Well, we finally made a point of attending our first Georgia Tandem Club (aka, PEACHES) monthly ride this past weekend. It was hosted by a couple from Decatur, Georgia out east of Atlanta starting from the little town or Rutledge, Georgia. I believe there were a total of 10 tandem teams on hand for the ride.
As you can see from the map, this was an 80-mile drive for us. The riders meeting was scheduled for 10am, so my goal was to be on the road by 8:30 as my driving habits put us in Rutledge around 9:40. However, drive time ended up being closer to 90-minutes due to some road construction out near Covington, Georgia where the 3-lane highway was reduced to just one for several miles. We rolled into town just before 10am and, thankfully, weren’t the only ones who had arrived just a tad late. I’d planned to hook up my GoPro cameras to capture some of the ride on video; however, given how late we were in arriving there just wasn’t any time for that. I suspect some photos from the ride will appear on the PEACHES WordPress site in the next day or two, so readers will have to check there to get the day in photos. Sorry about that…
It was a pretty morning with temps in the mid-60’s, a bit unusual for mid-May when high 80’s with high humidity was more common. There was some rain coming in from Alabama that also played into the unstable weather and that would later provide a little motivation for the last 1/3rd of our ride.
The area around Rutledge is popular with the Atlanta-based cyclists due to the abundance of low-traffic roads that tend to be in very good shape with gently rolling terrain. In fact, the Georgia Tandem Rally has been held out in this area at least five times (just off the top of my head) and I’d guess either Social Circle, Rutledge, Madison or Buckhead have played host to at least 10 PEACHES rides.
As for the ride itself, it went a lot better for us than I’d expected. For a variety of reasons — weather, health, conflicts, etc. — Debbie and I have not spent much time on the tandem or our individual road bicycles this year. I’d venture a guess that we may have finally passed the 300-mile mark with Saturday’s PEACHES ride. So, there was some concern that we’d be hurting by the end of the 45-mile ride. In an effort to manage our low mileage / lack of cycling fitness we decided to do what we could to stay away from the front-end of the group and, instead, let others set the ride tempo and follow suit.
This worked pretty well for the first leg along Dixie Highway east out to Madison, Georgia. However, once we got to the other side of Madison we finally ran into some hills and had to find a ride tempo that worked well for us. That happened to put us off the front which, in turn, motivated two other teams to make the jump. Once we realized just how far back the other 7 teams were we eased up quite a bit on the flat sections so we’d be able to regroup and return to Plan A.
We did this a couple of times as we began to encounter some hills and after a store stop just beyond Buckhead, Georgia, we finally realized we were going to end up being in no-mans land between the group that would go off the front with us on the hill… then stay ahead, and the group that we were trying to ride with… but not all that well. Once we turned to the west and could see darker clouds out in the distance I finally decided to simply ride our own pace and do our best to keep from getting caught out in any rain.
Although we didn’t ever catch the two teams that went off the front, I don’t think we were that far behind them as they were still putting tandems away when we rolled into Rutledge. The next group of riders didn’t roll into town until some 10-15 minutes had gone by, by which time we’d packed away our tandem, changed clothes and found our reserved tables in the Caboose Cafe.
All-in-all, we had a very nice time visiting with a number of long-time tandem friends on the earlier part of the ride and at lunch after the ride. We also had a pretty spirited final 1/3rd of the ride, which allowed us to work our legs hard enough to experience a little discomfort: as they say, pain is merely a sign that weakness is leaving the body!
As much as we like riding our motorcycle, tandem cycling remains the most enjoyable thing we do on two-wheels so we’re glad we set-aside most of Saturday for the May PEACHES ride.
The balance of the afternoon was spent doing some much-needed yard work, a little work on the tandem to get it ready for Sunday’s Tour de Cure, then dinner at Loco Willy’s with our friends David & Deb, followed by a visit to Guston’s Grill in Woodstock where the band Shyanne was planning and where we met some other friends and a final stop at the Center Street Grill in Acworth where the band Pretty Twisted was playing and, once again, we had a chance to visit with a few more friends.