Our “travel agent” thought it would be a good idea for us to go on four cycling trips, one for every weekend in September. Read on as we hit the highs and the lows of our “September to Remember”.
Savannah Century, Savannah, GA 9/2- 9/5
We travel the 275 miles to Savannah for a weekend of riding and socializing with friends from Georgia and Florida. Our home turf is fairly hilly, so we enjoy the flat terrain and higher than normal average speeds for us. Most of all, we cherish the quality time and great times we have with this group of fine people.
Highlights: The rides (30 miles Saturday and 69 miles Sunday) were flat and fun. On Sunday we rode over the Herman Talmadge Bridge, which is the only day of the year that you can ride your bicycle over the span. Cars are stopped and 1000 bikes have the right of way for about ten minutes as we crossed into South Carolina. We had a seven-tandem pace line for about 30 miles, and they just flew by. We consumed a lot of adult carbonated beverages during the weekend with great beer at the Moon River Brewing Company, the Crystal Beer Parlor, and the Distillery. We also had our own beer party, which included a private beer tasting of home brews and specially selected exotic beers. With a great Italian dinner at Garibaldi’s and two visits to Leopold’s Ice Cream, we probably gained weight, even though we rode almost 100 miles.
Lowlights: There were some flats that delayed the proceedings for long amounts of time. Riding with friends means you want to be together and sometimes that includes waiting for repairs. It’s Labor Day weekend and the restaurants are crowded. Savannah is full of tourists, why aren’t the restaurants full of employees? We don’t think it’s okay to run out of food and or beer early in a holiday weekend. On more than one occasion we thought we would expire before we saw food. By the way, are saltine crackers really an appetizer?
The weather was cooperative, tropical storm Lee did NOT come to Savannah, and on Century day we had a reasonable amount of cloud cover for much of the morning. It was a great weekend with fun friends.
Dancing Bear Bicycle Bash, Townsend, TN 9/9 – 9/11
Dancing Bear Lodge is not too far from Knoxville, TN. We have heard about the bicycle bash weekend from friends who have attended. In the interest of full disclosure, our good friend and Co-Motion tandem dealer, Tim Patterson, has given us a gift certificate to attend this weekend and stay at the fantastic Bear Creek Lodge as his guests. So it wouldn’t be right for us to “review” or comment on the event like we normally do. But there would not be any hint of impropriety if we said that we would come back and PAY full price for this weekend, and it would still be worth it! We loved the accommodations, the food, the cycling, and the company we kept! We could feel fall in the air, especially with morning temperatures in the fifties.
Highlights: There was very little traffic, loads of beautiful scenery, and at times we felt that Disney like animals had been placed along the route to enhance our experience, only in this case, they were real! An amazing dinner at the lodge on Saturday night. Quality time with special people.
Lowlights: It was chilly at the ride starts, which was our first taste of cooler weather after the long, hot summer. It warmed up quickly, though. The climb up to the parking lot at the lodge was the worst climb of the weekend, and we did it twice. The weekend had to come to an end, and it was tough to leave such a beautiful area.
Cox Atlanta MS Bike Weekend, Pine Mountain, GA 9/16 – 9/18
This ride is our annual fund raiser for the National MS Society. Friday is a day off for volunteer work, and we have lots of work to do once we get to Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, which is about 90 miles away. Eve is a Team Captain for the 13th year and we have a pretty large team this year. We work for hours decorating our tent in the corporate village. We squeeze in a quick dinner to go from Crickets, a local cajun style restaurant , which goes with the Mardis Gras theme that the MS Society has selected. There is more work to be done, handing out jerseys and meeting team members. The next two days will be better–we’ll be riding!
Highlights: we sneak in a 22 mile ride up Pine Mtn. before anyone from our team arrives. There is no traffic early in the day on Friday and we have a relaxing hour and a half of alone time before the onslaught! We stayed in a new (for us) B+B this year. The Chipley-Murrah house is lovely and we have the downstairs suite, which is pretty sweet! The entire 40 person team shows up for the ride! Riding in a beautiful area with great tandem friends. Pleasant and cool temperatures for rides on Saturday and Sunday meant that we didn’t have to repeat the “crampfest” of 2010. The children on the ride enjoyed pulling the pinata (evidently you don’t beat on them anymore) that was the centerpiece of our tent decoration. Our team raising over 20 thousand dollars.
Lowlights: We loved the cool temps, but the heavy cloud cover prevented us from enjoying the views atop Pine Mtn., which we climbed on Friday and Sunday. The wind made tent decorating difficult. Our tent looked great, but we didn’t win best tent. Team Turner jerseys looked great, but we kept getting mistaken for the Home Depot/KPMG team–can you say “too much orange”? Terrifying mass ride starts with inexperienced riders both mornings. This ride is “amateur night” and they really need to do something about the ride safety.
Southern Tandem Rally, Raleigh, NC 9/19 – 9/25
We are off this week, and our vacation is timed to coincide with our last of 4 consecutive cycling weekends out of town. The Southern Tandem Rally (STR) is in Raleigh this year and off we go. After overnighting in King’s Mountain, NC we pull into Raleigh early enough for some sightseeing. Our most important destination is the giant acorn! This is the city of oaks, so we can’t miss a goofy photo-op. We visit the old City Market where we have lunch at Big Ed’s, a Raleigh institution since 1928. We visit and tour the state capital and learn it’s on the national historic registry!
The Embassy Suites is our home for the next 3 nights as we attend STR with about 65 other tandem teams. No pesky single bikes on this trip, just our fellow tandem enthusiasts. We have attended the last 14 Southern Tandem Rallies. As rally organizers, we appreciate all of the work and preparation that goes into the weekend. We had a great time catching up with old friends, making new friends eating and drinking, and of course, riding our bike!
Highlights: Dinner on the road in Spartanburg at the City Range Steakhouse Grill, was great, and a Trip Advisor find! The manger’s receptions (3 of them) at the Embassy Suites had complimentary food and drinks. Beer tasting at the LoneRider Brewery (the Embassy Suites “designated driver” took us there in the hotel van and we had great beer). Riding triplet with Heidi in the rain. Great times with great friends and we didn’t have to organize a thing!
Lowlights: Heavy rain on the ride Friday (25 out of about 50 miles). Rain and wet roads for much of the ride on Saturday. Fratello’s restaurant on Thursday night. The food was fine, but we had waitress issues that will be dealt with on our Trip Advisor review!
And so ends our “September to Remember”. We are actually staying in town this coming weekend and we are both looking forward to a “no travel” end of our week. Don’t worry about us, though…October is right around the corner and we’ll be traveling for three out of the five weekends in the month!