100 Tandem Teams begin the Saturday ride
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Friday 27 April 2007:

Saints Cyril and Methodius Church, DubinaThe Houston Area Tandem Society (HATS) was the coordinating club for this year’s rally. The site selection committee suggested La Grange after discovering some planning issues with some other locations and thus “The Best Little Tandem Rally in Texas” was scheduled for the last weekend in April. This weekend displayed the Texas wildflowers at their peak in Spring weather that was ideal for tandem touring. The registration began at 1:00 on Friday; the rally headquarters was at the Fayette County Fair Grounds in the Pavilion. Becky and I volunteered at the registration table until 2:00; many teams checked in during that time and started the first ride. The route committee had mapped out two wonderful tours of 21 or 32 miles that passed by some of the famous Painted Churches around Schulenberg. After we completed our responsibilities at registration, Becky and I drove to Hostyn to begin the ride. Many teams had already begun as we arrived at the start, but there were still plenty of riders for us to meet and ride with. We passed along backcountry roads through rolling fields of bluebonnets. The air was perfumed with the fragrance from the flowers. The first church we visited was the Saint Johns Baptist Church at Ammannsville. The interior painting is restored to its original condition and is a magnificent example of the decorative styling of the period. We continued on to Dubina to the Saints Cyril and Methodius Church; here the ceiling was painted celestial blue with a star motif. We continued on over the “Piano Bridge” which is one of the last remaining iron bridges in Texas; so named because its structure is a “piano-wire truss”. Next stop was the St. Hugh and Becky at the Friday night carbo loading dinnerMary’s Catholic Church, a classic example of Gothic Revival. It has some of the best examples of faux-finish woodwork and stained glass. The final church on the Friday tour was the Philadelphia Evangelical Lutheran Church. The original painted interior is covered with paneling, however there is a collection box at the entrance for contributions to restore the interior to its original state. We completed the circular route back at Hostyn where the Blue Bell ice cream bars were waiting as a reward for completing the ride. We returned to the Executive Inn for quick shower and change; the back to the Pavilion for the social hour where there were snacks and some ales donated by the New Belgium Brewing Company. Dinner inside was a pasta carbo-loading meal for Saturday’s ride. Total miles for the day…32.


Saturday 28 April 2007:

Becky in a field of blubonnetsBreakfast in the Pavilion began at 6:30; we arrived soon after the buffet opened to find a complete breakfast with eggs, potatoes, ham and biscuits. The ride for today offered several options; we chose the 62-mile route which went through Round Top and the rolling countryside and back to the Fayette county fairgrounds. The ride was scheduled to start at 8:30, but we left early because we wanted to visit Ted and Debbie at their weekend retreat in Round Top. At the 23 mile mark our route passed within a half mile of their property so we made arrangements to stop in for a cup of coffee. Ted had the coffee ready when we arrived; we enjoyed the view over the hills from the porch and the conversation, but soon had to return to the ride. By the time we were back on the route, the teams which started at 8:30 had caught up to us so we had companions to enjoy the remainder of the route with. There were a couple of longer ride options for Saturday, one went through Fayetteville, but that was longer than we had really wanted to ride. Unfortunately we had not taken the correct map and cue sheet for the shorter ride and as we turned in the direction of Fayetteville, I knew we were about to add an hour to our schedule. We made a U-turn and found another team that had the correct cue sheet. Even with the right directions we still made a couple of navigational errors before we arrived back at the Pavilion at 1:00 for lunch. The cue sheets and maps for the ride were excellent, but someone had stolen a street sign at one of the turns the week before the ride. We had enough time after lunch to return to our motel to shower and change before the couples massage lessons started at 3:00. Geri Ruane presented an hour long class in message techniques that would be of particular benefit after a long bike ride. After the message lesson we had a couple of hours to relax and nap before the social hour began. The evening program featured a barbeque buffet for dinner while a slide show of digital photos from the rides flashed in the background. Rally sponsors had donated over fifty door prizes which were distributed by a drawing. My record remains unblemished…I have never won anything from a drawing! (or a bingo) The organizers for next year’s rally announced that it will take place in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The TROLS (Tandem Rider of Longview) announced the 10th annual TROLS Big Adventure for the third weekend in September in Jefferson, Texas. Total miles for the day…64

Sunday 29 April 2007 :

Closing barbecue banquet in the pavilionThe rides on Sunday offered several optional distances; Becky and I selected the 32 mile tour which went through the rolling country to the East of La Grange. Once again we started before the scheduled start because Becky had a flight from Houston Intercontinental in the afternoon which set our departure time. The weather conditions were ideal and the roads were meant for Sunday morning biking! The road names described the ride…Post Oak Road; Bear Creek Road, Rabbs Prairie Lane and Schubert Road…images of beautiful farmland and wooded country lanes. We arrived back at the Pavilion in time to load our bike and return to the Executive Inn, shower and change before the 11:00 check out. We returned to the Fairgrounds for a leisurely lunch and then departed for home…by way of the airport. Total miles for the day 32. Total miles for the Rally…130.

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