By Tommy Keeler Jr.
When Karen Hass and her husband, Ed, volunteered to help run this year's Mid-Atlantic Tandem EnthusiastS or MATES ride, they thought of having the event in one of their favorite places to ride -- the Shenandoah Valley.
The group decided to have this year's event in Mt. Jackson. The three-day ride starts today and runs through Sunday.
"We love riding in the Shenandoah Valley," Karen Hass said in a phone interview earlier this week. "There's such beautiful scenery. We love traveling on the roads, and there's very nice people."
MATES is held once a year, and is part of a larger organization called Eastern Tandem Rally.
MATES rallies usually have 35-50 tandems, while ETR rallies usually have around 125.
MATES started in 1997, due to some Virginia tandemists who did not want to travel to New England for the Eastern Tandem Rally. They wanted to make it a more regional rally and the event has been held in all but one year since 1997.
The MATES event has been held from New Jersey to North Carolina, but has mostly been held in Virginia. In 2002 it was held in Winchester. In 2006 and 2010, it was held in Warrenton.
"It's really low key, mostly just to have a good time," Hass said.
Registration for the event closed on May 31, and cost was $235 per team. The registration included an ice cream social on Friday, breakfast on Saturday and Sunday, as well as a picnic lunch on Saturday. They will also have a banquet buffet dinner on Saturday, as well as a pre-banquet social with wine and soft drinks. Participants also receive two MATES t-shirts.
The roads they will ride will all be paved, and most will be lightly traveled on. They also encourage riders to consider extending their stay to do other things in the area such as visiting Skyline Drive, Civil War monuments or Virginia vineyards.
Hass said that there are featured rides, but everyone is free to choose to ride whenever and wherever they like.
"The Friday afternoon featured ride is through the countryside to New Market (27 miles), Saturday morning's featured ride (37 miles) is to Shenandoah Vineyards near Edinburg, and Sunday's featured ride is to Singer's Glen (36 miles)," Hass said. "After lunch on Saturday, tandem teams may choose to do another ride, relax by the pool at the motel, or visit downtown Mt. Jackson or nearby Harrisonburg."
Hass said that most people come from the East Coast, but they do also come from all over the country.
Hass said they're expecting 37 tandem teams in Mt. Jackson, including some from Iowa, Connecticut and Florida.
She said it's always nice to go to the once-a-year event, because sometimes it's the only time they see some of the other tandem riders.
"It's a chance to get together and see some old friends, and a chance to make some new ones," Hass said.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd