I recently made a promise to a dear friend and if nothing else, I am a man of my word. The promise went a little something like this: "I, Dave, do solemnly swear to mock you without mercy for passing on a trip to the mountains"
Would some context help here? Perhaps. Allow me to lay the foundation.
Not long ago, TK came to me with a proposal. He said, "I'm going to the mountains to camp, ride bikes and drink beer. It would be grand if you were to join me." After enthusiastically accepting this proposal I made one of my own to The Friendly Greek. "Greetings large and hairy one, TK and and I are going to the mountains to camp, ride bikes and drink beer. It would be grand if you were to join us." The Friendly Greek was quick to accept. I then reached out to The Space Cowboy. "TSC, I'm going to the mountains to camp, ride bikes and drink beer with TK and The Friendly Greek. It would be grand if you were to join us." As you can imagine, I was expecting a response in the affirmative. But, it was not to be. I was thrown for a loop when TSC responded, "As much as I would love to go to the mountains to camp, ride bikes and drink beer, I fear I must decline for I have plans to attend a baby shower." Naturally, I assumed he was kidding.
I am from Michigan. We Michiganians are a proud people. Where I come from, men do not go to baby showers. Men wear blue jeans and well-weathered boots. Men swear, spit and tell dirty jokes. Men drive pick-up trucks(or Toyota Carollas based on their exceptional fuel economy and surprisingly large trunk space). Men do not go to baby showers. That is the realm of women. For one very brief shining moment I did see a silver lining in the murky rejection of my offer to spend a weekend in the mountains. Perhaps the gentleman in question had become a woman. If that were the case......SWEET!! We'll go on television and get one million dollars and use that money to buy expensive bicycles and ride those bikes in the mountains while camping and drinking beer. Certain that such a dream world does not exist I blocked out the painful image of a man at a baby shower and headed toward the mountains where I was certain I would find Patrick waiting there to surprise us. "Just kidding", he would say. "I'm here to ride with you after all!"
The first day of our excursion was spent in Dupont State Forest attempting an IMBA EPIC ride. When this was first proposed to me I assumed that EPIC, much like IMBA, was a friendly acronym. It's not. It's actually a very challenging ride with leg busting climbs and ripping fast downhills. We spent nearly six hours on the route and still fell short of completing it. Of course, that might have something to do with my camera coming out of my camelback far too often. I do that for you. I do it out of love. I'm a giver.
I could bore your pants off with the multitude of pictures I took of cascading water falls, mountain panoramas and vibrantly colored autumn leaves. But I won't. Why? Because some of you are reading this at work. Keep those pants on folks and remember, HR is always watching.
After refueling our bodies with an embarrassingly large dinner at El Chapala, we strolled on over to Bi-Lo to pick up some camping essentials. Eggs, firewood, bacon, more bacon, hash browns and of course, beer. It was during this stop that we made a most amazing discovery. Wheely Basket!! Ok, so I should probably point out that we were were really tired at this point and the rolling basket with an extended handle was probably not nearly as amazing as we thought it was. You decide...
Camping itself is always a good time. A roaring fire. The sound of the leaves rustling overhead. The chill of the mountain air. Beer. And of course, a restful night in a mummy bag supported by a sleeping pad. Wait, let's do some math just for fun. TK plus me plus The Friendly Greek. That equals three. I went to a MAC school folks, I can do this all day. Now let's count the sleeping pads. One, two............
Oh, poor Greek. If only he had made a packing list he too could have had a good night's sleep. Well, at least he got to wake to aroma of fresh coffee and eggs frying in bacon grease. That can lift anyone's spirits. Even good 'ol Tent Pad as he shall henceforth be known.
After a hearty breakfast we rolled over to Bent Creek for a quick ride before returning to the city. One hour up, twenty minutes down. The repeated scene throughout the weekend was Stumpy and I jumping ahead on all of the climbs as I crushed myself with the single chainring and cog that define my two-wheeled existence. What I possess in uphill prowess I typically lack when the trail points the other way. This was proven once again as I attempted to follow TK's wheel on the long descent back to the car. On multiple occasions I launched my bike into the air with no forethought as to where I might land. I was pleased to make it back to the trailhead with only one flat tire and no crashes to report. Bent Creek has two great features, a nice steady climb and close proximity to Asheville. Where there is beer. Our weekend ended with one last stop to enjoy a final libation before returning to the real world.
As it turns out, The Space Cowboy is simply a far better husband than I am. Where I readily abandon my wife at the drop of a hat to spend time in the mountains, TSC takes a different approach to marital bliss. One that involves compromise and showing an interest in his spouse. Perhaps I could learn a valuable lesson from him. Just maybe, I could become a better, more caring husband. Sod it, I bought stock in FTD.