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Drought stricken KS had seen day after day of 100+ temperatures and only one rain in something like 8 weeks.  So when does it decide to rain?  When we are trying to pack for our trip of course!  We traveled some 645 miles down I-70 to Dayton but found ourselves too short on time to consider the ice cream ride.  We landed at the Double Tree on the 12th floor and eventually linked a beautiful quad to Chuck Okenfuss and his crew.  The search for food in downtown Dayton was no picnic with street people and panhandlers hitting us up for anything they could.  

The wait at the Spaghetti Factory was over one hour which forced us into the nearby Arbys to prevent the predictable meltdowns the 3 and 5 year olds would experience in short order.  Back at the Double Tree we said hey to Mark Livingood as we were forming our mental plan on how and where to assemble the quint and get it into the storage room while getting the kids to bed.  It was now or never with getting the kids into dreamland as sleep deprivation along with hunger will stop a bike ride before it even starts!

We parked one block away and were in the process of assembling the convertible quint on the elevated grass section in front of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court when the skies opened up complete with lightning and thunder.  After completing the dampish task we asked the DT attendants about storing the quint in the valet room.  Thankfully they accommodated us as a 3 block ride in the rain to the storage facility was not my desire at the time!
An analysis of the ride maps on Friday night revealed miles of Bikeways.  We cringed at the thought of having nearly 600 tandems on a bike path full well knowing the hazards of said paths and the often debated accident statistics.  We anticipated riding to the lunch stop and dropping out mom and the 3 year old thus converting the quint to a triplet for the 'Covered Bridges' loop.
Saturday morning arrived and the precipitation thankfully stopped well ahead of the start time as the roads were drying in places.  We arrived a few minutes early (rare for us!) and were greeted by Mel of Tandems East who took our picture.  

The ride started and there was stop light after stop light with no anticipated police escort.  I was amazed that nearly everyone did stop since most police escorts get you started through intersections and the mass of bikes just flows through.  The streets were virtually vacant in downtown Dayton that morning.  The hazards of stopping and starting a quint and maneuvering around others with wobbly take-offs was quickly apparent thus making running the lights on the vacant streets to be the safest option for us.

We nearly shot past the entrance to the trail despite someone waving and guiding folks into the entrance.  I could only imagine the traffic jam  that would form as waves of tandems would arrive shortly.  The trail proved to be rather damp and had a few road crossings but once out of town there were good open stretches and ideal terrain for the quint. 


We enjoyed the ride and made good time to the lunch area thus we arrived before the crowd and avoided the long lines that would form shortly.  We broke the quint down into a triplet in about 20 minutes and headed off for the very enjoyable 'Covered Bridges' loop.  We did the 19 mile portion as it had the 2 bridges we wanted to see.  Selecting the shorter option also insured that 5 year old Courtney would not be tired for the next day.  The triplet felt like we were on a single by comparison with the rapid handling and acceleration.  The roads on this loop were fun with fast curving descents.


Back at the lunch stop Julie (aka "Mighty Mouse") and I restored the bike to quint mode.  The ride back necessitated only one potty break and our good friends Skip and Linda shot a few pics of our group.  The trail was getting more populated with roller-bladers, dogs on 50 foot leashes, walkers and mountain bikes so the kids got a work out with their bells when the command was uttered through our Tandem-Talk communication device connected to all 5 riders.


As we neared downtown Dayton the trail was flooded by the river with several folks trying to get up and across what appeared to be a 45 degree bank that was concrete below and long wet grass above.  Since they had someone flagging riders down and informing riders that there was someone to help them through the flooded area, I was left wondering why they did not detour us to the street at the previous intersection.  I was not a happy camper at this point and the dangers and perils of the situation were quite evident as one man lost his footing on the banked concrete at the top and fell down hard despite two other helping hands.  The photo below really does not show the danger of the situation.

We approached the second flooded area and watched people hoof it through the mud.  This one did not have wood across the path so we opted to ride through it as two others were doing ahead of us.  The final cap of the bikeway adventure was the switchback where some rode and some dismounted.  We amazed ourselves and negotiated the switchback on the quint without leaving the pavement.  Everyone balanced very well and we were nearly doing a trackstand as we pivoted around.  The switchback at the top thankfully had plenty of grass available so we rode it as well while cutting some sod!

Sunday brought more rain.  A quick look at the hotel computer radar map caused us to say 'forget it'.  I saw Mark L. and his entourage getting ready to leave and explained that hypothermia and kids was not a good thing so we would hold off.  Some 4 hours later, Julie and I took off on a tandem and caught a couple having the same idea from Davenport, IA.  We rode with them for a while but split up after both of us missed a turn where it said 'jog right'.  Both teams did the right but not the jog back left even though we were not together at that point making us wonder how many others had that problem.  Both teams conferred and figured out the mistake one mile later and backtracked to get back on course.
We stopped at the 'snack' station in the park and decided we could make it to lunch before the 3:00 close.... and we did.  We left with a group destined for the Wright's Tour evident by the megaphone on the back of a tandem.  We stopped and viewed the Wright's Cycle Shop which was quite interesting.  They even had a very old tandem on display which utilized an eccentric for the timing chain adjustment.  Once outside we discovered it was raining... lightly.  We high-tailed it back the 1.5 miles or so to the DT and realized we had totally lucked out all weekend as we rode 57 miles on Saturday and 47 on Sunday with none of it in the rain except for that 1.5 mile stretch where it was very light.
We looked forward to Sunday's banquet with the usual great anticipation.  These have always been fun and entertaining and certainly part of the rally experience for us.  But at $32 a pop we might rethink that issue!  This year it was held on the concrete court of an athletic or convention center.  The acoustics were such that it was very difficult to hear the PA system with all of the echoes and the barn like feel was different than the ball rooms experienced in the past.  The food was great and plentiful and no one should have left hungry.
A couple of awards were given, one for the youngest stoker who was 3 years old.  I was left wondering about the eligibility of 3 year old Natalie whom we had sitting at our table and what they used in making their determination.  For some reason they had her listed in the 'statistics' book as a trailer tot along with 5 year old Courtney despite the entry form being completed as 'stoker'.  And they left out Julie all together in the book.
The drive home was through a literal downpour for 300 miles with water seen near the level of the interstate.  Several cars and one semi were obviously victims of poor visibility, judgment calls and hydroplaning.  13 hours later we made it... exhausted and glad to be home.
Twas it fun?  You bet it was.  Would we do it again?  You bet!  Would I do the DT thing and the banquet again?  No...  The camping and facilities at the fairgrounds would have been wonderful and the bikeways avoided on Saturday thus providing more open road riding but that is all hindsight.
This rally was a bit of an adventure for us and many others!  

Many thanks to the folks that worked so hard putting on the rally.



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