The following report on the Self Organized Off-Road Tandem Adventure (S.O.O.R.T.A) held in Tsali, North Carolina was filed by S.O.O.R.T.A. organizer Chris Judd. You can find more anecdotes and photos on the S.O.O.R.T.A. Facebook page.
I’d like to echo the sentiments that were posted earlier [at Facebook]. This meet-up of mountain bike tandem teams was indeed a huge success! Monica and I feel very blessed to be part of a community with such great people who can come together and instantly bond over this wonderful shared passion for tandem mountain biking. This is what makes tandeming great: forming new friendships with like-minded enthusiast while deepening the relationship with your partner.
The weather and the riding was fantastic! Cool at night, good riding temps in the morning and hot enough in the afternoon to warrant a daily dip in the lake, easily accessed from our campground at Tsali.
The five teams (Jamie and Jennifer S. Staiger [FL], Scott and Kelly [SC], Ted and Sandy [MO], Michael and Carin [GA] and Chris and Monica [FL]) that camped for the event all arrived on Thursday night. The first team in, Scott and Kelly, secured awesome campsites that backed up to one another giving us a block of common area – a great suggestion from team Hopton on the campsite selection.
We were all full of piss and vinegar Friday as all of the teams hit Tsali’s open loops. Several teams got a second helping by riding another loop after lunch & swimming in the lake and a few took a third helping with a night ride after dark!
On Saturday we were joined by Greg and Karen Miller who came down from Knoxville to join in the fun. We all rode together very well. Really fun trails, really fun tandems teams.
Sadly, things turned serious when we rounded a corner on a descent and found an injured single bike rider from another group. We were fortunate enough to have Kelly, an ER nurse, among the first teams to arrive at the scene. I witnessed an outpouring of compassion, coordination, and competence from all of the tandem teams as Kelly assessed the rider’s injuries and everyone participated in helping control the scene, i.e., stopping riders before they came around the corner at downhill speed. The rider was eventually evacuated down the mountain and taken to a hospital. The injured rider turned out to be a friend of the Hoptons and we learned later that night that he was going to be ok. Many thanks to Kelly for helping and to all of the S.O.O.R.T.A. teams for their help and support.
Saturday night we had a great dinner at the Nantahala Outdoor Center’s Rivers End restaurant. We took some beautiful pictures of this good-looking group wearing our Tsali S.O.O.R.T.A. shirts and then hung out a bit along the cold-flowing waters of the Nantahala river listening to live music. Later that night we had a bonfire and Ted and Sandy spilled some secrets on how they ride. It is always really interesting to learn from other folks, especially when they are as experienced and skilled as this St. Louis based team. We joked, stoked the fire and enjoyed the last night together for this event.
On Sunday morning some of us did shorter rides before packing up and heading for our respective homes. We were sad to leave but were already enjoying the our new memories.
I love being a part of a tribe that knows how to enjoy life and shares the unique bond these machines create that connect us deeply to each other and our partners. We are looking forward to planning the next event and doing it all over again.. S.O.O.R.T.A. style. #mtbTandemTribe