Note: Many thanks go out to our friends at the Georgia Tandem Rally & House of Tandems for making many of photos in this blog available to us so we could fully document our rally experience.
Thursday: Loading Up & Get-Away-Day
Coming off of a less that successful attempt to get in a pre-Georgia Tandem Rally (GTR) triplet ride with our friend Lisa in South Carolina on 11 May, we turned our attention to the coming weekend’s GTR event in Covington, Georgia, a mere 65-miles to the east and were pleased to see the weather outlook was far better! With that in mind, we contacted the hotel and moved-up our check-in date from Friday the 17th to Thursday the 16th so we could make the most of the event.
Normally, if a cycling event or the first day of an event is within a couple of hour’s drive we’ll just get up early and drive to the event so we don’t have to spend an extra night in the hotel. Not only is it a bit costly, we just don’t sleep well when we’re away from home. Of course, I don’t usually sleep well the night before an early morning departure so it probably is a moot point. Regardless, I didn’t want to mess with Atlanta traffic on Friday morning so our plan was to make the hour and a half drive over to Covington, Georgia, in the early afternoon vs. being stuck in traffic for an addition 30 – 45 minutes at just about any other time when the sun is up.
With that ahead of us, job #1 for Thursday was putting the Yakima rack back on the truck, loading the triplet and then loading all of our cycling related equipment and gear. It’s amazing how much “stuff” I still take to rallies, but I’d rather have most of my tools, a repair stand and spare parts on hand to address any issues we have with the tandem vs. bothering the one technical support guy, our friend Ric, from The House of Tandems in Houston, Texas, who makes the drive over to Georgia every May with his wife Marcia to provide support for the rally.
We left the house after lunch at 12:30pm and arrived in Covington shortly after 2:00pm, with just the usual traffic right when we got on the Interstate near Marietta, Georgia: it’s always a mess. We visited a bit with friends at the hotel and wandered over to Chili’s Grille and Bar right next to the hotel for cocktails and dinner around 5:30pm. Our friend and riding companion on the triplet Lisa joined as around 6:30pm for dinner. It was a nice time and it was really nice not having to get in the truck and drive anywhere. We retired back to the hotel just before 8:00pm to watch Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Playoff series between the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes, noting we’re pulling for Boston: I’d just like to see them take home the World Series, Super Bowl and Stanley Cup in the same year! And, they’re almost there, as they swept Carolina in their series, 4 games to none.
Friday: Remote Start from Social Circle
It was around 7:00am when we finally got ourselves up and headed down to have breakfast before our 8:00am departure for the remote start to Friday’s ride from Social Circle. Breakfast was your typical hotel fare and we were at the remote start by 8:35am, giving us plenty of time to get the triplet off the truck and ready to ride.
We opted to go with the 45-mile route vs. the 32-mile or 60-mile options, as we didn’t want to overdue it on the 1st day of the event, but we also didn’t want to finish too early. Well, and there were some folks who we wanted to ride with who would also be doing the 45-mile route. We jockeyed between different groups on the first 28 miles of the ride — friends from Florida, the Carolina’s and elsewhere — and after the store stop at 28 miles finished up the last 18 miles riding with long-time friends Eric & Linda and Roger & Eve.
We first met them back in August 1997 right after buying our 1st tandem and have been riding with them ever since, dear friends to be sure. It was a good day on the bike, with sunny weather and warm temperatures; well, ok: the heat caught us off guard. We jumped from essentially high 70’s to low 80’s on our rides thus far in 2019 to 90+ degrees today. Lisa was her usual chatty self and Debbie was, as always, an attentive and polite listener. We had to make a few adjustments to riding positions on the bike that will hopefully make us feel a bit stronger on the climbs tomorrow as they were a bit of a struggle today.
After the ride we headed over to Hot Rod’s Diner behind the Blue Willow Inn in Social Circle for lunch with our riding companions and were also joined by other long-time friends Jack & Susan who are also the dealers who sold us our first tandem back in August 1997. We definitely picked the right place for lunch! We had a great time in a very fun and casual setting, were served quickly and the meals were all perfect… portion and quality!
Back at the hotel I pulled the triplet off the top of the truck and put it in the storage room on the off chance we’d get an afternoon shower and so it would be easier to access in the morning. After that I changed into my swimsuit and headed down to the pool to do a little reading and relax… while staying out of Debbie’s hair while she cleaned-up, washed her hair and got ready for the evening.
As for the late afternoon, we headed over to Amici’s on the square in Covington, GA, where the GTR folks we having an afternoon social. We had a great time and ended up staying there for dinner.
We also made a stop at Scoop’s Ice Cream parlor to get our GTR sweet fix for the weekend. From there we headed back to the hotel — noting that a thunderstorm did pass through the area — and finished the night watching the Stanley Cup playoff series between the San Jose Sharks and the St. Louis Blues. The St. Louis Blues won sending the series into at least two more games in the best of seven series to determine which team will face the Boston Bruins. I also had a really nice chat with Ric and Marcia Becker while Debbie was watching the game. Always such a good time talking tandems and cycling with Ric and Marcia.
Saturday: The Biscuits in Jersey Ride
It was around 7:00am when we finally got up and headed down to breakfast so we’d be ready to ride at 8:30am. After eating I got the triplet out of the bike storage room and put it outside so it would be out of the way as the hotel lobby began to fill up with people and other bikes coming out of their rooms.
We did the middle length option of 46 miles vs. the shorter 31 or longer 60 so that we’d be sure to have lunch around noon, avoid being out riding during the hottest part of the day and also have some strength left in our legs for Sunday’s ride. All three routes included a stop for biscuits in the town of Jersey at the Buckeye restaurant. We rode the 1st 15 miles with our friends Duncan & Laura, Greg & Angela and a few other teams whom we’ve met at previous rallies but whose names escape me. After the biscuit stop we rode the balance of the 30 miles with our friends Eric & Linda. Lunch was served at a small nature preserve a few miles from the hotel, the same place where they held an ice cream social at the last rally in Covington back in 2009. It was somewhat different fare, featuring build your own fajita’s with cookies and brownies for desert.
The last two miles of the ride back to the hotel were a bit of a challenge as it was a stead uphill ride. But, we made it and then headed down to the pool to relax for a bit. We also spent some time visiting with our friends Ducan and Laura from Wilimington, North Carolina, and looking at the slide show from the spring garden show they hosted at their home — it was truly amazing — before getting cleaned up for the Saturday evening banquet at 5:00pm.
It was just a short drive over to the North Carolina Technical School facility where the banquet was held and we had a nice visiting with a few friends and shared our tables with Geri & Wayne, a truly lovely and fun couple from Taccoa, Georgia, who we get to see at several events each year and the BBQ buffet was really quite good. There was a running slideshow of photos taken during the rally so, as noted earlier, such as the one that our friend Geri caught of us from the slide show… as well as her photo of us from dinner.
After that it was another quiet night at the hotel, sadly… without any hockey. Yes, tandem rally crowds aren’t exactly attended by folks who go out in search of night life on Friday and Saturday nights. Probably a good thing since we all need to get up before 7:00am and be ready to ride 30 to 60 miles by 8:30am.
Sunday: A Short Ride & The Return Home
Today was pretty much the same routine as yesterday other than having to make sure we would be back to the hotel, showered and checked-out by 11:00am for a variety of reasons. With that in mind, we pre-packed before the ride and we opted to ride the shorter, 25-mile route.
It was really a great ride, mostly because we ended up riding with our long-time friends, Roger & Eve. It was a beautiful route and even on the triplet we tend to ride at a tempo that is very compatible with Roger & Eve. There were some other folks who joined-in along the way, but it was mostly just the five of us until the gas station rest stop at the 18-mile mark where a lot of the folks on the 25-mile route began to congregate after we arrived and a fairly large group photo was taken, quite similar to one we took 10 years ago on the very same ride.
We were back at the hotel by 10:20am and as I put the triplet up on top of the truck Debbie headed up to get her shower and finish packing. I was up in the room, showered and had our bags back down at the car by 10:45am. All we needed to do before heading home was to bid adieux to our friends Lisa, Roger, Eve, Eric, Linda, Ric, Marsha and a few others.
With the goodbyes taken care of it was a relatively easy drive back towards home. We stopped and it was a bit after 2:00pm before we got home and began unloading, putting away and cleaning-up after our tandem weekend. I need to give the triplet a good looking over before I put it away just to make sure anything that needs attention such as chains or bottom bracket bearings can be addressed before our next outing, most likely in late September.