It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Both Debbie’s company and mine have large production teams and shut down at Christmas as a way of managing holiday vacation disruption, i.e., minimizing loss of productivity by consolidating paid holidays when it is assumed the largest portion of the workforce would take off anyway.
Therefore, our last day of work was 23 December and neither of us will be back in our offices until 5 January. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, my job still has me working ‘as required’ whether I’m out for a holiday, on a weekend, or even on vacation so it’s not 100% work-free, but pretty darn close; I have no complaints.
We were looking forward to getting in some time on the tandem before the end of the year, but we had a heck of a time doing so between less than ideal weather, trail closures and other commitments. Our holiday schedule had us attending my program’s Christmas, er… holiday party on Saturday, 20 December as we entered the home stretch, which followed a day of errands and projects around the house. We met our closest friends for dinner on Sunday, 21 December after another day of chores around the house, and had the kids / grandkids over for Christmas dinner on 22 December. We did the big family get together with Miss Debbie’s parents, brothers, sisters and all of their kids at lunch time on 25 December and had a quiet evening at home to celebrate the holiday but, alas, no tandem ride…. just some time on the Harley for me going to/from Debbie’s folks place. On Friday, 26 December, we made the 762-mile drive to my folks home in Pennsylvania. After a nice weekend visiting with them, it was back in the truck on Monday, 29 December for the drive back home: thank goodness for NPR Podcasts of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” and “The News from Lake Wobegon” as that was our entertainment on those 11.5 hour drives.
However, we were able to end 2014 with one last tandem ride on Wednesday, 31 December. It was a lovely day with broken clouds that helped to keep the temperature in the upper 40’s. It wasn’t a long ride.. just a 20-mile short loop from the house, but it was time on the tandem none-the-less. We stopped to make a couple of saddle adjustments mid-ride and decided to go ahead and snap the ubiquitous selfie before heading off. We ended the day with dinner out at one of our usual places with the usual suspects and then spent the rest of the evening visiting with some friends until we rang-in the new year. Given we had plenty to do at home on New Years day, we opted to skip the sleep-over and headed home at 12:30am, noting we were both pretty much tea-totaling most of the evening.
I was up early on New Years day and had the Christmas decorations and tree down and put away before 10:00am and we’d make plans to meet our friends Alex & Kim Nutt — the owners of MTB Tandems — for an off-road tandem ride at the near-by Allatoona Creek trails.
The trail had been closed to cyclists since Thanksgiving for deer season, as that’s what the land was originally set-aside for. We were lucky to have very little rain leading up to the trail re-opening so the ride was on.
We met around noon, about an hour before the masses were scheduled to arrive at the trail for a large, group ride to celebrate the re-opening of the trail. Imagine if you will that parking lot behind us in the first photo filled with cars to overflowing and that’s what we were met with when we finished our loop ride. We had a good ride and had forgotten how nice the trails at Allatoona Creek were.
We headed over to the Mason’s Bridge Loop which is about a 7.5 mile ride all told from the trail head. Nothing too technical, but there are two log obstacles that are too tall for tandems and a couple of tight turns through the trees on the Rusty Bucket Loop that we failed to negotiate on our first attempt riding that trail counter-clockwise; we’ve ridden it once clockwise on the tandem. All-in-all, it was a great time, notwithstanding running Miss Debbie’s right shoulder into a tree when I apparently got a bit too frisky cornering through a fast tree section. That put a pretty big damper on our plans as I could tell that she was really upset and hurting after smacking the tree; been there, done that and understand. However, the coup-de-grace was returning to the trail head and finding what had to be at least 100+ mountain bikers attending a ride meeting and an overflowing parking lot. That’s just a few too many folks of vastly different riding levels to be out with on the trails, at least this early in the season. I was already pushing my luck just riding with Alex & Kim vs. going it alone at our own pace which was the key to our first two successful outings. On today’s ride I know I was making decisions and riding in a way that was a bit different and perhaps more aggressive in certain spots than I would have had it just been the two of us out riding. That’s not to say we can’t ride with other couples at this point, I’ll just need to make sure that I don’t deviate from a more conservative riding style as that’s where I begin to push Miss Debbie’s comfort level.
So, it was a short ride… just about an hour of riding from start to finish. Debbie’s shoulder was sore but nothing more than a deep bruise and by the time we had finished the ride and were headed back home all of the adrenaline that lifted our anxiety levels and tempers had subsided., which was a good sign. She also said that she had fun and was looking forward to getting back out for more trail riding. So, all is good…
Back at home I was back into a home project that involved replacing our 23-year old stairwell carpeting with hardwood treads and risers. Like all projects, the devils in the details. Day 1 was pulling up and discarding the old carpet, padding, nail strips and staples. Day 2 was cutting off the bull noses from the old stairs, on top of which the new treads and risers will go as there’s no way to simply replace them as the stairs are manufactured units, not treads and risers on three stringers. Day 3 is today, which is sanding off the old paint on the stringer/skirts, putty, more sanding and then paint. With any luck, I’ll be able to start installing the treads and risers tomorrow.
Oh what fun… It suffices to say, I’d rather be out riding. However, the weather forecast for the weekend is rain. So, if you’re going to be doing inside things, it might as well be something worthwhile.