Saturday @ A.O.R.T.A. (May 22nd)

Photo galleries from other teams who are conscientious-enough to bring and use cameras at these events (we bring ours, but rarely use it) can be found here:

Mentions of the A.O.R.T.A. weekend on other blogs, some with photos:

Saturday began with what was for us, a late breakfast.  My typical day begins around 5am with breakfast around 6am, even on weekends.  Breakfast at the Bent Creek Lodge is normally served at 8:30am, but for our weekend it was pulled-back to 8:00am given that 8 of the 10 rooms at the Inn were occupied by folks attending A.O.R.T.A..  Breakfast was the typical, well-balance gourmet fare that Jodee Sellers is famous for: an Andouille chicken sausage, fresh Pineapple slices, granola over yogurt and a blueberry sticky bun with O.J. and, of course, my morning fix of Diet Coke.

We headed out to the trail head a bit before 9:00am and, as usual, made great time but missed a critical unmarked turn and spent an extra 10 minutes trying to figure out where we’d screwed-up.  We found our way back to the turn for the trailhead and found about 1/2 of the teams had already arrived and were in various stages of pre-ride prep.

Monica Judd catches Alex Nutt taking a deep breath as the day begins while her husband, Chris, parks their Fandango 29er up against the MTBTandems trailer.

Before heading out for the ride the event coordinator tried to arrange a group photo with marginal success.  We probably should have jumped in and helped to orchestrate the photo as it would have been an impressive sight to have had all 26 front tires lined-up with teams stacked along side vs. having what ended up being just a mass of people.  Or, better yet, to have hiked up the hill and taken the photo of the assembled masses from a higher vantage point.  Anyway, there were three photos taken of the group and the two that were in the Team Hunter/Boehm collection didn’t quite capture everyone.  However, I was able to do a little Photoshop magic to get Alex back in the one photo (below) but we lost one couple (Dave Snope & Sue Nicolich) at the far end of the group shot.  Although it’s lower res and a small size, you find the third photo apparently taken with Team Koep’s camera that captured the entire group posted to their A.O.R.T.A. Blog.  I believe if you have a P.C. you can also download an 8mb Zip file that has the original, much higher-res and larger images.

Nearly everyone, sans Dave Snope & Sue Nicolich who were at the far end of the group and just out of frame. Note: If you click on this photo, and click on it again in the next frame, you'll get to the much larger, high-res original. That's also true of many photos you'll find in blogs.

The next challenge was ride route selection. In some respects, with 12 different route sheets in the packet there were almost too many options and, even with 26 tandem teams, I’m not sure there were too many large groups once folks started to take their best guess at which route would be best for them. Also, while there were some volunteer trail guides on hand, I’m not sure they had a full appreciation for how well many of the teams could negotiate single track.  Anyway, we opted to go with the tried-and-true approach and followed David Lee’s rear wheel who was our host and trail guide for the 2001 Bent Creek off-road weekend.  Along with David’s stoker Bridget, our little group included Ed and Pat Gifford and we headed down a short side trail near the back of the parking lot while the 23 other teams headed off en mass for a different part of the trail system.  Off-hand, I can’t even remember which trails we rode even looking at the maps.  However, as always, David did a great job of finding moderate to challenging trails that were interconnected by the gravel fire roads and by the time we arrived at the Arboretum Education Center for lunch a little after noon, we’d covered about 12 miles of trails.

From left: David & Christen Hunter, Mary Boehm (Marvin is taking the photo), Jean & Rob Shultz, Sandy & Ted Weiss, Monica & Chris Judd, and Valerie & Sherwood Gibson.

We were the first to arrive at the lunch stop and found the caterers setting up the lunch inside the air-conditioned education center: brrr!  We would have probably been better off to stay out doors for the meal as being hot and sweaty and then heading into air-conditioned spaces can really give you a nasty chill.  The lunch fare offered a wide variety of sandwiches, salads and wraps with ice tea, sweet ice tea, water and lemonade and delicious chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  The rest of the teams started rolling in shortly after we did and it seemed like everyone had enjoyed their morning rides and made it back in one piece.

We learned that along the way several members of our tandem-family — the Hunters, Boehms, and Weiss’ — had teamed up with Sherwood and Valerie Gibson, Chris & Monica Judd, Rob & Jean Schultz and also enlisted their own Bent Creek tour guide, Chris.  At one point Chris and David Hunter changed places so that Chris — who owns and rides a road tandem — could see what it’s like to pilot an off-road tandem with an experienced off-road stoker, i.e, Christen.  I believe Chris enjoyed it so much that he showed up on Sunday with his daughter and borrowed a tandem from Alex. After lunch everyone gathered back at the bikes to share stories from the mornings ride, to talk about bikes, and to map out their post-lunch ride plans. As everyone was milling about, the allure of the three sets of steps leading to the main drive proved too strong and all of the tandem teams turned into 12-year olds as they gleefully rode down and in some cases back up the steps.

Monica Judd takes a picture of hubby Chris after lunch, and also catches my Debbie talking with Ed Gifford in the background.

Monica then turns to the left and snaps a photo of (left to right) yours truly in the red DF jersey without a helmet talking to Marv & Miryam Rubenstein and Sherwood Gibson while checking out his Ventana loaner from Alex Nutt. I believe Valerie Gibson may be in there but hidden by Marv. To our left Kim Nutt chats with Mary Boehm while Alex and Marvin Boehm seem to be looking at a tandem.

Left to right: Team Boehm, Team Hunter, Team Weiss, Team Judd & Team Gibson turn into 12-year olds.

One of the more interesting Saturday afternoon ride groups was the “families” that reconfigured themselves at lunch so that the wee-ones could join them on the trails.  Note that you’ll see an off-road tandem pulling a trailer, an off-road triplet with stokid, an off-road tandem with stokid & trail-a-bike with mom on a single in the following photo!

Photo by Vanessa Seto of the Three-Threes: Chris & Heather McKim pulling Cailan, Dave & Owain Seto on the triplet and Rob Kurt & Holly Shultz on tandem with trail-a-bike and Jean on her Single.

Miryam & Marv Rubenstein with a combined team age of 139-years join the Three-Threes for the afternoon ride.

We found our guides, David and Bridget, as well as our morning ride partners, Ed & Pat, and added three other couples to our entourage for the afternoon: Larry & Brenda Isherwood from New Jersey, Paul & Jeanne Knudsen from Florida, and Mark & Katerina Koep from California. We had a loooong climb and then worked our way back down the mountain’s single track, leading out the first leg and then hanging back a bit on the final descent back to the main fire road that interconnects most of the trails.  Like most of the descents, it was a lot of fun and reminded me why we bought our first Ventana El Conquistador de Montanas over 10 years ago… added comfort for Debbie that allowed us to bomb these types of descents.  The campers, locals and Lodge dwellers parted ways at the trail leading back to the trail head.  We packed up and headed back to the lodge so we could get ourselves cleaned up and spend some time relaxing in the lodge before we had to head over to dinner.

As always, upon returning to the Bent Creek Lodge I took a bee line to the kitchen counter to see what type of goodies Jodee had left for us: oatmeal chocolate & vanilla chip with cranberries; yum.  I grabbed a quick shower and returned to the great room and set about polishing off several Corona Lite longnecks while catching up on Email and chatting with our Lodge mates as they began to gather.  A little before 6pm we headed over to the Carolina Farm Credit building for a social and BBQ dinner.  Although the meeting room wasn’t quite large enough to hold everyone, folks quickly adapted and moved to the parking lot.   We had a special treat when our Asheville friends Mike & Ginny Maness showed up as well as several other members of our tandem family who were visiting Lisa & Anna Davis down in Salem, S.C., about 90 minutes away: Linda Wood & Eric Osgood, Brenda LeBlanc & James Mohs and of course Lisa & Anna Davis.

The party moves outside to the parking lot for the give-aways.

The evening was very nice and by the time we left I’d given away 5 cycling jerseys.  Just before Alex started the official give-away festivities I decided to do my own give-away with three very nice but smallish sized jerseys that I’ve had sitting around the house for about 8 years: a small-size Ventana team jersey & two smallish, long-sleeve Double Forte jerseys. Yeah, I probably could have sold them but I figured what the heck and tossed them out to the first folks who raised their hands.  I believe Brenda Isherwood ended up with the Ventana Jersey, Bridget ended up with one of the DF jerseys and Pat Gifford snagged the other DF jersey.  As for the other two, as luck would have it the last give-away was a pair of jerseys donated by Mark & Katerina Koep.  While there was a bit of irony in all of that, the honest truth remains that Debbie and I probably have 50 jerseys in the closet and the last thing we need was another pair of jerseys.  So, we immediately re-gifted the jerseys to Lisa and Anna Davis who seemed thrilled to receive them.

We headed back to the Lodge shortly after helping to put all of the chairs back into the Farm Credit meeting room.  Debbie wasn’t feeling all that well and headed down to bed while I decided to settle into the couch in front of the great room’s fireplace and finish reading the Bent Creek Lodge 10-year anniversary album, noting that Debbie and I are actually IN the album!  As I neared the end of my album review I was joined by Alex Nutt, Sherwood and Valerie Gibson for a wonderful late evening chat about all kinds of things, ranging from idiosyncrasies to the future of off-road tandems and historic motocross bikes .  I think our bull-session started about 10pm and, while Valerie called it a night around 11pm, it was about 1:30am before Alex, Sherwood and I came to the realization that we probably needed to get some sleep. Sherwood was still on California time and, well, I tend to be a night owl and only get about 5-hours a sleep a night.  Again, it was really a memorable and insightful bit of quality time at the end of a great day.


About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
This entry was posted in Events, Off-Road Tandems, Tandem Rallies, Whimsical Or Entertaining. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Saturday @ A.O.R.T.A. (May 22nd)

  1. Mark says:

    Great write up on the event. A truly memorable and exciting weekend. To confirm there is indeed a zip file at with the full resolution group photo.

    It was great meeting you in Asheville!

  2. Pingback: Appalachian Off-Road Tandem Adventure II, May 14-15 « The TandemGeek's Blog

  3. Pingback: A.O.R.T.A. 2011 – Still Time To Register « The TandemGeek's Blog

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