Best Tandem Rally We’ve Attended?

While we were at the Tandems East Tandem Weekend in Manheim this past weekend our friend Tom asked me what you’d think was a simple question, “What’s the best tandem rally you’ve been to?”

Tandem Newbies, August 1997

As I thought about it I started to run through the 69 tandem rallies we’ve attended (see list below) since we began to ride a tandem in August 1997 I thought one or two rallies might jump out at me.  But, instead, it was just certain things about certain rallies that came to the fore. Bear in mind, “most” recurring, annual tandem rallies are organized and hosted by different people or groups of people each year.

Left to right… Tim, Sharon, Mark, Debbie, Eve & Roger

The exceptions are the Georgia Tandem Rally which has been organized and hosted by Eve Kofsky & Roger Strauss for 19 years running.  There was also the Tennessee Tandem Rally that ran from 2003 through 2012, organized and hosted by Tim & Sharon Patterson for all but one of the 10 years it was held but all nine of their hosted rallies was held in Knoxville, TN.

Yeah, this was not an easy question in the least.  I think I finally settled on the Tennessee Tandem Rallies because they were just a really good fit for us: hilly terrain, lots of close tandem friends / our tandem family attended, the meals were carefully considered by Tim and Sharon and it was a very relaxed affair sometimes with a one-day pre-rally gathering.  Buried in that answer was the secret to a great rally and that was having a few friends on hand who you knew you could ride with and then making new friends along the way.  Rallies where you show up and are an unknown commodity have a very different feel and we thankfully haven’t experienced that too often since I got to know a great many tandem enthusiasts as friends via my on-line connections with Tandem@Hobbes and on-web presence with The TandemLink.com and my blogs.

We found the same formula to be true with motorcycle rallies were 10’s of thousands of people would show up which didn’t in and of itself make for a great time.  No, it was having a few friends along who you could share the experience with and then make a few new friends to expand your circle.  As you’ll see in the tandem rally list at the bottom of this entry, motorcycle rallies began to creep into our annual tandem rally schedule in 2011 and by 2013 we were attending more motorcycle rallies than tandem rallies.  It wasn’t until 2016 until we got that back in balance with three of each.

But, all of that said and while I’ll mention a few specific rallies under the heading “The Best” I really can’t think of a time when we attended a rally that wasn’t great and that truly had a few “best of” characteristics.  As an example, we still talk fondly about the Alabama Tandem Weekends hosted by the Bacon’s at the University of Auburn in Auburn, AL, despite the less than picturesque Saturday lunch stop and other unique features of those events. It was no frills and worth every penny as the friends and memories are priceless.  In fact, I look at each of the 69 rallies I’ve listed below and think of at least one thing that made those rallies special, be it a new friend, a gathering of old friends, a meal, a scenic view or neat place that we visited.


The Best Tandem Rallies

Anyway, having given the original question by Tom a lot of thought, the tandem rallies that stand out in my mind more so than the others are in no particular order:

  • The Tennessee Tandem Rallies: as noted above, they were always very comfortable and we were surrounded by many friends at all times. The riding terrain was also pretty spectacular.
  • The first Georgia Tandem Rally in 1999: It was a much smaller, more intimate event in the early days and we really like the smaller rallies.  We also were able to help out and felt somewhat invested in the event which was also nice.  But, that said, all of the GTRs have been a great time and rank with the best of the best rallies we attend.  I just have very fond memories of the first few years when attendance was a bit more intimate.
  • Tandems East Tandem Weekends in 2011 and 2017: These smaller events draw in a great group of people and Mel & Barbara know how to leverage their massive network of friends and clients to come up with great locations and venues for tandem cycling events.
  • All of the Tandem Rallies we ever attended with our “tandem family” and they know who they are. There were many years when the entire family would be at all of the major Southern rallies and we’d always have a grand time. We miss those days and the members of the family whom we don’t get to see that often anymore.
  • All of the Off-Road Tandem Rallies:  While the road tandem rallies were all memorable, the off-road tandem weekends and rallies were down right epic! From our first Bent Creek Lodge weekend hosted by David Lee in 2003 to the last AORTA event we attended back in 2010, they were all very special!

And, while they’re not regional tandem rallies the Santana Rallies we’ve attended bear a special mention:

  • Santana’s Asheville Rally in 1998, probably because it was our kind of terrain and we met a lot of people who have remained friends ever since, many of whom were from the Atlanta area. Dinner and riding at Biltmore were incredibly memorable as were the epic climbs in and around Asheville and just being overwhelmed by our first Santana Rally experience.
  • Santana’s Chattanooga Rally in 2011 where we knew almost no one when we arrived and made fast, lasting friendships with several couples who we remain in touch with. Add to that a great venue and being able to test ride a Santana Beyond for two of the three days of the rally and it’s hard to forget an experience like that.

The list of 69 tandem rallies we’ve attended + the 17 motorcycle rallies since 2011

  • 1998
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Fairhope, AL
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Selma, AL
  • 1999
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Auburn, AL
    • Santana Mother’s Day Rally, Asheville, NC
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Madison, GA  (First Year)
  • 2000
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Auburn, AL
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Madison, GA
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Callaway Gardens, GA
  • 2001
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Auburn, AL
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Athens, GA
    • Eastern Tandem Rally, Frederick, MD
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Clemson, SC
    • North Carolina Off-Road Tandem Weekend, Asheville, NC
  • 2002
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Auburn, AL
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Athens, GA
    • Mid-Atlanta Tandem Enthusiasts, Winchester, VA
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Diamondhead, MS
  • 2003
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Trussville, AL
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Statesboro, GA
    • Tennessee Tandem Rally, Knoxville, TN  (First Year)
    • Midwest Tandem Rally, Dayton, OH
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Tallahassee, FL
  • 2004
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Trussville, AL
    • Southwest Tandem Rally, New Braunfels, TX
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Statesboro, GA
    • Tennessee Tandem Rally, Knoxville, TN
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Charlotte, NC
    • North Carolina Off-Road Tandem Weekend, Tsali, NC
  • 2005
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Madison, GA
    • Tennessee Tandem Rally, Knoxville, TN
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Kingsport, TN
  • 2006
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Americus, GA
    • Tennessee Tandem Rally, Knoxville, TN
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Sanford, NC
  • 2007 
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, LaGrange, GA
    • Tennessee Tandem Rally, Knoxville, TN
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Chattanooga, TN
  • 2008 
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Albany, GA
    • Tennessee Tandem Rally, Knoxville, TN
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Bowling Green, KY
  • 2009 
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Athens, GA
    • Tennessee Tandem Rally, Knoxville, TN
    • Eastern Tandem Rally, Stausburg, PA
    • Southern Tandem Rally, The Villages, FL
  • 2010
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Eufaula, AL
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Covington, GA
    • Appalachian Off-Road Tandem Adventure, Asheville, NC
    • Tennessee Tandem Rally, Franklin, TN
    • Mid-Atlanta Tandem Enthusiasts, Warrenton, VA
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Florence, AL (Our 50th)
  • 2011
    • North Florida Invitational Weekend, St. Augustine, FL 
    • Santana Chattanooga Rally, Chattanooga, TN
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Macon, Georgia
    • Tennessee Tandem Rally, Franklin, TN
    • Tandems East Tandem Weekend, Pennsville, NJ
    • Thunder Beach/Spring Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
  • 2012
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Sylacauga, AL  (On Triplet)
    • Thunder Beach/Fall Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Dublin, GA  (On Triplet)
    • Tennessee Tandem Rally, Knoxville, TN  (Final Year)
    • Southern Tandem Rally, St. Augustine, FL (On Triplet)
    • Thunder Beach/Fall Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
  • 2013
    • Thunder Beach/Spring Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Covington, GA  (On Triplet)
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Cullman, AL
    • Biketoberfest, Daytona Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Thunder Beach/Fall Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
  • 2014
    • Bike Week, Daytona Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Thunder Beach/Spring Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Athens, GA  (On Triplet)
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Cullman, AL
    • Thunder Beach/Fall Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Biketoberfest, Daytona Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
  • 2015
    • Bike Week, Daytona Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Thunder Beach/Spring Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Covington, GA  (On Triplet)
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Richmond, VA (Hurricane Interruptus)
    • Biketoberfest, Daytona Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally / Accident)
  • 2016
    • Bike Week, Daytona Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Thunder Beach/Spring Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Alabama Tandem Weekend, Huntsville, AL
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Statesboro, GA  (On Triplet)
    • Southern Tandem Rally, Cookeville, TN
    • Thunder Beach/Fall Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
  • 2017
    • Thunder Beach/Spring Rally, Panama City Beach, FL (Motorcycle Rally)
    • Georgia Tandem Rally, Valdosta, GA
    • Tandems East Tandem Weekend, Manheim, PA
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About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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One Response to Best Tandem Rally We’ve Attended?

  1. Brian Warner says:

    We were lucky enough to attended most of the TTR’s and David’s Double Forte ride in Tsali, and those are some of our best memories. Given that the first TTR was our first Tandem Rally the bar was set extra high.

    We also have attended a number of the FART rally’s and MWTR’s and they have also been great!

    A big thank you to all those that have organized these events. Our only regret is that we have not been able to attend more rally’s. Well that leaves something to look forward to….

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