The highlight of this week’s blog entries will be the Alabama Tandem Weekend (Up Next), but just by a nose as our Friday night out with friends celebrating Miss Debbie’s birthday was also quite epic. And, in fact, it probably highlights how NOT to prepare for a tandem rally! But, be that as it may, we overcame all odds and pulled it off!
In short, just an amazing end to another great week during Debbie Fest 2016! The upcoming week promises to be quite interesting as well, but will likely be documented on our other blog as we’ll be heading down to Panama City Beach, Florida, for spring bike week on Blue, our Harley-Davidson Road King motorcycle. But, in the meantime and for your reading enjoyment, here’s this weeks’ recap leading up to the Alabama Tandem Weekend.
In general, the weather finally began to warm-up, but it also got very wet. And, when it wasn’t raining the pollen was blowing. None-the-less, the weather was nice enough to afford me a couple of days of commuting on our Harley-Davidson motorcycles while the BMW received a much-needed rest. Our Road King got the call on Monday while the Wide Glide was called-up on Tuesday and Wednesday. I struggle a bit with riding the Harley’s to work in that they really are the “fun machines” whereas the BMW has always been purely for transportation. Therefore, it’s fair to say that I get a bit confused when I throw a leg over a Harley and the ride is over in just 40 minutes, never mind the destination being the plant.
Not much happened Monday other than knocking out some of the weekly book-keeping and other things that I need to attend to. However, Tuesday was a short day in that I took off the afternoon so I could (a) burn some vacation and (b) put down hardwood in our living room as part of the ongoing replacement of wall-to-wall carpet. I’d expected the project would take about 6 hours, but it ended up being a bit of a marathon that had me on my hands and knees from 2pm to 7pm and then from 8:00pm to 11:00pm. I suspect it was a combination of working around the piano and an inordinate amount of ‘clean-as-you-go’ on this room. Well, that and it was a slightly larger room.
Just glad that it’s done: working under the piano was pretty high on the risky business list. And, by working under the piano I meant just that: I used a hydraulic jack to raise each of the three piano legs just high enough to allow me to put down the adhesive and flooring before putting the leg back down on some 10” x 10” shoring to distribute the loads over the uncured adhesive. Everything went without a hitch and I can’t detect that the flooring installation was adversely affected.
In an effort to get the kinks out of my legs and back as well as to enjoy the dry weather before rain came in on that night, on Wednesday I headed out to the local mountain bike trail to get in a short loop: it felt great! Afterwards, I found Debbie at home looking especially lovely after a long day at work and decided what we really needed to do was to go out to dinner at Henry’s Taste of New Orleans in nearby Acworth, Georgia. We had an amazing meal and it felt really good to spend a night out during the week.
Thursday evening was mostly about getting ready for a very busy off-Friday and our weekend trip to Huntsville, Alabama, for the Alabama Tandem Weekend. My plan was to put all of the furniture back in the living room on Friday so a good deal of my Thursday night was spent pulling up painters tape and pre-cleaning dried adhesive from the wood flooring. There was also some home banking that I needed to attend to and I also needed to do a little work on our tandem bicycle before the long rides on Saturday and Sunday.
My Friday started about the same time as Miss Debbie’s, even though I would be working from home and then making use of my non-working Friday.
- First up was of course, work… There’s always work on off-Fridays.
- After work comes “homework” which is to say banking and other must-do things in the office.
- At 8:15am it was time to head over to the Georgia Tag Office to renew our six vehicle registrations for the princely sum of $506; who says cyclists don’t pay to use the roads!
- Next stop was Walmart for groceries and to pick up a tackle box that I’d use to organize all of my sewing materials which, over the years, had outgrown the small cardboard box I’d been using: Tackle boxes make the best storage boxes for just about anything, from bicycle tools to ski waxing gear to speed skate maintenance gear and apparently sewing gear.
- Next stop was Home Depot & Lowes related to the flooring project and then back to the house to drop off groceries and empty the back of the truck before heading off to meet my sweetie for lunch and then some afternoon errands.
- Lunch at the Red Eye Mule was wonderful as always; it’s just a very simple but special treat for us.
- After lunch it was over to Costco where I’d seen a very nice rug that would go well in our dining room, hence the need to clear out the back of the truck before heading to lunch.
- After gassing up the truck, stopping in at REI to look at cycling bibs (my mediums are now a bit small) and then a few other errands, I stopped by the bakery at Publix to pick up some petit fours and chocolate-dipped strawberries for Debbie’s birthday gathering later that night: she’d clearly stated “no birthday cake” so I dutifully complied.
- Back at the house it was all about giving the living room floor one more wipe-down with odorless mineral spirits to remove adhesive residue before wrangling the area rug back under the piano – once again, up on the hydraulic jack – and then putting the rest of the furniture back.
- With that done, I moved back across the foyer to the dining room where I had to temporarily relocate the table and chairs and do some additional wrangling to replace the 9’ x 11’ area rug that I’d borrowed from our family room with the new 6’ x 9’ area rug acquired at Costco. Wow, I got lucky as the size and colors were just right for the room.
- With all of that done, my last act was to get our tandem loaded into the truck along with my tool box and then pull out all of the cycling clothes we’d need for the two-day event and have those ready to go early on Saturday morning.
- I had just about enough time after all of that to grab a shower and get cleaned up before we headed off for our Finally a Friday celebration at Loco Willy’s. It turned out to be a very special Finally a Friday as we were joined by David & Deb (per usual) as well as Bobby & Carrie Ann, Jeff & Sharon, Ryan & Jeanette and Patti. Carrie Ann ignored the rules and brought three little cakes from Gabrielle’s bakery: they were amazing! Dinner was exceptional as always but more so given all of the silliness that comes with getting this wonderful group of friends together!
- As 8:15 rolled around it was time to head over to SuBourbon’s Oyster & Raw Bar where they were expecting us at 8:30. It’s so nice to have a place with regular live entertainment, dancing and the right kind of environment that will also reserve tables! As always, we had an amazing time. Debbie was in high spirits the entire night, we had a chance to kick-up our heels (although I sometimes get carried away on the dance floor and Friday night was no exception), spend time with friends, enjoy some tasty oysters and of course the petit fours and chocolate-covered strawberries. Debbie was easy to find as she had her birthday balloon attached to her collar; yes, it definitely got in the way while we were dancing. In addition to our friends who followed us over from Loco’s, our friends Julie & Chuck also joined us along with Cowboy. Sadly, we lost Carrie Ann who had to go and meet her son and his family back at the house. However, the rest of us soldiered on and partied hard until 11:00 when we had to respect our self-imposed curfew, lest we not make it up at 5:00am for our 3 hour driver to Huntsville, Alabama, on Saturday morning. Again, we can’t thank our friends enough for coming out and sharing the evening with us: it means more to us than they’ll every know
Amazingly, we were up at 5:15am on Saturday and out the door at 6:00am for our 2:45 min drive over to Huntsville for the Alabama Tandem Weekend (ATW). With the time changing from Eastern to Central as we crossed into Alabama we picked-up an hour, putting us at the Hampton Inn in Huntsville a little before 8:00am local, and just in time to get ourselves ready for the 8:15 rider’s meeting and 8:30am mass start and then rode 50 miles or so on four (4) hours of sleep. Apparently we surprised several folks by actually making it to the event!
I’ll cover the entire rally in a separate blog entry, but suffices to say this year’s ATW was one of the best small rallies we’ve ever attended. Charles & Kelly did a phenomenal job of integrating well-known cycling routes into the rally that were very tandem friendly to those who weren’t looking for epic challenges. They also coordinated optional meal time events at the no-frills rally at very interesting places. Our blast-in / blast-out schedule didn’t allow us to join the folks who arrived on Thursday and attended a reception at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. However, we were able to join many of the ATW guests at the Yellow Hammer Brewery and the adjacent Earth & Stone Wood Fire Pizza on Saturday night for dinner. Great stuff! Just a fantastic time.
After we finished our lovely 24-mile tandem ride on Sunday in Huntsville we immediately headed home to Kennesaw, arriving 3 hours later at 2:00pm local. While part of me wanted to relax, there was just no time for any of that. Instead, we had a rather full plate of things we needed to do:
- The first order of business was getting Miss Debbie a fresh Orts Special with Cashew pizza for lunch. She’d been craving one of my homemade creations for a couple of weeks and we’d just not had a chance to enjoy one. Well, today was the day and 30 minutes after we walked in the door I had piping hot, fresh-made pizza on the table.
- While the pizza was baking in the over I also got a head start on our dinner by thawing out the last of our hot wings, cutting potatoes into string fries and getting the deep fryer out. It would be five hours before we ate, but I wanted to be sure everything would be ready.
- With lunch behind us, we headed to the backyard to relax for about an hour as we felt we’d earned it. The sun felt good!
- Next up for me was getting the cars washed. They’d been collecting pollen for a couple of weeks and were in dire need of some cosmetic attention.
- Then came relocating our ‘pull behind the motorcycle’ trailer from the garden shed to the garage so that it would be ready to load for our motorcycle trip to Panama City Beach on Thursday morning. I must say, that trailer has been an amazing asset and will be so again this year. There’s nothing like having more than enough room to store ALL of your adverse weather gear in a very dry, large volume ‘trunk.”
- With the vehicles all squared away, the next task on the to-do list was cutting the lawn. Yes indeed, winter is truly over as the lawn is now demanding at least an hour of my time each week; a double-edged sword to be sure.
- Other little to-do list items including ironing shirts for work (I’ve gotten tired of the dry cleaners slowly killing my shirts), fixing some of Miss Debbie’s “bling” (some friends will know what this is) and finishing up laundry before giving my folks a call for our almost weekly chat.
- It was 8:00pm when I finally dropped our wings in the deep-fryer; we were definitely eating at the elegant hour!
- My last great act of the evening was filling-out and sending off our registration forms and making our hotel reservation at Cookeville, Tennessee for the Southern Tandem Rally (STR) in October. Thankfully, someone reminded me that the pre-registration period with its discounted registration fees was coming to and end on April 30th!
Debbie’s actual birthday was on Monday and the original plan was to celebrate it by having dinner out with Wesley, Julie and the three granddaughters at one of our regular places. However, the granddaughters have been trading the flu back and forth for nearly a week and it finally migrated to Wesley and Julie over the weekend. As a fallback, once it was confirmed that the kids were all under quarantine, we made a return visit to Henry’s. Henry’s did not disappoint! Flash fried shrimp with a chipotle dip as an appetizer and then blackened halibut over a light and fluffy rice with spicy pineapple drizzle. Frankly, I kinda liked having Debbie to myself! After all, she’s my best friend!
So, there you have it. While it may not have been the most epic of Debbie Fests (kind of hard to compare to her 40th when she got received a Mustang GT), I think we did OK.