Photos - http://picasaweb.google.com/martinmc...eat=directlink
(Cross-posted from my blog at http://martinmccrory.wordpress.com)
Lana and I took our Cannondale RT3 down to The Villages, Florida this weekend to attend a rally for tandem bicycle riders. Having only been riding TWOgether for about 9 months and about 1,000 total miles, this was our first rally AND our first big group ride on the tandem AND our first major cycling event attending on the tandem! It was a blast.
We both skipped out of work/school early on Friday, slapped the tandem on our car rack (the tandem is only slightly wider than our car with the wheels still on the bike) and headed down from Gainesville to The Villages, an "interesting" retirement community in central Florida. We arrived shortly before 6pm and, after registering, decided that we had enough time to sneak in a short ride. We rode about 15 easy miles around the streets of The Villages and returned in time to grab some ice cream.
On Saturday, when we arrived at the arrival/departure location, we noticed that we seemed a bit younger than most of the pairs there. That didn't seem to matter much, though, as veryone we talked with was very nice and welcoming!
And BOY were there some sweet bikes, as well! Carbon fiber, titanium, couplers, Dura-Ace, sick wheels, belt drives, recumbents, triplets, folding bikes--it was all on display. Never before had we seen such "tandem bling" all in one place before!
The Saturday ride was fun, if a bit chatoic. The organizers decided to throw some little rollers into the route, which served to break up any large packs of riders. After the rest stop at 17 miles, we decided to take the shorter (38) mile route back home. Unfortunately, no one else decided to follow us, so we rode to lunch by ourselves!
At lunch, we got lots of compliments on our matching "USA Cycling" jerseys, and a lot of positive comments about the fact that it's great we're getting into tandem cycling at such a young age. Tandem riders really are the nicest cyclists around!
That night, the organizers hosted a happy hour and dinner for the riders. The happy hour was scheduled to start at 6, with the dinner scheduled to start at 6:30. Lana and I didn't want to drink, so we decided to show up just for the dinner. However, we forgot that the "target demographic" of this event (aka "distinguished" citizens) are much more punctual than us. Not only had EVERYONE else arrived by the time we entered the banquet hall at 6:37, they were halfway through the salad course! Lesson learned: arrive at all future tandem rally events 10 minutes early.
At the dinner, we met more riders and confirmed that we were, in fact, the youngest couple there BY FAR. We had hoped to win a door prize for this accomplishment, but sadly they skipped us and went straight to the "oldest couple" prize (the couple that won has a combined age of 155 years!! Wow!!)
On Sunday, we took advantage of the flat start to get organized in a nice fast group at the front. Us and 3-4 other tandem teams spent the whole 41 miles doing a fun, hard rotation. It was really fun to work together with other strong tandem teams to put out some amazing speed. (A brief moment of embarrassment occurred when Lana and I dropped our timing chain while taking a hard pull around a corner, but we got it back on without too much delay!) I'm pretty sure our group was the first one to finish, which was a nice "feather in the cap" kind of feeling.
All in all, our first tandem rally was a very positive experience. We got to meet lots of tandem couples from around Florida and other places in the South, see a bunch of VERY COOL looking bikes and get in some great tandem riding! We're looking forward to attending more tandem rallies in the future!
Some stuff specifically for the BikeForums crowd:
- No, Lana and I are not changing our wedding date so we can attend the Midwest Tandem Rally next year. Sorry!
- I know we talked to many of you this weekend (I'm awful at names so I've already forgotten half of them). I even got photos of some of you! If you're not in any of the photos I posted and you think we got you in a shot, let me know and I'll send you the picture!
- TandemGeek, were you in attendance? I saw a beautiful coupled Calfee Tetra with spoke-tastic wheels that looked just like the bike you wrote about recently. I was hoping to introduce myself, as your website helped Lana and me IMMENSELY in our search for our first tandem (thank you)!
- Another thanks to everyone in attendance for helping us to feel welcome at our first rally. We'll definitely be at more in the future.