THE HISTORY OF THE
SOUTHERN TANDEM RALLY
1979 through 2012 and still going strong!
When you think of the “American South,” “The South,” or “Southern” what comes to mind?
Most of you when you think of “Southern” tend to think of our “Southern Hospitality,” a phrase used to stereotype us as slow yet particularly warm and welcoming to visitors. Our unique southern cuisine including fried chicken, grits, coleslaw, and greens can be varied even in the south, yet is important to us and figures highly in our lives. Southern Hospitality includes proper local etiquette so don’t be offended if you are addressed as “Sir” or “Ma’am.” Ladies here still expect men to open their doors and remove their hats when in their presence or inside. While “Northerners” or Yankees” may often mistake many of our customs as disingenuous in some way, in actuality our purpose is to always make you feel as comfortable as possible; it’s just the way we are. You must accept that our customs are considered polite here and are meant as an expression of our respect for you the individual person.
So whatever your thoughts are from large plantation style homes with moss covered oak trees to city condos; small towns to bustling cities; cotton fields, pecan and peach orchards and orange groves to low country; and Smoky Mountains to white sand beaches with palm trees; our riding each and every year can range from “coastal” flat to rollers and your pace can be as fast as you want to “hammer” to as slow as you want to match our lifestyle. The south has so much to offer and we look forward to welcoming and entertaining each and every one of you with our “Southern Hospitality” on a “Southern Tandem Rally.” Y’all come now ya’hear!
DO YOU REMEMBER?
2012 – St Augustine, FL – 136 teams. Renaissance Hotel at World of Golf Village. WOW. Glorious clear October weather for all 3 riding days. Economic downturn benefits tandem riding. Great roads, housing developments yet to be built meant low traffic riding. More interesting were the daily meanders along the St John’s River and the highlight of the day, our special treat at the rest stop. Oreo cookies, covered with peanut butter and topped with a bit of banana. Perfect cycling food. Canopy roads and lots of Spanish moss. We passed by a loved and used small historic church. The rally officially began with a scavenger hunt and ice cream social at the World of Golf Museum and Hall of Fame. Golf is one of the world’s oldest organized sports. Saturday all teams rode to Outback Crab Shack for your choice of low country boil, shrimp, mahi-mahi or crab cake lunches. The food was great and the waitresses were working so hard. The weather co-operated for our social and dinner on the patio. Rick and Debbie Bracket and the rest of the crew had really knocked our socks off with door prizes and awards for special categories.
2011 – Raleigh, NC – 67 teams. Rain, almost rain, and finally Sunday sun. The optional Friday ride started with clouds hanging over our heads. Claude promised 2 hours of good riding. She was dead on. At 11:05 the clouds opened up for a warm rain. Smooth roads, low traffic and most teams rode 50 miles (30 in the rain). The opening cake reception was at the Raleigh Art Museum. Beautiful venue and many teams explored the galleries. Saturday we woke to rain. About 1/3 of the teams headed out to ride out to and then around the lake in the rain. Some remote started late to avoid the rain, (and were successful) and some just started from the hotel later. A few bagged riding altogether. Lunch of Greek roll-ups and tabouli and baklava was great. The banquet at the Embassy Suites was nicely done. As we rolled out Sunday the sun came out! Another visit to a lake, this one through the high tech business park and slightly south on more great low traffic roads. Thanks Smith Doss & Claude Monnier – another great STR.
2010 – Florence, AL – 98 teams. Crisp, clear. Who could ask for nicer weather? The Marriott Shoals on the banks of the Tennessee River was our host hotel. Every room featured a balcony and river views. It was a bit cool for the pool but it featured an awesome slide & sand beach. Friday’s pre-ride began in Oakland. Cotton was in harvest and the gin was working. Most rode out along River Road to Waterloo. Before the dam Waterloo was a significant river crossing point and as such was used during the Trail of Tears exodus and the Civil War. Many teams visited the Culver Museum and then dined at the Waterloo café before climbing away from the river for the return trip to Oakland. The rally officially began with a dessert reception at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Dixie knew all the facts; the exhibits taught us much; and Red Velvet Cake, Chess Pie, fruit cup and Banana Pudding welcomed all to the South. Saturday we headed out to the Natchez Trace. A rest stop at Colbert Ferry, some rode to Mississippi, a couple of teams to Tennessee too, and almost all stopped at Tom’s Wall. A memorial to his greatgrandmother who was forced from her home with the Trail of Tears Tom has been building on the wall for years. A very memorable stop. Lunch was at the University of North Alabama GUI center. Soup and salads were perfect for this crisp day. It took a bit of convincing but most teams finally did stop to see the lions (yes Leo and Lena are real lions), before heading through the Florence historic district and returning to the Marriott. Many stopped at the W.C. Handy birthplace cabin, the Indian Mound, a visit to the locks and the Frank Lloyd Wright house were all popular afternoon activities. Dinner in the conference center, Southern BBQ with a twist – pulled pork with white sauce, couscous with roasted vegetables and three cheese Mac N Cheese. We ate them out of the original desserts – Fruit cobbler, Hummingbird and Chocolate Fudge Cake. Terry Pace, a former Fame Recording Studio employee provided the history, complete with music clips, of recording in the Shoals. Sunday we finished off with a tour across the dam into Lauderdale County and through the city of Tuscumbia. We began in the fog, which soon burned off. Finally the route was marked. The route passed by Ivy Green, Helen Keller’s childhood home. The bike route across the bridge provided a final photo opportunity before final good byes and the return home. Hosts – Jack & Susan Goertz.
2009 – The Villages, FL – 116 teams. HOT – Florida was setting record high temperatures. Most of us were riding early and shorter. The community was an attraction in and of itself. An active adult community, bus tours were included showing us the polo fields and other amenities. Golf cars were everywhere. The town square had vendors and live music each night. Chocolate. We were welcomed with a HUGE chocolate heart, we had chocolate in our packets and wonderful brownies with Saturday lunch. Saturday’s ride to the Carriage Museum showed us another way of life. Some were drenched when the skies opened up around noon. A wonderful rest stop at Love Field included views of a marsh and wildlife. A banquet at one of the community centers complete with handmade wooden tandem centerpieces. The one with the most change in their pocket took home the prize. Thanks Bob, Jan and all the STR 2009 committee.
2008 – Bowling Green, KY – Caves, Corvettes, & Cycling – and perfect weather to boot. Hosts Kent & Anne Ellis with help from Kentucky and Indiana tandem friends hosted a wonderful event. A group tour of the Corvette assembly plant was well attended. Most teams then hustled north to our Smith’s Grove ride start for a 30 or 60 mile ride through Mammoth Cave National Park. Friday night we found that Culvers Frozen Custard has arrived in Bowling Green. The custard and many types of homemade cookies were both enjoyed as old friends were greeted and new friends were made. Saturday’s mass start headed us south and west to a community center with more cookies and a tour and rest stop at South Union Shaker Museum (more cookies). We rode past fields ready to harvest, corn, beans and tobacco to Cheney’s Dairy Barn for lunch – pimento cheese for the southerners – no cookies – but ice cream for dessert. The University of Western Kentucky campus hosted our banquet and Anne’s helpers wowed us with the decorations – the food was a wow also – beautifully presented and almost too many selections. A bit of climbing on Sunday brought us to a welcome rest stop, (with a water tower view), stocked with watermelon and. . . cookies. We all took home commemorative fleece blankets, totes and bottle openers.
2007 – Chattanooga, TN – Hills & Valleys. Friday’s Lookout mountain valley (or King of Mountain) ride featured a police escort, beautiful valley views with almost no traffic, a rest stop at a closed store, and a tailwind finish. A young parishioner at Lookout Baptist Church delivered Gatorade to tired riders as we finished. Dinner on our own then Clumpie’s ice cream and homemade cookies rounded out the day. Saturday started with a splendiferous breakfast buffet at the Chattanoogan. We followed US 41, up and over the toe of Lookout Mountain, up and down along the river then on to another fantastic valley ride. The hang glider field provided a great rest stop location. KOM riders continued on south and up the mountain, the rest returned to River Front Park in Chattanooga. Valet parking provided by Chattanooga, and hosted by a local tandem team, fantastic sandwiches, a nearby carousel and lovely atmosphere in the park by the river just 2 miles from our hotel made for a great lunch. A few rode a 20 mile KOM loop after lunch. At the Saturday banquet an interpreter from the Tennessee Aquarium brought, spiders, turtles, frogs and snakes for our entertainment following a fantastic buffet. Sunday – a ride through the neighborhoods, again with almost no traffic and a rest stop at Red Bank Gallery featuring works by Eric Strauss – tandem rider Roger Strauss’ brother. Thanks Linda Wood, Eric Osgood, David & Christen Hunter. And also to the ‘Gang of 8’ Linda, Eric, David & Christen’s parents.
2006 – Sanford, NC – Sandhills of North Carolina. The rally began ‘unofficially’ with a 42 or 30mi ride to the House in the Horseshoe. Philip Alston built the house just before the Revolutionary War. The interpreter was fantastic, the weather perfect, rolling hills and a couple of bridges over the Deep River made for a perfect start to the rally. Saturday the teams departed for Jordan Lake Dam, more low traffic rolling riding (though it was almost ALL downhill to the dam) and a Lebanese picnic lunch at the hillside (steep up) pavilion in San-Lee park. Potteries to be found during the afternoon and generous food and beverage in the hospitality room before the banquet at the Civic Center. Salmon and chicken with bluegrass music and dancing after. More rollers on Sunday as all rode with a fast clip to beat the rain. Thanks Smith Doss & Claude Monnier.
2005 – Kingsport, TN – Tennessee’s bright spot – Two goodie bags – one with shirts and literature, the other filled with granola bars, cookies and more. Then there were the door prizes – really nice prizes donated by area businesses. Friday’s remote start took the teams on gently rolling, lightly traveled roads in Tennessee and Virginia. Two states during one rally! ‘Our’ room at the conference center easily accommodated the entire crowd for the pre-dinner social. Old and new friendships were renewed and made. Saturday a cool crisp morning saw the mass start ride across town, up the hill and onto quiet roads to Jonesboro, the oldest town in Tennessee. A local caterer provided great food in the awesome city welcome center, shops enticed many teams and the cool temps meant there wasn’t any hurry to return to the hotel. Saturday evening a casual buffet provided food for all (one of the most fantastic desert tables we’ve ever seen, complete with Tennessee orange cake). Sunday we headed away from the hotel toward the west and were quickly on pleasant rolling roads, past homes with great Halloween decorations, and at the pumpkin patch a pumpkin that must have been 3′ in diameter.
2004 – Charlotte, NC – VROOM! WOW, Susana Sisk and John Taliana had assembled the most awesome goodie bags for us, everything from gels and bars, mugs with our photos, admission into the Backing up Motor Museum and even toothpaste. A big group arrived on Friday, and remote started from Concord. A gorgeous small town, spectacular homes, quiet rolling roads once we got away from town. Lunch at George Washington Inn, they handled an unexpected crowd well. FREE ice cream at the creamery afterward (Lemon Ice) The owner is a cyclist and was delighted to see all the tandems. The rally started officially with our Friday night pizza and desert social. Saturday was crisp and sunny, we started by riding 2 miles to the Lowes Motor Speedway. What a thrill! to ride 2 laps around the big oval. The adventurous rode high! Reed Gold Mine was about 30 pleasant miles away. Lunch was at Listke Park in the Big Barn. Plenty of food for all. Dinner saw us back at the speedway. What an awesome facility. We could watch the cart racing from indoor comfort, enjoy never ending fabulous food and laugh at our ventriloquist with his new dummy, Jack Goertz. Sunday’s pleasant ride visited horse country on wonderful rural roads. One sad note, this is the first year Bob & Ruth Husky were not able to attend the rally. Note: Shortly before STR 2005 Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Mississippi Gulf coast. Bay St Louis was virtually wiped out. Our host for STR 2002 Hank & Susan Holcomb did not suffer any wind damage to their home or flooding though water was in homes just two houses away.
2003 – Tallahassee, FL – The hotel was almost in sight of the Capital. Friday a morning ride to McClay Gardens. Out through town on bike lanes (including US 90), then canopy roads and neighborhoods. We found Hopkins (a great local sandwich shop) for lunch. Halloween dress up at the Florida Historical Museum with desert for all Friday night. Saturday, mass start for the long riders UP to the Capital at 20mph! out to St Marks Light House, Wakulla Springs for lunch and return. A banquet in the FSU stadium (it’s big) with the FSU Circus! providing entertainment. Sunday great canopy road rides to finish.
2002 – Bay St Louis, MS – Two weeks before the rally – hurricanes hit the coast – Hank & Susan agonize – will there be a rally? Lots of work altering routes, but the roads were clear by rally time. Friday we began with a non-bike option – a visit to Stennis Test Facility. After lunch the bikes headed out – a tour along the beach and through town. Restaurants were scoped out for Friday dinner. Saturday Hank had at least 3 police departments co-ordinated to lead us across US 90 to Pass Christian then north to Diamondhead for lunch. He had even arranged to clear a major route blockage in Diamondhead. Thanks Hank, you saved us many miles of riding. 52 miles was the short ride for the day! Great roads, little traffic away from the coast, and buffalo. Dinner at the Casino Magic club house was all you could eat of fantastic food, followed by Charles Gray speaking about area history. Sunday was a FAST blast in the fog. Again, a full police escort through every light on US 90 for 10 miles!
2001 – Clemson, SC – Threatening rain. A Poker Run, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, to Central to see Pfeiffer Frames, back to Clemson to the botanic gardens, campus and campus town. Saturday rain threatened but most rode, through beautiful fall brushed, unoccupied, hilly(!) roads to Pendelton for lunch at Cox Hall. Some stopped to enjoy the city fair, some shopped in this historic town.
Quickly back to the indoor pool and offsite dinner at the wonderful Clemson Conference center. Sunday, rain arrived, only 7 hardy teams headed out.
2000 – Callaway Gardens, GA – Droughts make for perfect weather. A Velo competition; What is “raw”, “natural” and “sweet” – Why honey, of course. 26 questions with answers to be found along the route. We all missed trailer homes as bait at mile marker 8- tornado bait. Warm Springs was hosting its Fall Festival – a tractor parade and lunch at Ivey’s. Up, up, up to ride the ridge back to Callaway and tour the gardens. The costume party brought out some real creativity, Southern P’s were a winner.
1999 – Greensboro, NC – Perfect weather this year. We got tangled up in Airport traffic as we located the hotel – directly across from the terminal buildings. Friday we enjoyed a great ride to a working grist mill. Saturday we found more city riding than we expected as we rode through the battleground to lunch at the park and for the brave a continuation to the downtown street fair. We finished on Sunday with great country riding.
1998 – 20th Southern Tandem Rally – Selma, AL – A city tour, hosted by local cyclists. Selma has more historic homes than any other city in Alabama. Lunch at Old Cahawba State Park, there isn’t much left, the homes had all been moved into Selma! But the welcome center had a great slide show. We closed the weekend Sunday with a country ride then open house at the most gracious of old homes and a wonderful southern brunch on the lawn.
1997 - Lafayette, LA – Oil Country – and would you believe, orange groves many years ago. Lunch was at the Rip Van Winkle Gardens overlooking the lake that changed from freshwater to salt water virtually overnight. We toured the house and gardens, learning a bit about Joseph Jefferson, the actor that made Rip Van Winkle famous. Sunday we rode through horse country to visit the Evangeline Oak. This is Cajun land, so our meal and Saturday entertainment shared the tradition.
1996 – Sebring, FL – Long a wintering ground for snow birds, southern central Florida is flat with many small lakes and lots of cattle. The riding was low traffic and the local radio club had fun trying to figure out why all these folks enjoyed long bikes. In the evening a wandering magician kept young and old entranced. The closing lunch on Sunday was a nice way to say, “so long until next year.”
1995 – Asheville, NC – “Stop whining; Keep climbing” – The slogan on our shirts said so much. A return to the Smokies. This time we climbed UP to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We stayed right downtown so we were able to explore Asheville. Many took the time to visit the Biltmore House. The short town tour took us by the Grove Park Inn. An Inn with a million dollar view.
1994 – Alexandria, LA – We were introduced to Cajun. Food and heritage was shared with us. The hosts took the time to locate a crawfish mound to decorate the center of each table. We rode past cotton and cane fields – harvest was in progress – visited a cotton gin and enjoyed lunch at a wonderful plantation (turned B&B) home.
1993 – Greensboro, NC – If you rode on Friday you did well. It was the ONLY dry day for this three day weekend. The local bike clothing outlet saw many of us, as did the furniture stores. Many dressed up for the Halloween banquet. Sunday saw a quick dispersing of the crowds as the rains continued.
1992 – Knoxville, TN – We climbed the Smokies. The majority rode up to the west entrance to Smokie Mountain National Park. The brave climbed up to Cades Cove. The return downhill was wonderful. Tales were told Saturday night as Sam Venable taught us the Tennessee dialect.
1991 – Plant City, FL – What were all those straight field long plastic covered mounds? We had to stop to discover they were for strawberries. Plant City greeted us with a dance recital followed by ice cream and…. strawberries. We knew we were in flat territory when we crossed more railroad tracks going more directions than we ever had before. Sunday was our day of flight. Hot air balloon rides (almost) and a visit to the local chicken farm converted to airport to meet the pilots and look at many experimental aircraft.
1990 – Mission Inn at Howie In the Hills, FL – A true resort hotel. I don’t think any one brought their golf clubs, but we could have. The bikes spent the night locked in the tennis court. We climbed central Florida’s MOUNTAIN. Infamous for Floridians, those from hilly areas wondered what all the fuss was about. We do know at least one tandem reached 55 mph on the downhill.
1989 – Griffin, GA – Wonderful rolling Georgia riding. What fun it was to encounter the civil war reenactment at Indian Springs State Park. The banquet was notable for the tight fit at the local country club tables.
1988 – Thomasville, GA – Southern Tandem Rally #10 – Thomasville rolled out the red carpet. We enjoyed exploring this winter home of the steel barons and found a taste of the steel baron plantation life interesting as we enjoyed tours and lunch at Pebble Hill plantation.
1987 – Cypress Gardens, Lakeland, FL – If you were lucky your room overlooked the Gardens. Each team was greeted with a carnation filled water bottle in their room. Bok Tower and gardens were an idyllic spot for our box lunches. Sunday’s brunch at Chalet Suzanne is memorable for the 5 star food and the amenities for the rich…. It had its own air strip.
1986 – Savannah, GA – Touring through town on our bikes, riding around the wonderful squares. The Saturday ride took us to the coast to explore coastal islands and see civil war defenses.
1985 – Ocala, FL – We enjoyed riding through horse country – white fences and big stables, very similar to Lexington, Kentucky. Saturday we rode north to McIntosh, a good Scottish town celebrating the day with a fair and parade. The tandems were a part of the parade! We returned to our hotel and a wonderful cookout by the lake.
1984 – Brevard, NC – We stayed at a camp, complete with cabins and bunk beds, and woke to chilly mornings! On Saturday we headed off into the fog. Visiting Carl Sandberg’s House and touring his goat farm. A great group dinner in camp.
1983 – Callaway Gardens, Calloway, GA – Many lasting friendships were made because of the random room assignments in shared cottages. Exploring the gardens and FDR’s Little White House in Warm Springs are favorite memories. The first southern tandem rally that had a triplet with a trailer in tow.
1982 – Alabama State Park Tour – The tradition was continued – but just barely. The two teams carried their gear, camped and awoke to rain. We found Bob and Ruth Husky sleeping (?) in the laundry room. Climbed Mt Cheaha and found the Kaiser/Hudson car meet. At least we all made it to the top of the hill, one car had to be pushed.
1981 – Lake City, FL – The host inn was being restored, some rooms had only a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. At least there were double beds! The riding and food were excellent. Visiting springs and riding along the Suwanee River. Churches hosted our evening meals.
1980 – Twin Pines Conference Center – Birmingham, AL – Twin beds, bunks at that, for all, including the honeymooners. A mile of gravel road to start and end each day.
1979 – Hard Labor Creek State Park – Rutledge, GA – A small group of tandem enthusiasts. We all camped in tents (except the organizers). Ride to breakfast, lunch and dinner. A Century was almost accumulated on Saturday. Tandemists really do ride to eat.