Have known Mel & Barb for decades.
Any tandem expo they put on is well worth the drive from anywhere in the US/Canada!
You'll learn a lot and get to test ride anything he stocks.
Pedal on TWOgether!
Ruy and Kay/zonatandem
We bought our tandem at one of Mel's expos. We're from central NJ so the one-way 2 hour drive wasn't a big deal for us. I understand that on a typical visit to the "store" you will get one-on-one time with Mel where you can ride pretty much any tandem from his stock. At the expo he has help (family, friends, etc.) who assist with getting you out for test rides, so having immediate access to his ear and expertise isn't going to happen. On the other hand there is a lot of expertise walking around the expo in the form of other riders, friends, and Mel's family who are helpful. As for the talks/displays, we haven't made the 4 hour round-trip drive again since we aren't looking to purchase; take that for what its worth.
We've gone a couple of times, most recently two years ago. Did the "group" ride once, but ended up riding alone the whole time as it's mostly a leave-when-you-want ride with cue sheets (although, it is a nice route). It's kind of a low key affair, held in a local elementary school. The gym is filled with lots of beautiful bikes to drool over, and some accessories for sale. If you are looking for a new tandem, it's definitely worth going, as they have a great selection. If you see a talk that is of interest, then it's probably worth it, too. For us, since we didn't really know anybody and already have enough bikes, we kind of just looked at the bikes, listened to one talk, and then headed home. We had hoped to connect with other tandemists in the area, but apart from some polite conversation, that didn't really pan out.
Serotta Legend Ti, Santa Cruz Heckler, Santana Visa TAndem
I have never been to a TandemsEast rally, but I had the good fortune to meet Mel, for the first time, at a LAB GEAR in Maryland, probably close to 20 years ago. I was so impressed with the amount of time he spent with the many tandem teams in attendance, and that he personally knew many of them. It was as though people had waited all year to be able to approach Mel in his display area for his highly valued advice and free repairs. As crazy-busy as he was, he took the time to explain to me the virtues of a Hydro-post that I ended up buying for my Burley Duet. Twenty years later, my wife is still sitting on this post on our Santana. It was a very well advised purchase for me!
I can't say enough good about this guy...In my opinion, every tandem enthusiast; newbie or experienced, would benefit from meeting him or his people.