Expect that photos will continue to be added to these posts as we find them.
Roger’s Description of the day ahead:
Saturday is always the busiest and most fun day at GTR. Riders will have four options of 33, 43, 52 or 67 miles that go to the south and east of Dublin. This ride is a bit flatter than Friday’s, and you will find some surprisingly flat areas on your ride. Hungry? We’ve got you covered, with a gourmet lunch at the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. (Your ride directors are Chamber members this year!) Eat all you want, because it’s a short, five-mile back to your hotel after lunch. After your ride, join us for a post-ride get-together at the host hotel. Saturday night features a low-country boil, BYOB blowout at the Ice House, a building that used to be an ice house, believe it or not, and has been turned into a great location for our Saturday night banquet.
Saturday began a lot like Friday, except we’d be starting our ride from the hotel… which is always nice. Breakfast was similar fare to Friday as well and somehow the 200+ guests staying at the hotel managed to filter through the breakfast bar area without getting in each other’s way and the hotel staff managed to keep the bar stocked with food.
Like Friday’s ride, our plan for Saturday would be to ride with the Big Mango and Big Blue at least until the 52-mile option split-off from the 67-mile option, as James, Brenda & Lisa wanted the extra miles. For a variety of reasons, we ended up queuing for the mass start from the hotel parking lot instead of in the short street in front of the parking lot. This would mean we’d be going out well behind most of the other riders. Not such a good thing given we’d end up passing about 2/3d’s of them by the time all was said and done. Oh well, it is what it is.
As for the start, it was a grand affair. Roger was once again performing his duties as the rally’s master of ceremonies, resplendent in his big green top hat with the Mr. Microphone going. After all of the usual announcements he introduced Phil Best, mayor of Dublin,who welcomed us all to his city and then helped to launch the day’s ride with members of the Chamber of Commerce. More specifically, they treated the rally like a new business and staged a ribbon cutting for the mass start: pretty cool. With the ribbon cut, the Dublin police force moved into action and shut down all four lanes of US441 to provide the 111 tandems safe passage across the I20 overpass to the safety and relatively light traffic of the secondary roads that we’d use for the remainder of the day.
Things were a little dicey along that first secondary, two-lane road as some of the faster folks who didn’t start at the front were anxious to make their way up to what would be the fast group doing the full 67-mile route. Some did a nice job of timing their double centerline passes, while a few others in their haste to pass slower bikes lingered in the on-coming lane a bit too long. The problem with that is they didn’t consider how they’d make their way back into the “pack” that was occupying the lane space they wanted to avoid a head-on collision with on-coming traffic. Yeah, well… A few choice words were heard, but no hard feelings, eh?
We jumped when a large gap opened up between what would be the short route / back marker riders and the next tier of riders and took Big Mango with us. Sadly, Big Blue was nowhere to be seen for the first half of the ride. We later learned that they’d dropped the drive chain shortly after the ride started.
We finally found ourselves with a brisk moving group of folks including Big Mango and had a really nice ride tempo going. All told, I think there were about 10 – 12 tandems in our group. After skipping a stop at the 13-mile mark tragedy almost struck when a large black Labrador Retriever came running out from a home at full speed as our double line of tandems was passing at an equally fast clip. While the dog’s rush towards the group caught the attention of all the riders and allowed several folks to use various whistles and horns that caused the dog to break stride and attempt to stop, his efforts came a little too late to work on asphalt. He slid into the front wheel of John & Susanna’s tandem, sending both of them to the ground as the dog quickly retreated to his yard.
In the aftermath, it was fortunate that John & Susanna had slowed quite a bit before the impact as had the following riders which prevented what could have been a very ugly pile-up. Traffic was also light. After every collected themselves and moved out of the road we assessed John & Susanna’s injuries and while scuffed up and likely bruised in a few places there didn’t appear to be any serious injuries. Their tandem was also in good shape. As everyone’s nerves settled, and after it was clear that the dog’s owner had little to no concern for what his unleashed pet had done – noting he emerged from his house just long enough to tie up the dog who had certainly been taking off after cyclists before we came along – we all saddled-up and continued on our way. John & Susanna ended up finishing the day strong, albeit shaken, stirred and a little sore.
Back on pace and fully regrouped, our collection of riders also failed to find the second store stop at 18-miles. Had we read our maps we would have probably been fine: the store required a left-turn at one of the marked right-turns and nobody happened to notice. While that stop wasn’t essential, it would have been a nice break that may have allowed Big Blue to catch up and rejoin our group. Big Mango and crew stuck to their original plan and opted to continue on the 67-mile route where we turned off for the 52-mile option. At that point our group of what was now about seven tandems pressed ahead to the 32-mile store stop… but did so into the wind which had once again returned.
We were able to get our group organized into a single line to reduce the amount of time and effort that would be required from the lead bike riding in the wind and that seemed to work pretty well with folks taking short pulls. However, as often time happens, we had a few teams that wanted to go harder and others who didn’t want to pull and that eventually made for a somewhat broken formation. Having struggled with a slight cramp in my right hamstring for most of the day we eventually fell off the pace about 5 miles short of the store and just motored along at our own pace. Probably short-sighted as it would have been easier to stay with the group vs. fighting the wind alone.
We found quite a few other teams at the store when we arrived and spent a fair amount of time socializing with some of the Florida folks, including a couple whom we’d just met that had recently taken up tandeming and were attending their first rally: Brian & Donna. The folks we’d been riding with headed out before we had fully recharged our batteries and after waiting another 15 minutes or so for either Big Mango or Big Blue to show up, we finally headed down the road for the final leg to our lunch stop back in Dublin…. into the wind, of course!
I must say, when we finally arrived at the Chamber of Commerce facility we were blown away: it was a magnificent facility. Frankly, I was surprised that they’d let us use something as nice as their large conference facility for our lunch stop. The beautiful lawns and well maintained, massive building was equally impressive inside.
We enjoyed our lunch sitting on deep Oriental rugs atop lovely hardwood floors, surrounded by over 60 oil portraits of significant members of the local business community dating back to the 1800’s, with beautiful chandeliers illuminating the sage green walls from the high, white pitched ceiling. The food from the “official GTR lunch caterer” somehow seemed better than usual in this grand hall, noting I grazed heavily on the cold “crab-whiz” pasta salad with several glasses of some very refreshing lemonade.
Our 5-mile ride back to the Holiday Inn Express was especially enjoyable for a number of reasons. First of all it was a family affair with a reunion of our dinner group from Thursday, including the three little girls: Audrey with mom Christen on the Big Blue with Eric & Linda and then Mark with daughter Natalie on one tandem and Teresa with daughter Alexia on another tandem, and Big Mango with James, Brenda & Lisa.
Secondly, even though we thought Roger was joking when he said it, it truly was generally a downhill grade most of the way with a tailwind! What a treat that was. Thirdly, we were ending the day’s ride feeling pretty fresh, which would make the rest of the day more enjoyable.
Once we were back at the hotel Debbie headed for her bikini and the pool so she could soak up some Vitamin D and otherwise enhance her “glow”. Given that on Sunday we’d be doing the maiden ride on our new-to-us black Triplet with Lisa, there were two things I needed to do:
- Service Big Mango: Because I forgot to do it on Friday, I made a point of servicing the cranks on Lisa’s Mango triplet as the ISIS splines sounded like they were in need of both some grease and some torque during both Friday and Saturday’s rides. As suspected, the front crank axle was very dry and a little loose and even the 1st stoker position’s axle was bone dry and needed a little extra tightening.
- Collect Pedals & Measurements: To make sure the Pearl would be ready to go on Sunday, I needed to pull Lisa’s Speedplay Frog pedals off Big Mango and collect all of her riding position measurements: (a) crank axle-to-saddle,(b) saddle set-back, (c) saddle angle, (d) bar reach, and (e) bar height in relation to saddle height. With all of those numbers and the pedals in hand, it would only take about 5-minutes on Sunday to have Lisa’s position on our Precision Triplet dialed-in.
After finishing with the bike and taking a shower I made it to the Hospitality Suite just in time to enjoy a Honey Brown Ale and the first pull from a Heineken mini-keg before all of the gratis brew was consumed. After visiting with Debbie and the rest of our gang at the pool I made a short trip to the local mini-mart to pick up some Bud Lite and a beer to be named later. What I came back with was Bud Lite Platinum and Ice House. Man-o-man, that BL Platinum is a different kind of brew. Not sure if I’ll do that again. It was tasty, but it also got me where I wanted to be quickly and then some. So much so that I didn’t even consider driving to dinner and simply handed the keys to James: I’m actually pretty good about knowing my current condition when consuming adult beverages and will always give up my keys.
Dinner at the Ice House was also an outstanding experience. The facility was a complete surprise in the best way and the Low Country Boil was every bit as good as the same meal when it was served two years ago at GTR in Covington, Georgia. We had a good group at our table, most of whom were the usual suspects (as best as I can remember) and while we didn’t score any awards, we did have a grand time and I don’t think I feel asleep this year, noting that someone photographed me “resting my eyes” during the awards portion of last year’s GTR banquet in Macon. Then again, I don’t really remember that much about the awards portion of the program so I may have been otherwise distracted once again: guess I’ll have to ask Debbie.
After dinner Debbie retired to bed and I found Laura, Duncan, Susanna and other friends down in the hotel lobby area and spent a good half hour to an hour visiting with them before calling it a night.
Yet another grand day in the books.