Once again we are pleased to share a Florida PANTHERS Post-Event Report from our guest contributor Kathy Foster.
The Sebring Tandem Rally, now in its seventh year, is stretching into four days. A number of couples arrived at Sebring’s Chateau Elan Thursday for a Friday morning ride of 25 or 40 miles.
“I bet we had 10-12 tandems out on the road that day,” estimated Ray Murtaugh. He and his wife Nancy Raftery rode the 25-miler as did the rally’s only triple, powered by young Sophie and her parents Carl and Missy Gruber.
By 5 p.m., 49 bicyclists had gathered for a chow down at the Cowpoke’s Watering Hole, named for the time when Central Florida was mostly ranches and citrus orchards. Tables formed into a giant U enabled newcomers to mingle with rally veterans. By dinner’s end, three more teams — John and Barbara Heineken, Jeanne and Paul Knudsen and Reg and Michele Ullmann–had formed a Sebring Rally auxiliary table in the covered patio.
After a super dinner, some of us had no calories left for the ice cream social at the hotel.
Anyway, the main course for me was the Saturday morning ride. All rides started at Chateau Elan, which overlooks the Sebring racetrack. A few hearty souls picked the 60-miler. We opted for the 48-mile route, which took us around Lake Josephine and Lake June and along the upper rim of Lake Placid. For much of the ride, the wind was at our backs. The 33-miler skirted parts of Lakes Josephine and June as well.
We were exhilarated to have averaged 16.4 mph despite wind in our face for the long home stretch. Strong pulls by Dick and Patty Young and Hank and Kathy Williams were greatly appreciated.
Jan Thompson told us a symphony would be performing at 4 in tent next to the racecourse. We thought we’d misheard, but after reading the word “orchestra” on the side of a parked truck, we decided to walk over. There were PANTHERS president Bob Thompson and Jan, Bruce and Susan Hansen, Hugh and Laura Aaron, Jim and Betsy Chisholm from Cincinnati and numerous other rally participants enjoying live music. The field was filled with families and couples listening to the Florida Orchestra playing “The William Tell Overture,” “Flight of the Bumblebee,” and other numbers depicting “bursts of speed.” We think the orchestra was bused in as part of the festivities leading up to the 12 Hours of Sebring race on March 18.
Another bonus this year were free hors d’oeuvres and gourmet cheeses at happy hour. At the banquet, Nancy and Bruce Grant of St. Clements, Ontario, won the award for the farthest distance traveled. Another lucky couple won a gift certificate for a Go Pro camera.
The rally wrapped up Sunday with a choice of a 33- or 42-mile ride heading north through Sebring and Avon Park. It brought back memories of the first tandem rally we attended– a Southern Tandem Rally in Sebring 20 years ago. One ride had ended with a route along Lake Jackson, past stately homes overlooking the water. We had planned to sit once again on the porch at the pink Kenilworth Lodge. Alas, the old inn was boarded up. But rallies here are still very much alive.
The next rally sponsored by the PANTHERS (Partners Aboard Neat Tandems Happily Enjoying Riding Simultaneously) will be Oct. 20-22 in The Villages, Fl. Registration details are due in April but you can book a room now for $111 a night by calling The Waterfront Inn at 352-753-7535.