Have You Decided Which Rallies You’ll Attend in 2020?

Yes, it’s a New Year which brings with it all kinds of fresh commitments and resolutions.  If those include “attend our first tandem rally” or setting any other kind of tandem cycling event milestone, now would be a good time to figure out which of the events to put on your planning calendar.

As in the past, we continue to maintain a  TANDEM RALLIES & EVENT LISTING page.  On it you’ll find the rallies that we’re familiar with listed in chronological order with the dates and location of the rally, a brief summary of the costs when known and a direct link to the rally website or Facebook page embedded in the rally name.  Just click on that underlined rally name and you’ll be taken directly to the web-based resources that the organizers have made available.

A few of the rallies have already invited folks to begin booking hotel rooms or even opened registration.  A few others will be opening registration within the next few weeks.   Some of these events do “fill up” when they are constrained by the number of guests their hotels and/or banquet facilities can accommodate, so be mindful… if you wait until the last minute they may or may not be able to accommodate you, even if there are cancellations.

As for us, you can be assured that we will endeavor to attend as many of the rallies that we have in the past, e.g., the Alabama Tandem Weekend, Georgia Tandem Rally and Southern Tandem Rally. We’re working to resolve a conflict with the Tandems East Tandem Weekend and hope to make it all work out.  If not, perhaps the Mid Atlantic Tandem Enthusiasts (MATES) rally may make it back on our schedule.

If suffices to say, we enjoy the rally experience…

The list of 76 tandem rallies we’ve attended since 1998 + the 22 motorcycle rallies we’ve attended since 2011:

  • 1998
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Fairhope, AL
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Selma, AL
  • 1999
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Auburn, AL
    • Santana Mother’s Day Rally, Asheville, NC
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Madison, GA  (First Year)
  • 2000
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Auburn, AL
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Madison, GA
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Callaway Gardens, GA
  • 2001
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Auburn, AL
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Athens, GA
    • Eastern Tandem Rally, Frederick, MD
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Clemson, SC
    • North Carolina Off-Road Tandem Weekend, Asheville, NC
  • 2002
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Auburn, AL
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Athens, GA
    • Mid-Atlanta Tandem Enthusiasts, Winchester, VA
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Diamondhead, MS
  • 2003
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Trussville, AL
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Statesboro, GA
    • Tennessee Tandem Rally, Knoxville, TN  (First Year)
    • Midwest Tandem Rally, Dayton, OH
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Tallahassee, FL
  • 2004
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Trussville, AL
    • Southwest Tandem Rally, New Braunfels, TX
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Statesboro, GA
    • Tennessee Tandem Rally, Knoxville, TN
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Charlotte, NC
    • North Carolina Off-Road Tandem Weekend, Tsali, NC
  • 2005
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Madison, GA
    • Tennessee Tandem Rally, Knoxville, TN
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Kingsport, TN
  • 2006
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Americus, GA
    • Tennessee Tandem Rally, Knoxville, TN
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Sanford, NC
  • 2007 
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, LaGrange, GA
    • Tennessee Tandem Rally, Knoxville, TN
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Chattanooga, TN
  • 2008 
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Albany, GA
    • Tennessee Tandem Rally, Knoxville, TN
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Bowling Green, KY
  • 2009 
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Athens, GA
    • Tennessee Tandem Rally, Knoxville, TN
    • Eastern Tandem Rally, Stausburg, PA
    • Southern Tandem Rally, The Villages, FL
  • 2010
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Eufaula, AL
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Covington, GA
    • Appalachian Off-Road Tandem Adventure, Asheville, NC
    • Tennessee Tandem Rally, Franklin, TN
    • Mid-Atlanta Tandem Enthusiasts, Warrenton, VA
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Florence, AL 
  • 2011
    • North Florida Invitational Weekend, St. Augustine, FL 
    • Santana Chattanooga Rally, Chattanooga, TN
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Macon, Georgia
    • Tennessee Tandem Rally, Franklin, TN
    • Tandems East Tandem Weekend, Pennsville, NJ
    • Thunder Beach/Spring Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
  • 2012
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Sylacauga, AL  (On Triplet)
    • Thunder Beach/Fall Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Dublin, GA  (On Triplet)
    • Tennessee Tandem Rally, Knoxville, TN  (10th and Final Year)
    • Southern Tandem Rally, St. Augustine, FL (On Triplet)
    • Thunder Beach/Fall Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
  • 2013
    • Thunder Beach/Spring Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Covington, GA  (On Triplet)
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Cullman, AL
    • Biketoberfest, Daytona Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Thunder Beach/Fall Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
  • 2014
    • Bike Week, Daytona Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Thunder Beach/Spring Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Athens, GA  (On Triplet)
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Cullman, AL
    • Thunder Beach/Fall Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Biketoberfest, Daytona Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
  • 2015
    • Bike Week, Daytona Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Thunder Beach/Spring Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Covington, GA  (On Triplet)
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Richmond, VA (Hurricane Interruptus)
    • Biketoberfest, Daytona Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally / Accident)
  • 2016
    • Bike Week, Daytona Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Thunder Beach/Spring Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Huntsville, AL
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Statesboro, GA  (On Triplet)
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Cookeville, TN
    • Thunder Beach/Fall Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
  • 2017
    • Thunder Beach/Spring Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Valdosta, GA
    • Tandems East Tandem Weekend, Manheim, PA
  • 2018
    • Bike Week, Daytona Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Thunder Beach/Spring Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Athens, GA  (On Triplet)
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Venice, FL
    • Biketoberfest, Daytona Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)  (our 20th motorcycle rally)
  • 2019
    • Bike Week, Daytona Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Pell City, AL
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Covington, GA  (On Triplet) (our 21st GTR)
    • Tandems East Tandem Weekend, Bethlehem, PA (our 75th tandem rally)
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Greenwood, SC  (On Triplet)
    • Thunder Beach/Fall Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
  • 2020 – Tentative Plan
    • March – Bike Week, Daytona Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • April – Alabama Tandem Weekend, Dothan, AL
    • May – Tandems East Tandem Weekend, Wildwood, NJ
    • May – Georgia Tandem Rally, Tifton, GA  
    • Oct – Southern Tandem Rally, Tupolo, MS
Posted in Events, Tandem Rallies | 2 Comments

Saddle Cover Replacement: 1st Effort

Back in August it became apparent that Debbie’s 8-year old Fi’zi:k Vitesse saddle on our Calfee tandem was wearing out.  Well, to be more specific, the perforated pleather saddle cover was suffering from delamination and, as it turns out, gel material leaching through the worn-out coating on the saddle cover that was designed to function as a barrier.

I considered taking a shot at recovering the saddle with some new leather as a fix, but didn’t want to get halfway into the project and find that the saddle was not salvageable.  So, I went off in search of a new saddle which is far more challenging than it used to be since brick and mortar, local bike shops (LBS) are now far and few between and don’t stock a lot different saddles: internet commerce has pretty much killed robust inventories at the LBS.  Thankfully, and based on the success I had with the Bontrager Montrose Comp saddle I found for the Calfee when my also very-old Selle Italia ProLink saddle failed at last year’s Southern Tandem Rally in Venice, Florida, they had a couple different Bontrager saddles that looked similar in size and shape to Debbie’s Vitesse.  However, all of them would be far more firm than the worn-out gel saddles, so this was not going to be a seamless saddle change… as few ever are.

To make a long-story short, the first Bontrager saddle she tried which was a women’s specific design was the Yatra Comp (at left) which did not work well and was returned under Bontrager / Trek saddles 30-day fit guarantee.  However, the Arvada Comp (at right) while definitely less forgiving than her Fi’zi:k Vitesse provided her good support and sufficient comfort without causing any chafing.  She’s since gotten very comfortable with it and we also replaced a 7-year old Fi’zi:k Vitesse that was on the triplet as it was also starting to show signs of cover delamination.  Again, she had no issues with the saddle during our 130-miles of riding at this year’s Southern Tandem Rally.

Getting back to the subject of this blog entry, after making sure the Bontrager Arvada Comp worked-well, I began my experiment to see if I could successfully re-cover Debbie’s old saddle with new leather to give it a second life.  The project was made a bit more challenging since the Vitesse has two gel inserts incorporated into the saddle’s construction.  However, since there was nothing to lose, I pressed ahead:

  • Step #1 was removing the screw-on, plastic corner guards and stripping-off the old leather cover without doing any significant damage to either the foam foundation or the gel inserts. A few bits of foam came off with the cover which was good; however, peeling the gooey, fragile gel away from the cover was a bigger challenge and I was able to salvage most of it.
  • Step #2 was finding the right piece of leather that would be the correct weight, size and not insanely expensive to make the project feasible. Thankfully, I found a 15″ x 15″ remnant of black, 4 oz Italian cowhide leather skin for $15 that is large enough to cover two saddles.
  • Step #3 was trimming the new leather to fit the saddle, which sounds a bit easier than it is.  The old cover could be used as a guide, but you have to wait until the leather is soaked in water then stretched over the saddle and allowed to dry before you can do a final trim to fit.
  • Step #4 was soaking the leather and then stretching it over the old saddle. I elected to use my electric stapler to secure the leather to the inside lip of the saddle, much the same as you do with a motorcycle saddle.  It allows you to get a very tight pull on the leather without marring the exposed leather with spring clips that don’t hold nearly as well as the heavy-duty staples.  Note that the thick plastic saddle shell requires the highest impact setting on the stapler, otherwise the staples just fold or shoot off into space when they hit the hard plastic.
  • Step #5 was letting the wet leather dry and conform to the saddle overnight so that it could be removed and still retain the shape needed when doing the final installation with spray-on 3M 77 adhesive.  Let me also note, using thicker and more durable 4 oz leather vs. 2 oz or 3 oz also complicates things since getting a tight fit at the nose of the saddle is extremely challenging. 

At left is the Vitesse off the triplet, next to it is the one being recovered with the cover removed and gel inserts exposed. Next to that is the old worn-out cover and at right is the new piece of 4oz leather after being trimmed, soaked and allowed to conform to the saddle.

  • Step #6 was removing the staples and the now-dry cover from the saddle so the saddle could be prepped for applying the adhesive.
  • Step #7 was taping off the parts of the saddle base and rails that would not be covered with spray-on adhesive using automotive (green) painters tape around the edges then the wider, blue household painters tape.
  • Step #8 was unique to the gel saddle inserts in that I elected to cover them with plastic stretch wrap that will hopefully act as a barrier between the gel and the leather cover. Again, this is a carry over from motorcycle saddle recovering where you put a plastic membrane between the leather and the foam core to keep the foam from getting wet when the bike sits out or is ridden in wet weather.
  • Step #9 was applying the 3M 77 spray adhesive to the underside of the leather cover and to the saddle foam, plastic membrane over the gel inserts and around the outer, underside edge of the saddle.  You need to work fast with the adhesive as it begins to set-up in 30 seconds and will hold fast after 60 seconds. So, the trick is making sure your pre-formed leather is centered and aligned as you put it across the top of the saddle and then work it on to the saddle from the middle to outside edges.  The adhesive is so tacky that you can pretty much hand press the leather on the outer, underside edge and get a very good bite.  However, I still used clamps in a few spots around the nose where the leather was bunched up to make sure there was a very secure bond.  It also helped to “roll the nose edge” on a smooth, hard clean surface to give it a tight, smooth fit.
  • Step #10 was letting the adhesive dry for 30 minutes before “messing” with the saddle.
  • Step #11 was removing the tape from the underside and then trimming any excess leather from the perimeter edge.  I should note, the Vitesse has a funky, non-functional “notch” at the back that would normally require doing some cut & sew work to properly cover. I opted to just wrap it and leave a void back there on this 1st effort.
  • Step #12 was re-installing the screw-on corner guards and pressing in the Fi’si:k plug in the back of the saddle: I believe there’s a water bottle cage mount that can go into that space.
  • Step #13 was cleaning the adhesive residue off the cover that will invariably get on your hands while you’re installing the cover over the saddle.

And, here’s the final product, with the recovered saddle at left and an original at the right.

It was a very good learning experience.  Obviously, the less complex the saddle is the easier it would be to recover.  Some of our Selle Italia “TransAm” saddles with their anatomic cutouts and other features tend to be made from up to 7 pieces of leather that are stitched together, so I’m not sure if that would be something I’d want to tackle vs. a good-old Flite Saddle.

I’ll probably re-cover Debbie’s other Vitesse saddle just in case she decides she’d prefer the gel saddle she’s been riding for the past 8 years vs. the Bontrager Arvada Comp at some point as I’m sure the second one’s gel inserts are in better shape and, well, I’ve learned a few things on this first saddle that should allow me to step-up-my-game on the second one.

Posted in Technology & Equip. | 1 Comment

Travel Journal: Norwegian Cruise to the Bahamas

A Unique Experience, To Be Sure

This past week Debbie and I did something we’ve never done before and something I said I had no interest in: we went on an all-inclusive ocean cruise.

This was a trip not of our own making, as some friends had already booked this very good deal on a short, Norwegian Cruise Line excursion off of Florida’s east coast with ports of call in Key West and three islands in the Bahamas: Freeport at Grand Bahama, Nassau in New Providence, and the Great Stirrup Cay in the Berry Islands. This cruise was originally scheduled for a port of call at Havana, Cuba, but all of that came to an end in early June and cruise lines like NCL were left scrambling to refill staterooms as their Cuba-bound guests began to cancel their trip.

We signed on to join them and tacked on a two-day visit in Florida ahead of the cruise that allowed us to have a Saturday evening out in Daytona Beach and a day at the Kennedy Space Center on the following Sunday before boarding the Norwegian Sun on Monday for the 5-day cruise.

I’ve just completed my 12,000-word travel journal with 80 photos to go along with the narrative over on our other blog, Mark & Debbie’s Travel Journal.  Be forewarned, if you print it out it will fill 21 sheets of paper if printed on both sides of the paper!  The link follows:


Posted in Cross Post: Riding Two-Up | Leave a comment

Preliminary 2020 Tandem Event Listings

As usual, with this year’s Southern Tandem Rally in the books I took a few minutes this morning to develop a Preliminary  Tandem Events Listing for both the Road and Off-Road Enthusiasts in the coming year.

Therefore, and in an effort to make sure the listing is both complete and accurate, I would respectfully ask any readers who are involved in organizing the various tandem events for 2020 to make sure your event(s) is included and that the links and other information is as up-to-date as you have available, recognizing final costs for registration, lodging and when registration will open-up may still be in development.  Just shoot me an Email or add a comment with the updated information to the event listing page.

Here are the direct links to the two different event lists:

If you visit these listings you’ll note there are still a few events left to go for 2019 including the Recumbent Cycle-Con Trade Show & Convention on 11-13 October at Nashville, TN; the Florida Tandem Rally, hosted by the PANTHERS, on 24-27 Oct at The Villages, FL; and for off-road tandem enthusiasts one last Self Organized Off-Road Tandem Adventure (S.O.O.R.T.A.), the Warrior Creek SOORTAon 12-14 Oct at Wilkesboro, NC.

If any of our readers happen to know of any new tandem clubs that have been formed or of previously established tandem clubs that are no longer active, please let me know about that as well.  You can find my current list of tandem clubs at the following direct link:

In closing, note that the links to these three resources can always be found just below the photo in our WordPress site’s banner.  Again, these resources were moved to this site from TheTandemLink.com which is now pretty much an archive site that I do not update due to some technical difficulties with both the host site and my very old PowerMac and Adobe PageMIll 3.0 software.

As always, thank you for your readership, support and comments. They are all sincerely appreciated.

Posted in Events, Off-Road Tandems, Tandem Rallies | 3 Comments

The 2019 Southern Tandem Rally in Greenwood, South Carolina

We headed off to Greenwood, South Carolina, at noon on Thursday where we spent three nights and three days visiting with friends we only see a couple times each year and cycling with dozens of other tandem teams around rural areas with what are usually some interesting history or simply points of interest.  Such was the case in and around Greenwood.  The weather was comfortable with very warm but not oppressively hot temperatures and there was zero rain, so that was nice.  The events we attended from Thursday’s social event to Friday’s ice cream social, Saturday’s catered lunch and evening banquet as well as our a few meals on our own that we shared with our riding companion for the weekend, Miss Lisa.  Sadly, I didn’t take a lot of photos for some reason so I’m still waiting to see if I can poach a few more from others as they begin to pop up.  But, without a doubt this year’s Southern Tandem Rally was one of if not THE best, right up there with the Tallahassee STR back in 2003 and the Charlotte STR in 2004.

Again, our thanks to those who always take lots of photos and share them via Facebook, etc., as without those this would be a visually uninteresting journal entry.

Monday: Getting the Triplet Ready for STR 

My only must-do project for the day was getting our nearly 11-foot long, 3-seat tandem down from the ceiling-mounted storage hooks it rests on when it’s not being used and getting it ready to ride at next weekend’s Southern Tandem Rally (STR).

As expected, the bike was covered with a coating of white paint dust from Friday’s door painting project, so there was that to deal with.  But, more importantly, I needed to finish putting new drive chains on the bike, move two pair of pedals over from our mountain tandem, reprogram a small computer and then test ride the bike to make sure everything is still working correctly before giving it a good cleaning.  After doing all of my wrenching on the bike then tweaking the shifting and brakes to get them working smoothly the bike received a much-needed bath and is almost ready for the weekend.  The one thing I still want to do is to change out both Debbie’s and my saddles to match the ones we now have on our tandem. Both of those saddles are showing their age at this point and it’s just a good time to change them since we can still get the same saddles we’ve recently installed on our tandem.  I’ll do that tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday: New Saddles for the Triplet & Getting The Hauler Ready

Today’s to-do list included heading over to FreeFlite bicycle’s to pick up new saddles for the triplet.  I should note, during last year’s STR in Venice, Florida, a saddle rail on our 10-year old Selle Italia saddle on our tandem failed about 5 miles from the end of the ride making for a challenging finish on Saturday.  Thankfully I found a suitable replacement at a local bike shop. However, as I pulled the triplet down from storage and got it ready for the weekend rally in South Carolina I was reminded that the saddle on it was a somewhat older version of the same saddle and likely nearing the end of its service life.  Moreover, we’d just replaced Debbie’s Fiz’ik saddle on the tandem as the 10-year old cover was worn out and the saddle on the triplet was of the same age and in need of replacement.  So, rather than tempting fate I decided it was a good time to buy replacement saddles for the triplet since the exact brand and model of Bontrager saddles we were riding on the Calfee tandem were still available.

Thursday: We Head to Carolina & Begin our 3-Day Tandem Rally

My day began at 12:30am when I found myself wide awake after getting about 4 hours of sleep.  Rather than tossing and turning and disturbing Debbie, I got up and headed into my office and fired-up my laptop to see what was going on in the world and to get a head start on Wednesday’s journal entry.  As the sun came up, I pulled our Toyota Tacoma truck out of the garage and went about getting the triplet up on top of the truck for our 3-hour drive to STR at Greenwood, South Carolina.

We left for STR around 12:30pm and had a fairly easy first hour’s drive across the top end of Atlanta on Interstate 285 and then North on Interstate 85 where we use the Express Lane with our Florida SunPass, keeping our fingers crossed it would work in Georgia as advertised. We made the last two hours of the trip on rural back highways with little to no traffic after we were out of the Atlanta metro area, which was nice.  We made one stop so Debbie could take a bio-break and we also grabbed a chicken sandwich we split since neither of us had lunch.

After checking into the Fairfield Inn we made our way over to the Mill House for the rally check-in and reception. We had a really nice time seeing all of our old friends from previous tandem rallies and ended up staying there for dinner with our friend and riding partner, Lisa, as did many of the other folks from the rally.

Sadly, I went to sleep early and found myself awake at 11:30pm.  I spent the rest of the night tossing and turning and wrestling with some lingering issues from our other interests and activities, somewhat wishing I’d have been back at home where I could have worked through the problems instead of letting a friend find his own way.

Friday:  A Visit to Abbeville and the Ice Cream Social

After the restless night we headed down the hall for breakfast at the Fairfield lobby around 7:00am where we found our friend Lisa and others.  It was 8:00am when we headed over to the ride start at the Holiday Inn Express, about a mile away.  Rather than riding the triplet over I decided we’d leave it on the truck, unload it there and then hopefully be able to put it in the tandem storage / meeting room after our ride so we’d only have to put it back up on the truck once during the visit when we headed home on Sunday.

Trinity Episcopal Church, circa 1860

We opted to ride the middle distance of 46 miles, with a special “muffin stop” about 12-miles into the ride at the town square in Abbeville, South Carolina.  I must say, Abbeville was a very beautiful place packed with all kinds of history, both in terms of architecture as well as events; from the city’s website:

Abbeville was settled in 1758 by a group French Huguenots. In 2008, Abbeville celebrated its 250th anniversary. The City was officially incorporated as a municipality within the State of South Carolina on December 20, 1832. Since then, Abbeville has experienced many exciting and turbulent events. The city played a key role during the Civil War, and that legacy remains pristinely preserved. Abbeville is known the “Birthplace and Deathbed of the Confederacy”.  On what is now known as Secession Hill, the meeting which launched the state’s secession from the Union took place on Nov. 22, 1860. Five years later in 1865, Jefferson Davis and his cabinet decided to dissolve the Confederacy at the Burt-Stark Mansion, a stately home right off from Abbeville’s Historic Court Square.

We rode into town with a group of six other tandems that were riding along at a pretty good clip for the first part of the ride.  The teams whom I remember being with us included Alan & Joanne, from Greenwood, SC, on their orange & purple Co-Motion, Mark & Char from Greer, SC, on their black & white daVinci, Grant & Susan from Ingleside, IL, on their yellow Santana, Lonnie & Carol from Anna, OH, on their white and black Calfee, Dwight & Donna from Charlotte, SC, on their Ti Santana, and Tim & Vickie from Pembroke Pines, FL, on their Tequila Sunrise Co-Motion.  Our hosts, Roger & Eve, had a nice refreshment table set up in the lovely, tree-shaded town square next to their still-standing Confederate War Monument, and a local bakery kept the table stocked with delicious bite-size muffins. From there we headed out into the more hilly section of Friday’s ride and at some point our riding companions had dropped back and then split off on a ‘short-cut’ that locals Alan & Joanne new that eliminated most of the climbing.  We encountered a nice couple from the Fox Lake area in Northeast Illinois named Grant & Susan, and also caught back up to Tim & Vickie who had rolled out of the Abbeville stop a bit ahead of us.  We only learned that our friends had taken the shortcut when we pulled into a store stop in Due West, SC, and found them already there and looking somewhat relaxed.  Due West is the home of Erskine College, founded by the Presbyterian Church in 1839.  From there we made our way back to Greenwood and the Holiday Inn Express lead by Alan & Joanne who took us on a few more detours around some road construction and then up to Hodges, a small town with a quaint little store owned by a friend.

As hoped, we were able to find a space that was long enough to park the triplet in the bike storage room at the Holiday Inn so we’d be able to leave it there instead of having to put it back on top of the truck, which was great!  We also had a chance to see our friends Ric & Marcia from Houston, TX, who were there providing support for the rally as they do for just about all of the major tandem rallies such as the Mid-West, Southeast, Missouri, Colorado, Southern and Georgia events.  They are amazing…

From the Holiday Inn Express we headed the mile back towards our hotel and stopped at the Chili’s restaurant where we had lunch at their bar.  Debbie and I split a very tasty Southwest Chicken Caesar salad, rehydrated with some frozen margaritas and our friend Lisa did nearly the same, substituting a craft beer for the maggie.  From there we headed back to the Fairfield Inn where we thought we might spend some time at the pool and relax a bit before heading out to find a place for dinner and then heading to the ice cream social at the former Federal Building which has since been converted into the Greenwood Visitor’s Center and Art Gallery.  Well, the pool was something of a bust as it was a very small indoor pool and spa in a very cold, dark space.  Not exactly what we needed, so we opted to simply rest in our room for a while before heading over to the Holiday Inn to see where anyone else might be headed for dinner.

We ended up going to Montague’s Restaurant, a diamond in the rough.  Opened back in 1985 in what was probably a newer, upscale shopping center that is now a bit distressed and anchored by a Dollar Store, Montague’s is a classic american “steak house” and bar that has the look and feel of Cheers, noting the clientele are mostly regulars who are all known by the seasoned barkeepers.  Yup, this was our kind of place and as you’d expect, we took our dinner at the bar.  Debbie and I split an amazing white and black sesame encrusted yellowfin tuna, seared and sliced and topped with a wasabi aioli and teriyaki glaze.

From there we made the short drive over to the Federal Building for the ice cream social and had a wonderful time visiting with old friends, noting this was our 19th Southern Tandem Rally since attending our first at Selma, Alabama, back in 1998. We’ve only skipped two that were held in North Carolina and cancelled on a third in Richmond, Virginia, as we knew all three would be rain-outs due to tropical storms and hurricanes that routinely pummel the Middle Eastern Seaboard during October.  It was a great way to wrap up our first day in Greenwood and the 41st Southern Tandem Rally.

In a spot of good news, while checking my Email after getting back to our room I saw where SunPass debited another $10 from my American Express card to replenish my toll account. That new activity confirmed our SunPass was, in fact, working on the Atlanta area Express Lanes so we’d be good-to-go to use the Express Lanes for the drive home if traffic began to back-up in the “free” lanes along Interstate 85 and 75.  Yes, it can add anywhere from $0.30 to $3.00 to the cost of a drive, but given that it keeps you out of stop-and-go traffic or other back-ups, it should be well worth it.

Saturday: The Siege of “96” and a Wonderful Lunch & Banquet

Sadly, it was another restless night for me and I’ll be darned if I know why.  Thankfully, I stayed in bed and rested instead of getting up and killing time on my laptop so while I didn’t feel like I’d gotten enough sleep, I did feel rested when we finally got up and headed to breakfast at 7:00am.

Many of our riding South Carolina riding companions for the weekend.

It was 8:00pm when we met Lisa and drove the mile over to the Holiday Inn Express for the start of today’s ride where the historic highlight was a stop at the National Historic Site at the city of “Ninety-Six” where the British Army had established a fort in 1781 during the Revolutionary War.  All three ride options would visit Ninety-Six and we originally planned to ride the 59-mile route, but were leaning towards the shorter 47-mile route since that’s what the majority of our riding companions would be doing.   In addition the folks who were generally riding with us on Friday, we also had Richard & Karen from Simpsonville, SC, on their Ti tandem and Larry & Jennifer from from Moore, SC, on their white Cannondale and a few other couples whose names escape me.

Anyway, it was wonderful just driving over to the Holiday Inn Express and then pulling our triplet out of the bike storage room.  After the usual pre-ride activities and riders meeting we rolled-out and about 18 miles and an hour later we arrived at the National Park.

Sadly, we’ve still not learned to stop and smell the roses on tandem rallies; instead, we go out for a brisk-paced ride and minimize the time lost during the ride so that we can reach our lunch stop or whatever the final destination might be as soon as possible. In doing so, we miss out on a lot.. but we’re hardly alone in this.  So, when we arrived at the National Park it became very clear we would have had to dedicate about an hour of our time to properly tour the actual revolutionary groundworks that are considered to be the best preserved in the country.  So, the stop essentially became a restroom break at the park facilities adjacent to the parking lot and my “tour” ended up being a virtual one I took on line after the ride; our loss to be sure.

Anyway, here’s a brief history about the “Star Fort” that was built during late 1780 and early 1781 by Loyalists and their slaves from South Carolina and the short but failed siege by Patriot forces under the command of General Nathaniel Greene that took place in late May and June of 1781 I pulled from Wikipedia:

The British Army’s “southern strategy” for winning the American Revolutionary War, which had been successful in taking Charleston and winning submission of much of South Carolina and Georgia, hit a stumbling block in March 1781, after General Lord Cornwallis defeated Continental Army General Nathanael Greene at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in Greensboro, North Carolina. Cornwallis had suffered significant casualties and subsequently moved his army to Wilmington, North Carolina. Greene, whose army was still largely intact after that battle, took advantage of Cornwallis’ move to march into South Carolina and begin operations to eliminate the British from that state.

The Siege of Ninety Six was a siege in western South Carolina late in the American Revolutionary War. From May 22 to June 18, 1781, Continental Army Major General Nathanael Greene led 1,000 troops in a siege against the 550 Loyalists in the fortified village of Ninety Six, South Carolina. The 28-day siege centered on an earthen fortification known as Star Fort. Despite having more troops, Greene was unsuccessful in taking the town, and was forced to lift the siege when Lord Rawdon approached from Charleston with British troops.

The area is now protected as Ninety Six National Historic Site and was designated a National Historic Landmark. The surviving Loyalists were later relocated by the Crown and granted land in Nova Scotia, where they named their township Rawdon to commemorate their rescuer.

An artists concept of the original Star Fort and what remains of the Earth Works today.

From the National Park we rode another 14-miles to where STR Co-Host Roger had a refreshment stop set up alongside the road where our group took a short break before knocking out another 12-miles to put us at the buffet cold-cut lunch in downtown Greenville.  The pavillion was perfect for a group of our size and the city had set up enough tables and chairs such that none of the 170 or so folks at the rally had to go looking for a seat, noting that not everyone was there at the same time given the different ride lengths.  The food was wonderful and fresh and hit the spot for a warm, Saturday afternoon.  From lunch we had just a 3-mile ride back to the Holiday Inn Express where, once again, we were able to store the triplet instead of hauling it back to our own hotel on top of the truck.

As for our afternoon, we ran back over to our hotel to get into our swimsuits and returned to the Holiday Inn Express as it had a lovely outdoor pool that we, Lisa and a few other folks — Mark & Char, Wayne B. from Toccoa, as well as Dan & Dolores from Charlotte — took advantage of for a good hour or two.  Frankly, we were surprised there weren’t more folks out there but, then again, tandem rallies draw a bit of an older crowd noting that we’re still riding with some of the same folks whom we met back in 1998 when we were the “kids” in our late 30’s and early 40’s.

After getting our fill of the pool we headed back to the Fairfield Inn and got ready for the Saturday night banquet at the Sundance Gallery, a two-story brick commercial building built in 1901 that has been completely refurbished and turned into a two-story special event building and art gallery where the owner, Jon Holloway, displays some of his photography.  Our hosts provided beer, wine and soft drinks downstairs for the social hour and then we moved upstairs for the banquet.  Everything was simply spectacular, from the space to the meal and atmosphere.  Our threesome sat with our friends Bob & Jan from the Villages, FL and I believe it was Roy & Nancy from Gastonia, NC and Ray & Nancy from Dunedin, FL; again, just a great time.

Sunday:  A Ride To Promised Land & Returning Home to our Sanctuary

After yet another sleepless night and hotel lobby breakfast, we headed over to the Holiday Inn Express to begin our 3rd day on the triplet.  Once again, having the triplet stored in the bike room made the logistics a lot easier and you can rest assured that I won’t dilly-dally when registration for future tandem rallies open such that we end up in an overflow hotel instead of the host hotel.

After the usual pre-ride socializing and announcements we headed off the longer of the two ride route options, a 33-mile ride to “Promised Land” an incorporated city of just over 500 citizens.  Again, a little background on the unusual name seemed to be called for so a quick search on the internet yielded the following:

Located just off S.C. Highway 10 south of Greenwood, this rural African American community was created by freed slaves in the early 1870s. Before Promised Land, the 2,742-acre tract of land belonged to the estate of Samuel Marshall, a white plantation owner. Marshall’s heirs sold the land to the South Carolina Land Commission in 1869 at a rate of $10 per acre. The commission divided the property into fifty lots of approximately fifty acres each and then sold them to freed African Americans. Eleven families purchased lots in Promised Land in 1870; by 1872 some forty-eight families resided in the community. The name derived from their “promise” to pay the commission for the land. The sale of the Marshall property gave blacks in the upstate a rare opportunity to acquire land, which to most symbolized the essence of freedom in the post–Civil War years. Descendents of these original purchasers occupied the land continually throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century.

It was a spirited ride with one optional stop at a purportedly haunted home called the Rock House, built in 1922 by one Thomas Tolbert.

The small, but massive-looking four-room house with it’s 18″ thick walls and floors was built entirely of stone and concrete such that it would not burn, noting two of his family’s former homes were destroyed by arson and a fire of unknown origins.  So, he decided to build his home entirely of fire-resistant materials where all of the bachelor’s family keepsakes could be kept and even put the kitchen to a separate wooden structure behind the home. It was a simple structure with two rooms downstairs — a livingroom and dining room? — and two bedrooms upstairs that were also separated by a hallway. To get from the 1st to the 2nd floor there was a circular steel staircase in the middle of the hallway.  Interestingly, he chose to live in the cabin with the kitchen instead of the house.  He died in 1940 at 72-years of age after drinking his daily, afternoon eggnog that had been made with bad whiskey.  His younger brother — who was also sickened by the fatal eggnog — was ceded ownership of the home but never lived there.  When he died and left the property to his son in 1946… once again, the home was left vacant with all of it’s furnishings.  Over time, vandals and other trespassers would go to the house for illicit adventures and by the 1960’s when family members visited the house they found the interior in disrepair with the steel circular staircase propped against an outside wall which eventually disappeared.  The home and surrounding property which still belongs to the family has continued to fall into ruin ever since.

We should have probably stopped and spent time at the house just to give Debbie some much needed time off the bike, noting we were on our 3rd day of riding with an average speed of 18 to 19 mph for the 120-miles ridden thus far.  Yes, we were definitely pushing a hard pace given our average riding speeds our our solo rides from the house are typically around 16 mph.  Anyway, we pressed on and a few miles later got a short break at a small rail yard where a yard engine was shifting cars around and had the road blocked for a good 5 to 1o minutes. Once we were rolling again I backed way off on our pace and let our riding companions as well as the really fast riders who we’d hooked up with after their break at the Rock House ride on ahead of us.  Again, a great ride but one where we may have been riding a bit too hard and pulling a bit too long a few times that eventually took its toll when we didn’t get off the bike for a break at the 20-mile point.

After rolling into the Holiday Inn Express I quickly got the triplet on top of the Tacoma for the 3-hour drive home and then we headed off to find our hosts and friends so we could thank them and say our goodbyes.  After a quick trip back to the Fairfield and saying our goodbyes to Lisa, we grabbed a shower, checked-out and made a stop for lunch back at Chili’s… yes, it was that same Southwest Grilled Chicken Caesar.

We hit the road just before noon and the drive home was relatively uneventful, other than running into a bit of traffic that forced us off the rural highways and onto Interstate 85 far sooner than planned where we also ran into traffic at a construction site.  Sadly, this was well outside the Atlanta metro area so there wans’t an Express Lane option just yet.  However, having learned to use the “slow lane” when there are traffic back-ups with an occasional jump to the fast lane, we were able to keep moving through the back-ups and were only delayed about 6 minutes, all told.  However, as we got closer to Atlanta the Express Lanes became our savior as we bypassed what would have easily been a 10 to 15-minute back-up on Interstate 85 and had an effortless transition off of the Interstate 275 “top end perimeter” to Interstate 75 once again using the Express Lane to bypass the 1.5-mile back-up in the two normal transition lanes.  Frankly, we didn’t really need the Express Lanes after the Interstate transitions, but there’s just no easy way to get back on Interstate 75 once you’re on the Express Lane as the exits put you out on secondary roads that are often times a mile or so from the nearest interstate on-ramp.   But I digress…  Bottom Line: The Express Lanes are really nice and got me home with a lot less stress than I would have otherwise had on the Interstates today!

We arrived back at home at 3:15pm and began the process of cleaning-up and putting away:

  • The cycling clothes all needed to be laundered, that’s three sets of everything: shorts, jerseys, socks, gloves, his bandana and her sports-bra.
  • The triplet had to come off the truck, get cleaned and then put back up on the storage hooks where it will likely hang until next May and the 22nd Georgia Tandem Rally at Tifton, Georgia, about 3 hours south of home.
  • The bike racks needed to come off the truck and be put back in storage as well.
  • The tool box, spare parts boxes and cordless drill as well as my nifty new step ladder all had to be brought in and put back in their respective places.
  • The cycling computers/GPS units all needed to be cleaned and re-charged, those go back on the tandem along with the seat back and taillights which also came off the triplet before it when up on top of the Tacoma for the drive home.
  • The interior of the truck needed to be cleaned and the exterior washed before it got parked back in the garage, noting it goes into the shop for it’s 25,000 mile service and yet another attempt to get a drivetrain vibration diagnosed and repaired.
  • The yard and plants were all in dire need of water as it hasn’t rained in 8 days and our last rain was only a quarter of an inch, so there was that to attend to.

Rather than heading out to eat or pick up groceries we did something we haven’t done at this house in a couple years: we ordered a pizza from Papa John’s for dinner.  It was good and it allowed us to sit down and relax for the rest of the evening.

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S.O.O.R.T.A. Event Outlook

Our friends and the instigators behind the Self-Organized Off-Road Tandem Adventure (S.O.O.R.T.A.) events,  Chris and Monica Judd, passed along some reminders for upcoming gatherings.  You can also get plugged-in via the S.O.O.R.T.A. Facebook Group  and via Instagram if that’s your thing.

Stowe Vermont Labor Day Weekend
Aug 30-Sept 2, 2019

Hosted by: Al and Sandy Smith

There are fast, flowy and technical trails. There will be rocks, roots and you will climb. BUT they are fun and the area is beautiful. This event will be two weeks before ETOR (you don’t want to miss that).  Learn more

ETOR 2019 Kingdom Trails, East Burke, VT
Sept 12-15, 2019

Hosted by: Brenda & Larry Isherwood

ETOR 2019 will be at Kingdom Trails in East Burke, VT with the host lodging at Moose River Campground in nearby St. Johnsbury, VT.  Learn more

Warrior Creek SOORTA, Wilkesboro, NC
Oct 12 – 14 2019

Hosted by: Eric & Kim Marland and Carl & Ayako Peltzer

Come ride Warrior Creek in NC! Tandem fun on the trails around the Kerr Scott Reservoir and in nearby Wilkesboro. Trails include beginner and advanced terrain and have lots of berms.  Learn more

SOORTA TdF 2020, Gainesville, FL
Jan 10-12, 2020

Hosted by: Kris and Andrea Smith

Come join us in Alachua, Florida next January for the 2020 Tour de Felasco! We usually have a good turnout of tandems, so let’s get a campsite and turn it into a SOORTA event! Registration for the Tour opens October 1st 2019.  Learn more

SOORTA Ididaride 2020, White Springs, FL
Jan 24-25, 2020

Hosted by: Chris and Monica Judd

Lets SOORTA the SBA Ididaride 50 mile event once again!  Learn more

4th Annual SOORTA Santos, Ocala, FL
Feb 28 – March 1, 2020

Hosted by: Chris and Monica Judd & Sponsored by MTB Tandems, Inc.,

We’re happy to announce the dates and camping for SOORTA Santos 2020, Feb 27th – March 1st. As of Aug 11th 2019, 5 RV campsites remain and still plenty of tent camping.  Learn more

Wheels and Waterfalls, DuPont State Forest, NC
May 7 – 10, 2020

Hosted by: Kelly Rahn and Scott Wood

We will ride at DuPont State Recreational Forest! They have well-marked trails for all skill levels, most of which are between a half-mile and one mile in length resulting in an infinite number of potential loops.  Learn more

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The 2019 Tandems East Tandem Weekend


July has once again become a busy travel month for us, as it was last year.  Having just returned from our annual motorcycle trip down to Key West, Florida, last Sunday we began the week by taking care of things that needed to be done before we headed off to Pennsylvania on Wednesday morning for yet another 7-day trip that included a 3-day stay in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for the 2019 Tandems East Tandem Weekend.  We typically try to find a tandem cycling rally or event in late spring or early summer that’s not too far from Reading, PA, so we can combine a family visit with the event.  Tandems East’s Tandem Weekends have been “fitting the bill” quite nicely since we attended our 1st Tandem Weekend back in July of 2011.

So, it was on Wednesday, July 11th that we made the 780-mile drive to Pennsylvania which, thankfully, was a fairly easy drive without any major on-road delays.  We had a great visit with my folks on Wednesday night and Thursday before heading an hour East to Bethlehem, PA, for the 3-day Tandems East Tandem Weekend on July 12-14, where the Springhill Suites was home base.  We had a great time riding and visiting with friends on Friday and Saturday, but opted to skip Sunday’s ride so we could get back to my folks home and visit with my uncle and aunt who had popped-in for a visit over the weekend.  We’d not seen them in over a year so we were anxious to have that time together.  Alas, that is one of the risks when you combine pleasure trips with family visits and, well, we love our friends but family always takes priority… and good friends get that.

Getting Ready for Our Trip

On Tuesday July 10th, ahead of our drive to Pennsylvania on Wednesday, I began to get things together.  In that we were combining a visit with my folks with the Tandems East Tandem Weekend (TETW) I needed to take along a few extra hand tools for any projects my mother might come up with during the visit and she specifically asked me bring along my chainsaw; I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve taken a chainsaw to a road cycling event!   Next up was getting my home-made tandem transportation fixture down and the tandem loaded on to the fixture so it could go in the back of the truck.  There were, of course, my cycling toolbox, spare parts bag and the other “equipment” I like to take along when we go to cycling events so I can be self-sufficient if we have a problem with our own tandem, and offer up help to other folks who have minor issues.  It’s a lot more stuff to haul around, but that’s one of the reasons I have a truck with a full-length bed.  So, with everything staged and ready to go into the truck, I was able to get on with my day… packing our riding apparel and street clothes for the 7-day trip would wait until the afternoon.

Wednesday: The Drive to Pennsylvania

I was able to get about 2 hours of sleep between 11:00pm and 1:00am and then did my best to stay in bed in the hope I’d drift in and out of at least a light sleep… but no such luck. Around 5:00am Debbie’s alarm went off ending my failed attempt at getting sleep.

After a little breakfast and putting our last bags of street clothes in the truck we were out of the driveway and on the road at 6:00am, per plan.  On the bright side, it was a very easy drive with light traffic all the way into Pennsylvania, which is where we encountered our first heavy traffic.  That’s not to say the drive north on Interstate 81 wasn’t without its issues, as it’s still a major artery for over-the-road trucking and, God love the truckers, they’re doing their best to get where they’ve got to be.  As a motorist, I get that we’re truly a lower-priority in the big scheme of things, but it does get frustrating when you see trucks stacked-up side-by-side on a steep grade trying to pass each other where even the trucks in the passing lane aren’t able to run at the speed limit unless they’re running empty loads.  Cest la Vie.

We arrived at my folks home in Bernville, PA, around 5:40pm, got ourselves unpacked and settled-in and then sat down for a lovely dinner. As you might image, I was fading a bit given the long drive on very little sleep but did manage to stay awake until 11:00pm in the hopes going to bed at a semi-normal time would afford me a full-night’s rest.

Thursday:  A Day with my Folks & a Few Small Projects

We both slept really well overnight and after taking care of my daily home finance activities and updating my various blogs and journals, I turned my attention to a “to do” list I always ask my mother to work up so that I’ll have things to keep me busy during our visit. I’m just not one to sit still for more than an hour or so:

  • Attending to an ailing, fairly new Singer Featherweight sewing machine.
  • Recommending a repair method for six rotting boards on the upper front porch.
  • Getting measurements to replace a rotted side garage door threshold.
  • Taking care of getting a problematic window screen.
  • Dealing with a millipede problem.
  • Beginning a Window 10 update on my folks laptop.
  • Refining the balance of  my to-do list with tree removal, tree trimming, bench & pergola rebuilding, etc. for when we finished our tandem weekend and returned for a few days.

We had heavy rain all afternoon which gave me time to do some homework on the TETW as well as downloading the GPS ride routes to my laptop and, in turn, uploading them to our cycling computers.  We had a delicious dinner in and then a quiet night at the house.

Friday:  Day 1 of the Tandems East Tandem Weekend: Velodrome Night

I was happy to see the Windows 10 update on my parent’s laptop computer had finished running so I could reboot and get the final updates taken care. After that I downloaded an updated the “cleaner” program they already had on their computer to clean out the “junk” that Windows 10 found so their computer would run as efficiently as possible.

It was around 10:45am when we had the truck packed up again and headed off to the Tandem East Tandem Weekend (TETW) in Bethlehem, PA, and it was a very easy, hour-long drive.  Once there we were able to check-in to our hotel room, get registered for the event and headed off to find a Subway for lunch at the nearby Promenade Shopping Center.  Well, we struck out on the Subway but did find a really bar & grille called ‘Bar Louie” where we grabbed a delicious burger and salad for lunch.

It was around 1:00pm when we got dressed in our cycling gear and headed off to the Velodrome over in Trexlertown, aka., the Lehigh Valley Preferred Cycling Center.  The plan for the afternoon was to do a 27-mile ride from the velodrome, change clothes, grab dinner and then return to the velodrome by 6:30pm for the 7:00pm track racing, to include the “Tandemonimum,” the annual track tandem event with which the TETW was scheduled to coincide.  The route meandered out of the lightly urbanized area surrounding the velodrome, through suburban neighborhoods and then into more rural and then eventually farm lands.  I’m not sure we were ever riding on a “flat road” for more than an 1/8th of a mile, which is fine by us: we truly enjoy rolling terrain with a few climbs.  However, given the ride didn’t start until 2:30pm on a sunny afternoon, it was a bit on the warm side and we had a steady headwind as we rode east. Quite frankly, I missed that steady breeze once it became a tailwind: it’s truly a mixed blessing.

I’m not sure what it is about the Tandem East Weekends, but I always seem to make wrong turns whenever I end up out on the front of a group.  In the past it was because we weren’t really good about keeping up with the cue sheet so this year I figured I’d nailed it by downloading the ride into my Garmin Edge 705.  Well, son-of-a-gun, for some reason my Garmin wanted to make we ride the route backwards by sending me the wrong way at three different intersections where the out bound route over laid the return route. Thankfully, we didn’t pull other riders along with us, but those miscues did cause us to lose the wheels of the teams we were trying to follow and put us in no-mans land for a while.  While we considered trying to bridge back up to the teams we’d been trying to pace, I had to be mindful that Debbie is still getting sorted-out on some new medications for her hereditary hypertension that has given rise to elevated blood pressure and endurance issues which has us riding a more moderate pace on many rides.  Thankfully, we ended up riding the back-half of the ride with Bill and Ann from Ontario, Canada, who are long-time friends of our hosts, Mel & Barbara Kornbluh, and folks whom we’ve met at previous TETWs.  And, honestly, that’s one of the things we’ve come to appreciate about the TETWs: we always meet the most friendly and interesting folks when we attend!

We finished early enough that we were able to make the 20-minute drive back to our hotel where we grabbed a shower and change of clothes before heading back to the velodrome for the Friday night races.  We decided dinner could wait until the “elegant hour” as neither of us were feeling all that hungry after our afternoon ride.

We had a lovely time visiting with a variety of new and old friends in the parking lot outside the velodrome, some of whom we knew by reputation such as the folks who are now running Pennywise Cycle Tours — Steve & Karen — as well as some folks who have followed my writing at Tandem@Hobbes, on my blogs and elsewhere.  Just wonderful folks and a joy to be around.  As for the races, it was a great evening with a full slate of both single bike and tandem track racing.  Sadly, there was a crash during the final men’s “gold medal” race.  The Affinity Team riding the 25-year old, Team EDS Corima Composite tandem with a checkered history crashed hard when the sync chain broke and wrapped itself around the 4-bladed Corima front wheel which, in turn, collapsed the composite front fork.  The captain and stoker both hit the track hard and we’re pretty sure the stoker ended up being transported to the local hospital with what we suspect was a collar bone injury.  Not the finish we or anyone else wanted to see.

As the medic was walking the stoker off the track, we decided it would be a good time to head out and find some dinner. We returned to Bar Louie around 9:30pm where we split a chicken club sandwich and fries, then retired to our hotel room and called it a night as Debbie was exhausted by the ride in the heat of the day.

Saturday: Great Day with Friends at TETW

Having gotten to bed relatively early for us, we both slept well and were up at 6:00am for breakfast.  As expected, the hotel’s lounge area was packed with cyclists when we came down at 6:20am.  Thankfully, the hotel staff was on the ball and had plenty of food out so we were able to make our way through the serving line quickly and finished up breakfast with more than enough time to make the 8:00am remote start rider’s meeting that was about a 15-minute drive from the hotel.

I should note, our hosts Mel & Barbara Kornbluh and their local route planners had to rework the Saturday ride routes and lunch location as recent rains washed out several bridges as well as the park where lunch was going to be held.  So, instead of heading out for a 55-mile ride from the hotel, all 65 teams attending TETW left from the Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit parking lot in Emmaus, PA.

It was a somewhat disjointed start as the 8:00am riders meeting at the church never materialized, so individual riders and smaller groups began heading off between 8:00am and the 8:30am official “start time” to include us when we saw a semi-large group begin to leave.

We sat in the pack for the ride through Emmaus but as we made our way out of town and began to hit some of the hills we migrated towards the front of the group and ended up following two of the stronger couples at the event.  We did our best to stay with them for a few miles but with Debbie’s BP spiking a bit we fell back and rode at a more moderate tempo, arriving a few minutes behind the other two teams for the “cookie stop” about 14-miles into the ride.  The cookie stop iswhere Barbara Kornbluh sets up several tables filled with all kinds of delicious baked goods she prepares at home ahead of the TETW and it is an amazing spread, replete with a wide variety of soft drinks, water and juices.

While we were at the cookie stop we spent some time chatting with our friends Tom & Cheryl whom we’d met at the Santana Chattanooga Tandem Rally way back in May 2011.  We’ve stayed in touch ever since and met up a few times at these TETWs.  We ended up riding the balance of the 38-mile Saturday ride with Tom & Cheryl and their friends Dennis & Jodie, which was a true delight.  We all rode at about the same pace so it was a good ride where no one was running off and pushing the tempo, which gave us the time and energy to carry on a nice dialog during our ride through the lovely outskirts of the Lehigh Valley.

For us, the real gems on this ride were Hassendahl Road along the Hassen Creek, a lovely tree-covered road that meandered along the edge of a ridge line.  It was one of those roads that we just didn’t want to end, somewhat reminiscent of River Road near Townsend, Tennessee, which was always a feature of the Tennessee Tandem Rally’s Friday ride. The second gem was riding around the Lehigh Parkway, a large public park along the Little Lehigh River in Allentown. The ride around the Parkway included some limited access roads frequented by walkers, runners and cyclists once again under a lovely canopy of trees. We finished the ride as we started, riding through central Emmaus, PA, and ended up being some of the first teams back at the church where the delicious catered lunch was being served in the lower parking lot.

The following is a collection of photos, a couple of which I took but the vast majority of which were taken by Cheryl, which is why she and Tom are missing from most of them.

After running an errand in Allentown and then relaxing a bit in the afternoon, we made our way over to the Allentown Brew Yard in downtown Allentown where the TETW banquet was to be held beginning at 6:00pm. We arrived an hour early with Cheryl, Tom, Dennis & Jodie so we could enjoy a cocktail at the main bar and had a delightful time with the very attentive barkeepers.  It was around 6:15pm when we made our way to the 5th floor of the Brew Yard where the TETW banquet was being held.  We had a lovely time visiting with our table mates and I had a chance to say hello to John Schubert, a long-time internet friend from my days on Tandem@Hobbes who I’d shared many written posts with but had never had a chance to meet in person: it was a delight!

Sadly, the folks at the Brew Yard really didn’t have themselves staffed properly to serve 130 people in a timely manner with just a single buffet line and one person serving all of the food in that line.  It was around 7:30pm when we decided to call an audible, quietly excused ourselves and made our way back to Bar Louie for dinner.  We felt bad for Mel & Barbara as neither the meal nor the service provided at the Brew Yard had been up to their expectations, coming on the heels of all the weather-related, last-minute changes in plans that they’d been working through since arriving on Friday.

However, the really good news coming out of the post dinner announcements is that the 2020 Tandems East Tandem Weekend will be held in Cape May, New Jersey in early May.  So, we’ll have that to look forward to and will gladly skip our spring motorcycle rally in Panama City Beach which is held on the same weekend to make our way back north to Cape May.

Sunday: Skipped Day 3’s Ride so we could Spend More Time with Family

Once again, the Springhill Suites delivered a very comfortable night’s rest.  However, even though we were awake in plenty of time to grab breakfast and could have made the 8:00am start for Sunday’s 23-mile ride from the hotel parking lot, I remained mindful that Debbie’s blood pressure had been a bit high after both Friday and Saturday’s ride and had not yet dropped to where we’d like it to be. So, with that in mind, we decided we’d rather relax, have breakfast after the riders had departed and then make an early departure for our return trip to my parents home about an hour away in Bernville, PA.  Moreover, since my uncle and aunt had decided to pop-in and we hadn’t visited with them in a very long time, there was an added incentive to get back to Bernville a bit earlier.

While having breakfast at the Springhill Suites, we had a very nice chat with Dave & Janet whom we’d met during our first TETW  back in July 2011 at Pennsville, New Jersey.  They had gone out very early and already finished the 23-mile ride. There was another couple whom we chatted with who, like us, opted to pass on today’s ride so they could get an early start on their 5-hour drive home.  After packing up and checking out of the hotel we ran into Cheryl & Tom in front of the hotel and were able to say goodbye to them and told them to give our warm regards to Dennis & Jodie and ended up sharing a few notes with our hosts, Mel & Barbara, as we were driving back to Bernville.

Once again, and despite the challenges associated with having to replan their Saturday and Sunday rides as well as lunch on Saturday, Mel & Barbara pulled-off a 1st class tandem event.  The host hotel was lovely and had an outstanding staff, the routes we rode were enjoyable and well-suited to tandems, the night at the velodrome was a special treat to be sure and it was truly a pleasure to visit with all of the wonderful folks who attend the Tandems East weekend each year.  As noted, we’ll definitely continue to put this event on our annual planning calendar to coincide with one of our three to four trips a year to visit my folks in lovely Berks County, PA.


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