- Spontaneous adventures
- family (well, one member – Love ya Mom!)
- friends (Matt, Andrew, Brian)
- a beautiful setting (hills of Franklin, NC)
- cycling (can we say climbing?!)
- breathtaking views from the top – and speedy trips down
- men willing to cook, clean, map routes, build fires, ride, run, tell stores…
- good food and wine: wait until you hear about our dinner
- S’mores cooked over open flames
- Camping (yes, in the cabin without heat. Sleeping on the floor… but, with bathrooms and a kitchen.)
- An escape, if only for 24 hours (no tv, cell phones, internet)
Earlier in the week, I got a call from my friend Andrew Starykowicz…. “Hey Ashley, what do you have going on this weekend? Because, I was thinking of getting some people together and going to Franklin for riding. We have got to get out of Illinois and this [choice word] SNOW. Your mom said we could use their cabin… you game?”
And, when he called Sally to ask about the cabin, she decided to come as well. GREAT! (in truth, I think she had approximately 3 tons of stuff she wanted moved into the cabin… Andrew & friends became a built in moving crew)
Me, “yes, count me in!” I had a long ride and run scheduled, which would be much more enjoyable with friends, in the mountains, and getting to see my Mom! Yippee!
I asked a few friends from this area, and got the “bring it on” response from Matt T.
So, Sally and her posse left IL on Thursday night…. They drove through the night and got to Franklin on Friday morning. From what I understand, they did some riding, unpacked 30 boxes of Long Family photos and random pieces of furniture from the trailer, cleaned the kitchen (and let me tell you, that kitchen is looking gooood – great job guys… I promise to fulfill my end w/ bathroom duty), and went out to dinner. We made plans to start our ride at noon on Saturday.
I was working on Friday – then spent that night getting my things together (it kills me … you need almost the same amount of stuff for one day or one week of riding).
Matt was at my house bright and early. We were both ready to get out of town and have some FUN! We packed his car to the limit – loaded the bikes on his roof rack (where they became buddies) – spun through Liquid Highway for coffee – and headed NW.
Ooooh, that’s when the rainy day moved in; the sky got dark, low hanging clouds looked ominous, my mood about the ride became one of concern. Matt and I went from smiles/laughter to silence. Lightning flashed across the sky, and we exchanged a look. We kept driving… and I’m pretty sure we were both mentally preparing for a wet ride.
After much winding, turning, climbing… about 11:00, we arrived at the homestead! Hum, 3 bikes – no people in sight. Matt and I got our stuff unloaded, and then waited, and waited. Luckily, the storm moved out. The conditions were still damp and cloudy, but it was not raining.
Sally and the boyz FINALLY rolled up. Evidently, they’d driven to some trails for running… gotten caught in the same storm. They were hungry, wet, tired. But, I was READY (past ready) to RIDE! We said hellos, shared some hugs, and I got their rear-ends revved up for riding. Being good sports, they scarfed down PB&J sandwiches, changed clothes, packed bikes, filled water bottles, and we were off. Andrew had done research during a previous visit to Franklin, so we looked to him for a route.
Bikes out, gear on, and we set off. Everyone had a different plan for the ride (distance, time, etc…), but we started out together. The pictures just can’t do justice. It was beautiful, challenging, amazing. We rode up for miles, broke through clouds, stopped for pictures at scenic overlooks, coasted down the hills. After one 20 mile loop, I found myself riding with Matt. We were all smiles, and stopped for a few minutes trying to figure out where to go next. All I could think was about attacking that climb again – I wanted another hit, we’d gotten high, and I wanted more! Matt said, “let’s go” and we went for the top again.
3 hours later, Matt and I made our way back to the van. Mom, Brian, and Andrew were waiting, napping, and eating. Sally had done some gas station shopping: producing a picnic meal of peanut butter M&M’s, Payday bars, chocolate milk, bagels ‘n peanut butter, etc… Everyone shared quick stories about their ride, and the conversation quickly turned to, “did you see __________?”
#1 funny sighting: the Pagan Worship Cabin of Witchery DIRECTLY across the street from the Christian Training Center. (we had to go back for pictures)
Our next stop was Bi-Lo for dinner ingredients. Who knew that Matt and Brian are killer cyclists and CHEFS?!
#2 funny sighting: a newly wed couple (I mean JUST married… bride still in white/sequinty dress and groom in tux) leaving the Bi-Lo… really?! Who goes from alter to grocery store?!
The 5 of us roamed the store, gathering items requested by our resident foodies.
Back at the cabin, it was shower rotations – and trying to help in the kitchen. The smells were fantastic and I grew hungrier by the minute. Matt and Brian bonded over chopping and marinating ;) They really did make a cute couple, he he he. It looked like an episode of Iron Chef: knives flying, ingredients everywhere, people running around, all burners hot, food in the oven… I was in awe.
Menu (as described by Chef Matt):
Hint of Lime Tostitos
Toasted Head Cabernet
2005 Longwood Shiraz, Australian
2004 Ramspeck Cabernet, Napa Valley
Marinated and broiled Garlic/Ginger/teriyaki Salmon
Orange glazed sautéed shrimp
Sautéed mushrooms, onion, garlic with red wine, oil and butter
Mashed sweet potatoes with brown sugar and honey
Seared & seasoned asparagus
Tossed salad with oil-based dressing
Might I say... Ladies and Gentalmen - that was GOOD!
Conversation went from around the table to around the fireplace. Somewhere along the way, we lost Sally (when her battery hits empty, she checks out quick). We roasted marshmallows for s’mores, told more stories, went horizontal, and soon fell asleep. Not a bad way to camp: shower, gourmet meal, fireside conversation, and dry place to curl up in a sleeping bag.
Andrew was the 1st person to stir. He set out for a quick ride – and I managed to fall asleep for another hour. Once I did get up, I put on a sweatshirt, and sat out on the porch. What a way to start the day… (wishing I had a hot cup of coffee), I caught a few quiet minutes of morning mountain sounds. Brian came out next, we caught up on our 2008 race plans – and his fiancé Ashley. When Andrew got back everyone got changed for running.
Not wanting to finish our run with a 3 mile climb, Andrew, Brian, Mom, and I took the van down to the main road. (Matt, on the other hand, wanted more time in the saddle). Down in the valley – we ran. I was to do some harder efforts… Brian and I gutted it out on the first one, before Andrew doubled back to push me on the next few. (thanks for pushing me Brian and Andrew!) Luckily, I was distracted with mountain views, the river, fog… and although I was in pain, I felt so lucky to be right where I was.
The run was great, hard, but great. I earned that PB and banana sandwich! Back at the cabin, we began packing up the van/trailer for their long ride to IL (bags and bags of wet clothes and wet towels – Yum!) Bikes, wheels, bags, suitcases, drink mixes, shoes, pumps, and many, many, many other items tossed in – 3 exhausted people say goodbye and exit Long Ranch.
I spent some time packing my stuff up. Got Matt’s things together and ready… then waited for him to get back. I really didn’t know where he’d gone – and cell phones were of no use. He was definitely gone longer than I’d anticipated. Then, at 3:00, Matt climbed up to the cabin. “A few wrong turns,” was what he said… 65 TOUGH miles. Good for you Matt! Great job.
We got our things together, packed into the car, and headed from Franklin to reality.
What an amazing 24 hours! Cheers to good friends, health, smooth roads, a fantastic dinner, fun campfire stories, swift feet, hot showers, dry clothes, GREAT getaways.
I had a Blast, thanks!