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.
I think it must have been around mid-afternoon on Thursday when Debbie sent me a text asking if we wanted to meet up with our friends David & Deb for dinner… at Loco’s of course. We’d miss our usual Finally a Friday celebration since we’d be out-of-town, so this would give us a chance to get together before we left town. It had also been David & Deb’s anniversary earlier in the week, so we used this as an opportunity to surprise them with a card, flowers and some Petit Fours to celebrate their 29th year together and our 6th year at partners in crime together: wow, times flies! I had to do a little schedule juggling to get out of work a bit earlier than usual on Thursday so I could swing by Publix to get the car, flower and cakes and also have enough time to load the triplet on top of the truck as part of our pre-departure plan.
We had a great time enjoying a mid-week dinner with David & Deb, something that Debbie is now able to do since every day is a Saturday for her! In fact, it was her retirement that also made the early departure for South Carolina on Friday possible so we’ve quickly adapted to this change.
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!
Once we were back at home we had the truck unloaded, got showered and then did a little decompressing as I’d been up since 4am, rode 34 miles and drove 255 miles by this point.
It was probably around 5:00pm when we headed to Loco Willy’s for dinner. And, we had eaten and were on our way to a gathering of friends at James & Donna’s home in Acworth, Georgia by 6:30, a good hour before our friends David & Deb finished their day out riding on the bike at Loco’s for their dinner.
We had a really good time at James and Donna’s and didn’t head home until close to 10:00pm. It had been a long day and we were both pretty tuckered-out.
I started off Sunday by getting the triplet cleaned-up, Debbie’s saddle removed and then stored it back up in the rafters until our next triplet opportunity: perhaps in September? With the triplet up and out-of-the-way and pulled our tandem out of the rafters so I could put Debbie’s saddle back on the bike as I suspected we’d be riding either Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
I think it was around 12:15pm when we pulled the Harley out of the garage and pointed it towards Loco Willy’s where we planned to go and have some hot wings, salad and watch the Indy 500 which got underway around 12:25pm. It was a small crowd at Willy’s when we arrived, but all of the usual staff suspects were on hand. David & Deb arrived about 15 minutes before we headed out, as they were meeting another couple — Scott and Debbie — for an afternoon motorcycle ride out to Knucklehead’s.
We spent a good 2 hours at Loco’s just relaxing before heading over to check on Ryan & Jeanette’s home improvement project progress. We spent about an hour visiting with Ryan & Jeanette and by 4:30pm were over at Brewsters.. a biker bar so Debbie could get a certain cocktail that only they seem to make. By 5:30pm we joined several other friends over at Mulligan’s Food & Spirits… another biker bar, where they were having a pretty good celebration.
It was probably close to 7:00pm when we, Jeff & Sharon, David & Deb and Scott and Debbie got on our motorcycles and headed over to Loco Willy’s for dinner. When we arrived we saw our friend Ron’s red Corvette sitting out in front of the bar made a point of finding him and saying hello. He ended up joining us at a table on the porch for a good hour or two before half of the group retired to a table inside the bar.
We eventually left around 11:00pm as we were the last ones at Loco’s and the gals were putting stools on the table tops so they could close-out and head home. I’m not sure what possessed us, but instead of going home we headed over to see what kind of music the Sunday night DJ at SuBourbon’s was spinning. Our friends Bob & Donna joined us. In retrospect and even though we had pretty good time, it’s not something we’d ever do again. The Sunday night crowd is mostly college age kids and the music the DJ was playing was definitely not the kind of music we listen to. Debbie was having a good time with the college girls, but the music and vibe just wasn’t happening for me. We stayed there for an hour or two before hoping on Blue and heading home. Definitely a late night out for us: if we’d have only had that much energy in Panama City Beach!
Given how late we were out, and aided by morning thundershowers, we both slept in on Monday morning. That’s always the down side of staying out late… I just feel like the next day is going to be far less than productive. However, despite the slow start to the day we were able to accomplish a few things:
- I was able to give the drywall repairs on the upstairs hallway ceiling a final screening so that I’ll be able to get that repainted perhaps on Friday. It’s not a big project, but it requires bringing some pretty tall ladders into the house and doing some strange things to paint the section over the two-story stairway.
- We spent a good part of the morning watching the America’s Cup / Louis Vuitton yacht racing, something I’d not been following. Wow, has that changed a lot! I didn’t realize just how high-tech they’d gone with the 45’ racing catamarans and water foil technology. The yachts are almost always flying on the foils and elevators instead of having their hulls in the water! Races are 20 minutes long on a very small course and it’s actually been turned into a very exciting spectator sport.
- We were able to find a hole in the weather in the early afternoon and got out for a short tandem ride. However, and I’m not sure why, as we headed out I discovered our front derailleur’s shift lever wasn’t working. Rather than bailing on our ride, I set the chain in the middle ring and that’s how we rode it. There were a couple of times when we simply had to stop pedaling and coast when we spun-out at 120 revs, but overall it was actually a pretty good way to ride. It’s been a long time since we truly rode a 10 speed!
- About 10 minutes after we arrived back at the house it started to rain, so our timing was impeccable. I spent about 15 minutes fiddling with the uncooperative shifter and was able to get it working again; however, I’m still at a loss as to why it suddenly didn’t work after having no problems last weekend at the Georgia Tandem Rally.
- I spent a good bit of the afternoon just “chilling” at the house while Debbie headed off to get groceries. I used my time to write-up the majority of this blog entry and a few other odds and ends on the computer while sitting out in the breezeway.
Looking ahead at something of a short work-week:
- Given all of our rain I’ll have to get out and cut the lawn again on Tuesday or Wednesday evening but that’s about the only must-do. Well, the hedges all need a bit of trimming too, but that can wait until the weekend.
- Friday is an off-day for me so I hope to use it wisely.
- The Toyota Tundra and I will make a trip over to 4 Wheel Parts in Marietta to order up the upper control arms and schedule the truck for the installation which, fingers crossed, will be the last time I need to do anything to the front or rear suspension for at least a couple of years.
- I’ll also try to knock out the paint in the upstairs hallway ceiling. If I’m feeling really energetic I may put some fresh paint on the ceiling in the exercise room, as that needs to be painted as well.
- I’ll also need to start developing a design, plan and materials list for the overhaul of our Master Bathroom’s shower / water closet so I can take care of that in the not too distant future. I’m guessing the glass enclosure will have a bit of a lead-time element to it that will pace the entire project.
- Saturday will hopefully be a productive day with a tandem ride ahead of Charlotte’s 6:00pm ballet recital. Pretty sure that will consume the evening.
- Sunday is a get-away day for us as we’ll be headed out-of-town until Friday. The kids will be staying at the house while we’re gone as their builder needs to replace all of the hardwood flooring on their main level so that will work out well. I believe our landscapers will also be at the house while we’re gone so even when we’re away we seem to be busy!
Anyway, that’s a wrap for this week!