Florida Tandem Rally 2017, 20-23 Oct – Registration Now Open

Central Florida is a great location for tandem riding and is the location for the 8th Annual Florida Tandem Rally held in “Florida’s Friendliest Home Town” — The Villages, Florida.

The Waterfront Inn will be your host for the weekend and a rate of $111 will be available for those attending the rally. Check out their website at www.waterfrontinnvillages.com to make your reservations or call 352-753-7535 and mention the Florida Tandem Rally for this special group rate. Please make your reservations early to get your choice of rooms and to make the cut-off date of 1 October.

Two Ways to Register for FTR2017
This year you have a choice of registering for the Florida Tandem Rally by printing out our application and mailing it in or you can choose to register online using IM Athlete.

The Application for the Florida Tandem Rally 2017 is available now. Print it, fill it out and mail in with your check.

OR To register online, go to the IMathlete website at www.imATHLETE.com and search for “2017 Florida Tandem Rally.” Then check ‘Tandem Team’– read and accept the Waiver — and type the Captain’s initials in the supplied box. IMathlete does charge a fee to use their services.

PANTHERS Jersey Orders
If you would like to order PANTHERS jerseys, to be picked up at FTR 2017, use this order form: PANTHERS Jersey Order Form 2017 and send it in with your rally application. Deadline for ordering jerseys for pick-up at the rally is September 1, 2017!

Please note that you must be a PANTHERS member to purchase the jerseys at our special 2-for-1 price. If you are not yet a member, just fill out the Membership Application and mail it in with your jersey order. Dues are only $20 per team per year.

Introducing a NEW CLASS of TANDEM RIDES at FTR2017
The PANTHERS Florida Tandem Rally 2017 will offer rides on Friday, Saturday and Sunday that are a little different from our usual rally rides. We know that some teams have just started riding a tandem, or are unfamiliar with what to expect when attending a tandem rally. Or you may have had a recent accident that has limited your fitness level or you may just not be sure if you can ride a full 35 mile route.

If any of these reasons have made you hesitate to come to a tandem rally, this year we will offer “NO-DROP” rides. On these rides, no rider will be left behind and you can count on having a tandem team to stay with you even if you are unable to maintain the group’s pace or you need some help to repair a flat.

To help you get started, we have a dedicated and experienced tandem team that will answer any questions you may have about tandem riding and offer tips on group riding etiquette. This team will be Jack and Pat Deacon of The Villages. They have many miles under their wheels as a team and have ridden most of the popular tandem rallies and toured through many states across the nation. For the new “NO DROP” rides they have chosen routes of 20-25 miles over roads that have very low traffic and require minimal climbing. A comfortable riding pace will be chosen so that everyone iss able to maintain voice contact for any situations that may arise. If you have been hesitant about attending a tandem rally, this year’s FTR 2017 will be a great time to learn from an experienced tandem team.

All routes will start and end at the Waterfront Inn and will pass by convenience stores for rest stops.

Friday’s Rides
Last year we had 25 teams who arrived early and ready to ride. Teams that arrive early on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning will be invited to ride a 20-25 mile route with local PANTHERS tandem teams Hank & Kathy Williams and Bruce & Susan Hansen. The start location will be in the parking lot adjacent to the Waterfront Inn and the ride will start about 9:30AM. The route direction will take the riders south of The Villages and return to the starting point. This ride will go at a pace of approximately 14-16 mph and the leaders will adjust the speed of the ride to be sure that no one is left behind.

A longer ride will begin at the same time and location and the ride leaders will also be local PANTHERS tandem teams Dick & Patty Young and Bill & Kathy Foster. This route will be through The Villages and will include a westerly jaunt through some of the countryside adjacent to The Villages. The speed will be approximately 16-19 mph and the pace will be adjusted in order to maintain a tight line.

Friday’s Social
Friday evening at the Waterfront Inn, all tandem teams are invited to enjoy ice cream with their favorite toppings. This anticipated social event allows riders a chance to meet new friends and renew old acquaintances.

Saturday’s Rides and Lunch
Saturday’s rides of 33, 43, and 58 miles will have a mass start from the Waterfront Inn at 9:00am. After finishing these rides, all tandem teams will enjoy a lunch at RJ Gators restaurant, a short walk from the Waterfront Inn.

Saturday Evening Banquet
Saturday evening riders are invited to the Canal Recreation Center for a buffet dinner catered by La Hacienda. After dinner door prizes will be awarded and the dates of the Sebring Tandem Rally will be announced. One lucky team will be awarded free registration to the early March 2018 Sebring Rally which will be held at the Chateau Elan Hotel in Sebring, Florida.

Sunday’s Rides
Sunday’s rides of 32 and 42 miles will leave the Waterfront Inn at 8:30am.

Before or After FTR 2017
We now have 24 teams who are PANTHERS living and riding in The Villages, and you are invited to spend the week before or after FTR2017 to ride with us. After completing this year’s Florida Tandem Rally you are invited to extend your stay in The Villages and ride your choice of two overnight tours. One tour will leave from the Waterfront Inn and travel 51 miles through Inverness with an overnight stay in Brooksville lodging at a local motel. Most of this ride will be on the Withlacoochee Trail. A next day return route of 49 miles will bring the riders back to the Waterfront Inn.

A longer route of 75 miles will leave the Waterfront and travel to Palatka using roads through the Ocala National Forest. The overnight stay will be alongside the St. Johns River in Palatka with walking access to local restaurants. The next day the riders will return to the Waterfront Inn using the reverse of the 75 mile route. Tandem teams who elect to ride these tours will have access to cycle support vehicles in case of mechanical problems during their tour. You are assured to have good roads, routes sheets and PANTHERS to ride with daily.

If you enjoy riding with tandem friends from the Southeast and Central Florida, make your plans now to attend.

For more information go to http://www.floridatandemclub.org/

Posted in Club & Org Notices, Tandem Rallies | 2 Comments

Wound Up Composite Fork / Recall Notice

With a tip of the hat to Dan Towle at R&E Cycles for passing this along…


Recall Details

Description: This recall involves select Wound Up Tandem Duo Disc bicycle forks manufactured between June 2015 and December 2015. The forks have a carbon crown and legs and the words “Wound Up” printed on the legs. Serial numbers included in the recall are: AC662, BJ573, CD758, CE779, CE789, CE800, CE805, CE806, CF830, CF831, CG843, CG845, CG848, CG851, CG852, CG853, CG862, CG863, CG865, CH913, CH914, CH915, CH916, CI925, CI926, CI928, CI929, CI931, CI932, CI933, CI973, CI974, CI975, CI976, CK008, CK009, CL056 and CL062. The serial number is engraved on the bottom of the disc brake tab mounted on the fork leg.

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled bicycle forks and send them back to Advanced Composites for an inspection. Advanced Composites will inspect the forks and provide a free replacement for defective forks including shipping costs.

Consumer Contact: Advanced Composites at 800-417-1597 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MT Monday through Friday, or online at http://www.woundupcomposites.com and click on Recall Information for more information.

Incidents/Injuries: The firm has received one report of a crack in a fork leg next to the disc brake tab. No injuries have been reported.

Sold At: Independent bicycle frame builders from June 2015 through December 2015 for about $575 for the fork

Manufacturer(s): Advanced Composites Inc., of Salt Lake City, Utah

Manufactured In: USA

Units: About 40

Posted in Industry News, Technology & Equip. | Leave a comment

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
Posted in Tandem Rallies | 1 Comment

Tandems East – Tandem Weekend, “Tour de Chocolate”

As we were creating our 2017 event calendar we noticed Tandems East was holding its annual Tandem Weekend in Manheim, PA, a mere 45 minutes from where my folks live up near Reading, PA.  We live for those times when we can combine a visit with my folks and a tandem cycling event and this looked to be a perfect fit so we firmed up the trip back in February just before all of the rooms at the host hotel were filled.

Our trip to the Tandem Weekend actually began the Monday before the rally when we drove the 770 miles from our home near Atlanta to my folks home just west of Reading. For those who are interested, that trip and visit with my parents is covered in a journal entry entitled, A Visit to Briar Patch & Time With Family on my other blog.

Throughout our visit with my folks I kept looking ahead to our 3 day tandem rally in Manheim with an eye on the weather.  It had gone from good to awful and by mid-week was just so-so for Friday, with pretty good weather on Saturday and Sunday. The chance of rain on Friday had been as high as 90% as of Wednesday night and we were hopeful the rain would move through swiftly and give us dry roads for the 2:30pm “warm up ride” on Friday afternoon.

Sadly, I didn’t even think to bring along the SKS mudguards that click-on to our tandem. I’m usually pretty good about packing for various contingencies with spare rims, mud guards and the like.  Well, not so this time but we decided we’d make the best of whatever came our way!

However, to make a long story short for those who don’t want to delve into all of the gory details, it was a wonderful event.  The hotel layout, the routes, the terrain and scenery, meals, etc. were all first class and Mel & Barbara’s events always draw in some of the most interesting and enjoyable people with whom to spend time.  The weather even cooperated and it was just a great time for us.  We’ll definitely try to attend the Tandem Weekends more often and our sincere thanks to Mel & Barbara and the rest of their “crew” for giving us such an enjoyable weekend of tandem cycling and socializing with great folks!

Photo poached from Jodie K. ( I never take enough photos )

Now, for those who are gluttons for punishment, here now are my recollections from our visit.


The thunder showers that rolled in on Thursday afternoon continued through the night, which actually made it a bit easier to sleep: there’s just something about the rain that’s soothing to the senses.

However, even though I slept pretty well I could tell I’d been working the property for three-days trimming back shrubs, pruning wisteria and pulling weeds on Tuesday & Wednesday… then bush-hogging for about 5 hours on Thursday with temps in the upper 80’s and lots of humidity on all three days. Of course, trimming and bush hogging is only ½ of the battle, after that you have rake up all of the material you’ve removed and haul it off to the burn pile! And, what would yard work be without getting eaten-up by insects and torn-up by thorny briars!

However, I was truly happy to have been able to help out and feel like I actually accomplished something during one of my visits vs. spending all day tele-working via my laptop.  The battery-powered hedge trimmer and blower I bought on Tuesday were definitely essential to the project in terms of how much more efficient the work was not having to deal with electrical cords, starting up and shutting off gas-powered equipment and the like.  I also received a bit of help with clean-up from Bill and Jim on Tuesday and then from my Uncle Rae on Thursday.

As we went about getting ready to leave my folk’s home for the 45 minute drive down to Manheim, PA, for the Tandems East Tandem Weekend I discovered I’d need to tackle one last project before we left.  I had this realization as I was taking our bags out to the truck via the downstairs entry and nearly fell flat on my back when the heel of my boot slipped out from under me on the rain-soaked algae that had formed on the concrete porch.  I’d also seen the same thing on the blue stone entry way porch and steps.  I’d already had my eye on an electric-powered power-washer in the garage I’d wanted to use to clean up their hot tub cover and shell so I knew it wouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to clean both the front and lower-rear entryways of the slippery green stuff that had formed there over time.

Of course, while power-washing would only take 15 minutes, it took another 20 minutes just to get the power-washer, hoses and spray handles back in running order. However, once I had the one wand powered-up and flowing everything else went quickly.  Again, there’s nothing like the instant gratification that comes from blasting away stuff with a power-washer and I was left with some piece of mind that at least no one else would be caught off guard by algae-covered steps on a wet and rainy day.

Even with the extra project, we were out of the house by 11:30am, about 30 minutes later than originally planned, but in plenty of time to get to the Warehouse Hotel at Spooky Nook well before the 2:30pm planned ride start.  In fact, we arrived at 12:15pm and were comfortably unpacked in our room by 12:30pm.

The Warehouse Hotel and adjacent sports complex share what was at one time a large Armstrong World Industries distribution center. The repurposing of the structure as a host hotel and venue for a variety of different sports was clearly anything but low risk and they pulled it off very nicely.

Spooky Nook Sports is the largest indoor sports complex in the United States, providing regulation courts and playing fields for more than a dozen sports under one roof. In addition to the 700,000-square-foot indoor facility, The Nook offers an outdoor field hockey pitch and a climate controlled dome used for field hockey, soccer, football, and more.

The 135 room hotel built in one small corner of the massive warehouse was as nice as any Hampton Inn we’d ever stayed in and their restaurant and bar were also excellent.

 In fact, as we were coming back through the lobby we ran into our friends Tom & Cheryl whom we’d met at a Santana Tandem Rally in Chattanooga, TN, back in May 2011 and rode with again just a few months later at our first Tandems East Tandem Rally in July 2011. They, in turn, introduced us to their friends and travel partners Dennis & Jody who we ended up having lunch with at the hotel.  It’s always such a pleasure to visit with and keep in touch with Tom & Cheryl as they’re always on the go and into a variety of different hobbies and interests, from camping to cycling to SCCA racing and of course travel mostly related to tandem cycling.

Even since arriving at the hotel our eyes remained focused on the weather radar as a very strong, large storm cell had moved through the area just before we arrived and another one was behind it.  However, it looked as though our hotel and afternoon ride route were in something of a gap between the split cell there was an ever-increasing chance we’d get out for Friday’s warm-up ride.

Before heading up to get into our cycling gear we stopped by the Tandem East Expo Center at the Warehouse where they had a tandem storage area adjacent to their portable tandem shop. Mel & Barbara had about as much apparel, parts and accessories on hand as you’d ever find at your average brick and mortar bike shop and several really nice Land Shark tandems fabricated by John Slawta for Tandems East.  It was great to see at least one very traditional “graffiti” paint job on one of the tandems alongside the more contemporary and a bit more subtle paint schemes were used on some other customer bikes.  One of the Land Sharks on display was built around Shimano’s STEPS E6000 power-assisted and boy was that interesting!

Anyway, we ended up throwing caution to the wind / gave into peer pressure and headed out with the other 70+ couples who came for the rally on the 30-mile warm-up ride at 2:30pm.  We told our friends Lonnie & Carol from Ohio if we got rained on we were holding them accountable since they were the ones who finally convinced us we needed to ride.  It turned out to be the right call as the weather was really quite nice for an afternoon ride.  It was over cast and there definitely were storms in the area, but we somehow made the 30-mile ride without ever getting caught out in the rain.

As for details from the ride, we left towards the latter half of the pack and worked our way forward in search of Tom & Cheryl.  I thought I saw Cheryl’s trademark Camelbak hydration backpack on a tandem team near the front of the pack and that’s where we headed. Sadly, we’d been duped!  It was another team whose stoker had on a similar Camelbak. On the bright side, shortly after we’d arrived at the front of the pack Tom & Cheryl came up from behind with their friends Dennis & Jodie alongside.

Left to right: Jodie, Tom, Cheryl and Dennis. Selfie by Jodie K.

We ended up riding nearly the entire 30-mile Friday route with Tom & Cheryl, Dennis & Jodie, a couple named Ethan & Trudy from New York and two or three other teams on what was a fairly spirited ride.  Tom joked that Friday was your typical “prologue” event where you wanted to ride hard but we’re thinking in retrospect we may have over-achieved.  After all, Lancaster County is not exactly flat and we were sporting a 17-mph average for the ride which also had quite a few slower legs through small downtown areas.

Overall, the ride was about as nice as it could be. We were treated to partly cloudy skies, moderately warm temperatures and bearable humidity and scenery that was second to none for anyone who loves rolling farmland in valleys surrounded by mountains with fields of corn or soybeans flanking all of the roads. We also ran across the occasional dairy, egg or dairy and egg farm to include the massive Kreider Farms complex in Manheim with its former silo converted to an observation tower.

Our only stop was at Wilbur’s chocolates in downtown Lititz, PA, an iconic all-American town where nearly every home was neat and tidy with lovely landscaping.    However, I will allow while we were inspecting the chocolates at Wilbur’s there was a short rain shower that passed through and we later learned several teams had gotten caught out in both hail and rain during their more reasonably paced ride.

After leaving Wilbur’s we made our way back to the Warehouse Hotel, only missing two turns and leading our friends about 100 yards astray on both occasions. We kept up the spirited pace all the way to the hotel, with Tom “smelling the barn” and driving the pace for the final 10 miles.

Once we were back at the hotel I grabbed a shower and then cleared out of the room so Debbie could get cleaned up and ready for the evening.  I kept myself busy by visited the good folks from Tandem East to talk tandems with Mel and others; always enjoyable. Try as I might, I couldn’t find anything to purchase!  However, I will say I jinxed myself talking about saddles as “the one that’s always been kind to me” would become very unkind to me on Saturday’s ride.

We ended up being invited to join Tom & Cheryl and their friends for dinner at Mick’s All-American Café, about a 6 mile drive from the Warehouse hotel. They truly have an exceptional group of friends and after learning a little bit about everyone we ended up talked tequila during dinner with some of the folks and shared some with those who were interested.  In fact, based on that discussion and three others I had regarding tequila over the last two weeks I crafted a blog entry on Tequila readers can find HERE.  It described the different types of tequila that are available and includes my own short list of tequila that I keep on hand at the house.

Mel & Barbara…

We truly enjoyed our time at dinner; what a great group of folks. When we returned to the hotel Debbie retired to the room to relax while I headed back out to visit with Mel and Barbara a bit more and ended up taking a spin as the stoker on the Shimano STEPS E6000 power-assisted tandem with Mel as the captain. And, yes, I was wearing a kilt during my test ride, much to the chagrin of several observers.  What a hoot that was.  We were flying with little to no real effort required, which gave me a whole different level of appreciation for what that technology could bring to a wide range of different consumers, e.g., commuters, riders with physical limitations, people trying to work their way to a healthier lifestyle that would benefit from power-assist.

I finally headed back to our room around 9:30pm and found Debbie watching the Tour de France coverage and that’s how we ended the evening: watching Tour highlights from the day’s race.  A good end to a good day!


We both had somewhat fitful nights and we’re not sure why. As often happened, our best sleep came just before dawn and we didn’t hit the floor until around 7:00am. We quickly made our way down to breakfast and had no trouble getting through the buffet line given there were only 75 couples at the rally and most of those folks apparently had their breakfast between 6:00am and 7:00am.  In fact, while we were eating breakfast I found I’d received a text from Cheryl around 7:05am where they were planning on an early departure for the long ride option, 30 minutes ahead of the main rally start time at 8:00am.  Given it was 7:30am when I saw the text,  we decided we’d just stick with our original plan to go off with the mass start and would most certainly catch up with them at the cookie stop or lunch.

We finished our breakfast, were dressed for the ride and arrived at the riders meeting just before 8:00am.  Looking over the crowd to see who we might ride with, we spied Ethan and Trudy and paired up with them for the day.

Once again, we were treated to some beautiful scenery and great terrain for cycling. While the riding was a bit challenging at times and the combination of high humidity and cycling shorts that were now too large began to create some issues for me as we spent a lot of time climbing in the saddle.  Over time, the edges of the chamois began to chaff at my backside and by the time we were at the cookie stop I could tell I was worn raw on both my right and left cheeks, so to speak.  There wasn’t really much I could do about it mid-ride so I pretty much sucked-it-up and pressed ahead, noting I probably exacerbated the chaffing by “dancing around” on the saddle in an effort to find a spot that wasn’t sore throughout our ride.  But, setting that aside…

Once again, we couldn’t have asked for a nicer day to be out cycling or a more beautiful place than Lancaster County.  We also crossed paths with several different cycling clubs that were out for their Saturday morning group ride and you can only imagine their surprise when they’d encounter 10-30 tandems “on their route” which we were apparently sharing for most of our ride.  And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share we couldn’t have asked for better cycling partners than Ethan and Trudy. They were much stronger cyclists than us, especially when it came to the hills. They were both long-time cyclists, but rather new to tandem cycling.  As we began to talk about their introduction to tandems they mentioned it happened when they were visiting Croatia and their hosts were both road and off-road tandem enthusiasts. I then think to myself, “hey, we know a couple who ride tandems in Croatia and host cyclists for tours and what not” so I ask, “That wouldn’t happen to be the Stechow’s, would it?  Ethan asks, “You know Michael and Marijana?”

Sure enough, it’s a really small world, especially when you’re a tandem cyclist.  And so went our discussions throughout the day.  I even sent Michael a group selfie of the four of us at lunch via Facebook asking, “Hey, do you know these good people?”  Michael shot back an immediate reply!

Getting back to the ride, we rolled into the cookie stop just before 10:00am and Barbara did not disappoint.  She must spend 5 hours a day baking a week before the Tandem Weekend to generate as many different cakes and cookies for the ride participants.  There were already quite a few other teams at the stop who had either started early, like Tom, Cheryl, et al, or who had opted to do the shorter ride distance from the remote start.  But, you could have had 200 cyclists there and there still would have been plenty of cookies, cakes, beverages and water on hand to nourish them all.  It’s an amazing thing to see.


We were a bit ahead of schedule in our arrival at the cookie stop and after a short break we continued into Hershey Park where the plan for the day included dis-mounting the tandems and taking the Hershey Chocolate Factory tour.  Mel and Barbara arrived about the same time we did to make sure everyone would have someone to watch their tandems and coordinate the group’s entrance to the tour.  Looking at the time and knowing we still had about an 8-mile ride to the farm where lunch would begin at 11:00am, our foursome decided to pass on the tour and continued on our way. I should note, the highlight of our ride through Hershey for Debbie were the street light covers shaped like Hershey Kisses, about half of them with the silver foil wrapping and weather vane that replicated the paper pull on top of a kiss.

Photo poached from Jodie K.

We arrived at the farm where lunch was being served right at 11:00am, putting us well ahead of the vast majority of riders who had taken the tours.  The farm was the home of the caterers who hosted events on their farm and also had the mobile “His & Herr” Kitchen they’d take to events, which is what they used to prepare our made-to-order lunches. Riders had their choice of chicken fillets, pulled pork or a veggie burger, salads, a variety of side dishes and cobbler for dessert.  It was all very good and truly made to order!  We lounged a bit at the stop just to enjoy the afternoon before saddling up for the final 15 mile ride back to the Warehouse Hotel.

The cue sheet had an ominous note on one leg that read, “Prepare to climb”.  Not exactly what you want to see right after eating lunch, but it’s all part of the game.  The climb turned out to be about a 15% grade that covered perhaps a one 8th of a mile. We definitely used our triple (30t x 34t) for that climb, as well as a second climb a few miles later that was about 12% over one quarter of a mile. It was on these climbs I knew I’d done some pretty serious damage to my backside which would definitely put Sunday’s ride in doubt.  But, at the same time, we were very appreciative Ethan & Trudy would wait for us at the top of each climb such that we were always together for the duration of our 52-mile ride on Saturday.

We rolled back into the hotel parking lot shortly after 1:00pm. Debbie headed up to the room while I went first in search of a soft drink and then visited a bit with different teams as they began to return to the hotel.  It was probably around 2:30 when I headed up to the room where I found Debbie napping.  I inspected the damage to my backside in the mirror and it was bad; you’d have thought I had crashed and earned a case of road rash from sliding along the asphalt, not merely being rubbed the wrong way by a synthetic chamois. Oh well, live and learn. I knew I needed to  get smaller shorts, but kept putting it off as the Mediums seemed to be working fine, albeit a bit baggy in the legs.

I think it about 4:00pm when we got up and started to get ready for the social hour ahead of dinner at 6:00pm at the Nook’s banquet facilities a mere 100 yards from the hotel lobby. Again, just a great facility concept!  Sadly, while they had a full bar at the social the only tequila they had was Jose Cuervo gold.  I decided to pay a trip back to the hotel bar where I was certain they’d have something that was a bit more refined. With a silver Hornitos in hand I returned to the banquet room where Debbie and I shared a table with Ethan & Trudy and two other couples from the tri-state area.  One of the other folks at our table, Bill, was someone whom I’d corresponded with vis-a-via the BikeForums.com tandem sublist. I don’t recall what the subject of our postings were but it was good to put a face with a name from the Internet.  We had a good time visiting with everyone at our table during the social which included live music by what I’d call a couple of bluegrass musicians.  However, they were far more talented than your average bluegrass band and entertained us all evening long, right through dinner into desert. It made for a lovely backdrop of good music, good food and good friends.

After dinner began to wind down around 8:00pm, Debbie, me, Ethan and Trudy retired to the hotel bar where we continued our discussions and also caught up on the Tour de France.  About the time Ethan and Trudy called it a night Barbara & Mel had arrived to meet some folks who had left about 20 minutes earlier.  We became their consolation prize and we probably spent another hour at the bar visiting with them before we all called it a night.  It was really a treat to have some two-on-two time to sit and chat about families and what not… something we rarely find time for.


As one would expect, I had a very restless night given how sore I was from the chaffing I’d experienced on Friday and Saturday.  Looking in the mirror at my handiwork, there was no way I’d be able to put myself back on a bike saddle for a 30-mile bike ride of any intensity. Therefore, we opted to head down for breakfast at 7:30 and then met our hosts, Mel & Barbara as well as other friends at the ride start to say our goodbyes before they headed out.

weddingbellsOn the bright side, skipping the Sunday ride put us on the road by 8:30am which meant we’d be back on our home turf around 7:30pm, which would be perfect timing for an anniversary dinner at Loco Willy’s!  Yes, Sunday was in fact the 24th anniversary of our wedding vows (with 20 years of that time shared on the tandem as of this coming August 9th) and we spent the majority of it making the 757 mile drive home from Pennsylvania.

So, we figured we owed ourselves a small celebration at the end of the drive and what better place to go than Loco’s where we’d be sure to find a few friends.

The drive home was uneventful for the most part with no major delays.  Debbie probably slept for 3 or 4 of the 11 hours and I kept my mind active listening to my collection of 200+ songs in my Jimmy Buffett playlist and counting motorcycles.  Yup, I decided to confirm the impression I’ve gotten over years of making the 770-mile drive to and from Pennsylvania twice a year that the overwhelming motorcycle of choice along the east coast of the U.S. is a Harley-Davidson.  You can find a short blog entry on the full results but, in short, 90% of the nearly 200 motorcycles I saw were Harley-Davidsons.  Say what you will about Harley’s, but Harley sells about as many motorcycles as every other brand combined each year and yet, the road bikes you see out being ridden more often than any other are Harley-Davidsons.

As expected, and with just a couple stops for gas and lunch, we arrived at Loco Willy’s just after 7:30pm.  We found our friends Billy & Dava there, along with Scott, Gator, Rob, Christain and a few others.  Sadly, we learned Billy was out riding in the North Georgia mountains on Saturday and ended up having a get-off of his motorcycle which continued on into a tree. Billy was a bit banged up, but the bike was a goner. My good friend David was riding with him and stayed with him until the bike could be collected and Billy’s wife Dava could come and collect him.  Thankfully, Billy didn’t come out any worse than he did, e.g., mostly soft tissue and a mild fracture on his right forearm.

After shaking that off, we did a little celebrating with help from Christian, Brian, Dava & Billy before having a little dinner, and then a little late night breakfast before heading home to get some rest.  I think I hit the mattress around 9:45pm and was out until 3:00am, which is not bad for me.  Not exactly the romantic evening you’d like to have on your anniversary, but after that many days of long hours sweating in the sun and an 11 hour drive, I didn’t have much left in my tank.


I was smart enough to take Monday as a day of vacation as well, so at least I didn’t have to get up and go to the office.  That’s not to say I didn’t get up and go to work, as I did go ahead and dial-in to a weekly conference call at 7:30am and then spent another hour or so catching up on some email, getting out a few “go-do’s” to folks and the like.

The rest of the day was spent running errands, getting a haircut, and then also picking up some flowers, a card and small Petit Four cakes for Miss Debbie as we continued to celebrate our anniversary at home. I also stopped in a couple of bike shops to see about finding some new cycling shorts, as that’s now a priority. With Debbie’s flowers, card and cake delivered just ahead of lunch, I final turned my attention to the yard work I really took Monday off to address.  Ah yes, back out in the hot sun edging, trimming and mowing the lawn.  At some point we also unloaded our bags from the truck and got laundry started and I also gave the tandem a little attention as the cranks were in dire need of some polish.  Too much sweat had been allowed to collect on the cranks and they were just beginning to show signs of corrosion.

In addition to working a few moments here and there throughout the day I also did a little re-arranging of the motorcycles so it would be easier for Debbie to get in and out of the truck and also easier to get the motorcycles in and out of the garage now that the Honda S2000 was out of the picture. We’re still anxiously awaiting news that a buyer has been found but, thus far, no such luck.  However, it has been nice to have the truck back in the garage such that it’s not in the way of the motorcycles or Debbie’s Honda Accord.  It’s the small stuff that makes me happy!

We ended our day with a somewhat more refined anniversary dinner out at Henry’s in Acworth, Georgia.  Yes, we still opted to take our dinner at the bar, but that’s just us: we’re not white table-cloth and candle kind of folks for the most part.  Well, OK… maybe for next year’s 25th.  But, as an unexpected surprise, our friends Katelyn and Zack dropped into Henry’s and joined us at the bar for dinner.  It’s the first time we’ve had quite time to sit and chat with them and it was really enjoyable: they’re great kids and we enjoy having them in our lives.

And that’s about that…

It was a long week and I think I’m starting to get vacation fatigue.  We’re only home for 9 days before we head off on the 29th to Costa Rica with several other couples.  We’ll be there for five nights before heading back home on 3 August.  I think we’ll be home for the rest of August after that!

Posted in Tandem Folks, Tandem Rallies | 4 Comments

Over at Riding Two-Up; Be Careful What You Ask For…

I ran into several different folks this past week at the Tandems East Tandem Weekend in Manheim, PA, who introduced themselves as readers of my blog.  A few of them read both The TandemGeek’s Blog and my other blog, Riding Two Up.

Someone who only read this blog noted that my content volume seems to be down quite a bit and I mentioned that I’ve pretty much moved all of my non-tandem cycling / weekly journals to Riding Two Up so as not to ‘junk-up’ our tandem-specific blog. They recalled seeing periodic updates with links to the other blog entries and I noted that I stopped publishing those right at the end of 2016.

To make a long story short, here’s the linked-list of weekly entries from my other blog for anyone who might be curious. As I mentioned in the past, these weekly journal entries are something I do for my mother for whom I print and mail copies so she can see what we’ve been up to in words and photos.  We’ve attempted to bring her into the digital, on-line publishing world but as we say here in the South, “That Dog Won’t Hunt”.

Anyway, please feel free to ignore this entry.  Again, the tandem content still gets posted here at The TandemGeek’s blog, as will our Tandem Rally Report from this past Weekends “Tour de Chocolate” as soon as I collect my thoughts and poach enough photos to bring it all together!








Posted in Cross Post: Riding Two-Up | Leave a comment

Two for Two this Weekend & Headed to Manheim, PA

We, like a lot of folks in the Southeast and Eastern Seaboard, have been inundated with rain of late.  However, this weekend granted us two lovely mornings where we had dry roads and warm temps, albeit with a bit more humidity than we would have preferred.

But, we made the best of it with rides from the house on both Saturday and Sunday mornings.


Tomorrow morning we head to Pennsylvania for a visit with my parents, but also for the Tandems East Tandem Weekend on Friday through Sunday near Manheim, PA. We’ll be staying at the Warehouse at the Nook for a couple nights and riding in and around Lancaster county, PA.  This is right in the backyard of my family’s home stomping grounds and the towns of Womelsdorf, Reading & Wyomissing on my father’s side and Dilsburg and Wyomissing on my mother’s side.  This will give us a chance to visit with a lot of the friends we’ve made during a prior Tandems East Tandem Weekend back in July 2011 as well as Eastern Tandem Rallies, Mid-Atlantic Tandem Rallies and a Santana Tour at Chattanooga, Tennessee.  And, best of all, it will also give us a chance to visit with Mel & Barbara Kornbluh!

More to follow!

Posted in Tandem Rallies | 2 Comments

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