Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Intervals, Oddities and Pure Joy

Well, as expected, the two newbies from the neighborhood stiffed The Fat Cat. Should have known it would happen when the least in shape of the two used The Cat’s name and that of Lance Armstrong in the same sentence. Hopes were high for the other one, though. He had the cyclist build. But, it can’t be said that the sudden scarcity of the two wasn’t met with fair amount of relief on the part of The Flanders Fat Cat. Today was the most beautiful day of the year so far and nursing a couple of prospects up the rail trail’s 3 % grade would have been a bit of a cooler. So, summer kit, skinny tires and countless climbs were the order of the day.

All the chatter on the Morgantown Bike Club site this weekend about the best roads from Morgantown to Ohiopyle State Park in PA got the Fat Cat hankering for those parts. But, first things first. Being that polls show the wildly ill informed public believes The Flanders Fat Cat can catch The Aerobinator, some effort toward that end was required. Mud Pike was viciously attacked in a masochist frenzy called, “mountervals” (or pikervals— can’t decide). The idea was to hit all the steepest parts at a cadence of 60 to 70 rpm until such revolutions can no longer be maintained or until something breaks. In between the mountervals the heart is allowed to return to the mediastinum, along side the smoldering lungs, while the rider either pokes along the lesser grades or rides in circles. What a way to spend a lovely day, eh?

Cresting the knee popper after the hairpin, clinging by a hairs breadth to the underside of 60 rpm, what oddity should greet the gasping Cat but an overturned baby jumper thingy gazing out over the scenic overlook. And, as if that bit of littering weren’t odd and/or ballsy enough, around the next curve a white bassinet sat bolt upright on the crumbling roadside. A tiny, spooky, white teddy bear dangled above the little bed, the last vestige of some baby’s mobile. As the recovering cat passed the discarded furniture, a wake of buzzards exploded from the woods. Involuntary spasms bunny hopped the Cervelo a few feet to the right, a feat The Fat Cat could never voluntarily accomplish.

The Cat dismounted and approached the eerie refuse. Slowly, he peered over the white wicker sides, afraid of what might be found that would interest buzzards so. And there it was, unmoving, tucked in yellowed linen. A dead…printer. Some yahoos thought The Fat Cat’s mountain was a great place to dump their no longer needed stuff. He wasn’t too mad though, since the refuse was just bizarre enough to cross over from junk to entertainment- in a Cohen brothers sort of a way. The Fat Cat fretted about the back story behind the abandonment of the yahoo baby’s things, and incongruous printer, until the cleansing grade and another pikerval washed all thought away.

Having completed 40 minutes or so of mountervals, the Flanders Fat Cat was finally free to roam. He shot across Skyline drive, surprisingly fresh after the workout. Then it was down the back side of the summit via famous old route 40 at 40mph. No cars dared pass. The freefall continued down Wharton Furnace road, chasing the Big Sandy creek. New ground was broken with a turn up Fayette Springs road. The wooded way was dotted with great old log cabins and aging hunting camps to keep the steep climb interesting. Fayette Springs gurgled the Fat Cat out in Chalk Hill at the Christian Clay Winery. Across the road Rick, an old friend of The Cat, had set up shop and was out carving eagles and bears and such with a chainsaw for the tourists. Rick is one of those fringe types. He’s always doing something odd but interesting like beating the leaf springs of old cars into swords.

The Cat crossed 40 and headed out on Kentuck road (aka Chalk Hill Ohiopyle road). He cut through Deer Lake, a funky little mountain community mix of palatial new lakeside homes alongside old, friendly little aluminum sided boxes. Old mill road was fascinating for both its horse farms and its bi-colored way, red asphalt on the eastbound side and grey on the westbound.

From there it was back over Fayette Springs, down fantastic Wharton Furnace and over on Quebec Run to the foot of the mighty Kirby climb. It is the opinion of The Fat Cat that this thousand vertical foot climb in just around two miles is the hardest in the locality. Crawling up its remorseless double digit grades at 4 mph or so only reinforced the idea.

Back on Skyline, after the grind of the Kirby gradient, The Cat did not feel his usual limping and broken self. At the bottom of the pike he might have even felt refreshed, if not renewed. Nothing like 40 miles in the high mountains on a sun drenched day to put a man right. No high priced tour from the back of Bicycle magazine could have been any better. What a great place to live and ride!


Aerobinator said...

I ventured onto this blog with the same trepidation the Fat Cat must experience in his vain attempts to sustain an attack on my rear wheel. Certainly the Fat Cat can crunch calculations and weave words. But it appears he has also crunched a few too many bags of chips and weaved his way through the Golden Corral too often to catch the Aerobinator.
I fear you not,
The Aerobinator

bluecolnago said...

oh yeah! the gauntlet has been dropped.... let the contest begin!