Southern Tandem Rally 2014, Columbus, GA… Part II of III

Saturday, 23 October…

We headed down to breakfast at the Houlihan’s around 7:00am two hours ahead of the riders meeting and mass start at 9:00am.  As before, same very nice set-up with breakfast basics: eggs, meats, starches, cereals, yogurt, etc. served buffet style which was apparently the norm for the Marriott / Houlihan’s.  After breakfast Debbie headed back to the room while I headed out to the truck to check on the temperature, unload the triplet and make all of the various changes to saddles, riding positions, etc. needed to get it ready for Saturday’s ride with Lisa added to our team.

triplet on tundraAs I was going about adjusting Debbie’s saddle on the triplet after removing it from the Calfee, Art from Elkhorn, WI, stopped by to chat and mentioned that he’d really hoped to see how we were able to get the triplet down from the truck, something I’d heard from at least two other tandem rally participants.

No doubt, seeing that very long bike so very high up on top of our truck with just a fork mount and rear wheel tray secured by a pair of large suction cups wasn’t the norm; most folks with the really long bikes or high-profile vehicles used a Tandem Topper or some other lifting device. I explained that it wasn’t all that interesting, but since they missed the opportunity to see how I do it, I figured I’d capture the 20-second process on video while unloading the triplet upon returning home from Columbus.

Here’s the dealeo: the triplet only weights about 42lbs without the front wheel installed so it’s not all that hard to lift it overhead for the loading and unloading process. The length makes it a bit unwieldy as does the center of gravity being a bit further back the rear truck door / folded down rear seat which in combination with my portable step-ladder are the key to my one-person process.  Note that I’d already loosened the rear wheel straps and had unlocked the front skewer before ‘making the lift’.  Anyway, there you go. Not a lot of drama.

Saturday's RouteThankfully, the weather was not as cool as it had been on Friday morning so we wouldn’t need as many layers to stay warm during the first part of the ride.  Our original plan was do the 54 mile route on Saturday but we were almost talked into the longer 65 mile route.  Again, even with our third motor — Lisa — aboard for today’s ride, Debbie and I just didn’t have the legs and lungs for spirited rides in the metric century range. Doing the slightly shorter distances at something between a social and spirited pace just seemed to be a better fit. Thankfully, we came to our senses at some point during the ride and returned to our original plan for riding 54 miles; it was the right distance.


I should probably note that Saturday’s route was a completely different cycling experience compared to Friday’s; everything about it was great!  The escort out of town by the Columbus PD well-executed by the men in blue; kudos for a great job of securing our route through the traffic lights until we were well outside of the city proper.  The route itself started off with a few moderate but short climbs but then transitioned to what even I had to admit was an excellent Multi-Use Path (MUP) system. We rode the “Fall Line Trace” for about 5.5 miles to get well east of the more urban areas surrounding Columbus.  We’d also ridden on a one-mile section of the northern-most stretch of the Chattahoochee River Walk on Friday; it was also quite nice.  I know, hearing anything positive about a MUP from me is a rare occurrence, but these were pretty nice trails from a cyclist’s perspective given their proximity to a major metropolitan area and there were only a few other runners and cyclists on the MUPs.

As it we did on Friday’s ride, we spent the better half of the first half of the ride gaining elevation with just about every pedal stroke. However, the elevation change was a steady incline of 1% – 2% with just a few modest hills and some short downhill sections.  Coming back would, at least in theory, yield some easy miles.  The quality of the roads was also far superior to some of the sections we encountered on Friday’s ride and, with just a few exceptions the motorists were generally quite tolerant and courteous.   All-in-all, it made for a wonderful time out on the road with our friends, including a large number of the original “usual suspects” from the late 1990’s: the Shavers, Wood-Goods, Strausskys, Team LGood, Phinneys and representation for Teams Hunter, Davis & deJong.

Let’s see, some of the more notable memories from the ride:

– Riding Triplets: During one slight climbing section we’d been riding alongside Linda & Eric carrying on a conversation that ended when we momentarily pulled ahead. Suddenly I heard Debbie having a conversation about our newest granddaughter, Vivian, and couldn’t figure out who she was talking with.  It was only then that I remembered we were riding the triplet with Lisa. You know you have a great handling triplet with a smooth crew when you can honestly forget you’re even riding a triplet.

Impromptu photo op with little Audrey, my sweetie and Kurt & Debbie from California.

Impromptu photo op with little Audrey, my sweetie and Kurt & Debbie from California.

– Mechanical Challenges: During the first store stop our friends from California were attempting to adjust-out some chain rub from their front derailleur.  I saw a few things about the front derailleur set-up that weren’t ideal and made an orientation adjustment to the change and after giving up on making any other adjustments at the derailleur with a multi-tool that really didn’t work well I put about four turns into the down tube cable stop adjuster to give the front derailleur a little more travel.  However, when we went to do the function test of the drive train the 1999 vintage Shimano Ultegra shifter (right hand) didn’t want to move the rear derailleur below the 4th cassette cog?!  It felt terminal as there was clearly a lack of pawl engagement inside the lever, but I suggested giving it a WD40 flush on the off-chance there was a build-up of crud limiting the shifter’s movement. No dice; it was toast.  Not sure if it just failed at an inopportune time, or if the rear derailleur had inadvertently been shifted while the rear wheel wasn’t turning; that could have easily been the coup de grâce for some worn/weak teeth. Thankfully, they had all of their climbing gears and the mid-range gearing was probably good enough for the rolling terrain we were enjoying.

– The Chase & Catch: After heading off on the 54 mile route with a few of the “B Team” riders we made a store stop on the return half the loop. Just before heading off to finish the leg to lunch, the “A Team” herd rolled by and Team Osgood-Wood took chase.  We went off behind them but never really got fully committed to idea of time-trialing for the next 10 -20 minutes.  Son-of-a-gun if Linda & Eric didn’t catch the A Teams before the lunch stop! There was a time…

– BBQ Lunch: Lunch at Flat Rock Park was a pretty tasty BBQ meal, something I think I’ve only had one time in the past when Santana held its rally in Chattanooga.  While not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea, we both enjoyed the BBQ, sides, deserts and very sweet tea! I made the mistake of eating a large piece of pecan pie. It was delicious, but oh so packed with sugar! Heading out of the park we got a chance to watch Ted & Sandy from St. Louis use their Santana road tandem for some off-road excursions over the flat rock and grassy fields as well as onto the dirt trails, noting they’ve got extensive off-road tandeming experience. It’s not something I’d recommend to anyone who has never ridden an off-road tandem. The park sat right alongside the “Fall Line Trace” so we were quickly on our way back to town right from the park.

Debbie spent the afternoon relaxing in our room while I ventured out to do a few things with the bikes and then visited with a large group of friends out by the Marriott’s pool. There was a second gathering of friends out under a tree in the parking lot.

phinney craig_carla_gang


Left to right: Sanna & Chuck, Ryan, Linda…  Craig, Claude, Sandy, Carla & Donna.

Sanna_gang eric_ted

Left to right: Linda, Smith & Claude, Sam, Sanna…  Eric, Ted.

Our plan for the evening was to visit Houlihan’s pub for cocktails and college football before walking across the street to the Columbus Conference Center for the rally social and dinner. Unfortunately, we discovered that Houlihan’s like many pubs in Columbus didn’t offer frozen drinks. We let our friend Lisa know that we were going to call an audible and return to the Cantina for some frozen drinks and would then make our way over to the Conference Center and welcomed her to join us but also let her know that the craft beer was flowing under the tree in the parking lot. She opted to visit with the gang while Debbie and I got some alone time and frozen drinks; win-win!

The Conference Center was an amazing facility that re-purposed a brick-walled factory: it was jaw-dropping architecture. The STR social was being held in the common area outside of the ballroom where a local blue grass band was set-up and providing entertainment before the dinner instead of after; brilliant!

bluegrassband confcenter


debbie_cloggingMiss Debbie was in fine form and put her western boots to good use clogging away to the bright and happy music as we visited with friends before the banquet hall doors opened around 6:45pm. We sat with our friends Richard & Shirley along with (two other couples – get names) and the buffet style dinner was very nice and moved quickly with four lines of guests moving along two buffet serving lines. The post dinner festivities and announcements also moved along quite quickly which was also first class!


We wandered back to hour hotel and went into Houlihan’s to catch some football in the pub and visited with some friends in the lobby before calling it a night.

Just an outstanding day


ryan_christenA special thank you to Christen for taking and sharing photos over the past 17 years and throughout the weekend that I’ve shamelessly poached to help add a little color and context to my otherwise bland blog. Were it not for Christen’s photos all these years there wouldn’t be any photos of Debbie and me cycling!

randy_claudiaAnd a special thank you as well to Randy & Claudia whose always have the forethought to take lots of photos!  Were it not for their photos there wouldn’t have been any from Saturday night.




About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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