Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hero For a Day

Funny how a random occurrence can set the tone for the day. The Fat Cat woke up feeling neither good nor bad on Tuesday. He was a clean slate, just waiting for the world to make its mark. The Grimplets were unusually benign and did little to scuff the slate or decorate the board. After dropping the lads off at school, The Cat approached the forty stairs behind Cheat Lake Elementary. Just before he started his climb, the school band struck up a rousing rendition of “The Magnificent Seven”. The Cat bounded up the stairs with the accompaniement of his own soundtrack: Da da-----------da da da da, bum bum bum bum. By the time he reached the top, he felt like all was possible. The mark had been made, indelibly.

Killer Bee was in the parking lot and at the ready when the Cat arrived at the foot of Mud Pike. If there had been a thermostat on the old Oak draping over them, they could not have dialed up a better day for riding. Blue skies, still air and temperatures that sought neither to overheat nor chill graced the Mason-Dixon Line. As the two riders started up the hill, Killer Bee informed The Cat that he had ridden everyday for the last 10 days, dwarfing The Cat’s 3 or 4 ride weeks. The Fat Cat didn’t know exactly what to make of that. So, he just took it to mean that Bee was well trained and looking to kick butt.

Kinda tired of slowly falling off pace and getting dropped by his pals, Ole Fatty decided to do climbing intervals up the mountain, like last week. It went swimmingly. He put giant gaps into The Bee and then got to rest until he caught up. And, what was that— was that the sound of rasping breaths and strained grunts? Why yes it was. But, it wasn’t coming from The Fat Cat for a change.
Other riders have frontsides! Who Knew?

Whether it be from over training on the part of The Bee, or weight loss on the part of the Cat, the tables turned and it felt good. It was like he was riding with his usual self in tow. It was The Fat Cat who was taking the pulls and cutting the wind while the other rider rested behind. It was the Cat who powered up the hills and then looked back to see how far behind others were. Whatever the circumstances of the metamorphosis, The Fat Cat was someone else for a day. It was a good day.

The Grimpeurs forged new routes through mountains and valleys whispering colors that would be at full cry in a weeks time. Kirby road took them to the bottom of the ridge's east side. After a short ride up Elliotsville road the Grimpeurs veered off on virgin paths. Gibbons Glade Road offered short steep climbs and topography so grand that The Cat didn’t much mind the squabble between the Cervelo’s chain and the cross bike’s rear wheel and cassette. What’s a worn tooth and a jumpy turn of the crank when you’re off the front and the sun is shining through stands of tall trees and peeking around the shoulders of pigment splattered hills?

After stopping to take in an old school house nestled in amongst the high farms and distant cabins, The Fat Cat vowed not to take any more pictures. Too bad. The best was yet to come. At a ‘T” in the road where gps had no reign, the Grimpeurs were left to fly by the seat of the pants navigation. They were happy to take a right and hope for the best.
Canaan church road was only too willing to oblige. It snaked though miles of naked forest: a patch of planet free the cloak of civilization. The Fat Cat actually felt guilty, taking it all in while others were taking in soup and a sandwich. He wished his kids, his wife, his friends— everybody could be there in that moment.
Canaan church road finally gave way and set the grimpeurs right back on Wharton Furnace road, near where they had come down the ridge. In yet another reversal of fortunes, Killer Bee refused to slog up the mountain on Kirby and The Cat was perfectly willing. I tell you this not to slight anyone, just to point out the absurdity of it. One could almost feel the Earth reverse its spin.

The Grimpeurs two headed out of the mountains via Wharton Furnace Road and Rt. 40. Traffic down the Summit was heavy and slow, ripe for a 50+ mph rocket bike to pass. I don’t know what those oldsters in a mini van were thinking when some maniac on a blue bike squatted against the wind and pedaled on by their window. I bet they are still talking about it.

The Fat Cat pulled Killer Bee back home along the foot of the mountains on Hopwood-Fairchance road. As Bee turned up Cave Road The Cat told him to make sure he wore himself out again before the next ride. It’s fun being in front for a change.

At last, with grimplets in tow, The Fat Cat came back upon those forty steps that started the day. This time each one caused the thighs to protest and the kids easily beat him to the top. What a workout, what a day.


bluecolnago said...

man! that sounds like the perfect day and the perfect ride. i am envious. truly.

Craig, The Flanders Fat Cat said...

It was even better than it reads. I don't know if it was as good as a podium ride in your age group, though. Congrats. What happened to the clown prince?

bluecolnago said...

the clown prince was still out there harassing the spectators with their cameras. it was sooooo much fun! sometimes my mouth just starts working on it's own and it won't shut up. can't help it. :)