in Richmond, Virginia.  Hurricane Joaquin was working it’s way up the eastern seaboard as the rally approached and we decided we’d come out way ahead if we forewent the 1,300-mile road trip and three night hotel costs and simply wrote-off $200 rally registration fees, aka, the rain insurance premium.  It turned out to be the right thing do for all reasons, other than missing out on visiting with friends.

Closer to home, there have been several one-day events where we’ve either forfeited the pre-paid event fee or opted to pay the bump-up for same day registration in the event the weather went south on us.  I’d say on the whole we’re still ahead of the game.

All of that said, we were really looking forward to popping-in on the Alabama Tandem Weekend for the Saturday ride, meals & social engagement and then the Sunday ride before heading back home.  Sure wish we could get a couple of Spring weekends with warm and sunny

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Tandems East Expo, 7-8 April in Pittsgrove, NJ

Sadly, we can’t make it up to visit our friends at Tandems East this year.  But, for those of you within a few hours of Southern New Jersey, it might be worth a portion of your weekend to check out Tandems East’s annual Tandem Expo.

Full details here:  http://www.tandemseast.com/events/tandem_expo_2018.html

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(A) Yes we did…, and (B), Sadly, no we’re not.

(A) YES WE DID… we finally had a day when the weather was nice enough to entice out on the tandem!

This past Saturday provided us with just the window of opportunity we needed to squeeze a tandem ride in between a late lunch and a late afternoon social commitment.  It was one of the first weekends when it wasn’t too wet, windy and/or cold for heading out on the tandem.  It wasn’t a long ride, just 20 miles… and we didn’t set any records.  But, the bike felt pretty good underneath us and traffic wasn’t all that bad / annoying.

Given some issues I’m having with my left wrist and right elbow, on-the-road selfies aren’t something that I can easily manage at the moment so the only evidence of our ride that I was able to collect were these post-ride photos snapped out relaxing on the breezeway after returning home.

 

We’d thought we might be able to attend next weekend’s Tandem Club of Georgia monthly group ride; however, fate intervened to make sure we couldn’t do that because (a) the ride was postponed a month due to weather-related issues (a recent tornado skipped through our ride route and the weekend outlook isn’t promising) and low interest likely due to the latter, and (b) we’re making a last minute trip up to Pennsylvania on Saturday morning so we can surprise my step-dad of 32-years and for his 90th birthday.

My step-brother Mark and his wife Patty are driving down Friday to take Bill and my mother out to dinner on Saturday — which Bill knows about — but we’ll be flying in on Saturday at noon unbeknownst to him so we can join them for dinner.  It will be a short trip, as we’re flying back home on Sunday afternoon.  But, we surprised him for his 80th and he seemed to appreciate that so we’re going for the double!

(B) Sadly, No We’re Not…, going to be at Tandems East’s Tandem Weekend in Lancaster, PA, on July 14-15.  But, we have a good excuse: July 16th is our 25th wedding anniversary!  It’s not that we wouldn’t enjoy visiting with tandem friends and enjoying the camaraderie at a tandem rally, we just think we need to do something that we don’t do all that often and that is get away just by ourselves for a week or so. If all goes according to plan, I should be retired by early July so we won’t be constrained by vacation time… only by our retirement budget!  So, we hope to become frugal travelers… whatever that means.  We’ve never tried it before, but we have good role models in our friends Linda & Eric who have mastered the art of frugality.  I tried it, but didn’t like it. Of course, I lacked the proper motivation. NOW we have the proper motivation: early retirement. Wish us luck!

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