RATS Receive Warm Reception on Cold Day

By Mary Stump

On Saturday December 2, 2000 the Richmond Area Tandem Society participated in their cities Christmas Parade for the first time. What a sight to behold: 24 cyclist on 9 bikes! Cyclists and bikes alike were decked out in holiday fashion.

Since only 2 vehicles were allowed into the parade set up area, club members had an early 7:30 am rendezvous in the parking lot of a local Chinese restaurant. Two large vans packed with decorations and children were sent off while packs of riders followed into the chilly 30-degree air.

Some RATS put finishing touches on their tandems while others scampered through the doors of the Richmond Children's Museum to keep warm and busy until the start of the parade.

Excitement warmed the air as the huge balloons were inflated and horses came out of their trailers. Clowns and Shriners were impressed with the menagerie of tandems among them. The Winyards, family of five, rode their Santana quad while pulling the baby in a Burley trailer. Team PB&J sported reindeer antlers on their helmets and a huge RATS banner above their Bushnell triple. Team FAT inched along on their RANS Screamer recumbent tandem alongside the Breedens on their recumbent trike. The RAT Racers were accompanied on their Bikenky tandem by 3-year-old grandson Devin on a trail-a-bike. The Schmidt family made an impressive train, towing both Hannah and Sam on a trail-a-bike and a trailer. Linda Brown, Arthur Jenkins, Kathy Wood and Jeff Wilkins were sporting huge candy canes and blowing bubbles as they rode along on two conventional tandems. As "the cheese" for the day, Cheryl Brown pedaled alone on her single recumbent trike.

The Charles City High School Band provided a festive sound track in the background. The pace was extremely slow, giving the crowd plenty of time to check out the RATS. As the parade progressed, you could hear the "awes" as the RATS passed through. The crowd of 200,000 loved the RATS.

The parade disbanded after its 2 & � mile route and left the RATS to pedal back to enjoy some Chinese food at the Joy Garden. After overtaking a float being puled along by a lawn tractor, the RATS paceline caught up with a group of cowboys and Indians in full dress and followed their horses through the streets of Richmond.

A good time was had by all and the RATS are already planning next year's parade.

Copyright ©2000 Mary Stump. All Rights Reserved.