I spend a lot of my time researching and writing about really epic adventures in the Southern Appalachians. Multi-day mountain bike trips, swimming holes deep in a national forest, miles from the nearest paved road, 100-mile runs…the sort of dream adventures that get us salivating for vacation time. But I’d like to take a moment and honor those less picturesque forays into the woods. The staple runs, rides, and climbs close to town that keep us fit enough for the longer trips and sane enough to handle the work week. I’m talking about the lunch-time workout here, which, for many of us, has become the bread and butter of our weekday adventure. There’s a trail system about two miles from BRO’s Asheville office on a school campus that, in the last five years, has become my go-to spot for quick mountain bike rides and trail runs. It’s not massive–maybe seven miles. It’s not gorgeous–no views of green peaks. It’s not even remote–I lose count of all the dogs and walkers I pass. But the climbing can be intense, the singletrack is narrow, and the location couldn’t be more convenient. And so I find myself running or riding this trail system at least three times a week. Usually at lunch. Sometimes on the way home from work. This system has become a staple. My mac n’ cheese.

While we all dream of epic adventure, I’d imagine most of us spend our time “eating mac n’ cheese” so to speak. Like me, you probably never give your go-to trail system the respect it’s due. At the end of the day, when my wife asks me where I ran, I inevitably respond, “I just hit the downtown trails.” Just. As if this system barely worth my time. Not only is it worth my time, it’s worth my love. My adoration. The hour-long respite from the daily grind that this system represents is invaluable. It’s saved me thousands in psychiatric therapy bills while keeping me in shape for more epic adventures.

So thank you, run of the mill trail system that’s so close to my office. Thank you.