Southern Tier Tandem Rally 2004

DateAugust 20-22, 2004
HostsGear-To-Go Tandems
WhereElmira, NY
Who (else) Van and George Connolly, Cheryl Prudhomme and Mark Cook, Sammi Sherwin and Paul Malarcher

The trip to Elmira NY from New Jersey on Friday (Aug 20th) was an uneventful one. The route took us along a beautiful stretch of highway through Pennsylvania along routes 380 and 81 via Scranton, PA and Binghamton, NY. We arrived early afternoon at the home of Rich and Liddy Shapiro, our talented and gracious hosts for the STTR weekend. Their home is a huge, wonderful old brick one on top of a hill just outside the center of the town of Elmira. The garage was filled with brand new tandems for sale that are typically stored in the living room during normal business weeks. The back yard contains a vintage pool circa 1957, a large deck, and classic ivy roams the decorative walls.

Cheryl and I joined the volunteer staff and assisted with the setup of the chairs and tables for the event due to start soon thereafter. After most items were basically in place we headed back to our hotel to check in, prepare our bike and ride back up to the starting point for the afternoon ride at Rich's house. There were only two DOGS teams in attendance besides us so there were many new people to meet. George & Van Connolly as well as Paul Malarcher & Sammi Sherwin were there to represent the Garden State.

We headed out despite the moderate rumble of thunder in the distance. Halfway out on our 20 mile ride the rain did, in fact, begin to fall. The heavy downpour had us scampering for cover beneath a large maple tree. Soon the rain tempered a bit. Since we were already soaked and 10 miles back either way, we decided to complete the route. A couple of us completed the trip with seconds to spare as the next torrential downpour confronted our area.

The rain continued throughout the evening and we all awoke to heavy rain and equally heavy hearts that the weather might ruin our plans for the day. Rich insisted that the precipitation would subside around 11 am. So we all got our bikes ready and, lo and behold, around 11 o'clock the rain all but stopped! There were several rides from which to choose -- short or long, flat or hilly. Many children were present accompanied by their parents on every conceivable tandem and triple arrangement. Bikes of all types were present. Sleek and fast titanium, fancy painted aluminum, heavy duty steel, skinny and fat tires, panniers, racks, S&S coupled, were all represented.

We took to the roads of the Southern Tier traveling beside rivers and up and down mountains providing beautiful views of the countryside. Cheryl and I hooked up with a couple from Ohio -- Mark and Brenda. They were strong, fast riders on a Santana titanium who permitted us to draft them the majority of the day. At times the climbs reached a point where we were unable to keep up, so they very kindly waited for us to crest the hills and catch up. Looking down at the computer from time to time, it appeared as if we were traveling at a rate of speed that exceeded our normal pace. After 58 miles, which included a stop for some well-deserved homemade ice cream a couple of miles from the end, we checked our computers for average speed and discovered that we covered the distance at an average 19.4 miles per hour!!! We were, no doubt, impressed with our effort and grateful for the assistance provide by Mark and Brenda.

The weather turned out to be fabulous as the day progressed. Rich manned the grill, supplying a variety of carnivore treats that included his famous ribs which were delicious. Many other pleasing-to-the-palate foods proliferated as everyone brought something to share. We sat around and made new friends and reacquainted ourselves with old ones as the day wore on. Most of the children took their best shot at the pool although the temperature was a bit cool.

Sunday arrived and teams gathered to head out once again on a selection of rides. The morning greeted us with some colder temperatures that prompted some to bring out the long sleeves! As the day progressed the sun and the hills warmed our weary bones. Couldn't have a STTR ride without an option to stop for ice cream, so many stopped to experiment with another flavor of the homemade, creamy treat. Again the morning ride was followed by a bar-b-que lunch back at STTR headquarters. Eventually, we cleaned up, packed up and headed off to our respective homes with well over a hundred miles of riding under our belts.

This was our first STTR. It will likely not be our last. If just to see the bright smiles on the faces of the children as they peddled heartily astride their tandems with their parents. It is a warm, "family-friendly" event run by superb, enthusiastic hosts. Rich recently endured emergency back surgery and this event marked the first time that Rich was able to get out on his bike in six weeks. We wish him well with his recovery.

Should you get the opportunity to participate in this event in the future, I highly suggest it.

Mark & Cheryl

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Copyright © 2004, Mark Cook