|Date||July 14-16, 2006|
|Hosts||Tandems East (Barbara and Mel Kornbluh)|
|Where||Millville; Cumberland County|
|Who (else)||(Lots of DOGS)|
To any Bicyclist/Tandemist, the word "flat" comes with multiple meanings. On one hand, flat defines terrain that has few to no ripples and you can ride for hours at a steady cadence with the miles rolling under your wheels. On the other is the ride-stopping feeling of a tire that has lost its pneumatic pressure, and we are beside the road doing a field repair before we can resume our ride.
In the past few weeks, Team Wells has had more than their share of the second definition. We had a spate of deflated tires that led to new rim tape on both wheels and the replacement of a number of tubes. At the Tandem Weekend, we also got to indulge in the first definition, albeit slightly detracted by the second definition.
Tandems East held its annual Tandem Weekend in the relatively flat lands of Cumberland County, New Jersey. This three-day, two-night celebration of tandeming has become a staple of Team Wells' annual plans. Following is the tale of Team Wells and the 2006 Tandem Weekend:
By bedtime on the 13th of July, we were almost fully packed and ready for our annual journey to the flatlands of Southern New Jersey. The cats, Molly and Muggles, were aware that something was up as they saw the luggage being filled and sitting on the hope chest at the foot of the bed. They knew we were going to leave them alone for a few nights, and they registered their displeasure with numerous vocalizations, the kind that only a true Siamese can muster, telling us that they really didn't support our plans. No laps to sit on or people to snuggle with for the better part of three days! Had they been capable, they would have made placards reading "Unfair!" and been protesting with chants of "Hell no, you can't go!" So, some unintelligible Siamese vocalization wasn't all that bad.
In the 11 years of traveling to "Mel Country," we've almost always used the infamous New Jersey Turnpike. Even with the occasional delay, the trip between our house and Mel Country rarely took more than three hours. On the 14th, however, it took us double that time -- almost six hours! There was an accident in a construction zone between Exits Five and Four on the southbound side of the New Jersey Turnpike. Traffic came to a dead standstill as we inched along.
Now, you may ask, why didn't you exit? Well, the traffic attempting to exit the Turnpike was going slower than the traffic going towards the site of the accident! So we plodded on, often thinking that we could go faster aboard our tandem which was just above us, on the roof of Linda's Saturn. Quite tempting, but that would have created other problems. We finally made it to the accident site just as the last of the safety cones were being removed and the Turnpike traffic resumed it's 65 MPH speeds. We got to the Country Inn, in Millville, just in time to watch the participants who were there roll off for a 28 mile Friday afternoon ride.
We checked in, changed, and decided to try and get some miles under our wheels that afternoon before heading out for dinner early Friday evening. We followed the cue sheet to the 10 mile point and decided to turn around. No sooner had we turned around for the return trip to the hotel then I felt the back of the tandem get squirrelly. Thinking that Linda was wriggling I asked her to stop squirming, when she noted that she wasn't moving. The bike continued to become progressively more squirrelly when I realized we had a flat tire (one of many flats, as mentioned previously)! Well-practiced, I removed the tube, checked the tire and rim for problems, put in a new tube and was just about to start the inflation when a woman, going by in her truck, noticed what I was doing and came over and offered the use of her floor pump -- wow, that made things easier. (How many people ride around in their automobile with a floor pump?!) She also noted that the intersection where we had just turned around had broken glass (oh joy!) -- something we hadn't noticed. Made it back to the hotel with just enough time to get dressed and head to Lucia's, in nearby Vineland, for dinner. The food was great (but a bit pricey--closer to New York City prices), but the company of our fellow DOGS who joined us was worth it.
Our 8 AM, Saturday morning ride began in the fog, but as the sun ascended in the sky, it became an overcast morning. This was okay because the forecast was for a scorcher. We rode with our fellow DOGS, Bob and Helen Bird, maintaining a very good pace during the 36 miles to our lunch stop at a zoo. Just before the last turn, I rolled over something and then, a bit further down the road, the rear got squirrelly, again -- yet another flat! Fortunately, we were already at the lunch stop and had time to swap out another tube as well as get all kinds of expert advice on what might be causing the problem -- I was just not lucky and rode in the wrong spot on the road. Drat!
Because the sky was threatening rain, we chose the shorter route, (16 miles) back to the hotel. We also picked up another tandem couple from PA (Jay and Leslie Rothberg), and formed a pace line. Team Wells took the point and drove a pace just below 17 mph, managing to keep all three tandems together. The rear tire held up fine. Although it did rain, it wasn't all that heavy and was actually a bit refreshing. Back at the hotel, we cleaned up the tandem and ourselves and did a load of laundry. By that time, the storm had passed and the latter part of the afternoon became beautiful, albeit hot in the sun. Had we only remained under the pavilion at the lunch stop, we wouldn't have been caught in the rain, no matter how refreshing it felt, and we would have had a nicer ride back to the hotel. We were told tales of stronger rain by the tandemists who returned to the hotel via the longer route (25 miles). We even heard from Larry & Brenda Isherwood about an "older couple" (Karen & Ed Hass) who gave them a run for their money on the return trip. Larry was impressed with their skill and speed.
The Saturday night dinner at the nearby Elks Lodge was delicious, as well as abundant, for hungry cyclists. And, as usual, I ate too much but vowed to work it off on the Sunday ride. Linda had an experience she'll not forget in awhile. After she returned to the table with her dessert, she went back to get a cup of tea. As she put the cup on the table, the cup started leaking. So, she returned to get another cup of tea. By this time, everybody at our table was watching her. As she went to put the cup down, it started spurting out -- like a geyser! She had us in stitches! On her third trip, she took a cup from another pile of stacked cups, and, to make sure it was ok, she took a cup from the middle of the stack, and, to be doubly sure there wouldn't be a problem, she took another cup and put it underneath the first cup. It is said that the third try is a charm, well, Linda was "charming" on her "third try." (I assume she enjoyed her cup of tea!)
Saturday night at the Tandem Weekend is always something special. The tee-shirts everybody receives notes a theme for Tandem Weekend, and for Tandem Weekend 2006 the theme was to be "musical" -- in particular, jazz. The jazz band was from North Carolina with keyboard player, one of Barbara Kornbluh's former students.
Sunday was bright, sunny, and hot! The plan was for a 38 mile out-and-back trip from the Country Inn to a lighthouse on the southern edge of Cumberland County. Quite a pretty spot when we were there for Tandem Weekend 2003. However, the "Green Heads" where out in abundance this year as they were in 2003. So the rest/cookie stop was moved to the 15 mile mark -- in the parking lot of a firehouse. The combined teams of Bird/Wells/Rothberg decided not to battle the bugs and cut the ride short and headed directly back from the cookie stop. Along the way, we passed various tandem teams. On one pass, the captain was starting to get up off the saddle to join our line, at which point the stoker said "stop it," and he promptly sat down. As we approached the last 100 meters before the hotel parking lot, George could not resist the temptation for a finish line sprint.
Tandem safely racked on the car, the people cleaned up and checked out of the hotel, we returned to the Elks Lodge for our closing lunch with the other 61 teams. Old friends, new friends, we all had a great time. Team Wells was one of the last to depart, as we headed north on the Turnpike. One small slow section, but an uneventful trip back home to Molly and Muggles who welcomed us home with the vocalizations one can only receive from a Siamese. Tired and happy, we watched the Friday Stage of the Tour de France that we had been taping over the weekend. The cats placed themselves in George's lap and defied him to attempt to displace them until they were ready to move. Finally, too tired to stay awake, we headed for a good night's sleep in our own bed. To work out the kinks in the legs (from our ride home on the New Jersey Turnpike), we took our regular training loop of 22 miles on Monday morning.
The bad news is that Tandem Weekend 2006 is now history. The good news is that there will be a Tandem Weekend 2007, and Mel and Barbara promised that it will be "something different." So, start blocking out your 2007 July calendar (usually the third weekend of the month), and visit Mel's web site (www.tandemseast.com) periodically to make sure you don't miss it.
Linda & George Wells
Saturday was a 56 or 66 mile trip out to the Bridgeton Zoo for a picnic lunch, followed by an option ride back -- 16 or 26 miles. Being in touch with our recent riding frequency, we opted for the shorter ride back. Five miles out, it started sprinkling. Hmmm, wasn't forecast until later. We forged ahead, and the roads never got completely wet. However, the stories born by those taking the more macho path were dripping with anecdotes of squishing pedal strokes, the taste of spray from the bike ahead, and the resultant sand aftertaste, and the cleanup involving seat post removal, upending the bike for drainage, and removal of water from the rims. All this for the last 20 miles. But the sun did come out as we all regrouped at the pool. There was the usual camaraderie out at Mel's Parking Lot Bike shop as riders eagerly made upgrades and tire switches.
Sunday was a 38 mile out and back to the dreaded Green Head Fly breeding grounds.... I mean the lighthouse. They forced the sag wagon inland to a fire station two miles from the lighthouse. They were big!
Two DOGS teams even made the local paper! (Photo of Walt/Claire, Larry/Brenda. -- webmaster)
Can't wait until next year!