Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Gone But Not Forgotten

The Grimpeurs gathered this weekend to honor the memory of one who made his final climb into the sky just a year ago. Our friend left this ride around the sun far too early. But, on the Grimp, and in many other places, a part of Kean Bird lives on.

No tears were shed at the top of Mud Pike this time. The Grimpeur's followed only the tracks that marked the good times that had passed. When the first of the riders reached the summit where the memorial was to take place, Boyscout- always looking out for his fellow man and knowing that it is always proper to warm up for an event- slipped out a bottle of "Mr. Boston" brandy that had taken the place of his camel back's water bladder. It had such a warming effect on Gunnar that he requested and received the Nom de Grimpeur, "Mr. Boston". 
When all were gathered and Mr. Boston had been settled, The Grimpeurs gathered 'round Kean's tree and put a shovel into the black dirt. After a bit more digging than expected, a bottle of wine that had weathered the seasons since last Kean Bird was honored was unearthed. The cork was popped and the Grimpeur's glasses were raised. The Grand Pooh Bah of the Grimp spoke, "We drink this wine to mellow and warms us,  just as the pain of our loss has mellowed and we are warmed by memories of our friend." 
A friend departed remembered, friends present rode down the mountain and enjoyed each other's company through the golden fields, under roiling skies, between drops of rain and all across Western Pennsylvania and into West Virginia.

The Kean Memorial Grimp also marked the end of the summer season. New to the Grimp this year is the "Kean Bird Grimpeur Cup." Each summer and fall the winner of the King of the Hill points series will get their name on the Cup. Diesel received the honor of being the first winner for his dominating winter campaign. Also on the Bird Cup is some guy who was there a lot over the summer. We plan to display The Bird Cup somewhere like Jay's hide-away. (Or is it get-away?) The winter season will start in a few weeks, all old points are washed away and the cup is anyone's to grab. See you all out there.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Littlest Grimpeur

Eight Grimpeurs showed up this Thurday last. Trip, Highlander, Birdman, Ice, Diesel and Fat Cat were all there along with a special guest Grimpeur. Leo, son of Fat Cat, braved the mountains on the back of the Assenmacher bicycle built for two.

The other Grimpeurs refused to attack the Fat Cat duo so there were no points awarded for the climb up the Snake to Mayfield. They all had enough fun watching torrents of sweat pour from Fat Cat while strands of mucous swayed like pendula from the corners of his mouth. Birdman even got into the act by pushing the tandem as he climbed the Snake.

At the top Leo was awarded the polka dot jersey as the youngest Grimpeur at just 9 years old. From there from there Fat Cat and "Thunder Cat" turned around and rolled down the mountain. Thunder squeeled like a child...appropriately...with that pure joy which we seek to regain on these crazy little machines we trot out each week. He even said it was WAY better than video games. The rest of the Grimp rolled off into parts unknown.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Team Grimp

It was team competition day for the Grimp Thursday last. The three captains, Mama, Ice and Highlander were randomly assigned domestiques to serve them from the bottom of Snake Hill all the way to Masontown. Mama got birdman, Matt got Diesel and Highlander drew The Fat Cat of Flanders.

Seeing how Higlander has stopped and rested on the climbs over the past few sessions, his team was awarded a head start and they took off up the hill while the others waited. Highlander really gave it his all while Fat Cat paced him up the steep parts and gave him the draft elsewhere. There may have even been a little push here and there, but don't tell anyone. Highlander shouted out his heart rate with trepid tones, barely able to choke out the words between ragged breaths, "I'm at 173!" The ever empathetic Fat Cat replied, "Ah, you should be fine to 180." Thus they went, working together,.Highlander was riding like never before. The kid gave it his all and I wish I could say it was enough against the likes of the fierce competitors chasing him. So- I will. In an absolutely stunning turn of events, Highlander rode out of his mind and right into the polka-dot jersey. This even with Fat Cat flatting out, leaving Highlander to go solo for a mile or two. Fat Cat said he wouldn't have believed it if he hadn't seen it and was inspired to be a better man just having witnessed such fortitude.

Matt crossed second for his team followed by Mama. The points were meted out like this. Captains got the top points with Highlander at 6, Matt at 5 and Mama at 4. Domestiques got the usual, subhuman treatment with Fat Cat getting 3, Diesel getting 2 and Birdman 1.

After the thrilling team competition, The Grimp made its way around the well worn way of the Born loop without incident. Diesel, who turned back early did text that he was bitten by a black and white dog on the way back down Rohr Road. Fat Cat knew exactly which animal it was, as that particular beast has been eying up his juicy gastrocnemius for months. So, be careful out there kiddies, the pup is not vicious and lets out nary a snarl. He just jockeys silently for position in your blind spot, licking his lips in anticipation of some leg of cyclist. Cry not for Diesel, though. He was able to make it out to the Mapletown Road Race on Sunday despite his wounding.

Fat Cat 95
Diesel 63
Birdman 55
Ice 49
Mama 45
Legs 40
Sandbag 36
Mountain 20
Highlander 10
Trip 8
Diesel jr 7
G-man 6
Hammer 6
Razor 6
Pink 6
Goldfish 3

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Missing Man

Sweat poured down Fat Cat's back and his breath was short. And, this was just in the car on the way to Mud Pike and it's 4 mile climb. He had been devising stratagems to topple Mountain Man from his perch atop the pike podium. Unfortunately, all of them seemed just another way to lose. As the community center in Haydentown came into view, Fat Cat had quietly resigned himself to a valiant effort culminating in  "Summer Beatdown: Part III".

The parking lot was full of Grimpeurs of every type. Birdman was there, handing out hugs and what not. Vanilla Ice rolled out of his back yard and out to the start line. Diesel and Diesel Jr. were unloading high end steeds. Even Sandbag was there bringing G-man on his first Pike pilgrimage. It was a fine collection but it was missing one thing, the indomitable Mountain Man.

In days gone by, The Fat Cat of Flanders would have rejoiced at the sight, his chances for victory increased exponentially. However, the absence of his chief adversary filled him with ennui. Truth be told, he enjoyed being hammered by a man on a mountain bike and even by "the Hammer" himself last week. Something to shoot for, I guess. That or a pathological masochism, your choice.

BANG! The starting gun woke the Fat Cat from his musings and the race up Mud Pike was on. The pack stayed together until the grades leaned into the double digits. Birdman was really going after it, dancing on the pedals like some lead-footed Fred Astaire. Fat Cat marked his move with burning thighs and the rest were strung out behind in varied levels of distress. Towards the middle Fat Cat slowly turned the screws until he was finally alone. As he crossed Mama bear he saw a rider cresting baby bear and thought it was Diesel, having been unable to hold back and finally shedding his paternal instincts. But Diesel, man of honor that he is, stayed with his blood, watching the babe's first steps up the big mountain. It was Birdman who rose up over the final grade and rode himself into a solid second place.

The battle for the last podium spot was fit for Ligget and Sherwin. "This young man, Vanilla Ice they call him, has just passed the veteran climber and a former winner on this very course, Sandbag. He may well be riding himself into the history books if he can make this move stick on these 20% final slopes. He's got several links of separation and it looks like he's going to make it to the podium. Kudos on a well timed attack from the young lad from Smithfield. Wait just a minute. The old bull, Sandbag, has just reached deep down into his suitcase of courage and has made a move of his own. It's as if he's dipped into the fountain of youth. The crowd at the top of the mountain (Fat Cat and Birdman) is screaming and cheering deliriously for these two fierce competitors. Sandbag has caught and passed the young man! There is no response! Sandbag takes the battle and nearly passes out at the finish! I must say, I don't know that I've ever seen anything like it on this mountain!

Father and Son came up 5th and 6th in a moment that brought tears to the eyes of Phil, Paul and all the viewers at home. G-man gave the Lantern Rouge one last heft over Papa bear and completed his first ascent of storied Mud Pike in fine fashion.

After the Mountain Manless laurels had been bestowed, the Grimpeurs hung a left across Skyline Drive. At route 40, Sandbag and G-man took the bailout drop down the mountain. The balance of the grimp continued across past George Washington's Spring and under the 100 ft tall cross at Jumonville Summit. They roared down the mountain at 56 mph and then rolled back across the mountain's feet to Haydentown.

Fat Cat 92
Diesel 61
Birdman 55
Ice 44
Mama 41
Legs 40
Sandbag 36
Mountain 20
Trip 8
Diesel jr 7
G-man 6
Hammer 6
Razor 6
Pink 6
Highlander 4
Goldfish 3

Monday, July 9, 2012

Grimps: Three Different Ones.

The days slip by in a stream of obligations and commitments until one looks around and realizes that they are miles downstream. Just so, three weeks has passed without a report of the wondrous exploits of the Grimpeurs. They were out there, to be sure, plying the roadways, battling the gradients, the heat, the winds and each other for nothing more than a chance to wear a silly looking jersey, expand their lungs and restore some perspective to chaotic lives in the new century. With all this in mind, I hope you will forgive if some of the names have been overlooked, the places jumbled or the events of the day are a bit off. To say I do my best would not be accurate. If it were, you would have already read timely and accurate accounts. Let's just say, I do what I can.
Three weeks ago approximately seven riders took on Birdman's favorite run up Beulah and Summer School with a finsh on the back end of Nicholson Loop. At the gun, Mama stood up in the saddle and ran up the starting slopes. It was up to everyone else to chase. She held her lead much of the way up Beulah until Birdman Diesel and Ice caught her. Birdman powered on ahead and into the lead, determined to continue his undefeated streak on this course. Fat Cat finally caught up with Mama at the top of Beulah, if that had been the finish, she'd have beat him.

On Summer School's silly steep stretch, Fat Cat took a run. He passed Matt, and then Diesel in quick order. However, there was nothing but empty road ahead, no sign of The Birdman. Fat Cat kicked away into the void, tilting at an unseen foe. Finally, a tiny man on two wheels started popping in and out of view in the distance. The rope tightened and the chaser closed in on his prey but couldn't quite make the final cut. Birman sensed the danger and put in a terrifying kick at the line to take the Jersey. Fat Cat took the second step and Diesel stood on the third.
Now, first second and third are easy to remember because there is photographic evidence. The rest comes from a foggy, fragmented place and is subject to error. It is believed that the remaining order of finish was Ice, Mama, Trip and Highlander. To my recollection, the group headed back down into the lowlands around morgantown before returning to The Botanical Gardens via Dug Hill.

A fortnight ago, The Grimp attacked the familiar grades of Snake Hill with a Mayfield finish. The last week's victor, Birdman, was working on his roleur skills in Fla. Fat Cat thought Diesel was also away and foolishly advertised that they would not contest. The open podium spots drew a nice size field of 10 riders. Mama shot off at the gun in a mad start to finish sprint. Once again it was left to the peleton to chase. Fat Cat and Legs, who had returned from voyages near and far, yapped it up in the middle of the field. Ahead, Mama kicked and kicked for all her legs were worth and valiantly kept the dogs at bay save one. Diesel was in the line-up, contrary to erroneous reports, and the former Winter Champion of the Grimp flexed his muscle and took the top spot on the podium. Mama gained the second spot with a stunning run in a heavy field. Ice again made the podium in third and showed himself to be an ever growing threat to climb the steps. Now comes the fuzzy part. Sandbag just missed the podium. He was followed by Legs, Fat Cat, Razor (in another great ride), Diesel jr., Trip and Highlander.

It was nice to see father and son (Diesel and Diesel jr) out there Grimping together. Congratulations to Diesel on a fine win in front of his progeny.

The most recent edition of The Grimp was a time of humbling. This time, Diesel really was on vacation but he left a workmate to fill his place, Mike Lavengood. Now, Mike is well known to the "racing" arm of the Grimpeurs. He was the winner of The Fort Classic only weeks ago in which Fat Cat finished thirteenth with Bidman on his wheel and Diesel behind them. Needless to say, Mike had already won psychologically at the bottom. But, the Grimpeurs were up for the challenge and anything can happen on the viscious double digit grades of Break Iron.

Mama did her Jack-Rabbit thing that has served her so well as of late. Fat Cat Tried to keep the big gun in the rear guard as long as he could with banal conversation. This stretegy only worked as far as the bike path crossing where Mike's killer instincts kicked in and he disappeared in a whirl of spinning legs. Young Ice, who was up ahead, took up the challenge- not so hadicapped by previous beatings. As Fat Cat slowly passed Mama she yelled in her cheery way, Go get em'. Fat Cat guffawed at the thought and trudged on along, doing what he could do.

Ice was riding out of his mind and still had a good lead on Fat cat through the half-way point. It was only with great effort that the catch was finally made. The Cat gave young Vanilla Ice a pat on the back and a kind word as he passed. However, Ice would have none of it. A few meters later he pedaled right up past The Fat Cat. The Cat upped the pace a bit, that's all he had, and passed again and got separation. Still, it as not enough. Ice inched up his back and was on the wheel again before the last significant rise in incline. There was to be no rest for the wicked. Fat Cat stood on the pedals and violently shook his chaser on the last steep grades. He panted and pushed across the top and into the next small grade right up to the finish lest Vanilla Ice creep back upon him. There at the top, in stark contrast to his chasers, Mike sat in the shade of a tree as if reading the Sunday paper.

Following the top three, and forgive me if I err, were Mama, Birdman and Highlander. After the inevitable beating had been administered, further beatings commenced. The grimp went out across the hills on Summer School, Kingwood Pike, Zinn Chapel, McKinney Cave and Rt, 7 with a return home down Snake Hill. All the while Mike shot up every incline like a rocket, leaving some to chase and others to watch. On Kingwood pike in particular Fat Cat thought he was setting a decent pace when Mike zipped by at twice the speed. Fat Cat dug in a grabbed the wheel at what he considered to be an insane and unsustainable pace. Yet, it continued and Fatty's eye's bulged, his legs were aflame and his respirations came so fast as to almost become a continuous whine. He made it to the top right behind. It was the last time he would see that wheel at the top. The anvil softened against repeated, heavy blows of the hardened steel hammer. It all brought to mind rides of yore on the wheel of our old friend Kean, "The Aerobinator". 

Congratulations Mike on your first Grimp and your first win on the hardest grades around. You really earned your nom de Grimpeur, The Hammer.

The revised standings are as such:

Fat Cat  77
Diesel    55
Birdman  43
Mama     41
Legs        40
Ice           36
Sandbag  26
Mountain  20
Trip 8
Hammer  6
Razor       6
Pink          6
Highlander 4
G-man       4
Diesel jr    3

Friday, June 15, 2012

Spring Beat Down: Part II

The Grimpeurs met at the bottom of Mud Pike this Thursday for the Double points extravaganza. Mountain Man Sam had heard that some of the Grimpeurs had been on the race circuit and were feeling pretty good about themselves. He had seen too many pictures of a smiling Fat Cat wearing a polka-dot jersey that was rightfully his. It was time to see who was really the king of this mountain. He joined Birdman, Mama, Fat Cat and Diesel for a hot and sweaty battle for the top.

Mountain Man rode with the group while Fat Cat, unbelievably, let a big gap form while he fiddled with gadgets. Would he race this edition just as he had the last? Sure enough, a half minute later he flew by, even saying, "Let's go," as he passed. Mountain Man worked up a hum as the momentum on his big old mountain bike wheels reached critical speed. He saw the polka-dots ahead, going up the steep lower slopes, sitting- standing- generally blowing  all the hatches. How predictable. Steadily spinning his knobby tires, Mountain Man patiently closed on Fat Cat. It took a bit longer but he caught The Cat about midway up the hill. He was not looking good. His oppnent uttered something about "not having it today". Mountain Man quickly put Fat Cat behind him by about 25 yards. After that he let up abit, this time knowing the course to come. Fat Cat tried to up his pace and did start to close ever so slightly. At the right moment, Mountain Man kicked his plan into action and kicked it into another gear. He rode away from his antagonist and took away all hope of some sort of heroic throwdown. He crossed the line near a minute ahead of Fat Cat. Birdman came in soon after, having put in an excellent effort for third. Diesel came in fourth and Mama was fifth.

Mountain man reclaimed his laurels and led the group right across Skyline towards Bruceton Mills. In Bruceton everyone enjoyed fresh scones. Everyone, that is, except Fat Cat who just sat there looking sullen. The Grimpeurs continued out of Bruceton on 73 and crossed over towards Lake of the Woods. Along the way Diesel and Mountain got off the front and out of sight. Mama talked with Birdman about the cons-and pros- of Physical Therapy, Chiropractic and other such things. Fat Cat just lagged behind the whole chatagua on his own.

 Suddenly, with about 8 miles to go, Fat Cat unhitched from the back of the train and started hitting the grades and descents like he was in a race again. Birdman took up the challenge and passed for a bit. Fat Cat took a page from Mountain man and kept rolling until he got away again. Fat Cat ran past Diesel and Birdman chased. Fat Cat ran by Mountain and Birdman chased. Everybody chased everbody else and the tranquility of the day was blown to bits. Fat Cat got over Wymps alone but stumbled a bit in the switchback descent. Birdman chased for all he was worth and finally caught up in the last quarter mile. Nice riding Birdman. Fat Cat tossed his bike in his car and headed for work, passing mountain man on his way out.

Congratulations on a well earned win, Mountain Man, and 10 points! You showed that it is not about the bike, it's the engine and not the chassis, you can't buy speed, and otherwise confirmed all those old but true cliches.

Fat Cat: 61
Diesel: 40
Birdman: 34
Legs:  34
Mama: 24
Mountain Man: 20
Vanilla Ice: 20
Sandbag: 19
Trip: 6
Pink Jersey: 6
G-man: 4
Razor: 2
Highlander: 1

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Six riders made the Grimp on another gorgeous Tuesday. The ride made it's way over to the mountains on the east side of The Cheat, but not without impediments.
Construction on the new bridge has spread out to involve the closed roadway so that it is (or was that day) impassable. The constuction crew did, however, allow that if we could find a way around, we could cross the old bridge. Local Grimpeurs remembered seeing a trail that snaked down to the lake from the hillside community above. After a little searching, the path was located in someone's back yard. G-man found someone in the back who said we could pass. After trundling down the goat path in bike shoes, we were met with a keep out sign on the bridge. We promptly ignored it.

With the lake crossing fiasco behind us, the climb of Quarry run was the challenge ahead. The Grimp lined up at the bottom and was up tempo from the gun. Legs paced the group from the front for most of the climb, the normal cascade of words emanating from his learned head replaced by a steady flow of perspiration.

In the end He didn't have the final umph to counter the hangers on who finally attacked. Fat Cat went by with Diesel chasing and that is how they crossed the finish. In a bit of a surprise, the artist formerly known a "knickers", Vanilla Ice, continued his improvement and snatched up his first turn on the podium. Congratulations Iceman! Legs pulled in next after his excellent effort. G-man and trip came in soon after to finish things up. After the fireworks had ended, The Grimp meandered about Rock City before heading for home. Again at the bridge, the East side workers tried to stop the Grimpeurs but softened when told the West side counterparts had already left us cross. At the top of the goat path, the Grimpeurs were met by the real property owner who questioned them profusely, Turns out it was simply a hired constuction hand who gave the initial permission and had overstepped his bounds. The Grimpeurs apologized profusely and the keeper of the trail was soothed. Note that he would not be happy to have bikers hiking past his barbecue pit on a regular basis and that this is not a route that should be repeated.

Fat Cat: 53
Diesel 36
Birdman: 28
Mama: 25
Ice: 20
Sandbag: 19
Mountain: 10
Trip: 6
Pink: 6
G-man: 4
Goldfish: 3
Razor: 2
Highlander: 1