Many years back, one of our holiday traditions was The Tandem Club of Georgia’s Christmas Lights Ride in and around Atlanta. The first one was hosted out of Atlanta Cycling’s shop in Vinings around 1997 and lead by Don Dutson on an incredibly cold night with patches of snow and ice lingering on the roads after a pre-winter storm. We made our way over to a spectacular private home lights display and winter wonderland across from Chastain Park where his wife met us with hot chocolate & sweets to re-fuel our motors. It was truly an epic ride.
In subsequent years, a friend of ours — David Hunter — hosted several of the Christmas Lights Rides closer-in to the north side of Atlanta. We’d meet near Bicycle Outfitters on Collier near Howell Mill Rd and then make our way down to Centennial Park, north on Peachtree St to the Georgia Tech area, through the Atlantic Station shopping & entertainment complex and then back to our starting point for dinner at the elegant hour at Fellini’s Pizza on Howell Mill Rd.
Oh, those were grand times. Some other friends stepped-in to lead the ride after David and his wife at the time, Christen, moved up to Tennessee. The ride started and ended at their home in Decatur after visiting some of the local neighborhoods known for having pretty spectacular Christmas displays. The after ride social was always a wonderful time.
However, as life got in the way of the folks who would attend these often cold & damp rides, interest in the annual holiday classic waned. So, lots of fond memories, but alas… no ride from which to spawn new memories.
Readers who also check out our motorcycling blog, “Riding Two Up” may recall that we met some new friends down at Mexico Beach, Florida, this past fall. They’re truly amazing people with very large hearts who love to take advantage of any opportunity to ride a motorcycle. We were invited along for two of their Christmas-time outings this past week.
The first one was their annual “biker visit with Santa & Mrs Clause” (a couple of bikers who double as the famous couple) to a local senior center here in Marietta, Georgia. Debbie wasn’t able to participate due to work and other errands, so I just met up with the group on the way home from work at the rallying point a block away from Wellstar’s Atherton Place. After making the short trip with police escort for a dramatic arrival, we visited with the residents while they took turns sitting on Santa & Mrs. Santa’s laps and other members of the group sang holiday songs with a piano accompanist. It was really a very special evening.
The next night was their Annual Christmas Lights ride. We both made a point of leaving work “on time” around 5pm so we could get home and geared up and over to the starting point by 6:45ish. We had a grand time and ended the evening with dinner at the elegant hour.
But, as much as we enjoyed seeing the Christmas lights and getting in a nice long ride on the Harley — it had been a long time since we’d done that — it just reminded me of how much we missed the tandem bicycle Christmas lights rides. Perhaps we’ll consider hosting a reprisal of the David Hunter loop next year!