Tandems East Tandem Weekend 2007

DateJuly 6-8, 2007
HostsMel and Barbara Kornbluh (Tandems East)
WhereHammonton, NJ
Who (else) Many DOGS teams.

While Tandems East's annual "Tandem Weekend" is not an official DOGS event, it often feels like one, if for no other reason than the fact that a large number of DOGS members/teams participate. (Twenty of the more than 60 teams who participated this year were/are DOGS Teams). This Weekend was another excellent series of riding and non-riding activities pulled together by Barbara and Mel Kornbluh, owners of Tandems East. It was also a new venue-- Hammonton, NJ, which claims to be the Blueberry Capitol of the World. Considering all of the fields we saw on our journeys, it's probably true. And it was also three days of beautiful weather and very low humidity. We couldn't have asked for better. In fact, Team Wells has been attending/participating in Mel and Barbara's Annual Tandem Weekend since 2000 with this year's weather being the best.

Linda and I traveled down early Friday morning (leaving the house at about 8:10 AM) so that we'd be there on time for their first ride, which began at 2:30 PM. We were so early that we were able to enjoy lunch at the Silver Coin Restaurant (read Diner) which is about 1/2 mile down the road from the Ramada Inn, where many of us stayed (with all rides beginning/ending at the Ramada). Faithful DOGS Dave and Susan kept their tandem in Team Isherwood's van, so they switched with us so that we could have a downstairs room -- 102, and Dave and Susan took our room -- 234, so that they could be in a room near Larry and Brenda.

The Friday afternoon ride was a nice 26 mile jaunt through the area to the West and East of the Ramada. We were only 5.5 miles into that ride when we passed by a HUGE house that Mel's cue sheet assured us is a single family home. (All Linda could say was, "The Cleaning Crew sure must be happy with that family!") The roads for the first 20 miles were all well-maintained and smooth. At the 20 mile point we stopped at the Red Bar Farm Market, a local farm business that was selling freshly baked pies. (We decided -- no pie for Team Wells and continued on our way.) The remaining miles took us through the area where some of the blueberries are raised. Most of these roads were serviceable, chip-and-seal surfaces that made me happy that we had purchased the carbon fork with our Co-Motion (a.k.a., Voyager), that kept the handlebar buzz down.

At the end of the ride, we stopped by the local branch of Bank of America and noted that behind the bank is a Chinese/Japanese (sushi) restaurant which is within walking distance of the Ramada. We hadn't had sushi in a long time, so, following our quick ride back to the hotel and shower, we walked down the street for our sushi dinner -- the Love Boat for two -- maybe 30 pieces of delicious sushi in a humongously made wooden boat - $30.95 - a very reasonable price in comparison to the prices up here, in Morris County (probably because we are only 25 miles west of New York City and live closer to "New York City prices".)

We're slow folks in the AM so we decided to get an early breakfast at the Silver Coin Diner (that same place we had had lunch the previous day), and found that despite their posted hour of opening, 6:00 AM, there were people working and being served at 5:35 AM when we pulled into a parking spot by the restaurant. We had a nice, slow breakfast, a chat with the waitress, who told us she hates mornings, but is still one of the "Honey" waitresses that I remember from my younger days. (For the younger set, there was a time when diner waitresses (back in the 50s) called everyone "Hon" or "Honey." It wasn't so much a term of endearment as a way of avoiding the task of remembering everyone's name, especially if you weren't a regular customer).

Back to the hotel, we finished preparations for the long ride on Saturday. Right on time, the police showed up to stop traffic on Route 30, allowing us to make the left turn without having to cross the fast moving traffic. (That was a nice touch, Mel.) The early pace started out a bit too fast for us, but we had some DOGS members to speak, with so we went out in front and had our chats with Fellow DOGS as they passed us. Finally, faithful DOGS Team Bob and Helen Bird came alongside. Since we had an agreement that we would stay together for the Tandem Weekend rides, we adjusted our pace and settled in for the rest of the ride.

The blueberry farms did break up the scenery of the Pine Barrens and the roads were flat-to-undulating with nothing that we could call a "climb" although the long miles of pedaling did cause me to gear-up and stand from time-to-time, just to get my butt off the saddle and change the muscles I was using. At 14 miles, there was the famous "Cookie Stop" where we managed to get one of Barbara's Lemon Squares before the locusts descended and emptied the container. From there, we made our way to Batsto along some familiar roads from the October rides.

As usual, we had a great lunch and great conversation with our fellow tandemists, DOGS and non-DOGS, and then headed out for the final 11 miles of the day. (More great planning on the part of Barbara and Mel -- nobody really wants a long ride following lunch.) About halfway into the return, Team Bird's rear tire flatted. While trying to find the source of the puncture Bob found that a new rim-strip, installed at an unnamed LBS, had failed to properly cover the valve hole, leaving a sharp edge exposed. A piece of plastic wrapper from an energy bar made a good boot and, with a new tube installed, we were back on our way.

Back at the Ramada, Bob tracked down Mel who put in new rim tape while Linda and George caught the replay of the Prologue of the Tour de France while waiting for dinner to be served. (Since our room was in a very convenient location, we could look out to see what was going on in the tent that paralleled busy Route 30.)

So that Larry and Brenda Isherwood wouldn't find out what we were up to, we got out in front of the Pelethon on Saturday morning so that we could tell each DOGS team, as they passed us (and they all did), to come by our room so that they could sign the card we had for them. Following dinner and prior to our entertainment for the evening, George managed to get the microphone from Mel and presented Larry and Brenda with a "Good Luck" card signed by most of the DOGS attending, as well as other tandemists, wishing them well at the Co-Motion Classic Eugene, Oregon, at which they will be participating later this month.

The Tandem Weekend T-Shirts this year are a deep red with big black letters on the back that say, "The Devil Made Me Do It," which was a key to Saturday evening's entertainment -- Jim Albertson (who had been one of Barbara's teachers). The devil in the Pine Barrens is known as Leed's Devil, also the Jersey Devil to those outside Southern NJ. Mr. Albertson is famous on the New Jersey Folk Music and Festival scene and is a storyteller of New Jersey culture, especially South Jersey. He also played his guitar and dulcimer as he led us in several songs, even a song for those of us who live up here in Northern New Jersey.

Sunday morning, we repeated our early breakfast at the Silver Coin Diner, but with different people on staff. Following that great breakfast we returned to the hotel in time to prepare for the 40 mile ride. Like Saturday, we were leading out the ride from the parking lot, this time turning right on to Route 30, as we did on the Friday afternoon ride. We were passed only at the second turn and managed to stay with the front group for a while. We actually held on to Larry and Brenda's wheel up to about the seventh mile when Bob and Helen pulled up along side and we throttled back the pace to a sustainable 16-18 mph for the duration of the ride. We passed by the first cookie stop at ten miles and actually arrived at the second cookie stop, 17 miles in to that ride, about five minutes ahead of the cookies!

Back on the roads, after more of Barbara's delicious cookies, we continued/completed the last 23 miles of the 2007 Tandem Weekend. The last mile Team Wells made a couple of incorrect turns, but got back to the hotel without any really big problems. We "racked the tandem," showered, packed the car and watched the rebroadcast of Stage One of the Tour de France while we waited for lunch to be served. It was a great weekend where we logged an additional 122 miles on our tandem, as well as spending time with our fellow DOGS and other tandemists.

Following lunch and our final goodbyes, everybody was on his way home. Team Wells, as usual, was one of the last to leave the picnic area, with our Ferrari Red, "Voyager," on top of our new, deep blue, Saturn Ion-3, at 1:25 PM. It had been another great Tandem Weekend and we are already looking forward to next year. Hmmm, maybe it's time to write a check out right now and send it to Barbara and Mel.

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Copyright © 2007, George Wells (text); Mark Cook, Walt Willard (photos)