Sunday, 24 October…
Throughout the week leading up to STR Debbie started to suffer from weed-driven late summer / early fall allergies, just as I had been since late September. While she seems to be able to avoid the sinus infections that I’ve become prone to over the past couple years, she was still dealing with a persistent cough, sore throat, hoarseness and the other typical hay fever symptoms.
On top of that, I think we discovered that she neglected to let me know her Selle Anatomica Titanico saddle’s cover needed to be tightened. It had apparently stretched enough to allow her to make contact with the saddle rails on hard bumps leaving her sore and bruised (I’m guessing this was bad karma coming around for my less than flattering blog entry last week). The combination of the two prompted her to ask if it would be OK if she skipped today’s ride and to let Lisa stoke for me on our Calfee. I said if Lisa’s willing, then sure.
We headed down to breakfast shortly after that and as expected, Lisa was game to give it a go; she’s really a great sport and wonderful friend! So, we were set; Debbie would get some down time while Lisa and I were still able to get in a tandem ride. Once again, we shared a table with our friends Richard & Shirley who made our breakfast all that much more enjoyable.
I guess it’s a good thing to have a spare tandem as well as a spare stoker available at tandem rallies! It certainly paid off for us at this year’s STR. Lisa was fine with stoking on the Calfee as she said she’d never been on a composite tandem.
Thankfully I keep a full set of illustrated bike fitting measurements for our tandem and the triplet in my tool box and it only took me about 20 minutes to swap saddles and make other adjustments so Lisa would be properly fitted for the Calfee.
The measurements were pretty much the same as the ones used on the triplet so it only took a quick spin around the parking lot to confirm that she was good to go with the set-up.
Sunday’s ride would take us south onto Fort Benning, Georgia via the Riverwalk Bike Trail, which would make for a fairly flat ride. In fact, there were only two climbs of any note and the folks who elected to do the 16 or 30 mile routes instead of the 40 mile option were treated to a nearly flat ride.
Again, while I’m not a fan of Multi-Use Paths the ones in Columbus were very nice and lightly used which was OK by me. I would definitely go back and ride them again as they provide a very nice way to move from the center of town to the more lightly travelled roads just outside the city limits.
We started somewhere closer to the back of the pack and did our best not to get too spirited on the narrow bike path and eventually found ourselves collected up by the A team riders. However, once we hit the more open roads and a slight climb they put enough distance on us that I finally decided it was time to slide back and find the usual suspects. Of course, about the time we found them the medium and long routes split and we guessed wrong on which way to go. After a hasty U-turn we gave chase and bridged back to the group on a fairly steep climb and then shared the rest of our ride together as a single group.
Throughout the three days of riding our Garmin and many others like it struggled with the GPS maps that were developed for the routes, all of which included a lot of out-and-back routing. A Garmin/GPS aficionado told us most Garmin devices seem to have trouble with out-and-back routes so it wasn’t totally unexpected. Thankfully, the STR organizers did an outstanding job of developing details maps w/cue sheets and marking all of the roads which made the Garmin GPS devices almost unnecessary.
We were back at the hotel before 11:00am which gave me plenty of time to find Miss Debbie in our room, grab a shower and have everything packaged and down to the truck before noon, well ahead of the 12:30pm late check-out time that the organizers had negotiated for everyone; another nice touch!
Packing up didn’t take all that long as I’d had to put the triplet back on top of the truck Saturday afternoon for overnight storage. It was too big to bring to the room – perhaps even too big for the freight elevator – and the hospitality suite had to be cleared by midnight on Saturday so that also wasn’t an option. With everything stowed in the truck we began to search for friends to say goodbye and so we could figure out who was hanging around for lunch and evaluate our own lunch options. Part of me wanted to hit the road so we could be back on our own turf around 2:00pm for some hot wings at Loco Willy’s, but once we found that a large group of friends were going to venture back onto Broadway in search of a place for one last meal together we opted to join them.
I believe the place was called “The Social” and featured Mexican cuisine as well as craft beers. Debbie and I stuck with soft drinks as I was having a hard enough time staying awake after three restless nights and three days of moderate to heavy physical activity. I suspect it was work-related restlessness more than the hotel or anything else as I was sleeping fine a week earlier down in Daytona under similar conditions. Well, OK… not as much physical activity but physical activity – long rides, long walks and lots of time in the sun – nonetheless. For some reason our server seemed overwhelmed by our group of 16 and it took quite a long time to get all of the drinks served, food orders taken and then food prep and delivery was interminable. However, the food was warm and tasty when it arrived and we really weren’t in a hurry. We finally said our goodbyes and headed back to the hotel around 2:00pm for the 2-hour drive back home. After a few more goodbyes back at the hotel to our other friends who were gathered in the parking lot and still packing travel tandems for their respective trips home, we were on the road around 2:30pm.
We arrived home around 4:30pm and by 6:00pm had most of the laundry in the machines, the bikes unloaded, the triplet cleaned-up and put back up in the rafters until the next opportunity to use it comes around – GTR in May or perhaps earlier – and then decided to end our STR weekend the way we started it: with some soft drinks, a caesar salad and wild pie at Olde Towne and football on the tele.
Again, just a great weekend and our sincere thanks to Jose & Sherry and Ron & Shari for all of their hard work in developing and pulling off a wonderful Southern Tandem Rally.