After looking over the agenda for this year’s Georgia Tandem Rally (GTR) in Dublin, Georgia we realized we’d need to exercise our early arrival reservation and make the trip down Thursday if we wanted to really enjoy the entire rally. This was, in part, because the Friday mass-start ride was going to go off at 9:00am which meant we’d need to leave the house around 6:00am for the 2.5-hour drive: not a big deal. More importantly, there was an entire evening of activity to be enjoyed on Thursday given that 80% – 90% of the 111 teams attending the rally would be in town.
We adjusted our work schedules accordingly so we could be out the door by 1:30pm and arrived in Dublin at 4:00pm after an easy and uneventful non-stop drive. This was a good thing as we ended up bringing along our tandem inside the truck as is our norm, but we also brought along our new-to-us and re-freshed triplet which had to be car-topped, something we hadn’t done since 2001 when we had three tandems on our ’97 Suburban. It travelled quite well on the roof, but our Toyota Tundra’s fuel economy suffered a pretty big hit as noted in our previous blog entry on roof topping the triplet, but I digress.
As expected, we found the Holiday Inn Express’ parking lot was already filled with ‘tandem carriers’ (aka, mini-vans, which seem to be the preferred mode of transporting tandems) and the registration room had a healthy line of customers socializing and waiting to check-in. We were elated to see so many of our old friends, which is common for GTR given it has about an 90% – 95% return rate on prior year attendees and is now in its 14th year: we’ve been fortunate enough to attend all 14. We also began the process of meeting new friends, which in many cases means simply putting a face with a name as we meet a lot of folks on-line via the blog and web forum discussions.
We skipped the first wave of folks who headed into downtown Dublin for dinner at the premier restaurants owned by the Shaffer family: Deano’s Italian Grill, featuring a wood-fired oven and what has been voted the #1 pizza in the state of Georgia and its sister restaurants, the Shaffer’s Downtown Bistro and the Fish Market.
As our “party” grew to about eleven (11) including Linda & Eric plus Mark & Teresa with their two young daughters from the Atlanta, Georgia area; Christen & her daugher Audrey from Chattanooga, Tennessee; James & Brenda from the Nashville, Tennessee area and Lisa from the Clemson, South Carolina area. our wait time for a large table grew to about 30 minutes, as part of that first wave decided to linger inside Deano’s until the GTR registration party began at 7:30pm next door at the Stone Horse Tavern.
The lingering lasted until a bit after 8:00pm, but the food at Deano’s was worth the wait. Just a fabulous meal. Sadly, by the time we finished our meal and settled-up it was 9:30pm, so we missed the Thursday night event at the Stone Horse Tavern. While that was a bit disappointing we knew there were all kinds of great events ahead of us, so no worries.
After doing a little socializing back at the hotel we called it a night as we looked forward to Friday morning’s ride.