Expect that photos will continue to be added to these posts as we find them.
Roger’s Description of the day ahead:
GTR’s first ride rolls on Friday morning, where we will have four (remote start) options of 29, 36, 51 or 65 miles that head north of Dublin. Today is the hilliest of our three days, but you will be able to breeze up (and down) the heart rate challenges on the ride. The 51-mile option visits the old towns of Danville and Allentown, where four counties come together. The 65-mile visits Toomsboro, and goes atop a ridge with beautiful views, so if you are in shape for it, you will get a great visual reward. Friday’s dinner is on your own, but join us afterwards for a party at the Dublin City Market featuring ice cream from Brusters, one of our favorite ice cream stores.
Friday started off with breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express. The highlight of each morning was the very cool pancake machine; something I’d not seen before. Far more efficient and precise than the Belgian waffle makers that pre-dated this fully automated, single-button activated machine.
As is often the case with Friday rides, they typically start away from the host hotels so they can keep riders out of workday traffic, which is a good thing. Today’s ride was no exception. We had about an 8-mile drive to a small park where we’d immediately find ourselves on rural roads vs. struggling to keep the LARGE pack of riders together while navigating four-lane roads with left & right turn lanes and traffic lights. Now, the two things that made this particular Friday ride a bit different from most 3-day rallies were:
- I’d guess that nearly 100 of the 111 tandem teams that were signed-up for the rally were on hand for the 9:00am start; that’s a lot. Of course, the early morning start was scheduled in part to beat the heat and there wasn’t an afternoon mass-start, and that clearly motivated folks to plan their trip to Dublin around a late Thursday or early Friday arrival.
- Friday’s ride was also a theme-ride, where rally goers were encourage to “wear green” and otherwise immerse themselves in the Irish spirit of Dublin by using their imagination for other adornments on their bikes and bodies: what a hoot!
While mingling around we ran into old friends Dennis & Lindsey whom we got to know during our San Francisco to San Diego tandem tour back in 2002. We got a chance to check out Lonnie & Carol’s new Calfee and were blown away by some of the antics of our friends Duncan & Laura, Randy’s green beard and many jokes at the expense of his wife Claudia, while seeing the entire Florida crew that seems to hail from just about every major population center in Florida, noting there were something like 35 couples at the Georgia Tandem Rally from Florida! We got to spend time with Teams Moore, Thompson, Brackett, Knecht, Judd, and the list just goes on and on and on. I’m somewhat reluctant to list team names because I don’t want anyone to feel left out, but we might as well just include the registration list because we’re fortunate to know so many of the teams that attend GTR and several other rallies. Anyway, movin’ on….
The ride itself was excellent. We opted to ride the 52-mile route with Linda & Eric from Atlanta, Georgia who teamed up with Christen & her daughter Audrey from Tennessee aboard a recently acquired blue Co-Motion Quad (aka, Big Blue): there’s an entire story unto itself in there.
Our party also included James & Brenda from Murfreesboro, Tennessee who were piloting a mango-colored Co-Motion Triplet (aka, Big Mango) with our friend and the triplet’s owner, Lisa from Clemson, South Carolina.
We also had several other different teams join us for different parts of the ride, which is always fun as you get to visit with old friends and make some new ones while you’re on the road.
We considered the 65-mile route, but with Big Mango, Big Blue and two more days of riding ahead of us and nothing to be gained from the additional 13-miles, 52-miles just seemed to be the right choice. The roads themselves were mostly in very good shape with a few stretches of chip-seal thrown in now and again. I was distracted a bit before the start of the ride and neglected to top-off the air pressure in our tires, so we were treated to an extra-plush ride over the “shake & bake” chip-sealed roads. For the most part, the ride was uneventful. Traffic was light to non-existent most of the time.
The mid-ride store stop was the typical gas station with mini-mart and we just about had a party going on there. No one seemed to be in a hurry to leave and everyone was having a great time socializing in the parking lot. It also gave us time to check-out some of the green-theme decorations and outfits that folks were wearing for Friday’s ride: what a hoot!
Once we did get underway we made it about 3 miles before I realized our rear tire had steadily been losing pressure. It was a quick stop to swap out a fresh tube for the one that was leaking.
Note: I investigated after the ride and found that the tube had apparently pushed-in the Velox rim tape at a spoke hole just far enough to allow the spoke end to create a small hole in the tube. As a temporary fix I simply replaced the old Velox tape with a new strip and will need to re-investigate a more permanent fix later this week. Let’s just say that this was a first for this type of puncture for me.
We finished-up our ride around 1:15pm and the next order of business was finding some lunch. After discussing our options — and initially to the chagrin of our vegan friends — we set our sights on a local favorite: Southern Heritage BBQ. Our “party of nine” arrived to find a few other folks from the rally already seated and enjoying their meal, and timed our arrival just ahead of quite a few other teams. This was a drive-through / walk-up type of affair with a nice, compact seating area inside the old house that had been turned into a BBQ joint. Their menu was quite impressive and also included some great veggie items which came as a pleasant surprise to our vegan friends. All of the food was served up quickly and it all tasted great! What a find… and a perfect lunch stop. We had some fun playing games at the table with 5-year old Audrey and otherwise enjoying the company of our good friends.
After lunch it was back to the hotel where the kids and most of the adults in our party headed for the pool, noting the sun was now shining brightly. Debbie also opted to go and work on her tan while I tended to the wheels and tires on our Calfee. In addition to investigating the puncture we’d experienced I also had to repair the original tube and pulled off the front tire & tube to address a noisy valve stem that was driving me nuts for most of the ride. I’m one of those weirdos who can’t stand to have any creaks, squeaks or other mechanical noises coming from my machines as they tend to mask new noises that are indicative of an emerging problem. In this case it was the long valve stem “clicking” again the rim’s valve stem hole every time the tube “flexed” as it loaded and unloaded during the rotation cycle. A small piece of electrical tape wrapped around the valve stem is all it takes to make those noises go away, but you have to remove the tube to get the tape down around the base of the valve stem.
Once that was taken care of I grabbed a shower, and then returned to the lobby and began to visit with other folks who were attending the rally: always a good time to catch up with old friends and make new ones. I’m always amazed at how small the tandem world is but, at the same time, pleased because it means we get to stay in touch with folks whom we only know because of the tandem cycling connection. In addition to newer friends like Rich & Shirley from Indiana and Ken & Mary from Florida who we met in May 2011 at Santana’s Chattanooga Tandem Rally, we also had a chance to find out what Steve & Debie from the Orlando, Florida area have been up to, post-retirement. One of the things that has been keeping them busy is making really neat jewelry out of high-quality stainless steel spokes and alloy spoke nipples. My Debbie picked up a beautiful anklet and we saw a lot of other folks doing likewise.
We’d talked earlier about where to go to dinner and while some of our friends initially had concerns about attempting to get seats at places like Deano’s and Shaffer’s — given the rave reviews from Thursday night — someone from our group called Shaffer’s and secured reservations for 6:00pm, so dinner was set. Of course, we didn’t learn of this until about 5:45 so it was a quick dash to the room and then an equally quick trip into town to snag our tables in time for our reservations. We shared our table with James, Brenda & Lisa and we also shared some delicious Thai Crusted Shrimp with them as well, gratis thanks to some coupons that we found in our goody bags. Like Deano’s the night before, our meal at Shaffer’s was excellent. Debbie and I split the Salmon over Jamaican rice and a Caesar salad, and noted the Salmon was even tastier than the Salmon she’d had the night before over at Deano’s.
After dinner it was off to the Ice Cream Social at a lovely outdoor venue just down the street from the restaurants and across from the Ice House, where we’d have our Saturday banquet. Brewsters provided the ice cream and interestingly enough, the Dublin Chamber of Commerce was kind enough to provide a local band that was actually pretty good.
After enjoying a heaping helping of ice cream with all kinds of wonderful toppings Debbie and I got in a few dances just to keep our feet happy: we always get happy feet when there’s a live band! The band seemed to be pre-disposed to play super-long versions of ballads and some of the more folksy rock tunes in their playlist which was kind of a buzz-kill for our happy feet. But, hey… a little bit of dancing and live entertainment is far better than the alternative. Oh yeah, and Audrey danced up a storm all by herself.
We ended the day back at the hotel lobby socializing with friends for a while before calling it a night. It was an amazing first day to what would ultimately be a really amazing rally.