Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Another Day, Another Whippin'

Doesn’t anyone out there have any friends that aren’t semi-pro riders? Can’t anyone please bring along a new recruit that The Flanders Fat Cat can schlap about a bit? Sandbag brought a friend of his, Rick (but he doesn't mind being called Steve), along for the ride. The new recruit, sporting titanium and a Rox Shox factory kit, was in transit from Delaware to Colorado and looking for a game. Turns out he used to work at Wamsley’s cycle shop, he did work with Rock Shox, he rode with the hammers in Colorado Springs and spoke of his time at the Sea Otter Classic and such. One look at this character, whom the Fat Cat dwarfed by a literal 45 lbs, and it was obvious that there was to be trouble in the hills. Dammit, The Cat is going to hang it up if he can’t beat up on somebody, but quick.

I kid! I kid cause I love. The Flanders Fat Cat takes on all comers. Bring it on boys. And, if the Cat can’t beat you today, well, even Lord Nelson had to take a few knocks from the Admiralty on the way up.

We three Grimpeurs started up Mud Pike on a great day. The skies were not starry but the climes were definitely cloudless, with heaven denying nothing to gaudy day. Mr. Titanium was rolling a 39x23 so the cyclists three turned away from the Pike before she started to bite. We skirted along the foot of the mountain via Barton Hollow road, headed for the slightly easier Jummonville climb. The Cat, ever the gracious host, offered his smaller companion a rear wheel trade, 25 for 23. A sigh of relief whispered across The Fat Cat’s lips when the offer was politely turned down.
Test accelerations at key spots—a long flat, a steep little climb—were thrown out all along Fairchance Hopwood and Hopwood Coolspring roads. The new guy was right there with every look over the shoulder. The only time The Fat Cat was able to put any significant distance between himself and the other riders was, of course, on the tucked in downhills. So it went, all fun and games, until we hit the wall.

The Jummonville climb is about 1 mile shorter than Mud Pike with a couple hundred less feet in elevation and thus, a lesser overall grade. But, just like all those scrappy short guys out there, it comes out swinging. The first few hundred yards are very steep and the rest of the first mile or so is no slouch either. Right away Mr. 23 skidooed up the wall like a coach roach in the light. He gapped the Cat and Sandbag easily and then quickly disappeared around the first curve, earning the Grimpeur name, “23 skidoo” (or just “Skidoo” for short).

Fighting off Jummonville’s heavy initial punch, The Cat struggled with Sandbag right on his wheel. Breathing heavily, the Cat looked within. Could he allow one new guy a breakaway win and then let the other new guy sit in for a possible blow by at the line? No damn way. Skidoo’s break was too stunning to think about bridging but Sandbag was going to have to work for his dish of cheap Chinese takeout. When the incline let up just a bit, The Fat Cat worked over the drive train for all he was worth. In his mind Sandbag was always right there, sucking wheel. Despite intermittent threats of cramping from the hams and a gentle stitching in the sides, he dare not let up. The speedo was pushed just into the double digits for the last mile. It was not until Jummonville camp was in sight that The Cat finally glanced back under the arm. Sandbag was nowhere to be seen. At the top it was Skidoo in polka dots with The Flanders Fat cat several minutes in second and Sandbag a couple more back in third.
All together again at the top, the tiny peleton made its way across Skyline Drive at a surprisingly good pace after the climb. We passed the Summit inn, the Summit Golf Course and Laurel Caverns on the way to the well anticipated Mud Pike descent. The Grimpeurs bombed down the Pike at 45+ mph in the bright sun, shielded from the cool temperatures by hot adrenalin. By virtue of his mass and his local knowledge, The Fat Cat made the bottom first with enough time to snap a few photos.

What a great day, a great ride and a great workout. Skidoo can come back anytime (but he has to wear a 50 lb pack). By the way, it seems Skidoo has a longstanding flatlander nickname as well--The Human Lung.

1 comment:

bluecolnago said...

i like the idea of forcing someone to wear a 50 pound pack.... kinda evens things out a bit.