Our dedicated, long-term readers may recall how last year around this time I got a little melancholy and reminisced about the good times we used to have on our annual Christmas Lights Rides in a December 14th blog entry. I ended that entry with this thought, “Perhaps we’ll consider hosting a reprisal of the David Hunter loop next year!”
Well, guess what?! Last night we and three other tandem teams joined our long-time friend and owner of Atlanta Cycling, Don Dutson, for his annual Christmas Lights Ride from the Vinings, Georgia store. Hard to believe it was 17 years ago that we did our first Christmas Lights Ride with Don, but despite the passage of time it was just as much fun as ever. In fact, we’re already looking forward to next years ride!
I thought about doing an “organic” tandem club ride following the same route used by David Hunter when we last did an in-town Christmas Lights ride several years back. It would have started near Fellini’s Pizza on Howell Mill Road, visited Centennial Park, Peachtree Road past the Fox and taken us through Sherwood Forest and then back to Fellini’s via Atlantic Station. Another thought was to ride from Fellini’s or some other good post ride eatery to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and spend some time touring their Christmas Lights in the Gardens exhibition, but that would have been a bit pricey and taken the entire evening. After conferring with Roger Strauss the consensus was to tag onto the Atlanta Cycling ride as it wouldn’t matter if there was light or strong interest to be a success. Even if just one or two couples showed up it would be a good time and there’s always safety in numbers.
The ride began at Atlanta Cycling’s Vinings store where most riders honored Don’s request for the donation of a toy to benefit the Metro Atlanta Children’s Village. Debbie and I had to pack our cycling clothes in the truck along with the tandem and go to the ride start right from work. We arrived around 5:30 which gave us plenty of time to get dressed and ready for the 6:30 ride start.
The temperature was right around 42°F but the 60% humidity and 8-10 mph winds made it feel a bit colder when we were standing around outside. Thankfully, the store was open and we decided to do most of our meeting and greeting in the warmth of the showroom. It worked out well for the store as I ended up buying Debbie some new cycling glasses (a) because I forgot to bring a pair for her with clear lenses, and (b) because she needed a new pair anyway. Her wrap-around white & pink Tifosi “Slip” lenses (below, left) have proven to be just a bit too big for her face as cycling eyewear but are great on the motorcycles, so I picked up a pair of the Tifosi race pink, very minimalist “WISP” glasses (below, right) for her last night and they are a perfect fit!
As we did our shopping, got the tandem out and prepped for the ride we were joined by about 40 other intrepid cyclists, many of who had taken the time to decorate their bikes and bodies will all kinds of different Christmas lights, festive headwear and other fun stuff; what a hoot! Best of all, we were also joined by three other long-time friends and tandem couples, two of whom had been there with us back in 1997 for that very first Christmas Lights Ride!
Upper Left, Mark & Debbie; Upper Right, Randy & Claudia; Lower Left, Linda & Eric and Lower Right, Roger & Eve. As you can see, we opted to dress for the “slow, leisurely ride” that was advertised with the same purple velour jackets we wore in 1997. They were great until the tempo picked up as we hit the hills around Chastain Park, at which point I’d wished we went with our Pearl Izumi winter weight jersey/jackets that breathe a bit better. (Photos by Eve Kofsky)
Randy & Claudia definitely set the bar high for decorating with their lovely head pieces and fully illuminated tandem frame. However, Linda & Eric hit it out the park with their faux water bottle mP3 player that was belting out Christmas songs for the hour-long, 12-mile ride. I was thinking how cool it would have been if about 10 of the bikes on the ride had Blue Tooth speakers tied into a single mp3 player pumping out the carols. Roger & Eve had some interesting lights attached to their spokes that changed color throughout the ride. While we missed the mark on Christmas lights I think we claimed the brightest lights award with our diNotte head and taillights — very bright just by themselves — and my 14-year old, insanely bright Lights n Motion LiOn HID headlamp.
Don led us through a couple of cul-de-sac neighborhoods where the exterior illumination (think Clark Griswold) was pretty spectacular. We also saw about a dozen other homes that had pretty nice Christmas Lights displays, but not nearly as many as I would have expected. But, let’s be honest, this kind of ride is all about having stupid fun and we did that in spades. It was just as much if not more fun that I remembered.
After the ride we drove about a mile over to the New York Pizza Exchange for a late night dinner with our friends. It was a grand time and a nice change from the typical Saturday or Sunday afternoon / late morning tandem club rides. Miss Debbie and I were wishing we didn’t have to get up and go to work as we would have spent easily another hour hanging out with our friends.
Can’t wait until next year!!!