Friday, May 2, 2008

High Rollers

The Aerobinator and his cohort, Birdman, staged a coo and seized control of The Grimpeurs Thursday. We three and Talks-With –Legs were to go on a reconnaissance mission in the mountains of Maryland for the Birdman’s Saturday “Bonus Ride.” We would also scout the course of Sunday’s “High Rollers Race” near Big Bear Lake for the Aerobinator. As soon as The Cat stepped out of his car at The Birdman’s nest, the Aerobinator set the tone for the day. He let loose a quick jab before the bell, “Hey, you don’t look so fat in street clothes.”

After a stop in Friendsville Maryland, Big Daddy decided to take the back roads to the starting point. It was beginning to seem as though this ride report would be reading something like, "The ride went on for hours on every back road known to Marylanders. We maintained a brisk average speed of 40 mph: too bad it was in a car.” After several incantations of various road names that we “have to be on” or that “has to be coming up” and a rousing game of pass the lame computer map about the van, we finally took the long way and got to our destination. We were not surprised to see that it was only 100 yards from an intersection we had crossed long ago.

The Fat Cat never ceases to be amazed at the abrupt change in road conditions from West Virginia to Maryland. The ride started off with a mile or so of, “they’re going to race on this?” road which then magically transformed into smooth red tinged rollers. After climbing over “the wall” Aerobinator warned about (The Cat was last over but only because of a fat white dog that chose to harass him) the riders tumbled down over the other side and flew across the scenic valley alongside Cranesville swamp. Each time the pace line slowed, we were assured that a turn onto “Sang Road” was imminent. The Cat knew something was up when they hit 22 miles without coming upon the turn. The race course was only 36 miles and the half way point was in a little town called Terra Alta (the translation should rightly scare you flat landers). The little peleton should have turned and climbed into “High Ground” long ago. Nonetheless, the leadership was determined to press forward in obedience to the lame little computer map that had burned them once before.
Oakland Maryland, we knew were that was; and were it was, was no where near where we wanted to go (try saying that five times fast). All rolled around aimlessly through the scenic little town and its country park until Big Daddy Birdman finally came to his senses and herded the vertiginous cats back together. The Lost Boys took a quick water and feed stop to discuss the situation. Aerobinator amused his compatriots by turning a screw into Talks-With-Legs’ rear tire (jokingly?). It was decided to go back the way they’d came, and maybe stumble across the elusive Sang Road.

A few miles out of Oakland, after the two big boys put another one of their hurtins on the little guys, a long grade added to the growing climbing total. At the midway point, either Talks-with legs opened his valve stem or Aerobinator’s “joke” came to its punch line. One way or the other, eight legs got a happy little break from the climb while the leak was fixed. Never has the Fat Cat seen an over-ripe banana peel of a tire come off the rim the way that threadbare piece of rubber did.

Sang run never materialized. It was concluded that the great and powerful ghosts of the internet had misnamed the road. Apparently this pissed The Aerobinator off because he charged up the next hill. The Cat took the opportunity to see if he could hold the wheel. Big Daddy and Talks-With-Legs were smart and sat this one out.

Maybe all this grimping crap was actually doing something. The wheel was held. But, the Aerobinator, having something left in the tank in contrast to the Cats redlining, fume burning effort, punched over the crest. The Cat tucked in, caught up on the downhill, and settled in behind. When they finally let up, the Aerobinator’s breathing was a little labored. The Fat Cat was literally frothing at the mouth. It was GREAT! The Cat actually led one more run through the valley and up a hill. Then he was cooked. He spent the last few miles struggling to keep up while Big Daddy and the big ‘A’ admired pig genetalia and paced along with a cyclist friendly dog (who would have nothing to do with us stragglers).

Back at the car everybody was feeling tired, but good. All agreed that getting lost (on the bikes) was half the fun, the scenery was great, the roads were fantastic and the weather was perfect. All also agreed they wouldn’t run the High Roller race. Good luck Saturday, all you who would follow Big Daddy Birdman on his quest for the Eastern passage.

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