Where to start and which blog to use, that is the question!!! I guess I’ll start writing and then sort it all out after the fact.
We had another full weekend where we probably played more than we worked and that’s starting to create quite a backlog of home projects that simply aren’t going away. Perhaps as the grass goes dormant here in a few weeks having that extra couple hours each weekend will help get me focused on the outdoor projects and, with those under my belt, provide the motivation I need to work the indoor projects during the week as the temps drop and the sun goes down at 5:00pm.
So, let’s see…
Calfee Tandem Repair: As noted in my last blog entry, our Calfee tandem frame is making its way back to Atlanta and should arrive at the local FedEx store front on Wednesday the 23rd. It should only take me an hour to put it all back together if I don’t get side tracked and start doing all kinds of detailed cleaning and cable replacements while it’s torn apart. It’s actually a bit early for all of that since we’ll be riding in some cruddy conditions over the winter, but being a bit OCD I could find myself stretching this into a two-evening project or working on it on my off-Friday afternoon. Of course, the weather is looking damp for Friday, Saturday and Sunday so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll have a window this coming weekend when we can get a few miles on the Calfee.
Southern Tandem Rally: As mentioned, we are calling an audible with respect to riding our Precision triplet at the upcoming Southern Tandem Rally (STR) in Richmond, Virginia. In all fairness to our dear friend and tailgunner on the triplet, Lisa, we suggested to our ride coordinators — Linda & Eric — either they stay teamed-up with Lisa on her Co-Motion Mango triplet for STR following the STR Pre-Tour or perhaps team Lisa up with one of the other stronger teams who have multi-seat tandem experience.
Yes, Lisa’s Mango Co-Motion triplet has graced these pages in the past, noting it paid a visit to our garage for an overhaul a few years back and just recently had a partial return visit when I rebuilt the front & rear wheels.
So, looking ahead to STR, having one of the stronger teams take a turn riding three-up with Lisa on her triplet will ensure she is able to get more mileage at a faster clip as well as more social interaction with the stronger teams than we’ll be able to muster, at least based on our more recent group rides. We just don’t see ourselves being to ride at the tempo or for the distances that the usual suspects will, so no need to penalize Lisa given our lack of form and diminished performance. Bottom Line: You gotta get quality miles and lots of them to hang with the big dogs and, well, we just haven’t been able to find the time and focus to do that. So, better to plan for a rally that will be a good time for everyone and, for us, that will likely be shorter rides on Friday & Sunday with a mid-distance on Saturday and all at a semi-social pace.
Now, on to a recap of this past weekend…
As with all working Fridays, the weekend really didn’t begin until around 5:30pm when Debbie and I arrive home. I left work a little early to go and look at a couple of motorcycle helmets before making my way home. Sadly, motorcycle helmets don’t last forever, even the really expensive Shoei models that I tend to favor and that we wear… a lot.
At left, our Shoei modular / full-face & at left Debbie in RF Platinum & me in the Polo
I wear my Shoei modular just about every day for my commute to and from work and the other two – Debbie’s Shoei modular and RF Plantinum open face — also get used for most of our motorcycle road trips. Let’s see, with 17,000 miles on our Road King ‘Blue’ since Aug ’13 and another 12,000 miles on our black Dyna, of which 9,000 were racked-up riding two-up between July ’11 and Aug ’13, I’d say our heads have been in those buckets quite a bit. My polo style half helmet doesn’t take the same beating since it doesn’t hold in the heat and moisture the way the more protective helmets do so it’s good for the long haul. But, as for those other helmets, I’m looking at replacement candidates whenever I get a chance. Sadly, it’s hard to find much of a selection anymore. I guess it’s a mail-order world anymore: should have bought stock in UPS and FedEx! But, I digress…
I arrived home about ½ an hour before Debbie and that gave me a little time to do a few chores inside the house. She arrived home a little tired, but never too tired for our ‘Finally a Friday’ celebration at Loco Willy’s. As is the norm, we met our friends David & Deb at Willy’s and had a pretty good time, staying a bit longer than usual if memory serves. We’d thought about heading over to a grand opening of a new bar & grille owned by some friends, but I think we were both pretty tired from a long week and were also fighting allergy symptoms from the summer weed pollens, e.g., ragweed, etc. So, rather than overdoing we called it a night and headed on home.
Our morning was going to be consumed at a benefits fair being hosted by my company’s human resources organization. It promised to provide lots of insight into retirement planning, health care plans, costs and how-best-to-use-it tips, financial planning tools, wellness tips and discount programs. We arrived at the Renaissance Waverly conference center where the event was being held at 9:00am. We were most interested in the retirement and health care seminars and easily found seats for these sessions. Sadly, the overviews they provided proved to be far too basic for our needs. They were probably good for folks who had never really looked hard at their retirement plans and health care options, but really didn’t offer anything new to us. Having checked the box on that, we were out the door by 11:15 on what looked to be a beautiful day.
We stopped off for lunch at the Red Eyed Mule and split a Jake’s Big Daddy – basically our every other Friday lunch date routine – before heading on home where we were going to knock out a bicycle ride and some afternoon chores. It was nice finding Lisa behind the counter — a friendly face who we looked forward to seeing her on our Friday lunch time visits — noting she no longer works Fridays. Adjust and adapt, it’s the way we roll. The burger was “the best ever”! For some reason the crew nailed this one just right. The Texas toast was extra brown with just a slight crust — very much like a grilled cheese sandwich — the meat was the perfect temp and pink but not too pink, the fried egg was firm and the fixings all stayed put. Just OMG! The Jake is simply the best burger I’ve ever had, and this one was the best of the best. I’m sorry I didn’t take a photo (that’s a file photo), it was a thing of beauty.
As we headed home it was pretty clear Debbie was a little tired – fighting the allergies as well as low blood pressure – so while she rested a bit and did some laundry I headed outside and took care of a few things in the garage. I think it was around 1:45pm when we finally found ourselves with enough time and energy to head off for a nice 25-mile bicycle ride from the house on our single bikes.
Again, the weather couldn’t have been any more lovely and we had a good ride despite all of the weekend traffic. Yeah, there’s something about Saturday afternoon traffic that makes it a bit more terrorizing than usual. I suspect it’s all of the college football fans trying to hurry home or out to a favorite watering hole to catch a game. On the bright side, about 1/2 of our route is nearly devoid of cars, so it makes up for the four main drags where we tend to get buzzed by inDUHviduals who don’t have a lot of love, patience or even tolerance for cyclists: yes, you can can tell just by how they drive if you pay attention to the subtle details and, well, I do.
Once we were back at the house I learned some of our motorcycling friends were attending a fund-raiser at a local dive bar – The Beer Barrel – and asked if Debbie wanted to join them. She opted to stay home and put her feet up for a bit as she was pretty well worn-out from the afternoon bicycle ride. However, she wisely put me out the door so I’d stay out of her hair. I rode the black Dyna down and joined our friends for about an hour or so. It’s always good to see our motorcycling friends as we’re not “all-in” to the big bike scene. So, when I or we have a chance to take advantage of some free time to visit with what truly are a great group of friends we try to do just that: we’re truly blessed with a lot of great friends.
I arrived back at home around 5:30, just about time to head off in search of dinner. Well, OK. It’s not much of a search. It’s really just a tough decision in regard to what we’ll order and share. For Saturday night it was the Ahi Poke: great call!! In fact, it tasted so good we had a second serving.
Like Friday night, as we neared the end of our visit with friends at Loco’s we talked about heading over to another recently opened nightclub where our friends from Shyanne would be taking the stage around 9:30pm. What’s nice about that place is they have a fairly large dance floor and we like to kick up our heels. However, like Friday night, between the long day and allergies I think we found we were both pretty tired. Seeing that it was only 8:00pm, and knowing the band wouldn’t actually make it to the stage until 10:00pm, we decided to head on home and watch some football. It was the right call, as Sunday was also shaping up to be a full day and we were both “out” before 9:00pm.
I woke up on Sunday with great expectations as Debbie had agreed to give off-road tandem riding another try given we were still without our road tandem. Just to make sure the Ventana El Conquistador de Montañas was ready to go (Note: Send comments and complaints on the length of the name to Teresa at Ventana, as I believe she comes up with the bike model names for Sherwood…. just kidding, it’s an awesome name!), I spent the better part of the morning looking over the bike, putting pedals back on, topping the rear shock off to eliminate most of the suspension bob (Debbie doesn’t like it when the bike bobs under her pedal strokes) and tightening up the bottom bracket to eliminate some creaking that I remembered from our New Years Day 2015 ride… you know, the “last ride” we took on the Ventana. With the bike all checked-out I loaded it into the back of the truck so we’d be ready to roll if and when “the moment was right.”
To capture the moment for posterity I also pulled out my GoPro cameras, as it had been a while since they had seen much use either. At first I wasn’t quite sure why I gave up on using the GoPro’s until I sat down on Sunday night after the ride and started to edit three hours of video (1.5 hours of riding x 2 cameras) and quickly remembered just how much time and effort it takes to reduce several hours of raw footage into a video that’s short enough for the average viewer to watch.
With the bike and cameras ready to go I found Miss Debbie was still feeling a bit puny due to the allergy issues and some other factors. I told her to go ahead and rest while I knocked out the weekend yard work. If she still felt up to it, we’d head off to the trails around noon. I had the yard work taken care of by 11:30pm and true to her promise she geared-up and we headed off to Allatoona Creek mountain bike trails just before 12:00pm.
I think it’s fair to say we both had a great time. I did my best not to push the pace too hard and avoided the more technical “bonus loop” on one of the trails just to make sure that Debbie would have a drama-free experience on this first time back on the tandem in nearly 9 full months. Yes, it had been that long. Our last ride — as mentioned earlier — was on January 1st. I brought it to an abrupt end when I got a bit too aggressive going through the narrow pines on a transfer trail and ran Debbie’s shoulder into a tree when I took a line that was simply too close to the tree for the lean angle I was using. She was really upset by it and rightly so. We’d been out earlier in September of 2014 — in fact, it was almost a year to the day when we finally hit the trails after a nearly four-year hiatus on September 21, 2014. We had a pretty good ride and after making some changes to the Ventana’s handle bar & stem as well as switching out the brakes at MTBTandems.com, we had a second and very successful outing on September 28.
In retrospect, the key to our success on the September 28th ride was having the tandem dialed-in for the first time in a long time AND riding the loop alone and at our own pace. As demonstrated on the January 1st ride, once we get out with other bikes and either start trying to keep up or trying not to get in the way I introduce anxiety and that kills the joy for Debbie. She simply wants to be out enjoying the ride without fear of a serious fall or impact. So, as much as we enjoy meeting up with friends, I’m pretty sure it will be a while before we do any group off-road rides or visit any other trails, and that’s OK. After all, the best part about riding a tandem for me is getting to spend time with my Debbie. If we can add other friends to the ride or venture off to different trails without making her nervous at some point, that will be great. If not, then I’ll just be thrilled to share an occasional ride in the dirt on our home loop.
As mentioned earlier, I brought our GoPro’s out for this ride so that’s where the stills came from and, as you’d expect, there’s a short video collection of 39 clips that lasts about 2 minutes and 30 seconds which captures the spirit of our ride.
There was something of a postscript to the ride. Actually, two postscripts.
The first was losing a helmet out of the back of the truck. Yup, sure enough. Since the trail is so close I lay the tandem in the back of the truck with the tailgate down and the front wheel sticking out for the drive to and from the trail head. For some reason I left my helmet near the back of the truck bed on the drive home and it apparently fell out just before we arrived home. I did not know this until a very kind and thoughtful neighbor driving by the house stopped in the middle of the street, got out of the car and asked, “Did you lose a helmet?” Sure enough, he was holding my Limar helmet. He said he saw it sitting in the road as he came towards our home and when he saw us walking around in cycling gear and unloading the bike he guessed we may have lost it. How thoughtful was that!
The second postscript could end up being a saga. As I was pulling the Ventana out of the truck I notice there was as a stream of automatic transmission fluid (which is what’s used as shock oil in our fork) running down the right-hand fork leg. Sure enough, the fork seal had finally started to leak after 14 years and about a 2,000 miles of use. While we’ll still be able to ride it with the leak for a short while, I’ll definitely need to get it to a fork specialist to see if they can’t find some replacement seals and wipers before January 1, 2015 rolls around.
With our tandem ride behind us, it was time to turn out attention towards getting some lunch and a motorcycle ride. You guessed it, we grabbed quick showers, threw on some clothes and headed off to Loco Willy’s for our weekly hot wing fix. The weather was still spectacular. As nice as it was sitting at Willy’s watching the NFL Sunday afternoon games, the weather outside beckoned us and Debbie said she needed some big-bike-ride time to see it that wouldn’t help to clear her head.
We pointed the bike towards the Southern Devil Harley-Davidson dealership over in Cartersville, Georgia, and took the long, hilly, twisty back way over through Emerson, Georgia. It’s a lovely ride with just a few congested areas along the way, about 45 miles or so. We were pushing our luck a bit in that the dealership closes at 5:00pm on Sundays and based on my GPS’s calculations we’d be arriving around 4:50pm. Sure enough, that’s when we arrived. However, the good folks at what used to be Cartersville Harley-Davidson said not to worry or hurry. They had plenty of paperwork to do to close out for the day and encouraged us to take our time and enjoy our visit: love it!! We found a pretty-looking helmet for Debbie, but didn’t buy just then. I wanted to check the consumer reviews as there were some nice but odd features and the execution of some of those features seemed a bit clunky. Aesthetically, it was perfect: it had butterflies! Debbie loves butterflies.
It was about 5:15pm when we pointed Blue towards the house, heading home the way we came via Emerson. It was a nice 35 mile ride home, during which Blue’s odometer clicked past the 17,000 mile mark. Wow, we racked up quite a few miles in just two years and it’s not like we ride Blue all the time. We’re still cycling a lot on the weekends — mostly at home, but not doing as many rallies — and my daily commute miles are all logged on the BMW R1100S and, of late, the black Dyna.
Even with the Dyna we were only logging about 4,500 miles a year. Now, to be fair, we put 2,000 miles on during just our trip to Key West this past July. Our trips down to Daytona also put nearly 1,000 miles on the bike for each trip. So, it’s pretty simple math. The down side of putting on the big miles is facing future mechanical issues sooner rather than later so I’m now struggling with the decision to buy or not buy an Extended Service Plan to cover the bike with a mechanical warranty for the next five years. Decisions, decisions. But I digress.
We made it home around 6:30pm and settled in to relax, watch a little football and otherwise get ourselves ready to face a return to work on Monday.
It was a great weekend, without a doubt. Can’t wait for the next one! Maybe we’ll get in a tandem ride, a motorcycle ride and even get a few projects done at the house. OK, maybe two out of three. Now, which two… ???