After getting a positive overnight status on Crawdad, everyone exhaled with a sigh of relief and began to focus on the day’s ride and other activities. Once again, breakfast was in the Hilton’s restaurant and then it was off to get the tandem ready to go. Yes, the tandem. Our triplet’s tail gunner, Lisa, was moving over to her own Co-Motion triplet which she’d be riding with Brenda & James for the next two days. It was actually pretty nice to get back to our beloved Calfee, but dang that triplet is the nuts.
Saturday’s ride started en masse from the entrance of the Hilton and meandered out towards Lousiville along the same roads that we’d be riding on Sunday. The somewhat relaxed tempo heated up pretty quickly as the usual suspects quickly made their way to the front of the pack and other “A teams” followed suite. Our plan for the day — which was to stick with either the mango triplet or the quad — quickly went out the window when our irrational exuberance of being back on the tandem got the better of us.
As we hit a familiar stretch of road, we jumped to the front on a short climb. After about 5 minutes of that nonsense I realized I’d quickly gotten us in over our heads and drifted to the back of the mostly “A Team” group that was now well off the front from the rest of the pack. We made the mistake of following the A Team riders on the first 62-mile route “bonus loop” and that really set us back for the rest of the morning. By doing that little extra loop with about 500′ of climbing over about 1/2 a mile we lost the pack we would have normally ridden with while still finding ourselves chasing the A Team riders and losing ground with every pedal stroke. So, at the next 62 / 41 mile option split we opted to throttle way back and just enjoy the morning ride through the foothills alone. We figured we’d be able to hook back up with the quad at the rest stop and finish the day with them… which is what ultimately happened.
It’s hard to describe how nice the riding is in this part of Tennessee and even the photos don’t always do it justice. We had a really nice morning on the bike and were the first tandem into the rest stop… having gone way off the front on the 41-mile route while being miles behind the group we started with on the 62-mile route. In fact, we never did see the majority of the folks we would have and probably should have been riding with on Saturday. Oh well, it’s all good. We spent a pretty good amount of time at the rest stop waiting for the quad, and then waited some more while our friends on the quad got in their rest break.
The afternoon ride was rather enjoyable… again, not setting a blistering pace by any stretch, which felt good after two days of hammering along at 19 & 20 mph over 50 & 80 miles with plenty of elevation on Thursday.
The lunch stop turned out to be pretty awesome in terms of location… tucked in a small valley but perched up on a hillside next to some trees in the midst of farmland. It’s location generated a constant light breeze, and in addition to being a rather large pavilion it had its own restrooms close at hand and some very comfortable chairs and tables vs. the wooden picnic style tables at the pavilions down in Maryville. It was truly bucolic.
Add to that fantastic location the always delicious and freshly made wraps, sandwiches, salad, fruits, lemonade, tea and cookies from Rothchild Catering — it just makes for one of the best rally lunches bar none.
And, much to everyone’s surprise who was involved in the planning, Tim was able to secure the Timberwoods Bluegrass band to add a special ambiance to the lunch stop. As we were enjoying our meal and socializing with other rides, the fixed-gear roving reporter Stephan Cooper from the Blount Press — a local media icon — was working the crowd getting interviews, quotes and photos for an upcoming article he was working on. By the way, when I saw fixed-gear riding, that refers to his primary mode of transportation as that’s how he gets around, riding his Trek track bike. He’ll occasionally get a ride from one of a few friends who can throw his Trek on the back of the car, but that’s how he rolls to most of his gigs. You can find his composite article HERE.
Included in my many visitations during lunch, I snapped a few photos of the two Paketa tandems that were at the rally, noting these are perhaps the best-looking Paketa’s I’ve seen to date. Jon & Michelle A. from Kentucky have had there’s for a couple of years and the “flame job” is one of the best I’ve seen on any tandem, bar none. Carl & Missy G’s Paketa has received quite a bit of attention since it first appeared at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show this year where it won the “Best Alternative Material” award. It’s simply stunning and stupid light at around 23lbs.
I also had the pleasure of spending some time visiting with John C. & Madelyn Z. from Indiana and checking out their classic midnight blue Co-Motion Speedster. I should probably note, we’ve seen John & Madelyn at several TTR’s over the years and shared pleasantries as well as a few miles on the road… that is, until they go off the front with the other really strong teams. However, this year our dear friends Richard & Shirley D. told us that their friends John & Madelyn would be at the rally and that we should look them up, as they were just the nicest couple. So that friendly encouragement allowed us to get to know John & Madelyn a bit better and expand our circle of tandem friends that much more. That’s just one of the ways that it works, and it’s great!
John shared a nifty little modification he made to address the sub-optimal front derailleur shifting performance of his Shimano Ultegra STI integrated brake/shift lever (aka, brifter) that led to another neat adaptation. The shifting issue was solved by installing a Shimano index shifting lever on the downtube shifter boss, something even many professional cyclists have done on the big hill climbs as a weight-saving trick… noting an aero brake lever and downtube shift lever are lighter than a single integrated brake/shift lever. Then John realized he could probably use the left-hand brifter’s front derailleur shifting mechanism to control his Arai drum brake with three different friction levels. This allowed him to remove the bar-end control, making for a very tidy and functional adaptation of the STI lever. We also talked a bit about wheels and brakes, noting his Co-Motion had always had noisy brakes, where cleaning the rim’s brake track, using Koolstop brake pads and toeing-in the brakes still didn’t solve the brake squeal issue. Looking at and fiddling with his early Avid linear pull brakes I suggested it might be the excess play in the brake arms that was the source of the noise and that adding a small washer/shim to each arm’s mounting bolt might make a difference. The early Shimano XTR V-brakes with their parallel-push mechanism were also prone to brake squeal given how much “slop” there was in the mechanism during braking, making the XT and LX versions of the V-brakes a better choice for tandems.
Anyway, it was a great lunch stop and all things must come to and end, so we rallied our friends Eric, Linda, Christen and Audrey and headed back to the hotel. We had Stefan along with us on his red Trek fixie for most of the short ride to the Hilton and after getting back to the hotel parking lot set about to do some tweaking to both the shifting on our Calfee and the quad. Tweaking the Calfee was an easy-do… the Jagwire in-line cable adjusters simply get bound-up and don’t rotate, which make on-the-bike adjustments a bit of a challenge since they’re less than precise: 10-speed shifting tends to need pretty precise adjustments. The quad needed both a front derailleur adjustment and the addition of an N-Gear Jump-Stop chain guide on the rear seat tube to prevent the drive chain from dropping off on the inside of the granny ring. We also discovered the quad was due for a new drive chain while it was up on the work stand… and testing the weight limits of the work stand. I didn’t really appreciate just how heavy that quadwas until I had to move it around and put it in the work stand: 86 lbs my foot… that sucker was an easy 100 lbs. Yikes! Well, we got the bikes all adjusted and put away and then headed in to get cleaned up for the afternoon social and evening banquet.
After spending a little time socializing in the TTR Hospitality Suite on the 5th floor of the Hilton we headed off to Cycology Cycles to pick-up some Dancing Bear Lodge water bottles for the triplet and I also wanted to get Debbie some eyewear to protect her eyes. I’ve bought her several pairs of cycling glasses over the years, but she always seems to end up wearing some stylish Oakley’s that really aren’t designed for active sports. However, it wasn’t until I started taking photos of us riding that I realized Debbie is always looking over hear Oakley’s in all of the photos, including the one that I took during Saturday’s ride. In other words, the glasses she’s been wearing aren’t providing her with any protection while we’re actually riding, which would explain why she always has dry and tired eyes after cycling.
While it would have been nice to have realized this on Friday so that we could have gotten 20% off of the glasses we ended up buying, Tifosi glasses aren’t all that expensive to begin with. Regardless, I put her into some very stylish white & pink Tifosi ‘Slip’ glasses. While she didn’t get to use them on Sunday, she did wear them for her after work rides at home this week and low-and-behold, she loves them!
With all of our new goodies in hand, we headed over to Sullivans to find a seat in the bar where we could watch the running of the Belmont Stakes with Paul & Jody B., a TTR tradition for all 11 editions. We were surprised to find the bar was pretty full so we ended up down by the wait station where we got to spend time with Nate & Alene W. from Missouri, another really interesting and strong team. After a few cocktails and the running of the Belmont, we headed up for dinner and found ourselves enjoying the company of our Tennessee friends, including Tim & Sharon.
The dinner was great and included a birthday celebration for our some-time tail gunner and long-time friend Brenda L., complete with watermelon “cake”, a special photo book presentation to Tim & Sharon to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the first Tennessee Tandem Rally by our always incredible thoughtful and selfless friends Linda & Eric. We also took up a collection for Crawdad & Jana for the purpose of sending over a few meals once they were back at home which once again showed just now generous and considerate tandem folks are as it netted nearly $1,000 from the 40 couples who were at the dinner. After that, it was back to the Hospitality Suite for a while and then we turned in for the night.