Southern Tier Tandem Rally (2003)

DateAugust 15-17, 2003
HostsGear To Go Tandems (Richard Shapiro and Melinda Ellis)
WhereElmira, NY
Who (else) Van and George Connolly, Lily and Mike Fabricante, Susan Nicolich and Dave Snope, Elizabeth, Stan, Stephen, and Elizabeth Rogacki

I had always been curious about this rally, even before Susan and I bought our first tandem. The thought of riding a bike just south of the Finger Lakes sounded ideal to me. So, this year we signed up early, reserved a room in a B&B, and went on our first STTR.

The rally is headquartered at Rich and Lindy's home in Elmira, NY. Rich is a tandem dealer in that area and he and Lindy have hosted this ride for a number of years. They open their house (and 5 bathrooms) to a small horde of 50 tandem teams for this rally every August. Also provided is wonderful hospitality, food, T-shirts, water bottles, and cue sheets for some delightful rides.

We arrived on Friday after a 4 hour drive from North Jersey. It was a little strange going up to a private home, ringing the doorbell, and joining others for the start of the rally. It soon became evident that we were as welcome as any family member in their house and proceeded to introduce ourselves and meet some of the other teams.

The Friday ride we chose was fairly short, with an ice cream incentive at the mid-point. It was hot and muggy and the ride felt like 40 miles, instead of 21. The ice cream stop, however, made everything better and the cruise back "home" was swift and easy. That ride was through a valley and not particularly hilly, but the downside was that part of it was on a busy road. After the ride, we checked in to our delightful B&B called the Rufus Tanner House, about 9 miles from the rally. After showering, we returned to "rally headquarters" for a wine tasting (NY wines from the Finger Lakes area) and plenty of snacks.

After a delightful rest and breakfast at our B&B, we returned to rally headquarters for the Saturday ride. We chose a ride called "Creeky Crawly," aptly named because it seemed to be following creeks most of the time. This ride of 41 miles led west out of Elmira into the rural areas and was more like what we were expecting from this part of the country. Again, there was an ice cream stop, which we took advantage of to cool ourselves and proceeded to enjoy the rolling terrain around the Corning and Elmira areas. Upon our return, we were greeted with the sound of thunder and quickly got our bike in the van before the rains came. After showering at our hosts' home, we were treated to a picnic which consisted of pot luck items brought by all of the teams and very tasty ribs, veggie burgers, and hot dogs prepared by our hosts. There was also a swimming pool and a small bike shop at one end of the house (which had a Calfee tandem on display). This was a cyclist's delight and we enjoyed the food and company for the rest of the afternoon. Some of the later teams reported that they got rained on, but the rains never really appeared at the picnic.

Around 5, we returned to our B&B, showered and relaxed, then had dinner in Elmira around 7 PM.

On Sunday, we did not ride, although the weather had cooled somewhat and was ideal for riding. Instead, we went to the nearby Corning Museum of Glass and spent about 3 hours there. Our ride back home to NJ was uneventful, except for a slowdown around Tannersville on Route 80.

This rally was great fun and we'd recommend it to anyone looking to ride in a nice area, and who would enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of an event centered in the hosts' home.

Other DOGS teams in attendance were the Fabricantes, the Connollys, the Rogacki family, and a former DOGS team now living in Texas.

Dave and Susan (BeamTeam)

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Copyright © 2003, Dave Snope (text and photos)