Message from discussion Joe Bike reports from GEAR South
Relay-Version: version B 2.10 5/3/83; site utzoo.UUCP
Subject: Joe Bike reports from GEAR South
Date: Mon, 27-Jun-83 15:29:49 EDT
Posted: Mon Jun 27 15:29:49 1983
Date-Received: Wed, 29-Jun-83 09:15:13 EDT
JOE BIKE's quick releases V1#1
JOE BIKE goes to GEAR South.
I made the TREK down to Athens, GA -- home of UGA III (famous bulldog)
and former home of Herschel Walker (famous bull) -- to attend GEAR South.
For those of you new to cycling or new to GEAR, GEAR is the Great EAstern
Rally, an event started about 20 years ago by Fred "Mr. Bicycle" DeLong.
This event is a weekend rally of bicyclists put on pretty much by the
League of American Wheelmen (L.A.W. - pronounced "El Ay Dubulyoo", not
This year the event was hosted by the SBL (Southern Bicycle League,
a.k.a Southern Beer League) which is the largest bicycle club in the
southeast if you don't count the Potomac Pedallers in Washington D.C., and
is the only bike club this author knows of that has its own computer, an
Osborne I. Hey, it's only a bike club, you can't expect 'em to have VAXen
when they're busy wasting their money on spoke wrenches.
On the pre-gear tour, a number of folks got to test their mettle against
The Blue Ridge and in particular Brasstown Bald - a summit that would scare
the Bejeezus out of anyone whose only done such short hops as a quick
assault on Mount Mitchell. Dan Henry, one of the old men of cycling (And I
mean old - this guy is 71 but can motor past youngsters like me), got to
the top before most people got out of bed. He told Charlie Patterson, the
tour leader, that this was the ONLY hill he ever refused to ride down. He
was afraid he might break a brake cable and go flying down out of control.
Charlie said he was pretty worried as he looked out on the crowd that
showed up for the tour. "They was a bunch a old codgers looked like they'd
get a heart attack, and all these pear-shaped women." But those gals turned
out to be pretty tough after all.
One couple who was on a tandem was having a little row at the rider's
meeting on the first day because the woman wanted her husband to ask
Charlie about the road surfaces. The husband told her, "Look, we've come
this far - we're gonna ride no matter what the roads are like." Well one
guy finally did ask about the road surfaces, and Charlie told them, in his
inimitable fashion, "We got everythin' from silk sheets to shake 'n bake."
Confused looks passed between the rider's because they had never ridden
those bad Georgia aggregate roads in the heat of midday.
A couple of guys from Pensacola Florida were riding on bikes with little
corncob freewheels. Charlie asked them if they had gotten his preGEAR tour
info which explicitly said they'd need gears in the low 30's (that's bike
talk for gears your little old granny could push up the biggest hill you've
ever seen). They said, "Yeah, we read that, but we didn't believe it.
We've never seen a hill we couldn't handle in a 50 inch gear." Needless to
say these guys had to flatfoot it up most of the big hills, but they didn't
The first rides out on Friday morning were the Watson Woggle, the
Watson Metric Century, and the Gamboling Georgia Granite Guideposts century.
The Watson Rides went to Mill Creek State Park, where the largest covered
bridge in Georgia is. You may not believe it, but the maker of this bridge
was the most prolific in Georgia and built over 100, that's no typo, 100
covered bridges in that state. The Georgia Guideposts are a phenomenon built
by an anonymous donor. They are Granite things with messages in several
languages on how to save the Earth from destruction by humanity. The crowd
for these first rides was quite large and we were escorted out of town by
the local police - quite a show. It rained on us early and the group of
about 200 cyclists started to string out. I had the good fortune to hop on
a tandem's wheel for quite some time, so I made good time out to the State
Park. We had trouble identifying the restrooms at the park, but once we
found the right bush there was a line waiting to water it. Several guys
were seen mistakenly going at the Ladies' bush. I had to hotfoot it into
town to get to the workshop I was leading at 3:00. On the way in, I caught
some Miamians from the Everglades Bicycle Club. They've got great jerseys
with an alligator wearing sunglasses and a cap riding a bike.
The workshops at GEAR South were fine. The grand attraction was Charlie
Patterson's Home Frame Building Workshop. He had his torches and a bike that
he was building right there in the classroom. Some "experienced" frame
builders would heckle from time to time. One asked how he coldsets (bends
into shape) his main triangles. He said, "I would show you, but I can't
right here. You see, I got this big old tree with a fork in it in my
backyard..." Charlie Patterson on ventilation to prevent inhalation of
carbon from the torch - "I just cut that carbon with green cigar smoke."
Charlie Patterson on metallurgy - "All I know is that when it gets hot it
flows and when it cools off it gets hard."
Friday night the SBL hosted the "world's largest" bike swap meet. There
were quite a few people there pawning off new tires, old shoes, and all
manner of bicycle goodies, including a Campy triple Crankset for $50. That
one went pretty fast.
Saturday morning, the "Killer Bikes Debacle" breakfast ride was
attended by a small group of the cognoscenti. It saw the likes of Walter
K. Ezell, editor American Wheelmen magazine; Don Trantow, executive
director of the L.A.W.; Scott Wilson, president of the SBL; "Wild Bill"
Wilkinson, programs director of the BMA (Bicycle Manufacturers
Association); three generic bikies; and this illustrious author. The ride
was advertised as going up the biggest hill in Athens. No map, no
directions, follow the leader, Scott, or you might not make it back
before lunch. Wild Bill, the founder of the Killer Bikes club, claims it
has more lifetime members than any other club in the country. The KB
bowling shirts with their pink lettering can complement even the best
dressed bikie's wardrobe. One of the generic bikies was a youngster ~16
from Florida. He was hot to see these hills. When we finally got to the
big hill, another unidentified bikie tried to shift into Mexican
overdrive, let out a moan, and toppled right over. I've heard of hitting
the wall, but hitting the pavement is much worse. Well, he finally got up
about 10 minutes after the rest of us had quit breathing hard. This hill
was not all that bad, nothing to compare with everyday riding here in
Charlottesville, VA. As we took off to follow Scott back, we notice we had
dropped Walter and the aforementioned bikie who bonked on the hill. Don
said they'd have no problem as long as Wally didn't have a map to go by.
The youngster from Florida was off the front when we got to the shortcut
back to the dormitory, so we wished him well as he sped up a big old hill.
Read more about the exciting GEAR south in the next installment.
Univ. of Virginia