Your happy reporters, relaxing at the 4th of July BBQ, and out on the road. NWTR 2014 in Pendleton, Oregon.
Tandem Diversity's van, Oscar, showing off a Draftmaster rack and a Co-Motion Mocha with belts and Rohloff drive train outside the Pendleton Convention Center.
Our Topper/Draftmaster booth inside the Convention Center. At the far end of the room was the booth for NWTR2015 in Bellingham - they had the most traffic of any of the vendors.
On a hot day there's nothing like ice cold water and a supportive, happy crew!
I've been thinking about the elements that go into making an excellent tandem rally experience, and I think Pendleton 2014 had them all:
Location: Pendleton is a cycling friendly community; a friendly community in all respects, really. Good infrastructure, good roads, stunning scenery, good hotels, fantastic caterers. I'm sure there are things I've forgotten, but Pendleton had all these and in all cases they were excellent.
Food: I think there was more than one caterer involved in Pendleton - there were breakfasts, lunches, a BBQ, and the banquet. We didn't try the breakfasts, as this was included at our hotel, but we sampled the lunches and enjoyed the BBQ and banquet. Food was all excellent, well prepared, tasty, and plentiful. We could have done with more lemonade and less iced tea, but that's just us. We tend not to eat much meat, and these meals were big on red meat, but again, that's just us. The peach cobbler was superb.
Meals and service were well thought out and organized, so lines, though long, were fast and there was plenty of seating. Not waiting a long time for a meal when you are hot tired and hungry, and having a comfortable place to sit and eat it, are high on the list for us. Well done Pendleton!
Activities: Pendleton is a ranching and rodeo - oriented town, with the Woolen Mills and lots of Old West history thrown in for good measure. The organizers had the local activities pretty well scoped out and laid out for us. Since we attended the vendor fair, we participated less in these, but at least they were available with ready access for attendees.
Rides: Finally, this is what we came for, right? Well, the riding in the Pendleton area is some of the best around. Roads are quiet and scenic, with pretty good surfaces. The organizers chose routes well, and they were well marked. We didn't get lost at all, and we are pretty good at that. Distances were just right, and there was plenty of choice on that. On the road support with supported stops was just right. Well done Pendleton!
The participants: Let's not forget the contribution your fellow riders make to your own enjoyment of the experience. In the case of this rally (and really NW Tandem Rallies we've attended in general), the sense of community is perfect, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, with no real complaints or problems.
Vendor Fair: We manned the Atoc/Draftmaster booth for our friend, Charlie Buchalter, who wasn't able to attend. This gave us a great opportunity to meet people and to extoll the virtues of Charlie's excellent products. Since we had Co-Motion bikes in action displaying Charlie's racks, we got into lots of conversations about Co-Motion products as well. This was the perfect opportunity to get to know lots of folks from our area and to learn more about what our customers like and what they want.
Samples of the scenery and roads in the Pendleton area. Just imagine yourselves riding these quiet roads with expansive views. It was a bit hot, but by the time the real heat of the day came out, most riders were in and enjoying the local activities - bull riding, museums, shopping, brew pub, the Pendleton Woolen Mills, etc.
Organization: And by that I mean the people - the organizers, planners, staffers - all volunteers. In Pendleton the crew was stellar. Everything worked on time and as planned. We saw nothing but smiles on the crew faces.