As expected, I was up early and pretty much stared at the ceiling until 6:30am when I thought I heard some other folks stirring. I found Smith & Claude along with Tim & Sharon in the kitchen working on a stack of pancakes and other breakfast fare as others began to wander in. I believe Linda headed out for a morning run, while her hubby Eric limited his morning work-out to some “ups”. Our guest stoker Brenda and then Debbie were the next to arrive. I opted to have my non-breakfast meal of tuna salad and crackers (I just prefer mid-day foods to breakfast foods) and headed outside to get the Calfee ready for Saturday’s ride.
While our entire weekend riding plan originally called for Brenda to ride with us on both Saturday and Sunday, the riding arrangements were swizzled a bit when Sharon opted to pass on Saturday’s ride. The alternative plan put Benda on the back of a tandem with Tim, which would make what we thought might be a relatively easy & social day of riding a little more up-tempo.
I think we rolled-out from the house around 9:00 for what was expected to be about a 50-mile ride. It was already getting warm and the humidity and smog were palpable. Much of the ride was on familiar roads that we’d ridden all or in part on previous Club Fred weekends and/or as part of the Tennessee Tandem Rally (TTR) routes. Frankly, there are so many good routes to ride along the foothills of the Smokey Mountain that it’s hard to find one that’s not better than most of the best routes we ride at home.
We found plenty of climbing, but most of it was on what I’d call moderate grades: nothing coming close to the very steep 15% – 19% grades we’d be enjoying in a couple of weeks at TTR’s Friday ride to Metcalf Bottoms. Every climb was typically followed by a corresponding descent which makes for some of the best riding terrain, at least per our preferences: it’s one of the things we really enjoy about riding in Tennessee and in particular around the Smokey Mountain Nat’l Park. Traffic was very light to non-existent, but there were a couple of frisky dogs with which we had to contend: it seems to come with the territory. For the most part, Tim & Brenda rode off-the-front with Smith & Claude while we simply tried to hang on to Eric & Linda’s rear wheel. We had our moments, but in general still ride with a steady tempo like a metronome. We’re never really all that fast, but never really all that slow, just slower than the really stronger rides and we occasionally fall behind teams who can surge and then sustain. If we surge, we’ll eventually fall back and on average hit our normal ride tempo: not really a big motivator for doing any surging, eh? Debbie has also found that she doesn’t like to descend as fast as we used to and asked that I keep the speed down on a couple of the descents; I miss our screaming downhills but would rather Debbie be comfortable vs. unnerved by what really is just a cheap thrill for me.
A lot of the roads we rode were ones that Tim was considering for his revised Saturday route at the upcoming Tennessee Tandem Rally. These routes visited a bit more of the farmlands vs. being closer to the foothills and should make for some nice riding. Saturday’s route at TTR will also visit a new lunch stop out near Louisville vs. the pavilions we’ve used in Maryville for the past TTRs.
We finished up the ride around 1:00pm and had a wonderful gourmet lunch back at the house next to the pool… pretty much where we spent most of our non-riding time over the weekend. A couple of our friends took a dip in the pool while others like yours truly just enjoyed the company and relaxed in the shade. As you can deduce from the photos below, Eric took this series of pictures.
From left to right: Debbie, Mark, Sharon, Tim, Brenda and then Linda, Smith & Claude.
Around mid-afternoon Debbie and I decided to take a short trip over to Smokey Mountain’s Harley-Davidson to see what was going on and to make sure there wasn’t anything we couldn’t live without. Tim came along as he wanted to check out a few of the motorcycles. The Road Glides seemed to be the ones that were most appealing to him and there was a nice blue Road Glide Ultra that really caught his attention:
Of course, a week later we find Tim’s tastes in two-wheeled motorized bikes has taken an evil twist. We’re hoping this was a loaner for rally route marking but, with Tim… you never know for sure. Anyway, checking out the big bikes with Tim was the highlight of the visit to SMHD. They had a lot going on given it was a holiday weekend, but nothing that really tripped our trigger.
Back at Club Fred we discovered an empty home as the rest of our party had gone out for a walk around the lakefront. When they returned preparation for dinner began in earnest.
I believe it was around this time that I went out and snagged Brenda’s Merlin single bike from the back of her car so that I could measure and record her bike fit dimensions and then transfer those to the Triplet so it would be ready to go for Saturday’s ride. My new ladder made getting the Triplet off the truck a snap; still working on getting it up with less effort & risk. After getting the triplet all sorted out and sized for Brenda I did a little tweaking to Brenda’s Merlin as she was struggling with a front wheel noise that her LBS had not been able to vanquish, her cyclo-computer wasn’t working and I noticed that her bar tape needed to be snugged up to eliminate some “smiley’s”. I believe it was Eric that gave me a hand putting the triplet back on top of the truck for tomorrow’s driver to the remote start on River Road.
Our hosts treated us to an amazing pork tenderloin dinner with some amazing green beans, salad, and a host of other delicious sides that was finished off with some wonderful ice cream for dessert. It was truly a grand meal and, best of all, we were able to enjoy it out on the back deck while enjoying the lovely scenery and the company of our friends. As always, we pretty much stayed at the table chatting until the sun was almost down while Debbie and others cleaned up the kitchen.
Although we passed on the offer, the rest of the gang headed out for an early evening pontoon boat cruise on the lake after dinner. Not sure why I continue to be unexcited by powered boats; perhaps it’s just overcompensating for the loss of sailing as one of my long-time passions that came with my move to Georgia back in 1991: lake sailing in Georgia just ain’t the same as the ocean and large reservoir sailing I enjoyed in California for nearly a decade before moving to Georgia.
Anyway, it was a great day. I ended my evening doing some on-line reading before heading into our guest suite to see what Debbie was up to. Yup; dead asleep.