Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Gods Grant a Pass

That’s a good question.

Even though we are well into spring, it was cold and rainy this morning; pretty heinous for the last day of April on the Mason Dixon line. The Fat Cat was seriously considering calling off the show today until he saw a car pass by, covered in snow. All of the sudden, the thought of riding up above the snow line and into the dark and churning cloudscape above took on the air of the epic. He might not have the genetics to take on the pros, or even a good club rider, but The Cat could get out there and take on Mother Nature in a bad mood when no one else would. That, at least, gives The Fat Cat some figurative separation from the pack.

How odd to be in full winter gear just days after flitting about in fancy pants summer kits. Ernestina, the blue Colnago cross, was the Fat Cat’s sole companion as he started up the Mountain. As many of you are aware, Ernestina is unburdened by the yoke of metrics. She’s that foreign babe that loves to get dirty. She cares not for deadlines and commitment. She may have a bit of a weight problem, but she’s one hell of a ride; the perfect chick for a trip into the abyss. She’d get me there and back. It might not be quick, but it’d be a sure thing.

Funny, but even when you don’t have a speedo staring you in the face, you can still tell if you’re on point. The Fat Cat was feeling flush on the run in and hit the wall with aplomb. What a difference a little forced reduction in training time and a bit of gorging can do for a man. The climbing speed was definitely good and the breathing was unusually well in control. Coming across the middle section and shifting up, The Cat knew it was one of those rare days when the pedaling is easy, shockingly easy. Bicycling magazine recently did a piece on Andy Hampsten’s legendary ride over the Gavia pass. He related that, during that race, he felt this same thing. He thought the other riders were joking, slowing down to fool him. It’s one of those sensations, The Fat Cat fears, one can spend a lifetime trying to find again.
Luckily, The Cat had the prescience to bring along his “worlds greatest dad” pocket watch and to have checked it at the start. Despite having brought along his bad weather bike, the ghost of a thought of breaking the 30 minute barrier swirled about his silly head. He noticed that, even though black clouds swirled just overhead—so close he could reach up and run a finger along their bellies—there was not so much as a whisper of wind. It was as if the Gods, seeing the headstrong hero charge pall mall into the breach, nodded their heads and granted him pass. All that was left now was to see if titanic Chronos was among them.
Feeling great at the pull off , 2/3rds of the way to the top, a time check would tell the tale, fact or fantasy. A reading of 20 minutes or less would mean that all was possible. And the pocket watch said…19 ½ minutes. Jesus! As the wet turned into snow, The Cat pumped his way, almost comfortably, up the mountain’s last defense. At the line it was twenty nine and one half minutes on a cross bike in winter gear. Hooray for the blue Colnago!
It seems silly for a man to wheel around in the clouds and spring snow, ear to ear with euphoria, over something so trivial in the grand scheme of things. Nevertheless it was so. The rest of the ride degenerated into a giddy festival of photography, the Fat Cat impervious to the cold. On the way down, he was high enough to ride the first part of the pike with one hand on the bars, riding the front brake, and one holding a camera, filming the descent. Feel free to bore yourself in the viewing. It was more fun than it films. I'm too lazy to add music. Besides, I like the sound of the wind drag.


bluecolnago said...

yes. yes, yes, yes!!!! a colnago cx bike! i love it!

i think it's time for the global warming to kick in and for the snow to be gone!

E T Williams 2 said...

wow, look at that snow! Im so far north now and dont even have that. The pic w/ the altitude marker and that gleaming, too clean chain is really great!

E T Williams 2 said...

Now thaT video was simply great. Nice new added touch......too bad you didnt film that steep descent right after that pull off!

Craig, The Flanders Fat Cat said...

You can't hear me over the wind noise, but I was talking about how one hand on one brake with wet rims was not doing alot for speed control. I was waiting for the moment when I would have to jettison the camera to keep the rubber side down. You are right, I did miss the best parts of the descent but I value my life above a minute of digital recording. I might tape the camera to my helmet one of these days. That would be fantastically dorky.