Hugh and Becky with the new tandem
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SANTANA CHESAPEAKE BAY TANDEM RALLY

MAY 7-11, 2008

Wednesday, 07 May 20

View of the Chesapeake Bay from our HotelOur first experience with a Santana Tour was in April of 2007 on the week long Mississippi River tour from Memphis to New Orleans aboard the Delta Queen. We knew after that wonderful week that there would be many more Santana Tandem Tours in our future. We selected the Chesapeake rally for several reasons; the timing was right, the venue was one I had wanted to visit since reading James Michener’s “Chesapeake” back in the 80’s, Becky has an aunt living in the area, but foremost we wanted to take delivery of our new SS Team Titanium bicycle at a Santana sponsored event. Following the awful experience in London’s Gatwick airport last July when we were forced to ship our one piece Noventa back to Houston, we had decided to upgrade our 15 year old bicycle to a new SS coupled model. We had ordered the bike from Jack Goertz at Tandems Ltd. in Birmingham, Alabama. Jack assembled the bike to our specifications and then carefully disassembled, wrapped and packed the 24 parts into two standard suitcases and shipped it to the Hyatt Chesapeake Bay Resort. We departed Houston a bit after noon on Wednesday on a nonstop Continental to Baltimore’s BWI airport. The flight was on time in spite of weather delays across the Midwest. We collected our luggage and took the shuttle to the Budget Rent Car location and started driving to 74 miles to Cambridge, Maryland. We had Katie, our Tom-Tom-Go Navigational assistant, on board to accurately guide us to the resort on the Choptank River. We left Baltimore during the afternoon rush hour and with the 100 plus traffic lights along the route (there are no better alternative routes), we finally arrived an hour and half later at the Hyatt. Check-in was quick and efficient and we learned that the bike was safely waiting for us in the storage room. It seemed that all our planning had worked to perfection and now we were ready for happy hour and enjoy 4 days riding our new tandem and seeing the historical sites of the Chesapeake.

Thursday, 08 May 2008

Becky and I enjoyed a very leisurely breakfast in the Water’s Edge Restaurant and then we went to the bicycle Bill McCready giving the route notes for the Friday afternoon ridestorage room to begin assembling the puzzle which would become our new tandem. We were a little intimated at the thought of assembling the bike without help or instructions, but we started to remove and catalog the parts from each of the two cases and lay them out on the floor in an intuitive logical order. We managed to figure out correct order and with a little help from Charlie and Rhonda Pumill who were assembling their bike next to us, we had ours together in less than 2 hours. Larry Black from Mt. Airy Bicycles was there to assist as required and had a few tricks to help us with the project. We had to make a couple of adjustments to the brakes and we were ready for the first trial run through the Hyatt Parking lot. We stopped several times to adjust seats and brakes, but soon we were ready for the road. We took an 8 mile tour through Cambridge and returned to the Hyatt in time to hear Bill McCready’s route talk at 1:15. The initial rally ride took us on a 25 mile circular course that included the historical district of Cambridge, the harbor and views of the Chesapeake Bay along Riverside drive, Annie Oakley’s house and some of the surrounding farming country. The wind was quite robust, but the new Team-Ti was up to the challenge as we sliced through the headwind at a comfortable pace. When we finally turned and enjoyed a favorable tailwind, I shifted into a higher gear and we cruised back to the hotel at a remarkable Hugh, Becky, Dottie and Art ready to board for the dinner cruise25 MPH pace. Once back at the Hyatt we had plenty of time to clean up and change for happy hour and the dinner cruise on the Choptank which departed at 5:30. We met several Tandem Teams in the lounge and enjoyed the time visiting and trading our various tandem tales. Our dinner cruise on the stern paddle wheeler, Dorothy & Megan, departed as scheduled from the Hyatt dock. The line at the bar was immediate and long, but soon everyone was served and the line shifted from the bar to the appetizers. The bar manager was in a bit of a panic because they had not anticipated the thirst of 75 tandem teams…there wasn’t enough supply on board to satisfy the demand. But one phone call to the local marine supply had a fast rescue boat on the way with ample beer and wine for the remainder of the cruise. The supply skiff met us near the highway 50 bridge and after a quick cargo transfer, we were underway. It was a pleasant evening for cruising and the scenery along the shore was fascinating entertainment. The menu included salad, shaved beef, vegetables and seafood pasta with a selection of cheese cake for dessert. They sternwheeler cruised up the Choptank until we reached the suicide bridge where we made a u-turn back to the hotel. Back at the Hyatt, we stopped in the bar for a night cap with Christie and Ron Kacmarcik and then retired to our room for the evening.

Friday, 09 May 2008

A brief stop in Easton on the route to St. Michael'sPreliminary weather forecast for this weekend indicated a significant probability of rain…as we looked out the window in the morning we knew the forecast was accurate and we were going to riding in the rain. We had prepared ourselves mentally for this possibility and were ready to ride if possible. We went down to the Choptank Ballroom for the breakfast buffet where we joined the rest of the group. During Bill’s route talk he gave a very optimistic weather forecast explaining that the system was passing over and we would delay the start for an hour while the weather cleared. The heavy system did pass but the rain lingered more than an hour. There was a break in the rain at 10:00 which gave us enough courage to pull on the rain gear and start the ride, however very few (my unofficial count was 3) of the other teams decided to begin the ride at the Hyatt. We rode about 3 miles to the crest of the Highway 50 bridge over the Choptank River before we encountered a brief 10 minute rain shower. Our route took us on a 30 mile tour through Trappe, Easton and St. Michaels to the Maritime Museum. The roads were low traffic with very smooth surfaces through verdant farm land and quaint historical towns. We stopped in Easton to remove the rain jackets and admire the architecture of the houses and buildings and then attacked the last 9 miles to the museum and lunch. As we approached St. Michaels (the town that fooled the British), the rain in the form of very heavy mist started again forcing us to find cover long enough to pull on rain jackets. At mile 30, we entered the gates of the Maritime museum and begin to enjoy the interesting exhibits out The Chesapeake Lighthouse exhibit at the Maritime Museumof the wind, rain and falling temperatures. The exhibit of maritime artifacts collected by Robert Burgess had been extended for one week so we would have to opportunity to see the pieces he had gathered from ships and boats which once sailed the Chesapeake. Lunch began at 1:00 at the Crab Claw which was adjacent to the Museum property. We were seated outside on a protected pier and promptly served lunch which we had preselected when we registered for the rally. Our selection included a crab vegetable soup, a green salad, two fried crab cakes, baked potato, green beans and cheese cake. This was my first time to taste Maryland crab cakes…I’m sure I would have preferred baked to fried, but with an ample application of Tabasco, the crabcakes became an acceptable lunch. There was a noticeable drop in temperature and increase in the wind as we finished lunch. We briefly toured the lighthouse exhibit before continuing to ride 10 miles farther toward Neabitt…as the wind picked up and the heavy mist persisted, we elected to turn at Bozman, hoping to visit the duck decoy wood carver shop, but alas the shop was closed. We returned to St. Michaels into a robust headwind, but as we steered southwest toward the Oxford/Bellvue ferry, we cashed in our wind credits and enjoyed a 15-20MPH tail wind. We arrived at the ferry landing about 3:30 and had to wait about 20 minutes for the oldest operating ferry (in continuous service since1683 except during the Revolutionary War). Three other tandem teams arrived while we waiting and we began to exchange our versions of the ride in the wind and rain. The captain of the ferry was a living encyclopedia of the area; he provided a history of the ferry and a narrative of the declining oyster and crab industry in the area. The time was 4:30 as we arrived at the Oxford landing, we already had 50 miles on the odometer and we still had 18 miles to go to reach the Hyatt Resort. We were cold and wet, but with a favorable tailwind and the thought of a hot shower waiting for us, we averaged 22 MPH for the final leg, arriving at the resort at 5:30 with a total of 68 miles for the day.

Saturday 10 May 2008

The weather this morning had not changed much from the evening before…there was a drizzling rain, a wind from theBarbecue lunch in a tent at Bucktown North and temperatures in the mid 50’s. During his route talk, Bill explained the various options for the day’s ride with a historical narrative of Harriet Tubman and her remarkable efforts in assisting slaves onto the underground railroad to freedom north of the Mason-Dixon line and beyond. One of the route option passed by her birth place and there was a historical marker at the site to commemorate her contributions. The major attraction for the day was a visit to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Bill explained much about the birds and animals we might encounter and cautioned the riders to maintain a speed limit of 8 MPH so not to spook the native inhabitants. The ride through the refuge was a 4 mile loop where one had the chance to see eagles, ospreys, deer, fox and numerous water fowl. We left the Hyatt resort about 9:30 and rode with a group of 6 bikes 10 miles to the entrance to the refuge; because we were in the second group scheduled for the park, we continued on a 17 mile loop through Shorter’s Wharf and Crapo (the locals don’t pronounce it as you may first guess). The weather deteriorated during this loop and presented us with a heavy mist and a stiff north wind. The ride wound its way through the wetlands where the road was only inches above the water level. Some of the teams reported seeing muskrats in the roadside ditches, but my concentration was focused on maintaining progress into the head wind and drizzle. By the time we returned to the Blackwater Refuge, I was too hungry to enjoy the 4 mile loop…we made a brief visit to the visitors center and then continued to the barbecue lunch waiting for us 2 miles away in Bucktown. Lunch was a catered feast featuring barbecued pork and chicken with potato salad, beans and cole slaw with a extensive selection of Smith Island cakes for desert. We enjoyed the food, rest and company at lunch; we had ridden 50 miles in the morning and still had 8 miles into a headwind to arrive back at the Hyatt. Fortunately the drizzle had stopped, but we were tired and eager to enjoy the sanctuary and hot shower waiting for us at the hotel. After recovery and a quick nap, the clouds parted and we saw the sun for the first time on the Enjoying a boiled crab dinner at The Crab Claw on Saturday nightMaryland Eastern Shore. We had time to walk along the Hyatt waterfront to the marina where we toured a Grand Banks Eastbay 45 trawler before visiting the Michener’s Library Lounge for happy hour. While we were enjoying our beverage and comparing a possible retirement on a trawler in the States versus a barge in Europe, Jan and Rhonda invited us to join them and Charlie, Bill, Colin and Lisa at the Crab Claw in St. Michaels for dinner. We were more than thrilled to join them; I drove Bill’s car the 30 miles to the restaurant where we experienced a boiled crab feast. The service reminded of some medieval style feast, because the crabs were served on the paper table cloths, no one had plates or utensils except for a wooden hammer and a knife. Our server demonstrated how to clean and recover the delicate meat from the claws and shells plus the correct order for dipping the meat in vinegar, butter and Old Bay seasoning. The crab was delicious and well seasoned, but none of us really mastered the art of recovering the meat with the ease that had been demonstrated. We did order several pitchers of local microbrewery amber which was a very nice compliment to the crabs. Our table was soon covered with the debris of dozen of shattered crab shells, our hands and faces had a coating of crab essence and our laughter echoed through the restaurant. The fun continued outside as we stopped to take pictures at comic cut-outs near the exit. After the memorable evening of food and fun, we returned to the hotel for a well deserved rest.

Sunday 11 May 2008 (Mother’s Day)

Sunshine cast our shadow for the first time The last ride of the rally was scheduled to depart at 8:00; Becky and I decided to get an much earlier start so we would have plenty of time to disassemble and pack the bike for the trip home…an activity we had never done and really weren’t sure how long this might require. We did awake to beautiful sunrise and clear skies with crisp temperatures. We departed the hotel about 6:45 for a 22 mile ride around Cambridge through some beautiful farming, forest and wetland scenery. We saw three deer on the ride to add to the enjoyment of cruising over very smooth surfaces with zero traffic…we saw only one car during the entire 22 mile ride. As we arrived back at the hotel, the rest of the teams were just starting to leave; we got plenty of curious looks and comments about heading in the wrong direction. One big advantage to starting early was the ride in the sunshine; by the time we returned to the hotel so had the clouds and winds…both of which we had luckily avoided. Once back at the Hyatt we began to disassemble the bike and pack it into the two cases. The entire process took about and hour, but there was a bonus because we had room for the helmets, shoes and water bottles Leaving the Hyatt Resort for the trip back to Baltimorein the cases along with the bike. We had plenty of time to return to our room to cleanup, change, pack and checkout before the farewell brunch. When Jan plans a Mother’s Day Brunch, you are in for a special treat…this one was exceptional featuring beef, shrimp, oysters, marinated vegetables, cheeses, fruits, salads, omelets to order, French toast, and dessert table to please every taste…especially the chocolate lovers. Of course the brunch was the perfect finale to a wonderful rally. Bill gave a preview of the Santana Tour and Rally schedule for the coming year, describing each in such a manner to make you want to go on everyone. Trust me, you’ll find Hugh and Becky on many more future Santana Tours. As Bill wished everyone a safe trip home, made our way out of the room saying goodbye to new friends and promising to meet again soon!

 

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