Sunday, September 26, 2010

COWS Fall Rally – West Bend, WI

Rally Day #3: 22.49 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 1 hour 49 minutes, average speed: 12.2

It’s nearly time to go home and the weather begins to improve. Four teams joined together to finish the 2010 COWS Fall Rally ending with a beautiful route into the countryside and then back to town on the Eisenbahn State Bike Trail. The temperature finally reached into the 60’s and the winds were minimal reminding us that we still have season left to ride. The rally was a huge success thanks to Jim and Anne for volunteering to host this year’s Fall Ride.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

COWS Fall Rally – West Bend, WI

Rally Day #2: 58.94 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 4 hours 47 minutes, average speed: 12.3

The words to describe this biking day would have to be chilly and windy! After a few announcements from host Jim, 18 teams mounted up and out into the 50-degree temps to explore the Northern Kettle Moraine north of West Bend, WI.

We biked 30 miles straight before our first rest at the Parnell Tower and the wind was exhausting, sapping energy from any reserves we might have. We did not even consider climbing the fire tower once at the park. Our rest included a visit with Annette and Tom and we then got back on the bike to pedal 10 more miles to our lunch stop in Dundee, arriving tired and hungry. Lunch at the bar & grill was excellent and it was fun to see all the riders making their lunch stop here. The bartender was very kind and invited us back if we should find ourselves in Dundee again.

Our lunch break was 40 miles into our ride so we now only had 20 more to go to finish. We made it back to the hotel by 3:30 p.m. giving us an hour to clean up and navigate to our hosts' house for a backyard bar-BQ. Jim and Anne planned a wonderful cookout for all riders at their home. Chef Jim grilled mouthwatering brats and even provided a very special dessert. A variety of salads and snacks showed up as each COWS team joined the party.
We had a wonderful time getting to know each other better. Jim and Anne did a wonderful job making us all feel welcome in West Bend.

Friday, September 24, 2010

COWS Fall Rally – West Bend, WI

Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest
Rally Day #1: 0 miles

Because of dangerous winds blowing at 35 mph as we arrived in West Bend, Dennis and I chose to visit with COWS members rather than bike the route around the city. Six couples planned to gather for supper at the Coachman House Restaurant recommended by Anne and Jim White, our hosts for this weekend. Following our meal, Dennis and I decided to visit with the locals in the bar and had a wonderful conversation with a retired couple from Milwaukee. We then drove back to the AmericInn to rest for our ride into the Northern Kettle Moraine planned for Saturday. The forecast looked promising and we were hopeful that the winds would move on out to allow us to bike the 60-mile route.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Midwest Tandem Rally-Shipshewana, IN

Rally Day #4: 25.61 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 1 hour 56 minutes, average speed: 13.2

It’s dark out as we get ready to ride. We found Gary and Marilyn making mechanical fixes to their breaks using only their iPod for light. The fix was made and we pedaled off under cloudy skies that offered no view of the sun rising. We headed to Howe for breakfast at the local restaurant beating the crowd because of our early start. As the bikers began to show up, we were ready to begin our trip back to the Farmstead Inn to shower and pack for home ending the MTR rally of 2010 with many wonderful memories for the archives.

Ride Statistics:

Riders of MTR 2010 represented 26 states and 3 countries
(USA, Australia, Canada)

467 teams were registered to ride, the oldest rider being 87 years old

Our total MTR 2010 ride miles: 155

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Midwest Tandem Rally-Shipshewana, IN

Rally Day #3: 51.62 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 3 hours 53 minutes, average speed: 13.2

We chose to join the OTTERS for a mini-mass start on this third rally day. It was very peaceful to venture out and have complete ownership of the road before it became congested with bikes, buggies and motor vehicles. Following our first rest stop at Eight Square School, an Amish country school, we were directed onto the Pumpkinvine Bike Trail for a few miles and then back on the roads to seek our lunch stop at Bonneyville Mills Park.

We enjoyed our lunch at the park amongst waterfalls, flowers and the very interesting historic flour mill. Eight COWS riders joined here to share a picnic lunch of fruit, salad, dessert and a warm sandwich. It truly was a beautiful day for a picnic.

Our ride ended back at the Farmstead Inn in Shipshewana after 6 hours of pedaling, visiting and exploring. A debriefing meeting was being held at 3:00 for clubs hosting an upcoming MTR and since the COWS will be hosting in Madison, WI in 2012, I thought I’d lend an ear. The meeting wrapped up around 4:30 and the MTR social was beginning at 5:00 at the banquet hall.

Of the 467 teams attending MTR this year, 3 were from the Rochester, MN area. We visited with Mark and Patty Clancy from Zumbrota prior to the banquet doors opening. Once those doors opened, the crowd scrambled to find a table. Dennis and I dined with Gary & Marilyn Solomon, Kathi & John Johnson and Phil & Janet Paulsen. The food was catered by the Blue Gate Restaurant. We happened to have the same waiter as when we ate at the restaurant on Saturday and even though he was very kind to us, he had no authority when it came to selecting which tables were to be served first. The meal was superb! Juicy beef, stuffing casserole, chicken, potatoes, veggies, gravy and pie for dessert—YUM!

Information for the 2011 rally in Ann Arbor, MI and the 2012 rally in Madison, WI was announced following our meal. Dolly Craft spoke in thanks to her team of volunteers for making this year’s rally in Shipshewana such a success. Last to take the stage was funny man Reed Steele, our evening’s entertainment. He had the crowd roaring with his comedic act mimicking a tandem couple out for a ride. The banquet was well attended and worth the extra $27 per ticket.

After the banquet, we all headed back to the host hotel to visit and swap riding pictures. Plans were made to bike Monday’s breakfast route. Gary and Marilyn would be joining us for our traditional sunrise ride on the final day of MTR 2010.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Midwest Tandem Rally-Shipshewana, IN

Rally Day #2: 55.47 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 4 hours 18 minutes, average speed: 12.8

A full Breakfast was served at the Farmstead Inn starting at 6:00 a.m. which allowed plenty of time to eat, visit and then get to the staging area for the mass start by 8:45. A very impressive police force was on duty to stop all traffic in town, including all buggies, to allow all tandems a worry-free trip out of town. The community members were in awe as our group of 467 teams quietly rolled past. The locals took such interest in our event that we really felt welcomed in Shipshewana. We saw cameras peeking out from screened porches waiting to snap a photo as our mass group descended on this community of 500 inhabitants.

The first rest stop on the medium route was at the 24-mile mark. The winds were really picking up as we parked the bike in the Wolcott Mills Elementary School lot and went in search of bathroom facilities. Upon our return, the bike was down on its side. We were glad to note the only major damage was to my helmet as it smashed between the bike and road surface—time to shop for a new helmet.

Our lunch today was provided by the Carriage House near Topeka, IN and was served by an Amish family. The cold sandwiches were great after fighting wind gusts of 30 mph for the past 28 miles. We were guaranteed a full coarse meal and this is what we got—fruit, vegetable and dessert along with a turkey sandwich gave us what we needed to get back on the bike to finish up the remaining 17 miles.

We shared the roads of the Lagrange countryside with many horse-drawn carriages and were constantly on the watch for “horse apples”. Amish and Mennonite families sat in their yards waiting for us to bike by. It was clear the children of these families were expecting the MTR riders and were ready to wave as we passed their farm properties.

Living among the Amish and Mennonite communities for these few days made us curious about their history so we went to Menno-Hof to see and hear the Amish-Mennonite story. The presentations and displays of the attraction were well-done and very entertaining. We learned that the Amish split from the Mennonite faith in 1693 lead by Jacob Ammann whose goal was to resist modern conveniences. Today the Amish are located primarily in the USA and Canada and most of the 200,000 Amish live in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. We had very little time to spend here as a 5:00 evening event was scheduled for all COWS members attending the rally. Our COWS presidents, John and Joan Laabs, organized a gathering in the party room of the Country Inn and Suites and provided snacks and beverages—another example of our club’s great leadership.

The hospitality gathering came to a close around 7 p.m. allowing enough time for a group of remaining party COWS to stomp over to the Blue Gate Restaurant to have an evening meal. The food here was great and the price was right. We enjoyed the company of 6 couples while we dined making the 45-minute wait for a table well worth it.

We enjoyed this second day of MTR to its fullest but sleep now became a priority as morning would soon come and rest will be needed to ready us for Rally Day 3 in Indiana.