And that is how most road trip stories go. Inside jokes for those who were there that may never be understood by anyone else. That is how it has always been and that is how it should be. In the case of my recent trip to Tsali, I wouldn't have it any other way. But you are here and you deserve to be entertained so take a little trip with me down blurry memory lane.....
A band of seven left Casa de Stumpy bright and early on Saturday morning just two weeks ago. With three cars loaded with bikes and gear we were set for the long drive toward the mountains. I would like to believe that I drive an awesome car. It is a Corolla 'S' after all. The 'S' stands for awesome if you assume the fourth letter in every word bears the greatest importance. Either way my little silver rocket ship led the charge West.
Shocks? Yeah, my car used to have those.
Four hours in any vehicle will leave most mortals a bit weary and perhaps a little brain dead as well. Before hitting the trail it was determined that we would need a few provisions to get us through the day. A quick stop to a local convenience store seemed to do the trick.
Apparently, this is the perfect energy drink for the outdoor enthusiast. Conveniently decorated in winter camouflage in case we decide to hide the bottle somewhere 800 miles north of our destination.
I don't have anything to say about that. Just kidding. This product, found in finer bathroom vending machines, is the perfect compliment to everyone's favorite outdoor energy drink. Somewhere in South Carolina someone is reading this and taking notes. That makes me sad.
So what happened when we hit the trails? Awesome single track for miles, that's what happened. You didn't come here to read about that did you? You did. Oh. Well, fine. Let me tell you that Tsali is one of the fastest, flowy-est, up, down and around-est trails I have ever ridden. I don't really care that my second grade english teacher would be really pissed at me right now. No one said anything about my blog being part of my permanent record. Besides, I already graduated so it's too late now. I've got the diploma to prove it. Somewhere. It's probably next to my AC/DC tapes. Hmmmm, I might be screwed.
Tangent? Nope, totally focused.
After a few miles of soaring along lake-side trails on a perfect autumn day we had all worked up a mighty hunger. Thankfully we rented a cabin with a grill so we had the perfect setting for a meat filled evening feast. Of course, a quick trip into town was required for the acquisition of more provisions.
Despite the fact that I had turned my hat to "race" position, I made very little progress.
After a long day in the saddle (bike, not penny pony) we all needed a little high quality hydration. Any beer that can be purchased in half gallon quantities is good by me.
What a feast we had. Our band of riders ate steaks and sweet potatoes until we nearly burst. Reliving our afternoon ride with beers and tales of single track joy would have made for a fine evening on its own. But, a little extra help was brought along in the form of chocolate cake. Cake eaten with reckless abandon. I know what you're thinking. The last time I ate cake, horrible things happened. But you see, I did not partake on this occasion. Consider that painful lesson learned. Fortunately, one kind soul among our crew made Dave-friendly chocolate brownies. What do you get when you take wheat and dairy out of a brownie recipe? More chocolate without the gluten hangover or the dairy, well.... you know.
Long into the evening we drank and laughed and at one point even took turns wearing a coon skin cap. There are unconfirmed reports of....well, let's leave that to the walls and the wind. There are also numerous incriminating photos of the events that unfolded that night but those will remain in my private collection until the day I need them most. I'm not ashamed to say that when I run for president I'll be using those photos to secure at least a handful of votes. I'm not exactly sure how the electoral college works but I'm fairly certain that six votes will nearly guarantee me North Carolina.
The next morning we rose to frost on the ground and legs ready for more pedaling. A quick departure from the cabin after a hearty breakfast put us in position for a second great day in the saddle. Tsali is a magical place because it gives you the mountain experience without the death march climbs so often found in western NC. I will leave you now with one scenic photo that will remain without any humorous caption. A simple picture of me staring out across the water and the hills. I will return to those hills again accompanied by an endlessly amusing cast of characters each time. New stories will be told with jokes meant only for those who were there because that is what these trips are all about. That special bond that can only be developed through shared time on the road.