Months ago, Neil Turner mentioned what might have been the best idea I have heard this year. He suggested renting some cabins one weekend, a few weeks before Mitchell, and getting a large group of people to ride their bikes all over the mountains for two or three days straight. He would coordinate the activities and more importantly, the food. Fortunately he had enough interest and began planning. As he put it, this weekend has occupied his thoughts for the last couple months. I hope he wasn’t too stressed about it, but whatever he did, it worked out like a charm. Thanks Neil for putting everything together. It was a tremendous weekend.
Because this was such a big weekend, I will divide it into two posts. This post will be about the cabins, the people and yes, the food. The next post will be about the wonderful rides.
Neil was our gracious host and coordinated pretty much everything. He even stayed away from many of the rides, which was unfortunate since is one of the most enthusiastic climbers, but he was content being the domestique on this trip.
John from Columbia brought a lot of experience with him, along with a disdain for dogs, descents and ‘cookie’ rides.
Janet from Greenville was relatively new to cycling, but brought a lot of swimming experience and some positive energy.
Much of the group was from Lumberton, NC. I had ridden with Tom * Mary before, randonneur extraordinaires! We also had Jim and Maria Parker, co-founder and proud riders of Cruz recumbent bicycles. Finally we had Matt, another mountain goat, and his wife Debbie, a multi-athlete who is not ashamed to mix femininity with athleticism.
Finally we had Dr. Bill from Spartanburg, a cheerful mountaineer, and his wife Becky, who offered to let me use her personal wifi.
We had a guest appearance on Saturday and Sunday from Tom of Greenville, who joined me for a Saturday spin and the rest of us for the Sunday ride.
Included in the price of the cabin was all the food and drink one could consume. Given all the calories we were burning this weekend, that was a tall order, but fortunately the supplies did not come close to running out.
The first evening’s dinner was what Neil described as ‘Hobo Food.’ He built a fire and kept it aflame during a brief rainstorm. After the weather cleared, he served a number of vegetables, potatoes, ground beef, and heads of cabbage. The idea was to use the cabbage as an outer shell, add ingredients and spices inside, and then cover them with aluminum foil. The last task was to make a handle out of the foil and place it into the fire for 30 minutes. I halfway expected a burnt mess after removing mine carefully from the fire. Instead I found an unusually delicious meal.
Neil offered us a number of breakfast choices for Saturday morning. I had a bagel and bananas, wanting to eat quick before I left for Walhalla. Afterward he would cook pancakes to pre-fuel the other riders.
Saturday night was meat and veggie lasagna. It was heavy, sure, but just what the doctor ordered after we spent a day in the saddle.
Sunday morning before we had to check out, Neil spoiled us yet again. This time we had bagels again, fruit, and then he made eggs, potatoes, and sausage links. I ate a lot more than I should have, again replenishing the calories burnt the day before and stuffing myself for the upcoming rides.
We also had beer, soft drinks, and pretty much anything we could have hoped for.
Most of our entertainment was in the form of cycling or relaxing, so we had little need for anything else. I joked to Neil that since he was providing everything else, maybe he should do a song and dance routine in the evening. He assured (or promised?) us that would not happen. Most of our evenings were spent enjoying company, having a couple drinks, and turning in early. After all, we were universally exhausted from the main events, all of which took place in the mountains.
More on that soon.