Fall Frolic II Back to Bike Stories // Back to the Weeville Home Page
The Herald, Friday, December 8, 1989
Fall journey goes on
The second day of my aimless fall frolic dawned in Spartanburg. Even as I ate breakfast and readied my bike I didn't know which way I would ride.
Having to make some sort of decision, I finally picked Morganton, N.C. Morganton was about 70 miles away and I could get home from there the next day.
As I rolled through Spartanburg on a quiet Sunday morning, I paused in front of the sign that pointed to Asheville, 66 miles away. All of a sudden that sounded like a great place to go. I was ready to make the turn when I realized that Asheville would make for a two day ride back home. Rats. That was over budget, time-wise. I filed Asheville under "future ride" and continued toward Morganton.
I rolled into North Carolina and crossed the Broad River for the second time in two days. As Highway 321 climbed out of the Broad River Valley toward Rutherfordton, my stomach began to mumble something about finding some lunch. I rode completely past Franklin's Restaurant before I smelled the food. I made a wide U-turn in the road and parked my bike beside the newspaper machines in front of the building.
Almost missed it
I soon found out that at Franklin's Restaurant there are no strangers. The head waitress introduced herself as Barbara, and she went directly to work making sure that I smiled and laughed right along with everybody else in the place. Barbara was ribbing a customer named Floyd. "The only reason Floyd's in here today is because the other restaurant down the road is closed on Sunday. He Doesn't realize it, but we love him more than they do."
Floyd didn't argue. "Yep, I go both places. The waitresses down there don't pick on me."
"They don't love you," Barbara grinned.
Floyd and Barbara were still going at it when the restaurant's owner, Tom Franklin, arrived. Barbara made sure I was introduced to Tom, and we talked about bicycling, restauranting and hurricanes. By now I had eaten my dessert. The food from Franklin's buffet is excellent, but the cheesecake from the dessert selection is simply out of this world. Cheesecake could not possibly be made any more perfect.
I met the lady who made the cheesecake and gave her my highest compliments. Barbara noted that the lady's chocolate pudding is every bit as good as the cheesecake. Wow. If you're ever on 321 south of Forest City, N.C., don't pass Franklin's Restaurant. This was a very lucky discovery.
Back on the road
From Franklin's I rode into Rutherfordton and had a nice conversation with a cyclist named Wes. He described the ride to Morganton as being a good one, and I left town on this positive note.
U.S. 64 north of Rutherfordton turned mountainous and I spent a lot of time goofing off and gawking at pretty scenery. I was rolling down a slight grade and hardly paying attention at all when my bike adventure turned into a safari.
I heard leaves rustle in somebody's front yard and turned my head to see what it was. It took an instant of disbelief before I positively identified this charging black animal. This was a questionably domesticated wolf. He looked like he had 30 seconds to live, and had decided to take somebody out with him. He was going about 70 mph on a course that would knock me off the bike in two seconds. He stared me straight in the face as he made those last few gallops.
I have been chased by the best, but this was no mortal dog. I could already see the next day's headlines -- CYCLIST KILLED IN APPARENT BEAR ATTACK. I took my foot loose from the pedal and prepared to stiff-leg the wolf when he lunges. At the moment of truth, the beast did a strange thing. He made a U-turn two feet from my leg and ran back toward the house as fast as he had come.
The whole thing made no sense at all, unless the wolf had graduated from an attack class called "Scaring" When my pulse returned to normal, several days later, I thought about suing whoever owns the wolf. Even if the animal never bites a soul, he will sooner or later cause somebody to die from fright.
Weather turns foul
The rest of the way to Morganton was uneventful and I slept well. The next morning I was awakened by a dreadful sound -- big trucks sloshing through a whole lot of water on Interstate 40. Rain. After two gorgeous days the weather had hemmed me up in the mountains, 88 miles from home.
After some silent deliberation I put on all the warm clothing I had and splashed away from the motel to begin the wettest day I would ever survive on a bike. My dad would later reprimand me for not calling for rescue, but that method of escape never crossed my mind. Rain riding is a different adventure, as long as it's not too cold. For a while in the mountains, though, it was too cold.
When I made it to the lower elevations, the air was almost warm enough to be comfortable., but everywhere I stopped I got some really cold treatment. When I walked into a restaurant with rainwater running off my nose, the folks knew right away that I was dangerously insane: Nobody in their right mind would be out riding a bicycle in a day like this. I silently ate my meal and rode away, leaving behind a big puddle in the booth.
It rained hard from Morganton to York, but when I came into Rock Hill, the streets weren't even wet. I was disappointed. After riding 70 miles in a downpour, the last 18 seemed strange. I wanted to arrive home like a rain-soaked hero, but now I was just a dirty duck. My bike and bags looked like the underside of a long-haul truck.
I walked into the house and my dad asked, "Did you see any rain?.
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