Shifter Update

As you may recall, when I last wrote we’d finished a very nice tandem ride from the house riding our Calfee as a 10-speed after the shifter for the front derailleur suddenly stopped working.

Back at the house I was able to get everything working again after partially removing the derailleur cable and, for good measure, washed the internal parts with a little silicone spray and then blew everything out with some compressed air.

Before we headed off for a 25-mile ride from the house on Friday I decided to remove the lever and check the torque on the bolt that runs through the shifting cogs and springs inside the lever.

When I initially removed the lever and looked at the underside of the lever body I didn’t see the bolt head that I expected to be there.

The only bright bit of metal was the female bolt that mates the lever to the handlebar clamp post. However, as I looked a bit more closely at the lever body I noticed that it looked like there was a black cover or piece of black tape and son-of-a-gun, the bolt head I was looking for was hidden under that tape.


With the tape removed I inserted a 2.5mm allen head wrench in the bolt head and guess what: no torque! It wasn’t falling out of the housing, but there wasn’t any load on the bolt. I applied what seemed to be an appropriate amount of torque with the very short wrench and then checked the shifter function: it was vastly improved. Back went the tape and in about 15 minutes the lever was back in place, the bars were re-wrapped and we were ready to ride. The shifting on the ride was fully restored.


Posted in Technology & Equip. | 4 Comments

Ultegra 6703 Shifter Woes…

Remember how Paul Harvey would often times introduce an item with “Here’s a strange…”? I’ve got one!

The Ultegra 6703 left-hand / triple front derailleur shifter on our Calfee tandem was for inexplicable reasons not working when we headed out for a Memorial Day ride from the house. I didn’t discover this until we were heading into the 8% grade out of our community and attempted to shift the chain from the 53t chain ring to the 44t chain ring and could not get the ratchet mechanism to release with the actuation lever. Just nothing happening there and even “tugging” on the exposed cable had zero effect: on the Campy shifters it would sometime get a little crossed up and that gentle tug would free things up.

Mind you, we’d just spent a couple days riding the bike with zero issues down in Valdosta at the Georgia Tandem Rally in relatively good weather. The tandem went back in the enclosed truck bed after each ride and went from the truck bed to the garage after returning home. As I said, very strange…

After we grunted our way to the top of the 1/8 mile climb in the 53t x 32t I pulled the bike off into a cul-de-sac and confirmed there wasn’t much I could do to field repair the shifter. So, I asked Debbie if she wanted to pack it in and head back home, or continue our ride with a reduced number of gear options. She said she was game for riding the bike as a 10 speed so I used a 4mm wrench to loosen up the pinch bolt on the front derailleur and manually adjusted the cage to support riding in just the middle ring.

The ride was fine, notwithstanding a couple of our faster descents where we spun-out and just coasted until the revs dropped back in the 120’s or so where our feet could keep up. In fact, it actually felt pretty good doing a bit more spinning than we sometimes do with the 53t ring at our disposal.

Back at the house I disconnected the in-line cable connector to free up the front derailleur cable so I could check for cable binding and push the cable end out of the shifter body. There wasn’t any binding on the cable, but just getting the cable out of the shifter body caused the return spring & ratchet mechanism to begin working again: weird. With the rubber shifter boot pulled out of the way I could see enough of the internal components to conclude that it wasn’t really any grit, grime or corrosion that might have caused the release ratcheting mechanism not to work.

I gave the internals a shot of silicone spray and a blast of compressed air just to clean out anything that may have been mucking up the works, put it all back together and voila, it was working once again. However, the upshift / brake lever definitely felt like it was not moving as swiftly as it should. So, while it’s working I’m thinking that it’s still harboring some issues that I’ll need to investigate.

In the back of my mind I want to say that these newer Shimano STI shifters can actually be worked on and “fixed” when minor issues crop-up, unlike the earlier models which were not serviceable in any way. And, while I’m not 100% certain, I believe there may be a threaded pivot bolt that runs through all of the internals which, if it becomes loose at all, can allow the internal mechanism to bind. So, I may have to pull the lever off the handlebars to access if that pivot bolt is still holding torque or if it’s somehow come loose. More to follow.

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Doing That Triplet Thing in Oconee County, South Carolina

Triplet Flashback to GTR 2016

Right on the heels of last weekend’s Georgia Tandem Rally (GTR), our focus this week was getting ready for a quick overnight trip up to Walhalla, South Carolina where we’d be riding the Rally in the Valley on our triplet with our friend Lisa who lives in nearby Salem.  We usually team up with Lisa on the triplet for GTR each May but this year her daughter Anna was graduating from college on the same weekend as GTR.  I think it may have been back in March when Lisa invited us to bring the triplet up for this event if the Sun, Moon and other planets all lined up.  Well, son-of-a-gun, we were able to figure out how to make it all work!

It was a full work week for me, but I planned to leave work before noon on Friday and just take some calls while we were in route to South Carolina, as traffic headed out of Atlanta would only get worse as the afternoon progressed.  So, being on the road at noon Friday was the goal for the week.  To make that happen I spent a few moments on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings hanging the chains back on the triplet before giving it a test ride to make sure it would be good to go on Saturday morning and then packed up all of our cycling clothes so those could go in the truck on Thursday night when the triplet went up on the roof.

Friday was a somewhat normal day at work. We’d had a milestone day on Thursday with the first flight of our commercial variant of the C-130, the LM-100J. It’s definitely a very different-looking “Herc” out on the flight line with its gloss white paint scheme and big blue tail sitting along side the dark grey military versions. We were still busy with a never-ending list of challenges, key decisions, and significant meetings ahead of us but at least my schedule would allow me to get out of the office around 10:00am. That would put me home with just enough time to cut the lawn, grab a shower and do the final packing and still have us on the road by around noon.

Thankfully, everything went off without a hitch and we were on the road at 12:10pm.  Although I had some reservations about taking the Interstate, we did just that.  Traffic on I75 south through our own County was abysmal… which is the norm.  We by-passed a lot of it by taking secondary roads that paralleled the freeway well into Marietta and then jumped on just ahead of the I285 east exit.  I285 didn’t back up until “spaghetti junction” at I85.  Struggling through those constant bottlenecks pretty much made me rethink our return route for Saturday as making that trip up I85 is perhaps the biggest deterrent for us heading up to visit friends in the Carolinas.

We made one stop for lunch around 2:00pm at an Arby’s in Pendergrass, Georgia, so that we’d have that out-of-the-way before my 2:30pm teleconference.  Arby’s has become just about our only alternative to Subway with their new deli fresh sandwiches and, in particular, the Italian sub: about 540 calories with 29 grams of fat and we split it. Not too bad for a tasty sandwich but with its 1,770 mg of sodium and 28 grams of fat it’s nowhere near as healthy as our Subway go-to sandwich, the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki with it’s 740 calories, 770 mg of sodium & 4 grams of fat.  My teleconference only lasted about 20 minutes and most of what needed to be done I’ll get to on Tuesday when we return to work from the Memorial Day holiday break.

We rolled into Lisa’s driveway around 3:15pm so pretty much on plan, even with our 10-minute lunch stop back in Pendergrass.  Lisa gave us a tour of the house as she’s been busy making changes inside and out.

After discussing our dinner options we decided to make the 30 minute trip over to the town of Pickens where the Appalachian Ale House was holding an anniversary celebration: it was a GREAT place and a GREAT time!  They had a gourmet burger and hotdog bar set up in the back of the restaurant (gratis) and were also serving up a huge sheet cake as part of their celebration.  When we first arrived young Randall Martin was playing and at 8:00pm Lisa’s friends — Amongst the Trees — began their set.  Debbie and I even managed to get in a little dancing!  Just a great evening…

If you’re ever in that neck of the woods, it’s worth a look!

We were in bed fairly early by my standards which meant I was wide awake at 4:00am on Saturday morning.  I did my best to not disturb Debbie, Lisa or Lisa’s Golden Retriever Woody from 4:00am until our appointed get-up time of 6:30ish.  After grabbing a little breakfast we headed off to Lake Jemiki over in Walhallia around 7:30am which would put us arriving as the 60-mile route riders went off at 8:00am.  We were riding the 34-mile route that began at 9:00am, as that would get Lisa back to Lake Jemiki ahead of the lion’s share of both the 60 and 34-mile riders as she was part of event staff.

The Rally in the Valley would take us out through beautiful Oconee County, South Carolina through the foothills and valleys of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Following the ride all participants are treated to live music, craft beer and a wonderful meal including locally slow cooked barbecue and fresh home cooked side dishes. Proceeds from the event are used to support Oconee Forever, an organization focused on conserving natural resources, working farms, historic sites and open spaces in Oconee County, South Carolina.

We had the truck parked and the triplet unloaded well ahead of the 9:00am departure. As always, the big bike drew a lot of looks, comments and questions… all goodness!

I want to say that it looked like the number of registered riders didn’t quite hit the organizer’s limit of 300.  There appeared to be about 100 or so in the 60 mile group we saw headed out — including some tandem friends from the Carolina’s: Alan & Joanne on their Orange Co-Motion (Left) and Mark & Charlotte on the black & white daVinci (Center). Our 34-mile group looked to have maybe 70 riders, including another couple whom we’ve met at GTR: Wayne and Geri from Georgia (Right).


BTW, all three photos above are from the GTR 2017 rally photo collection: it’s one of the best resources for figuring out who you were riding with since folks look so different off the bikes and out of their cycling helmets, glasses and gear!

I think all three of us were feeling pretty good at the ride start. We made it to the front of the entire group during the first 2.5 mile climb out of Lake Jemiki then drifted back and forth with a small group of about 5 riders for the first half of the ride.  However, we spent a bit more time at the 17-mile sag stop than those folks so we didn’t see them again until we pulled into the grass parking lot at Lake Jemiki.  This photo was probably snapped somewhere around mile 25: we covered the 34-mile route with 2,500 feet of climbing in just about 2 hours.  I’d say that was a respectable ride.

As mentioned, Lisa was a volunteer with Oconee Forever and would be staying at the post ride event for most of the day so she came in her own car as our plan was to head home straight from the event after lunch.  I think we said our goodbyes and were on the road just a little past noon.

Unlike the drive up, we opted to take mostly 2-lane back roads out of Walhallia and into Georgia vs. the interstate.  The interstate drive time was listed as 2.5 hour whereas the back way was showing 2.8 hours.  The .3 hour difference more than paid for the angst and frustration that I experience trying to get through the I85/I285 and then the I285/I75 interchanges and, as it turned out, even with hitting a lot of red lights in Gainsville, we were home in about 2 hours and 45 minutes: I think we’ve found our new way to the Carolinas!

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Our 19th Georgia Tandem Rally & A Busy Sunday…

Wednesday was, for all intents and purposes, prep-day ahead of our Thursday noon-time departure for the 2017 Georgia Tandem Rally in Valdosta, Georgia.  This was the usual stuff: getting tandem down and making sure it was ready to go, getting my tool box, spare parts organizer, pumps, computers and whatnot from the garage staged for packing in the back of the truck as well as getting three days’ worth of cycling apparel packed into our respective gear bags and, of course, clothing to wear when we weren’t on the bikes.   The odd part was I didn’t have a truck to pack all of stuff in!

Yes, the wild card was the status of our tandem hauler – my 2006 Toyota Tundra – that went into the shop on Saturday for a standard service at 133,000 miles, investigation of a clunking noise from the front end and a speed-sensitive vibration from the back-end I suspected was a bad rear wheel bearing.  Our planned departure time on Thursday was around noon and the promised “ready for pick-up” time on the truck was 10:30am.  Nick called promptly at 10:26am to let me know it was ready to go and at 11:00am Debbie dropped me off to collect the truck. Well, there was actually a bit more too this but I’ll spare readers here at the TandemGeek’s blog all the gory details.  They’re included in a nearly identical entry over on our other Blog, RidingTwoUp.

Back at home we had the truck packed, ate some steak burritos and were on the road by 12:15pm, which would hopefully put us well ahead of Atlanta traffic since we’d being going through the heart of downtown on our way to South Georgia.  It was an easy, boring and uneventful 4-hour drive with just one gas stop as I neglected to top-off the tank before we left Kennesaw after the unplanned, 30-minute delay.  That 30-minute delay also meant I didn’t get a chance to cut the front lawn which was going to seed and looked awful. Oh well, something for Sunday when we returned.  But, as I said, an uneventful trip that had us in downtown Valdosta at 4:15pm for the rally check-in and mixer at Birdie’s Market, an old theater that had been converted into a really nice downstairs market with an upstairs banquet room.

Similar to our trip town to Thunder Beach in Panama City Beach a couple of weeks back, this was the first time Debbie and I were able to leave a 1/2 day early so we could arrive for the start of the Georgia Tandem Rally (GTR) with a Thursday meet & greet.  As we arrived and checked in we did see a lot of folks whom we know from the previous 18 GTRs.  However, unlike the previous 18 GTRs, we didn’t have our social coordinators Linda & Eric or our dear friend and “tail gunner” for the triplet, Lisa, to hang with this year: they were together at Lisa’s youngest daughter’s college graduation exercise.  So, while we did our best to mingle with long-time friends, we still kinda felt like we were wearing brown suits at a tuxedo convention and just didn’t fit in all that well.  But, as I said, we knew a lot of the folks there, we were able to stay socially engaged for the duration of the event and even helped with moving registration materials out to our host’s van as the event came to an end.

As it was dinner time, we decided to go to Birdie’s Market’s sister restaurant, the Steel Magnolias just a 1/2 block away.  Again, we were essentially a pair of lost souls without our posse as we arrived at the restaurant, but were thrilled to see they had two lovely bars and, well, anyone who even occasionally reads our blog will know that we’re always right at home at a bar.

We opted to sit at the downstairs bar that fronted the kitchen and food prep counter; talk about performance art!  We were mesmerized by all of the various cooks and chefs churning out amazing meals for the restaurant’s unusually large Thursday night crowd of hungry seasoned cyclists as we sat at the corner of the bar with me sipping on some lovely silver Don Julio tequila while Debbie enjoyed a very nice glass of Eugen Müller, Riesling Kabinett.  For dinner, we split the Ahi Tuna Carpaccio as an appetizer and the Steel Magnolias Shrimp & Grits with andouille sausage, roasted red pepper gravy and a fried egg as our entrée: it was one of the best bowls of shrimp and grits we’ve had in a long time, noting the best was at the Boar’s Head in Savannah. We even saved room for dessert: a rum covered cheese cake that was out of this world!  We also had a very nice chat with a couple who joined us at the bar and who were passing through on their way to Florida: Steel Magnolias was apparently one of their regular stops and we can now see why.

After finishing up our dinner we headed back to the hotel where we’d hoped we’d find a few folks mingling in the lobby.  Alas, that was not the case as this is a tandem rally not a motorcycle rally.  We retired early for the night, which was OK too.


We were up about an hour before we’d need to be in the truck and headed to the remote ride start location which gave us plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast. We wandered down to the hotel lobby breakfast bar which featured the ubiquitous selection of pre-fabricated foods and a waffle maker.  Debbie went for the pre-fab omelette, sausage  and some fruit while I opted to be really bad and have a Belgian waffle.  With breakfast out-of-the-way we returned to our room to dress in our cycling gear and then made our way to the truck for the 10 minute drive up I75 north to Hihira, GA, for a remote start .

Given that Debbie and I didn’t have a lot of miles under our belt from this past winter or spring aside from a few 25-mile loop rides from the house on the few weekends when we were at home and not otherwise occupied, we opted to ride the 46-mile route with just over 1,050 feet of climbing.  It turned out to be a very flat ride through farm land with a stiff 10 mph breeze and very little tree coverage.  Although we made sure we didn’t jump out on the front of the pack with the faster riders, we did find ourselves working our way through several groups of cyclists before we settled in with a group including long-time friends Bill & Sametta, Lonnie & Carol, Alan & Joanne, Laura & Duncan, Jeff & Joyce, and a few others.  After the store stop we fell back in with a smaller subset of our original group for the 14-mile bonus loop.  Somewhere along the way we collected a few other riders while also losing a few.  Our only real error in judgement was not stopping at the 2nd store stop with our other friends.  We’d gotten a little ahead of everyone as we entered town and were actually past the store when we realized the others were stopping. With the roads torn-up and a few too many cars around, we opted to go on ahead by ourselves. We eventually met up with and rode a few miles with Tom & Beryl whom we’d come to know during one of our two visits to the Tandems East Open House a few years back in their home state of New Jersey.  We chatted briefly before they drifted back to finish the ride with their friends from Ontario, Canada.  We finished the ride without any real issues other than the rear shifting getting a little out of adjustment on the final few miles of the ride, a mysterious and recurring issue with our Calfee regardless of whose shifters and derailleurs we use.  On the bright side, it’s easily corrected in just a few moments with the turn of an inline barrel adjuster at the head tube.

As it was on Thursday evening, Debbie and I ended up heading off by ourselves to the highly recommended Smokin’ Pig BBQ place just a couple of miles from the remote start/end point. We clearly weren’t the first cyclists to arrive and seemingly ended up in a large overflow room.  We each had our own pulled-pork sandwich and split the sides of green beans and cole slaw, but quickly realized the sandwiches were anything but the small burger bun type we find in so many places. No, the basic sandwich was a jumbo by standard and neither one of us really needed that much food. But, it was tasty!

After our lunch we headed back to the hotel and decided to get some down time by the pool, something I’ve only recently learned to enjoy during the past year or so. However, you can get too much of a good thing and sadly I did just that. After sitting out for a while I decided to get in the pool to cool off and neglected to bring my hat along on this trip.  Shortly after I got in the pool Debbie sat down at the edge with her toes in the water and our friend Laura waded-in and I’m guessing we probably spent the next hour chatting away.  Oh well, at least it didn’t burn-burn where I had any discomfort: I just looked really red for a day and a half.

After taking our showers and visiting with friends in the hotel lobby for a short while we headed back to the Steel Magnolias for an early dinner at the bar.  Our friends from Atlanta, Paul & Jody, joined us this time so we had a great time visiting with them. As for our dinner, we went with the Executive Chef’s recommendation on a wedge cut salad adorned with ham,cheese and a bunch of other yummy stuff as our starter and had the Colorado Lamb Chops with red potato smash, local farmers salad & creamed silver queen corn as the sides.  Once again, simply amazing.

We skipped dessert as we would be heading about a mile down the road to the Crescent House for a frozen yogurt social.  Debbie & Jody walked to the Crescent House while Paul and I repositioned our vehicles behind the venue for the drive home after the social.  Before getting our yogurt we all toured the Crescent: it was very interesting.

From a Georgia tourism website, “Built in 1898 by U.S. Sen. William Stanley West, Crescent House is Valdosta’s best-known landmark. The house gets its name from the circular veranda with 13 massive columns, each representing 13 original American colonies. It has beautiful test gardens, an octagon-shaped schoolhouse and a quaint chapel. Saved from demolition, in 1951 it became the home of Valdosta’s garden clubs.”  

As for the dessert social, it was held alongside the home in a small parking lot.  Apparently a local yogurt shop owner is one of a handful of people who have purchased a customized panel van that is essentially a soft-serve yogurt shop on wheels that allows him to pull up to any venue and dispense about 1,500 servings of yogurt.  It’s a slick operation, but you’d have to sell a lot of yogurt to pay for that truck and the associated cost of operating it.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped by Walmart to get some soft drinks and a straw, wide-brimmed beach hat for me in case we went to the pool again on Saturday.  As on Friday, there wasn’t a lot going on back in the hotel so we retired to our room and called it a day.


We were up around 7:30 on Saturday which gave us just enough time to get into our cycling clothes, grab some breakfast down in the hotel lobby,  get the tandem and make our way around the hotel parking lot to the riders meeting area in the parking lot of the conference center next door to the hotel.

A light mist was falling as the riders meeting concluded and we headed out of the parking lot on the start of our ride. Valdosta’s finest provided us with about 2 miles of lane protection and uninterrupted passage through several stop lights on Route 221 as the light mist attempted to become a light rain. However, shortly after getting off of Route 221 onto more rural two-lane roads the rain and mist disappeared. We found ourselves riding with Lonnie and Carol and a few other couples for the first long leg of the ride, catching up with Mark & Charlotte, Reg & Michelle, Dean & Meg and a lone single rider whose husband just broke a collar-bone before the rally and was sidelined. At the point where the 32 & 47 mile routes split off from the 59 and 67 we found ourselves with just Reg & Michelle as well as Dean & Meg.  We picked up a few other teams along the next few legs before rolling into the 1st store stop. After grabbing a Coke and a Fig Newton we headed back out with Reg & Michelle and another couple, Larry & Debbie. After getting away from the lovely aroma emitted by the paper plant next to the store stop we found ourselves on some very lovely rolling terrain with lots of shade and tree cover: it was much more to our liking vs. riding on dead-flat, straight roads that crisscrossed the wide-open farm land we’d enjoyed on Friday.  Amazingly, Saturday’s ride was actually a lot less hilly than the Friday ride, but sure didn’t seem like it.

I do have to note, perhaps the visual highlight of the ride was seeing two fully restored, classic Ford Mustang Mach 1’s sitting in a driveway during our loop ride from the 1st store stop to the 2nd store stop (well OK, it was the same store). One was a silver jade 1969 Mach 1 (with later-year 5-spoke styled wheels as shown below) and a black 1973 Mach 1.


After making the loop that added 15 miles to the shorter, 32-mile loop we once again visited the store stop for a while and then headed back out with the same two couples that we’d been riding with for the final leg of the ride. The roads heading back towards Valdosta were once again the dead-flat, straight roads through farm land but overall Debbie and I were both feeling a lot stronger than we did on Friday so we just took it all in stride and enjoyed the ride.

Photo by GTR HQ / Eve Kofsky

We arrived at the hotel just after 11:30am and opted to skip cleaning up before lunch and headed over to the conference center where lunch was being served. I dropped Debbie off so she could find us some seats in the shade of the large patio area where the buffet was being served while I ran back to the hotel to put the tandem in the truck. Rather than walking over to the conference center I drove so Debbie wouldn’t have to walk back… unless she wanted to. The weather was still touch and go with showers in the area, but not right on top of us. We sat with several of the folks whom we rode with and had a really pleasant time. The food was a bit more hearty than we expected for lunch; BBQ beef in a very sweet sauce, chicken fingers, mashed potatoes, green beans, baked beans, macaroni salad & carrot salad. Frozen yogurt cups and zinger zebra cakes for dessert. I had some of the BBQ and macaroni salad, but passed on the beans and desserts.

After lunch we went back out to the pool for a while so we could relax, but this time spent most of our time under the shade of an umbrella, being content to enjoy the warm air. I took a few dips in the pool to cool off but was sporting a nice covering of sunscreen and my new straw beach hat to keep from getting too much of a good thing.   After spending about an hour at the pool Debbie headed up to the room to rest a bit and refresh while I went off to the hotel exploring the bike room and visiting with Bill, Sara, Duncan, Laura and others in the hotel lobby while watching the Preakness pre-race as background.

It was probably around 5:00pm when Debbie came down and joined the group, at which point I headed up to the room to grab a quick shower and to dress for dinner. No, no kilt at the tandem rally: just jeans, western boots and a Big Dog Hawaiian shirt. Sadly, I neglected to bring any tequila to the rally so I was left to enjoy a couple of Michelob Ultra’s and then some other pseudo “craft beer” from Budweiser. Bill and Sara shared some of their lovely Pina Noir with Debbie so she was in a better place than I was, at least as far as cocktails are concerned.

Photo by GTR HQ / Eve Kofsky

Right before 6:00pm we all began to head over to the conference center for the social hour ahead of dinner. After grabbing some proper cocktails we found a table we shared with Paul & Jody, Dan & Dolores and Richard & Carolyn.   Dinner was the usual buffet style with some baked chicken, pasta dishes, a couple different kinds of beans and salad. Nothing to write home about, but tasty and warm. I think I was off visiting with other folks when the various announcements were being made for upcoming rallies, such as the Southern Tandem Rally at Salisbury, North Carolina on 21-24 September and then came the give-away / awards for…. You name it. They also announced the 20th anniversary of GTR would be held at Athens, Georgia over the Memorial Day Weekend, or at least it looked that way on the calendar.

Anyway, we had a great time back in the lobby at the hotel after dinner with some of the same usual suspects from before dinner. Lots of folks from the Carolinas whom we really enjoyed spending time with: Laura & Duncan, Bill & Sara, Stephen & Dawn, Jerry & Kim, Carl & Ayako, Mark & Charlotte, etc…. That time in the lobby went a long way towards sewing up our STR registration decision. I think Debbie and I were about the last to leave the lobby as I put all of the chairs back where they belonged and did a little clean up before we headed up to our room. I want to say it wasn’t quite 11:00pm so, yeah… a lot different from the motorcycling crowd.


On Sunday we woke up to the sound of heavy rain and thunder at 6:00am. Around 7:00am the GTR Emergency Alert System was used to send out a cancellation notice for the 8:30 riders meeting due to the weather. We’d already been on the fence about riding on Sunday as we had to be back at home by 4:00pm for our granddaughter Charlotte’s gymnastics meet, so this announcement removed all doubt: we’d be homeward bound within the hour.

It didn’t take us long to pack up, but in hindsight I should have taken at least another minute to give the room a once over as I left a Samsung S4 battery and battery charger plugged into the phone’s outlet on the desk. This is the second time I’ve left things behind when we’ve stayed at a condo or hotel, noting that two pair of swim trunks and a sun shirt went missing in Panama City Beach.

After saying a lot of goodbyes, we were on the road shortly after 8:00am with an ETA at home of 12:10pm. Traffic was light all the way home with just a little slowing through Atlanta; definitely a lot better than it would have been had we ridden and left at 10:30am!

Once we arrived home and I had the truck unloaded I turned my attention to harvesting the mess that had become our front lawn over the past week, as the new Bermuda sod had gone to seed with 5” tall spouts covering well over ½ of the front yard: it looked like heck! Fortunately, Zoysia grass in the side and back yard don’t go to seed like the Bermuda so I didn’t feel compelled to cut that grass on Sunday.

With a quick 2.5 hour drive up to Walhalla, South Carolina for the Rally in the Valley with Lisa on the triplet just five days away, my next task was to get the triplet down from the rafters where it’s been for the last year so I could get it ready for the ride. I’d removed the chains after bringing the triplet home from GTR last year but still hadn’t given them a proper cleaning so those got dumped into my 24-year old can of diesel and gasoline solvent for a good soaking to remove all of the crud that collected on the somewhat sticky chains as they hung in a corner of the garage. While the chains were soaking I installed the wheels on the triplet and transferred Debbie’s saddle from the Calfee as she is no longer using the Selle Anatomica saddles: anyone need a spare? I have four leather Titanico saddles and a C2 Composite model that are now sitting on the shelf.

Around 2:00pm I knocked off and got cleaned up so we could go grab a late lunch at Loco’s as we’d be sitting in the gym from 4:00pm until 7:30pm, meaning we’d be having dinner at the elegant hour. Our friend Billy was there with his new-to-him 2009 Harley-Davidson Road King Classic; what a great-looking bike! This is the one where I told him if he didn’t buy it I would! And, I really meant it. I’ve also told him that if he and Dava find they don’t ride it, I want first refusal on the initial sale offering! It would be a great companion bike to Blue II that I could use to replace the BMW for commuting while rekindling some of the joy I had with the Wide Glide.

After enjoying a nice simple salad and some blackened fish tacos as well as some lovely silver Herradura we headed over to the gym to find Julie and a place to sit for the meet. I’ll skip my editorial on parental behavior and child rearing and note that the little girls down on the floor were all fun and often times amazing to watch: here’s hoping they can overcome the short comings of their parents. Charlotte did really well on the floor exercise, vault and uneven bars, but came up short on the balance beam and that put her 2/10ths of a point out of 1st place. Yup, a 2nd place in her 2nd year. She placed 1st last year, but has since been moved up two levels and is now competing against the top-tier 8 year olds so 2nd ain’t bad for the little ballerina: yes, she’s also our little dancer.

We arrived back at the house around 8:00pm and weren’t quite sure what we’d be doing for dinner. It was about that same time that we saw a note from our friends Ryan & Jeanette saying they were headed to Taco Mac for a late dinner after spending the entire day working on their home. We asked if they’d like company and joined them around 9:00pm for dinner at the elegant hour. Well, I say dinner: I was treated to one of the nicest surprise birthday celebrations ever when the waitress brought out two horseshoe-shaped Herradura shot glass holders with one shot each of Reposado, Double Barrel Reposado, Blanco and Ultra. Ryan & Jeanette are also big fans of the Agave-based joy-juice so we had a grand time tasting and comparing the different tequilas. We enjoyed each other’s company until 11:00pm and then called it a night: what a great time that was!

Anyway, that’s the news from Kennesaw this week. I’ve got a little more work to do on the triplet to get it ready for Saturday’s ride. We’ll have it loaded up on the truck Thursday night for a noon-time departure on Friday. That should get us to our friend Lisa’s home by 3:00pm. We’ll go out and have dinner somewhere, spend the night at Lisa’s and then make a short drive to Walhalla for the Rally in the Valley ride on Saturday morning. We’re only signed up for the 30 mile option so we’ll be headed back home at noon on Saturday so we can spend the rest of the long weekend relaxing, doing chores or whatever comes up.

Posted in Tandem Rallies | Leave a comment

2017 Richmond (Virginia) Area Tandem Society (RATS) Calendar

Our friend and Atlanta transplant Christian Courville wrote to let us know that they’d be reading the upcoming 22 April RATS ride in the Maidens area and wanted to be sure any readers here at the TG Blog who might either live in the area but not know of the RATS, or who might be traveling through the area or who just need an excuse to head off for a weekend trip knew of this ride as well as the rest of the 2017 RATS rides.  I should also note, for folks who live in the Richmond Area, RATS is affiliated with the Richmond Area Bicycling Association and all of their rides — including the RATS events — can be found on their Website at the on-line calendar:

While local club rides typically don’t make it into our Regional & International Tandem Rally calendar, we rarely turn down a guest submission when we think their might be at least one reader or person surfing the web in search of tandem related content who might benefit from that information.  So, here it is, for posterity since these blog posts tend to remain in the archives for at least a year when I do the annual purge of time-limited content.

RATS Proposed Ride Schedule—2017


  • Sat, 22 April, 2017, 9am-1pm: Christen and Ryan Courville leading
    • RATS Ride—Maidens area
  • Sat, 13 May, 2017, 9am-1pm: Dave and Diane Burkett leading
    • Combined RATS/WABITS Ride—Spotsylvania to Lake Anna
  • Sat, 17 June, 2017, 9am-1pm: Al and Lois Farrell leading
    • RATS Ride—Brandermill area
  • Sat, 22 July, 2017, 9am-1pm: Franklin and Kristie Knox leading
    • RATS Ride—Barboursville area (near Charlottesville)
  • Sun, August 13, 2017: Joel and Buzz Spencer leading
    • RATS Ride—TBD—Richmond/Midlothian Fun
  • Sat, 9 September, 2017: Leslie and Al Calambro leading
    • RATS Ride and Picnic—Osborne Park and Boat Landing
  • Sat-Sun, 30 Sept-1 Oct, 2017, 10am-OVERNIGHT: Reed and Karen Nester Leading
    • RATS Ride—Exmore/Eastern Shore OVERNIGHT
  • Sat, 21 October, 2017, 10am-1pm: Jinx Lucas and Paul Walaskay leading
    • RATS Ride—TBD


Posted in Club & Org Notices | Leave a comment

Philadelphia Area Tandem Society (PATS) Added to US Tandem Club List

Who knew??  I certainly didn’t, but thankfully the Internet always comes through.

Bill Jackson wrote to let us know that a tandem club was formed in Southeast Pennsylvania that calls itself  the Philadelphia Tandem Society, aka PATS. Like many clubs, they are using a closed group on Facebook as home base where interested parties can join the page with the click of a hyperlink. Embedded above and as follows:

I was surprised to learn the club had been formed back on 29 August 2015 and somehow escaped my attention, even though I recognized several members in that inaugural club photo!  Come on guys, you’re slipping up….

Posted in Club & Org Notices | 2 Comments

Cyclists & Road Use Fees

I always enjoy the various arguments regarding cyclists “sharing the road” but not paying their fair share for the use of those same roads, especially when the annual vehicle registration and ad valorem taxes on our cars and motorcycles come due.

Yes, I’m pretty sure I’ve got more than my fair share covered… and then some when it comes to my annual tax and tag fees.



Just saying, don’t EVEN think about throwing that one in my face.

Posted in Editorials & Rants | Leave a comment