Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Public service message for hipsters

This video of hipsters talking about cyclocross is all over my facebook page. (I am cool because I am on Facebook.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mud Madness at Marilla

(The above photos courtesy of JR Petsko)

It happened, despite my best attempts to sabotage it, ignore it, or rationalize my way out of it. My cross bike was in pieces and dysfunctional on the garage floor as it had been for the better part of the month. I had successfully completed a rigorous 8 week anti-training regemin. My lungs were reduced to two glad sandwich bags. I looked to be about 5 month's pregnant. My legs looked as they had been turned and smoothed on the lathe too long, now mere spindles. I had assured everyone I met that I wasn't going to do it. Yet, there I was before the crack of dawn, fixing brake arms that wouldn't spring back, changing tires and casettes. Cleaning and lubing and aligning. I rode the old Colnago up and down the hill beside the house, testing it in pajama bottoms and a mussed up coiffe. I convinced the kids that they wanted to do it. And then I did it. I "raced" The Race of the Dead at Marilla Park in Morgantown WV. I mean, I guess I had to- after all, The Grimpeurs were sponsoring the race. The people had to have their king, didn't they? Call it a bad case of "Mud Madness."

It was raining and the course was seriously sloppy and super slick. These were conditions on which I had never ridden a cross bike before. The learning curve was steep. On the second downhill off camber hill my bike left me. I hurdled the handle bars like Edwin Moses and scampered for a first down but kept my feet. When I retrieved the blue Colnago cross the right shifter was twisted. Maybe I had found my out! No such luck; she shifted like a dream. I came to the screaming downhill approach to the hill of death, sure I would meet my doom there. It was like riding across a field of Crisco. Using the brakes was like hitting the button on the ejector seat. My only hope was to unclip and hold on. My legs spread out like the balance pole of a tight rope walker. The bike bucked and slid every which way. My ample abdomen pushed hard against the red polka dot jersey barely restraining it. My red cape with white leopard trim whipped in the wind and my quidditch goggles rendered me blind. What a sight it must have been to behold, pure poetry.

Despite my cyclic ineptitude, I made it to the hill of death on two wheels. I didn't even try to ride that throbbing wall of muck. It was so bad that they carved earthen steps up the side so we could, perhaps, finish the race. I plodded up the steps and stopped at the top to acknowlege my adoring subjects. "Candy for all!" I yelled and tossed handfuls of manna from my jersey pockets. If you are going to make a fool of yourself, might as well do it up right.

I wrecked a couple more times on the first lap and took the first of several wrong turns and back tracks. Even so, I was still not in last place- but, I could hear the grit grinding in the chains of the rear guard. By the time I hit the new race feature this year, a mini spiral of death, I had gotten my mud legs. Going round and round was like trying to claw to the center of a hot buttered merry-go-round. It was sketchy and slow but I made it through without sliding out or running, although for a short time I was essentially spinning a stationary bike.

On the second lap we were locked in a heated battle for last place. That all changed when a rouge family sauntered across the course in joyous oblivion. I yelled "look out" and swerved around them. Suddenly I was alone. It wasn't until later that I realized that I had cut back to part of the course we had already done. Nothing like an extra half lap for stupidity. Ah well, last place was inevitable eventually anyway. It was what I had anti-trained so hard for. I gotta say, though, the absolutely heinous course conditions really made it an adventure. Great course and great time. Thanks guys.

Below you will find video footage of the best race of the day. At least from my point of view. If any other pics or vids come across the web, I'll post them here. Note: I didn't pick the music; it picked me. I don't feel like fixing it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ghost Rider and The Phantom

Pain and suffering, isn’t there some kind of monetary penalty for inflicting that stuff upon someone? Too bad there were no lawyers on last week’s Grimp, I would have filed a claim. Well, I suppose I’ll have to settle for a bit of whining.

We discovered two things last week. First, E.R. docs outride chiropractors 3 to1. Of course, the sample size on that may have been a bit limited (3 vs. 1). Second, I really suck. Here’s how it went down.

We had a great showing with eight riders clicking in at the bottom of Mud Pike. Birdman, Legs, Brahma Mama, Fat Cat, Aerobinator and Phallose were joined by two new riders, Ryan and—damnit, the name just slipped my mind. Someone can fill it in if I don’t remember by the end. I’ll just go ahead and grant the Noms de Grimpeur right here. They are, Ghost Rider and The Phantom. I heard that they were out there on the roads that day, but I am a see it to believe it kinda guy. I didn’t see more than a brief shot of what may have been the backside of a cyclist so I put them in the category of The Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot— legends.

Brahma and Legs took off up the hill first and Phallose joined them. They said they’d wait at the spring. That left me with all the muscle. I sweated for several minutes until I could bear it no longer Rules of the Grimp be damned; I left them at the bottom.

I put my best pace on with the intent of beating the muscle to the spring. I would raise my arms, torso resplendent in polka-dots, and pretend to have bested the best to the merriment of Brahma et al. Well, the best laid plans oft gag a glee. The skinny fast guys tore right by me, my refrain of, “you guys suck,” probably incomprehensibly stretched out with Doppler. When I got to the spring—nobody was there. Faux glory had withered into shame. Birdman did slow down a little further up and nursed me along, again. To compound the indignity, the balance of the group, most of which started after me, came back down to meet us and then speed back up.

So, it’s gonna be okay now that there are some riders more at my level here at the top…right? Think again loser lungs! Brahma went right back down the mountain and Legs turned back a few miles later, both citing time constraints. That left little old me, The Fat Cat, woefully over-matched. All I can tell you from here is that I was breathing very hard for an hour and a half and only saw people when direction was needed. It was something like if a turtle was sent out to lead a herd of gazelle across the uncharted desert. Kinda comical if you think about it.

I tried one more time to make a showing on the last low rollers at the foot of the mountain. I stayed out for about a mile until the train tore by. Again, they shimmered briefly, like an apparition, and then disappeared into the firmament. Birdman dropped off, pulling me along valiantly at a good clip for several miles. But, in the final mile, I gave out—or “blew up” as Birdman would say.

I have to admit, I was a terrible host. The hammer will do that to ya. I was apparently so surly, that all declined the post ride recovery drink and left me as George Thorogood.
All apologies. I know it didn’t seem like it, but I do like that kind of ride, and all the tactics were well within the Grimpeur charter. Also, I suppose I NEED that kind of ride. Thanks to all who came out. Looking forward to seeing you again. Hope I didn’t scare anyone away with my fantastic riding and stellar people skills.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Happy is the Road

The tirephoid fever epidemic spreads.

Boyscout's troubles give FatCat his triumph. It's the power of the polka-dots.

Great day over Morgantown, West Virginia.

Even the road has a smile this time of year.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Never Marry a Mountain

The mountain, she gets a little jealous sometimes. Just a little warning.

Last Thursday Fat Cat was joined by Birdman and Goldfish and Brahma Mamma. It was just another day in cycling paradise. What more can I say that already hasn’t been said about the weather this year?

Everybody took off up the Pike together and there were tubes a plenty in case Goldfish continued with his tire woes. The CDC is looking into this, but it is a pretty sure bet that Goldfish caught the tirephoid fever from The Fat Cat on a grimp earlier in the year. Witness the two bikes in close contact, open wounds exposed.

The Grimpeurs made a leisurely summit and decided to go right, towards the Bruceton, Lake-o-the-Woods loop. This little decision would soon have unintended consequences (I hate those) for two Grimpeurs.

The first victim of the right turn was Phallose. Actually, he was first a victim of his own hazy mind. Despite several warnings and a personal e-mail, his brain developed a little hiccup that refused to see 11:00 in its true form. It, instead, insisted on 11:30. The Fat Cat suspected this to be the case, but the no one left behind rule only extends to those actually in the parking lot. Still, the group waited until about 15 after to depart. It was agreed that Phallose would see our cars and race up the mountain to make the catch with ease. However, he says he was feeling the weight of the world, not to mention his gut, and was not as fast as usual. Nevertheless, who would have thought that, offered the chance between the left and the right, he would take the left—inconceivable! (Movie reference alert.)

The second victim was none other than Brahma Mamma. There is nothing like the flush of new love…it’s the same for the mountain as for any young lovers. When the two first connect, even the thought of someone else can beget irrational rage. Before you know it, someone lashes out— Call it topographic abuse. The Laurels could sense it, the betrayal to come. Soon Brahma would be cavorting with statuesque Italian beauties with names like Stelvio, Bormio, Ghisalla and Gavia. Poor Mud Pike, poor Wymp’s, how could they compete. It was inevitable really, that Wymp’s gap would hand out a little bitch slap on that last hairpin. Brahma found herself sliding on some pea gravel and off the apex. No real harm done though, just a scratch or two. Brahma took it in stride, nary a whimper. I think she and the mountain will make up just fine when she gets back from her fling. You could see the spark when they met and it’s sure those exotic peaks are no match for our homespun beauties.

Anyway, that brings us to the end of this rambling post. Good luck to Brahma, Birdman and Legs, who are representing the Grimpeurs at The Worlds in Mendrisio. They are authorized to act as patrons of the order and as such can confer battlefield ordinations in foreign theaters of operation as well as bestow appropriate noms de velo.

Al Gore's world wide interweb denied me timely access so the above piece is now old news. There was a brand new grimp yesterday. It was a hard one. Phallose and Lord MonkeyButt showed up for a romp through Preston county. It was hot and humid and the climbing never stopped. I don't know what kind of masochistic fool was leading that ride, but he deserves a stern reprimand from a tall and shapely German girl. The Fat Cat was trying to keep up with Phallose over the hill from the bike path to Greenbag and then over to the bottom of hill from Aaron's Creek to Summer School. MonkeyButt was off the back but would soon have his revenge. After 1 mile of climbing The Fat Cat was feeling light headed and had the cold sweats. By the time he got up to Nicholson Loop, far in arrears of all, He was literally screaming, DAMMIT, I FEEL LIKE SHIT. If nothing else, it was a serious workout. The group was able to muster a little collective pace once the calvalcade of climbs was all but over and Phallose and Fat Cat raced down Snake Hill. I big shout out goes to the bee that flew down Phalose's shirt. Kudos to MonkeyButt for climbing well.

The Fat Cat Graciously supplied some post ride recovery lager while his mother pushed home-made soup. I think everyone was feeling that ride, even Phallose- just a little bit.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

To Grimp and Not to Grimp

Here is your delayed report for the Grimps since the last post. Two Thursdays ago we had a nice showing with a couple more new riders. Brahma Mamma brought along Sandbag’s wife Robin. Also in attendance was Jay, all the way from Greensburg. A month ago he was almost a Grimpeur but missed the official ride by a few minutes and had to ride around with Phallose. I actually would have paid money to see those two together, one pushing hard from the left and the other checking from the right. I’m surprised they both came out of the mountains alive. The group was rounded out by Lord MonkeyButt himself and me, The Flanders Fat Cat.

The ladies started up the mountain a couple a few ticks early while the guys fussed about with their bikes at the bottom. I wanted to go with them, but the new Goldfish/ no one left behind rule kept me behind. Damn those rules and their unintended consequences. The Fat Cat is unaccustomed to the role of ascent bridge man. Hanger on and dropper off are more the job description. Nonetheless, by the spring turn, the catch was made. MonkeyButt and Jay, who is hereby bestowed the name “Greenie” for both obvious and ironic reasons, took off ahead and I stayed back with the ladies. Hey, as King Grimpeur, The Fat Cat is obligated to evaluate the form of new supplicants to the order. I could have taken the summit—really, I swear.

According to Brahma Mamma, Robin doesn’t do much bicycling. She is mostly a runner and helps coach cross country. Usually that sort of stuff doesn’t really translate and these runners are broken to bits by the bike. However, Robin broke the mold and did just fine, never really looking in distress. I’m sure her razor thin build didn’t hurt on the hills. I swear to you, some day we are going to have a “weighted” ride. Every one of you lean machines is gonna hafta tote around 50 or 60 lb weights to match up with The Fat Cat. Where will you be the, huh! Probably still in front of me. Excuse me a minute while I wash this donut down. Ahem, ok, that’s better. Now, as to a name for Robin—Bhrama suggested “steady spaghetti” but I can’t spell spaghetti consistently( shoulda thoughta that before I chose Brahma) and it’s “basghetti down my way, anyway. I think I’ll go with “Runnin’ Razor” or “Razor” for short.

Once we got to the mountain top, we meandered over to Bruceton on Skyline Drive, took Hileman back over to Lake-o-the-Woods (were we sniggered as we passed Sandbag working on a patio) plunged down Wymps Gap and shot across 857 back to Haydentown. Thanks to all the new riders. Y’all come back now, ya hear.

Last Thursday The Birdman showed up. We had an epic ride—to Ruby and Ketchy’s restaurant in our automobiles. Seems Birdman forget his cycling shoes. Oh well, You know the new rule. I couldn’t leave him behind. It was best that I did my Clydesdale training, anyway. Gotta keep that weight up.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Grimpin’ Days Are Here Again

Late summer and early fall- these are indeed the best of times to be on a bicycle. The air is soft and sweet. The year has mellowed with age and the Sun looks on with smiling eyes, not yet weary with age. The days are no longer unpredictable youths, tempestuous one moment and benign the next, nor are the days yet chilly and indifferent with snaps of cold brutality. These are the days when the surging legs and the furnace in our core are at equilibrium with nature. The porridge is just right and we all feel unnaturally strong. The ride is not a fight, it is a dance. ( Can you tell I’ve been reading Somerset Maugham.)

And so it was on Thursday last. The Grimpeurs took off under cloudless skies. The temperatures were such that sweat need bead up only at the extremes of effort. Even then, a gentle breeze quelled any rising fires. The lot under the bell-tower in Haydentown was full of the area’s finest, eager to take on the mountains in perfect conditions. Boyscout was there, so were Legs and Birdman. Phallose the black-sheep was missed but he was otherwise engaged in internet battle. Good old Sandbag came down from atop Wymps Gap to join in the fun (and probably to steer us away from raiding his house for refreshment). Goldfish was in the lot, all 140 lbs of him, tending to some mechanical issues when the Fat Cat arrived. But, most importantly, a new member petitioned for acceptance into the order. Fran is well known in the local cycling circles for her good nature, her even style and her tenacity. As expected, she acquitted herself well and is dubbed, Brahma mamma. (Not to be confused with Bahama Mamma, whom I knew in college.)

Notice: The Charter of the grand and ancient Order of the Grimpeurs is hereby amended to include the following amendment. No Gimpeur shall be left at the mountains foot, no matter his fearsome skills.

Some of the Grimpeurs took advantage of Goldfish’s tire fiddling Thursday to get a head start. All the way up Mud Pike, The Fat Cat assured everyone that Goldfish was sure to come flying past at any moment and make the summit first, despite his late start. When events were not as foretold and after some time waiting at the top, the group decided to go back down and see what was the matter. It was just then that BoyScout, who had, of course, stayed behind with Goldfish, came huffing and puffing up the hill. It seems that the tire fiddling was not simply pumping up the old rubbers. A nasty hole was the culprit. Repeated attempts at a patch were to no avail and all the extra tubes were strapped below seats and heading up the mountain. Sadly, Goldfish was forced to go home and Boyscout was left to time trial himself dizzy to catch up. All apologies to you Goldie.

The Grimpeurs took Skyline North. Several times, when the pace got spirited, the host looked back to check on the newest Grimpeur. Seeing no sign of her, he rode up to the front to reign in the horses only to find Brahma mamma in amongst the frontrunners. She’s a sly one, she is. Legs had “the draft taken right out of his mouth” when his suggestion to stop at the Summit Inn was voted down. We had to think of the kids, after all. The Fat Cat hit a good 55 mph down the smooth and winding Jummonville descent. The rest were right behind. The group made good time down Hopwood-Fairchance road and made it back in plenty of time to pick up Kids from school. Legs even got that draft that had been so rudely taken from him in the highlands.
Thanks to all who showed for a little lunchtime fitness and fun. Legs, have fun cycling the Alps and watching Worlds. We’ll leave the light on for you.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Tyranny of the Cyclocomputer and the Power of Two

The sweat of self doubt piled upon the perspiration of excessive physical effort. All was not going as expected. Everything hit rock bottom when that stupid little machine beeped and shut off on the hill coming out of the river valley. The little handlebar mounted tormentor, with its single digit curling like a snide smile, stopped recording because we were going so slow it thought we had stopped.

To think I was excited at its arrival. I opened the package like a Red Rider BB gun on Christmas morning. It was the spoils of my victory, the reward for my effort, in the big Tour internet challenge. Well, actually, it wasn’t really due to any top placement in the virtual race. It was more of a random award, you know-name out of a hat kinda thing. But, isn’t that really apropos…a random award for a random rider. Anyway, it was only the second time I had won anything. The first was after winning a running race at some kind of family picnic. I was one amped up 8 year old. What did I get as a reward for my first, and only, big win- a handbag made of old milk jug pieces crocheted together with orange yarn. I bawled inconsolably.

You’d think I would have learned, but when my major award came I quickly forgot the lessons of the past. I stayed up late into the night setting up the cadence meter, calibrating the wheel size, strapping gizmo’s to tubes and testing the heart rate monitor. It had been a year or so since my last cyclocomputer conked out and I never got around to replacing it. How great was it going to be to see the blistering speeds and Herculean efforts that propelled my little blue and white Cervelo?

I took the Tuesday Grimp over to Carmichaels to accommodate Lord MonkeyButt. The prospect of a fully monitored Grimp was apparently so exciting that I had been unable to sleep the previous night. With great fanfare (a barking dog and mewing kittens) we mounted up and took off across the freshly tarred and chipped roads of fabulous Greene County Pa.

The expectation was a moderate ride registering a respectable 15 mph avs or more. It quickly became apparent that it wasn’t going to be so easy. There is some sort of evil magic associated with The Grimp. Though there be easy flat to rolling courses all around, the legs are inexorably drawn to the steepest climbs and the deepest drops even in the sweltering heat. After a mere eight miles, and this is no exaggeration, I was really ready to stop.I needed to stop. Had this been a race I would have abandoned to the comfort of the broom wagon. I struggled mightily to keep the average reading from dropping below a measly 12 mph. There was an irrational, yet palpable, fear at the prospect of seeing 11.9 mph register on the little screen. The rest of the thirty miles was spent huffing, puffing, sweating profusely, complaining internally (and occasionally out loud). My eyes were glued to my little screen as though it were the electronic manifestation of Mesmer himself. It was a desperate time trial of the unwittingly unfit. Apparently, without something to watch over me, I had taken to old man pacing spiked with delusions of speed. Now, I was consumed with the piteous task of pushing liquid crystal a few tenths above my lowered expectations, 12.0, just to see it slip back to the bottom and dimly suggest .9 for an instant. I had become a Sisyphus in spandex with a cylocomputer starring as Lord Hades.

And so, beaten, I plodded on through to Saturday. I didn’t want to, but I had to ride if I was to serve my lord of the average speed and climb the fitness slope, yet again. Feeling like a lumbering tortoise, I relented when my nine year old asked to come along. We took the tandem and instead of the bike path, took the roads I would normally tackle. I set a time goal but didn’t expect to make it, tied to the boy on his first real road ride and all. But, by God, he was a force back there. He never complained and always pedaled harder when I asked. In, fact, I had to teach him moderation, lest he flame out before the hills between Masontown WV and home. Not only did we make it back in time we made it back 15 minutes ahead of time. It was two and a quarter hours of good old family fun.

So Sunday I came back and taught that cyclocomputer a lesson. Fourteen of us did 50 miles of terrain similar to that hellish Grimp. It was fast, it was a whooping good-time, and the cyclocomputer choked on its own electrons, having to show an average speed of 16mph. I guess you’ll just have days like this and that.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

An outsider's view

We did Have a great grimp Tuesday. The gods pushed aside the rain clouds so that The Fat Cat, Phallose and Legs could have fantastic weather for a quick little romp through the Appalachians. Phallose toyed with the other riders, dodjing ahead and turning around, sometimes getting them to take a playful swat at him. Since Sandbag was in the mountains but not on the ride, the Grimpeurs invaded his hideout, tucked in beside a mountain lake, and demanded refreshment. The performance enhancing pills Phallose was pushing did not seem to help those who chose to serve as lab rats. The post ride recovery drink provided by Legs was much more effective.

Here is an article from PezCycling about West Virginia riding. It claims we're better than Europe. Check it out. News

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Something Old, Something New

My rainbow-it was overdue. (Look closely, it's there.)

So, what has happened in the wide world of Grimping over the past few weeks you ask? Truth be told, I can barely remember what I did yesterday. Still, I’ll try and render a semi-lucid account.

I used the Tour De France to try and kick start my cycling level back into something other than bike trail tourist. I did manage to ride every day the tour did and tried to emulate the stages. In the end about 700 miles were logged and nearly 40000 feet were climbed. I came in at 130something in the world out of 17,000+ in’s Tour Challenge and- drumroll please- number one in West Virginia. A “major award” is even on its way as we speak. No, it is not a lady-of-the-evening fishnet stocking leg lamp. I’m not THAT lucky. (If you get that reference, well then, merry Christmas and don’t shoot your eye out.) Now please, don’t go getting any ideas about the old Fat Cat because of those results. They were more points for persistence and stubbornness rather than having anything to do with strength and speed. Hey, you take what you can get.

For the first time in a while an invite to the Grimp was sent out via the net a week or two ago. No one showed. However, I did run across a misinformed straggler from another ride and initiated him into the Grimpeurs with a trip over Wymps Gap and around Bruceton Mills. I put in 78 mountain miles (it was a climbing stage that day in the Tour) and Glen made for good company mid ride. He even gets an official Grimpeur handle even though his attendance was accidental. I call him Rocket Man (because associating him with John Glenn was the only way I could remember his name). The best part of that Grimp was the torrential downpour that turned the road into a canal for the last 10 miles. It was rejuvenating. The harder it came down, the more I smiled. Apparently, whoever is in charge of scary weather took offense to my insolence. Rain so heavy that cars were stopped on the side of the road was followed by high winds on top of thunderbolts and lightning. Still I rode on. That was the last straw. From on high hailstones pelted the landscape. Imagine bags of white marbles dumped from a 747 on your head while you are blindly time trialing through a deluge. Doesn’t that sound great! Glad I had a helmet on.

Last week a Grimp was called and some of the old faithful took heed. Goldfish, Killer Bee and Boyscout teamed up to beat the snot out of The Fat Cat. Killer bee had a new Madone, Goldfish had a new Ridley (I think) and both were eager to give them a workout. By the time I was ¾ of the way up the mountain, all three of the others had taken their mid-day tea at the top, discussed my whereabouts, and decided that they had better come back down and see if I had a flat tire or maybe a heart attack. And there you have the theme for the ride. Hurry up and then wait for the Fat Cat. If nothing else it was a helluva workout for me. The tough guys were shown who was the boss on the way down, though. I had my own private tea-party at the bottom.

Monday, July 13, 2009


There I lay, in the deep weeds along the roadside. My back was screaming, my legs were burning, my friends had left me, the mountain was laughing and worst of all I had lost the last of my teeth. As I stared at the sky, sharp breaths whistling from my maw, I thought about how I ended up backside down and rubber up.

I had been doing just fine with winter riding and felt pretty strong in January. It promised to be a good season. After that, though, things somehow just started going downhill instead of up. I don’t know if my will started fading first or if it was the wheel problems that cut the legs out from under me. I do know, however, that my collection of wheelsets was quickly whittled down to nil.

All through the early spring, the spokes of my rear wheels started snapping like last fall’s left-over twigs. Ride after ride was cut short by rims rubbing breaks and nipples tumbling about loose in the rim. It didn’t even matter if I had just taken the wheel to the shop the day previous- next ride, SNAP! There goes another one. Fifty and sixty mile rides to exhaustion had been cut to ten milers or less. I lost count of the number of times I hobbled home, spokes taped to one and other. (Yes, it got so bad that I carried a roll of black tape along with my spoke wrench.).

On one occasion, I was tooling along just fine with a small group of fast riders and one visiting outlaw when I was gripped with the fear. We stopped to check my wheel and the sucker was wobbly as a WVU undergad on Saturday night. It had more loose screws than a psych professor. By the time I got home, I had wrenched the wheel to within an inch of its life and had reached an equilibrium point with three spokes out and taped to their neighbor. It was at about that time that I started loosing teeth.

The first time was on a group ride up Snake hill and across Preston County, Appalachian wonderland. I was down to my deep dish carbon Hed wheels, not at all suited for this type of ride other than the fact that they were intact. I did alright up the first incline, but later, a strained look down and back revealed that I was one cog down from my normal. Next thing you know, pop-goes-the-tubular, and I’m laying on my back in a soft thatch of high marsh grass. All that was left was a call for evac while my fellow riders soldiered on ( soon to become a recurring theme). What’sthat saying- If it wasn’t for bad luck…

And so it went all spring, each ride was punctuated by some mechanical mishap. With each passing week of down-time the rear cassette got smaller and smaller and the hills got bigger and bigger. Pretty soon, thinking about riding wasn’t too exciting. It’s kinda hard to smile without any teeth.

That brings us to the beginning of our story. I had finally gotten a new set of wheels after much tribulation. (The acquisition of those seemingly benign little hoops is a story unto itself. I’ll leave that for some other day.) I caught wind of a group ride through my old mountain stomping grounds. Before I knew it my bike had me hot on an intercept course.
At the bottom of Mud Pike, some tikes screamed, Look! There goes another bike.” I knew I was close. Once in the mountains, I took a short cut through a hellish stretch of gravel. I reached the pavement and, as luck would have it, there were The Grimpeurs. Well I guess it was more the opposite of luck. For a few miles I grimly hung on, desperately clawing at my bottom gear. Finally, I had no where else to go but down, literally. I begged the last of my nursemaids to leave me for dead. As soon as he was out of visual range I rolled into the ditch.

And that’s how I got where I am today. Do they make a 37 tooth? Better yet, maybe I can put my 39 tooth front ring on the back.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Things Have Been Happenin', I Swear

Okay, a quick look at the old blog shows scenes of winter still on the front page.
I promise to try and put something out this weekend for anyone still hangin' around the old place.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Appalachian Spring Spectacular

If a picture paints a thousand words, then how many words is a movie worth? For all of you who, like Charlie and Kean, were gayly in bed instead of joyously suffering in the deluge, get ready to live vicariously.

In the final analysis, the rain limited the field to 15 riders. That was about 80+ less than last year. Those unable to embrace the absurdity of it all and rejoice in misery, turned back one by one. Speaking for the 60 mile group, there were five when all was said and done. Three fifths of those hardiest of souls were Grimpeurs! Take what you will from that. We sure had a gay old time. Thanks to those who organized this years event and especially those who waited in the rain at the feed station despite our diminished numbers.Also, thanks should go to Mother Nature from the needy in Morgantown. Her soggy efforts resulted in a sizable food donation from the Morgantown Bicycle Club. Not even The Grimpeurs could clean out a post ride buffet set for 100 people.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The officials have finished drinking and all the results are in regarding the 2009 Morgantown Road Race. Recall my initial satisfaction that I wasn't last and had stayed with the pack for much longer than ever before. Now, witness my time- 3:00:37 Yuck! It's painful to type. It was 2 minutes slower than I had done on that course in scouting runs. I suppose that back pain really did slow me down.

More inspection and, bam, I'm happy again. Had I registered for my appropriate Cat 5 classification, I would have placed 12th of 26. Not spectacular but respectable compared to 26th outta 29 in the Master's group. Hey! Those guys are good.

Then more shame. I was 34:59 back in my group. Sweet Jesus! Had I been kidnapped and drugged mid race by a band of bicyler buggering itinerant gypsies? I thought that was just an oxygen deprivation induced flight of fancy. Is that where all the soreness in the backside came from?

Happy, happy- Joy, joy. Not only was I not the last person across the line, but 30 men women and children took longer than me. That doesn't include dnf's.

I hung my head at the thought of a fellow from the 60-64 age group beating me by 25 minutes.

Alright, I beat Robbie from the bike shop. He's gotta be fast, and cool, if he works at a bike store.

VeloBetsy beat me by 37 minutes. Well, that's just a push. She's some kinda U.S. Champion or something. Besides, she always rides you into the ground so nicely...can't be too upset about that one.

Hooray! After checking the pictures and the finishing times, I think the girl I worked with/for on 218 was Crissy Buerkle and she did just fine. She was 8th for the women and beat 11 other women. Hope I helped.

But, oh man... Crissy put 7 minutes on me over the final 27, hilly miles.

I woulda been 9th if I was a girl. You make the call.

The Grimpeurs had a kick ass showing and I wasn't last in that category. (Just second to last.) The results:
Aerobinator (of course) 2:30:29 He finished top ten with a broken wheel/brake rub.
Phallose 2:34:27
Brian Talbot (Honorary) 2:34:46
Big Daddy Birdman 2:35:09
Flanders Fat Cat 3:00:37
Killer Bee 3:04:11

Dammit. On a 50 mile ride I slow the Grimp group up by about 25 minutes. Some things you just don't wanna know. Must be my sparkling personality that keeps 'em comin' back.

Ha! Thanks for coming out Bee. What happened?

Well, that's all I got for ya. It all boils down to: I had fun. I need a lot of work.

(Gunnar and Adam. Separated by milliseconds and many years.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tales from the Backside

Update: I wasn't last.

Feb 11th …The plan : After spending the winter going up and down mountains— amping up the training and loosing 20 lbs should be no problem. Look out Morgantown road race.

April 11th…The reality: Showed up at the starting line 30lbs overweight and 30 days under-trained. So…I prefer the term “participate” over “race”. Say it with me, “I went to the participate today.” Don’t you feel better about yourself now? To those of you who didn’t show, I got nuthin’ for ya.

However, it seems that not many stayed home. Mt. Morris was a maze of confused racers, out of sorts in their autos, trying to find the backcountry starting line of The Morgantown Road Race. The hills of Mason Dixon Park were in full bloom. Cars and bike racks filled every furrow. Treks, Cervelos, Cannondales and even an Eddy Merckx buzzed all about, pollinating the local race scene. All told, there were over 160 racers on hand—100 or so more than anticipated. For a little perspective, about 180 riders line up at the Tour De France. Congratulations to JR Petsko, Gunnar Shogren, and the rest of The Back Yard Bicycle Club for making it happen.

The Grimpeurs were well represented. The Flanders Fat Cat, Big Daddy Birdman, Aerobinator, Killer Bee, and Phallose were on hand. It was good to get some moral support from Goldfish and his son, up there in the hills directing traffic. Talks-With-Legs said he was going to be there—more talk, I guess. I was surprised Slider wasn’t in the mix. Who was The Fat Cat gonna follow off a mountainside? It was also great to see the boys from Pittsburgh, who came down for the cross races in the fall, back in West Virginny.

(Phallose on 218. No wonder he didn't win.)

As far as my race, it was really quite a success, considering. In several prior races, I had only been able to stick with the peleton for about 1 mile. My training plan’s chief goal was to keep me with the group longer, maybe even all the way to Blacksville. I know, eight miles out of fifty…Hey, I’m a realist. But, as I said before, the old training plan failed to launch so hopes weren’t high.

The Masters rolled out 5 minutes after the Cat I II and IV. My plan was to start as early as possible class wise, so as not to keep the officials waiting at the finish until Easter. I was assured that the Cat V’s were starting after the oldsters. Ryan, resplendent in his stripety striped motorcycle moon suit, tried to thwart my plan. JR showed in the nick of time to set things straight and calm my bleating.

Just Twenty-five yards in, the crumbling bridge across Dunkard Creek did an impromptu bike fitting. One of its many cracks and craters knocked my handlebars into a new, much lower position. I suppose the bunny hopping didn’t help. Note to self, cross season is over. We rolled onto route 7 at a nice starting pace. These guys were much smarter than the Cat V’s. Those buffoons usually blast out of the gate and into anaerobia. It was nice not to have to yell, “50 miles to go, jag-offs!”

Route 7 is a road full of little to middling rollers. My biggest fear was getting dropped right off the bat on one of these. I managed to keep my self mid pack, surprisingly comfortable with my hanblebars brushing fellow racers thighs as they moved fore and aft. I tried to get near the front on downhills, so I could fall back uphill. Hey, I’m over 200lbs. You use what ya got. The strategy worked well and Birdman even gave me a little push once. Nice guy, eh. The last climb before Blacksville finally saw me off the back— all part of the plan. I gasped up past the old jet plane and then tucked into myself, letting gravity drag me back to the pack.

In my mind, I was sure that if I could be with the pack at Blacksville, I could suck wheels all the way up the forgiving flats of route 218. Unfortunately, a critical error was made. I needed to be in the middle of the pack, not on the rear. They, all gung ho for some good drag racing up the valley, accelerated out of the sharp curve in town. I, not yet recovered, got caught out of the draft. For a long time, I and a chick on my wheel, chased tantalizingly close to the beast. I really thought we were going to make it. Alas, it was two against twenty-five. We just didn’t have that last kick needed to get there. If we’d have tried, I’d have probably just fallen back off, exhausted. In retrospect, I should have asked my girl if she could hang if I dragged her up. My bad. Or, my Good. She turned out to be a great partner. We did turns at about a 3 to 1 ratio and made great time. She helped me accomplish my second goal—beat the Cat V’s to Waynesburg. (A disclaimer: I have been informed that the term, "my girl," may be misconstrued to have amourous connotations. This is not the case, I assure you. The term indicates that we had so little conversation that I don't even know her name. All I remeber her saying was, "I'm suffering like a dog back here," and I grunted in response. She worked like a man, man. Anyway, I got more woman than I can handle over here.)

And that was the end of my race, now it was a ride. That was the plan all along because that was how it had to be. The second half race profile is a vicious succession of hills, a couple of which get pretty steep. Really, it was no place for the false hopes of a fat man. So it went, people passed me on the up hills, I caught some people on the descents, and a large procession of backsides disappeared into the hills.

Actually, I kept thinking I was the last man. But every now and then, another heavy breather would eek his way past on a grade. Each time they had a harder time getting by. eventually, they couldn’t get away.

By the climb on Gump I was having serious back spasms. They started on the first climb. Apparently, I had put too much into pulling my girl to Waynesburg. I didn’t mind though. She was able to catch on when the trailing pack rushed up the climb on Sugar Run Road. I felt good about that, a happy domestique.

Anyway, I could not put any kind of a push on up the grades. As I limped towards Gump, slowing to take a drink and a shot of Gu, a crew got behind me. Where the hell did these people keep coming from? “We’ve been trying to catch you all day,” they said. They were wishing I’d slow down, they said. I laughed out loud. If they were chasing me, they were in trouble.

One young upstart jumped up ahead. I couldn’t follow, the back said no, but I marked him. He’d pay for his insolence. The cool thing was, since my back wouldn’t let me push up the hills, I couldn’t really get into the red. I looked slower than I was, but I had something saved for the other sections. As soon as we got over the hill, I poured it on. I picked up my former chasers and then dragged them up to an Irish fellow. I pulled that sprint pull out of the bag that I didn’t use earlier. After a little recovery on his wheel I pulled through and we worked together swimmingly, what a blast. We dropped everyone. That insolent youth was never seen again. It was almost like a race .

The Irishman and I turned it down a bit on the run up to Combat’s backside. We had a nice little conversation and I gave him the rundown on the remainder of the course and how to race it. We both knew he was going bye-bye on the steep hill to come. One of the guys from behind caught back on and we watched the Irishman round the hairpin above us. We may or may not have hurled a playful insult or two at him from below.

So now, the climbing over, it was my turn to do some more pulling. My charge carried gallons of water all over his bike. He had bottles on this tube, bottles on that tube and bottles under the seat. I guess he thought there was a desert stretch. Waterboy (Maybe I should call him, "My Guy.") was a nice fellow with a deep West Virginia Twang. I really enjoyed giving him a tow. He hung on like a Japanese beetle as I rolled through familiar territory. Occasionally he’d reluctantly come through and give me a few seconds break. Between his crapped out legs and my twisted back, even the smallest bumps in the road hit us like brick walls. It really was comical.

On the home stretch a dude passed us up one of the last bumps. I sprinted onto his wheel, leaving Waterboy to fight the wind himself. I sucked it up for one more glorious sprint to the finish. JR said I looked fast across the line. Well, I had some in the tank since I couldn’t push the hills. If your gonna come in twenty minutes or so behind, at least give the fans a show at the end.

When I got off the bike, I could hardly move. My spare wheels had beaten me to the finish and were waiting there on the ground. I literally could not bend to pick them up. Thanks for the help, nice lady. As I twisted with great pain and difficulty into my car, Gunnar bid me farewell with a reprimand for taking two cans of some energy drink. There goes your Christmas case of PBR from the Grimpeurs.

What a great race. It was well worth a day of ice. I was really a lot stronger than my prior road races despite my crappy preparation. I’m convinced that I’m just 30 lbs away from being a force. My favorite part: getting my girl (I wish I did know her name so I could see where she ended up in the standings, same goes for Waterboy and Irishman) to Waynesburg with enough gas to fly away with the crazy Cat V’s. That’s just me, I guess—force or not— a simple domestique at heart.

Now someone tell me what happened up front!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Popular Demand (or at least statistically significant demand))

Funny thing, this internet. Everywhere I go, someone always asks me, “Hey, you been up Mud Pike lately?” Sometimes people I’ve never met, such as the guy running the concession stand at the baseball game, ask me that question or some variation. “Headin’ for the pike? Still goin’ up Mud Pike every week? Still chasin’ trucks down Mud Pike…” You get the idea.

Funny thing, this internet. It has led to the addition of a new word to the local lexicon, “grimp.” “Grimp” substitutes for the words "riding bicycle", especially, riding bicycles up hills and mountains. “You grimp yesterday? ” "You grimping today?” "Great grimp Tuesday.” These are all phrases you’re certainly more likely to hear in West Virginia than in France.

Funny thing, this internet. It’s alum for the world, shrinking it down like Sylvester’s mouth on Sunday mornings of old. We share in adventures, both mundane and epic, around the corner and around the world. People throughout the States and in parts beyond have vicariously ridden Mud Pike in a great group ride. In turn, I have biked across the frozen North, ridden rollers in Japan, been dropped in Annapolis and pushed against free rolling winds in Waterloo, all in front of my 15.4 inch view screen (30% more screen information vs. 15 inch XGA. Ha! Take that.)

Funny thing, this internet. Literally, TENS of people have asked me when I’m writing another post. They actually like to read them. They actually care if it’s not there. We all do this, we bloggers and commenters, write little pieces, supposedly, for the entertainment of others. And, funny thing is, we do it for free (Except for NYC BikeSnob. I see he’s hit the big time and has an actual column in Bicycling magazine— Classic case of iconoclast turning into Icon. You are what you eat, I guess.) Really though, I, and most others, just tap it out for fun; if other people like it, that’s a bonus. But… just yesterday someone suggested I should submit some pieces to VeloNews’ back page or something. I don’t know about that. Don’t think I’m goin’ pro anytime soon. But… if some editor of some big time magazine is out there salivating over the idea of an overweight cyclist’s delusional ramblings, SHOW ME THE MONEY. I’d definitely churn something out more often. Oh, and Obama, if you’re reading, could you get the IRS off my back. They are really eating into my blog-time. Speaking of which, I’m outta time.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cool and Damp With a Chance of Sit-Coms

Gaudy snow-flakes whizzed across Route 857 in near vertical trajectories. They rode a howling wind that drove the chill north of unbearable. Cars were pulled to the roadside, the occupants cowering inside. Only a man of god-like stature, a Cronos of the cold, a cycling Colossus, would dare challenge Old Man Winter to fisticuffs on such a day. To grind out across a frozen Hellscape with nothing more than a few tubes of aluminum and two wheels as a defense would be more than madness if it were anyone else. Only the indomitable Fat Cat could have had the fortitude, intestinal or otherwise, to throw himself into the breech. All you who would have the audacity to even read of his glory can not help but be overwhelmed by your utter ineptitude and inferiority in the face of he-of-great-girth. Now, it would be perfectly acceptable for those of you who stoked your fires and shuddered in your huts to be incredulous. Could such a man even exist? But, there is a witness. Killer Bee Dave, he-of-70 plus-degree-rides, passed The Fat Cat in his automobile.

Umm…Ahem…Those of you with letters in one or the other degrees of the English language might take umbrage with that last sentence and its lack of clarity. “Don’t you mean that Bee passed you on your bike while he was in his car,” I can hear you say. You know I do not proof-read and will probably chuckle and allow that little ambiguity. But, HA! I am so taken with the utter brilliance of that seemingly inadvertent lack of grammatical precision that I must come clean just so the reader can bask in my literary luminescence.

Killer Bee DID pass The Fat Cat while he was driving his car. The bike was on top, braving the cold, while The Cat was below in a climate controlled cabin. He was well intentioned and well prepared to take on the angry hills. However, the usually dormant lot at the Haydentown Community Center was choked with Haydentowners. The Cat did not want to deal with them as he was changing into his superman cape and tights. Also, Earnestine had a flat rear tire. Just the thought of co-mingling with all those mortals repelled The Cat. Surely, the Wymp’s Gap climb was the way to go. The wind would race across the quarry like the hand of God. Yes, that was the only place fit to host The Flanders Fat Cat, smoter of mountains. Just a little gas in the guzzler and it was off to make history.

The wind cut a jagged gash across the gas station. The petrol came out as a frigid sludge and could be bought by the pound as well as the gallon. The Cat cut the pump off well below full and didn’t wait for the receipt to print.

By the time the intersection with Wymp’s gap was gained, The Cat was toasty warm and bathing in the sweet strains of ABBA. One look at the tree farm’s poor saplings, bent to the ground by the cruel wind, and the thought of fixing Earnestine’s flat tire out amongst the elements was suddenly abhorrent. Better to go home, fix the flat indoors, and then tackle Snake Hill or Breakiron.

Of course, a light lunch of eggplant parmesan, pasta with chick peas and almonds, pickled eggs and a diet soda was imperative once The Cat was back home. By the time his mid-day gluttony had ended, so had the thought of storming the storm. Anyway, it quit snowing. It just wouldn’t be fun under clear skies—or so the self delusion went. Hector could just sit behind the palace walls while Achilles called, couldn’t he? If he had, he’d be alive today, right?

In the end The Fat Cat was able to muster up enough energy to mount the trainer in the garage. His thighs pulsed and his buttocks were ground into pulpy—ah, hell. I can’t do it. It was cushy. He wore shorts, watched TV and stopped in the middle to drink an iced tea from the fridge. Well, whaddaya want? We can’t all be heros.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Both Sides of the Road

First off, let me say that I do not condone or excuse any of the acts described lately on the Mon Bike Club site. Anyone who grabs a cyclist from a car, guns it, and then tosses them into a guard rail doesn't have the cognitive awareness to discern the seriousness of their actions or, worse yet, they do and relish it. Either way, these sorts need to be culled from the herd. Any baseball bat swinging, mountain dew tossing, high speed buzzing, brake slamming or other obviously life threatening behavior should be addressed. Either intensive reeducation ala A Clockwork Orange should ensue or the deviants should be removed from the populace—method of your choice.

In almost any other setting such acts of one group towards another would be appalling. Could you imagine some intentionally out-of-work miscreant pedestrian taking a Louisville slugger to a random geezer with a walker because he was pissed he had to slow down. How about an SUV ramming a Prius that didn’t see the light turn green quick enough. The police would be all over the case and it might even make front page Yahoo. There are few scenarios when the “strong” (like motorists) are allowed to oppress the “weak” (like cyclists). Nevertheless, that’s what happens on the roads and in the courts sometimes. It’s simply the majority looking the other way when a minority is mistreated. I thought that was supposed to be a thing of the past. “Frankly, I’d like to thump that weirdo too,” is probably the reigning sentiment out there. Obviously, I’m on your side Mon Bikers, as any thinking person would be. I think any oppressive actions, including potential manslaughter, are inexcusable. That being said…

Is it possible that there is at least some provocative action here? All of the cases sited did happen in the most cyclist frequented area. (Which is not so coincidentally, the flattest area.) I ride other roads for the most part and find people to be either friendly or ambivalent. Lucky? Maybe. But, might some people on Rt. 100 be tired of riders strewn across the road, seemingly unaware of the horsepower idling behind them. How many times have you banged on the dash behind a coal truck or semi you couldn’t get around? People might just get irritated at cyclists behaving as if they were cars. I have seen on numerous occasions, cyclists that refused to move to the right. I have yelled “car back” on 100 many a time only to see a couple of guys ignore the call. Imagine: five cyclists move over and two don’t. You and your big American car have to go 15 mph all the way up 100 or risk your life and the lives of the cyclists by riding all the way over on the wrong side of the road if you are gonna get to the smoke shop on time. Do you think you are going to remember fondly the five cyclists who made room or stew about the two buttheads who were expressing their rights (or just didn’t want to break their conversation about anti-chaffing creams and such.)?

Really, just being a Devil’s advocate here, I guess. I just think it is possible that there is some negative reinforcement happening out there. Maybe if we made room when it’s safe, sometimes slowed, or— gasp— stopped, to let a line of cars pass, waved people through when it was safe, didn't dawdle along, or just tried to be our lovable selves out there, we could do a little to reduce the animosity. That way we could weed out the fence sitters and grapple with the real assholes.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Just The Facts

So, here’s a quick inventory of noteworthy happenings on Tuesday’s solo Grimpeur ride through Preston County WV: Nearly all the roads were white. Spinning cars dislodged patches of compacted snow from the ice on steeper sections making it slightly dodgy on occasion. I was repelled by the bike path. It was one inch of nice snow on top of three inches of the refried stuff. I made it about 20 yards before making a “this sucks” declaration.

Sand Bank was all virginal and exciting for a while. Unfortunately, my bike would soon start suddenly going perpendicular to its intended direction of travel on the slickery stuff hiding under the pretty white stuff. I was happy to finally make it to the heavily treated surface of Summer School Road. It was clear of snow and ice because it had effectively been turned it into a gravel road. Since I got my clothes right and was impervious to cold, I bombed down pea gravel plunge and then took the little short cut to Beulah. Of course, the millions of stony shards spread across the road worked their nefarious ways. Just as I got to that little hollow that echo’s perpetually the strains of Dueling Banjos (just the creepy slow part), I got a flat. There was a greasy, gritty sludge coating the wheels. The tire kept sliding off as I tried to set the bead. There is no telling how much gunk got in there. I’m surprised that replacement tube didn’t blow in short order. Now short on time, I busted ass up Tyrone to get back just in time.

So those are the cold, hard facts of the ride. Funny how it sounds like pure hell. Yet, somehow, it ended up being pure heaven.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

2000 Miles of Hell

It's Wednesday morning and I am unfathomably pissed. Quite frankly, I was expecting a day off courtesy those dunderheads down at The Weather Channel. The hysteria of the coming holocaust was such that an automated Frank Devano, Superintendent of Schools, called last night to sound the klaxons and cancel school. Now, I never usually make the mistake of watching meteorologists, which I believe comes from the Latin for "The sky is falling." My past is littered with enough bike outings cancelled on sunny days or staged in freezing rain to have developed a Doppler free attitude. The best philosophy is to simply take what comes. If you are going to ride on March 24th, ride on March 24th. Stop trying to second guess Mother Nature. And, whatever you do, don't trust some pun peddling fat man or short skirt bimbo to guide your activities. Sorry, was that a bit harsh? (If you didn't read sarcasm in that last sentence, go back and try again.) But, God help me, on this day, I wavered.

The weather chick and her partners in misdirection had ratcheted up their rhetoric to a high tenor. The sentences tumbled forth upon one and other in a rush to get out before the zero hour. The men in the field could hardly put together a coherent line under the fist of doom. "Look!" one blathered, "Here is an authentic Weather Channel binder coated with crusty, frozen death. Have you ever seen anything like it, Kristie." Like a shot, the stalwart anchor-chick was running together paragraph after paragraph about a Catastrophic 2000 MILE weather front. Her voice quivered, but did not falter. Comparisons and metaphors were heaped like unused body bags after Katrina to illustrate the magnitude of the system. Not since previous pages of this blog have I witnessed such hyperbole and high drama. I simply couldn't resist. Against my better judgement, I let them set the hook.

"Looks like I'll be stayin home with you tomorrow kids."

"Yes! Will you play with us Daddy?"

"Heck ya! We'll batten down the hatches and play Wii until the power gives out or our retinas burn!"

"Hooray for Daddy!"

So, I wake up this morning to 40 plus degrees and light rains. I could literally chew nails. All I could hope for was a disabling sheet of crusty death on the roads like I saw on TV. Of course, The asphalt was clearer than it has been in weeks. I could have ridden the Cervelo Soloist with 19 inch wheels and a full disk to work. Oh well. All I can do is drain a bottle of Pepto and go about my day, lesson re-learned. Although, I might move my desk away from the window. I think they were predicting an armada of icy comets to rain down from space later in the day. Make sure you wear your booties.
Oh yeah, The Tuesday Grimpeur did make a solo effort yesterday into the mountains. The weather was much worse. Good times, good times. Had I listened to the weather weenies, I might have missed it.
Earnestina loves that stuff.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Beating the Thaw

Here are some pics from Thusday's solo ride. It was the first in 9 days. I wanted to get out in the snow before it melted in the heat wave Friday. More to come when I can get to it. The cross bike didn't like this too much. The tires kept cutting in and shifting about. It's rough under there.
Here is where we sleep on the weekends. Done building for the winter.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Thanks for the pic KB. Is that Andy at Gavia?
I guess Aerobinator took umbrage to his being characterized as a bit soft in the last post. At his suggestion the Grimpeurs rode out of the relatively comfortable climes of Cheat Lake and up to Cooper’s Rocks to look for some snow to play in.

The Fat Cat had just come from a physical in which he was deemed to be A OK healthy by his fresh faced examiner at the university. The comically young doctor said that the Fat Cat was the most fit patient he had. (Of course he really wanted to put him on statin drugs, anyway.) That his systolic blood pressure was lower than before and that he didn’t have that sinus bradycardia of last were good signs. However, the young man is used to a patient base from one of the fattest states in the union with one of the highest levels of tobacco use and a suspect educational status—not really used to “athletic” folks. The Fat Cat saw a heart that wasn’t as strong as last time. 67 bpm and 112 systolic means less stroke volume than a nice 59 bpm and 138. Big Daddy is trying to work on The Cat’s negativity.

Quarry Run Road is every bit as tough as any other of the local hills. It’s close to home and avoided by many. The Grimpeurs don’t use it too often just because it is not amenable to loops of less than 4 hours. It’s an out and back kinda thing. Oh yeah, it does turn to gravel for a bit too.

Nobody let The Cat get ahead this time. If they had to adjust a bike or clothing issue, they jumped out front to do it. The normal order was restored for the day. Aerobinator was up front, The Cat was in back, and Birdman oscillated between trying to keep up with the engine and waiting for the caboose.

This same order held once the Grimpeurs left the now snowy road and hit the trails of Coop’s. That was some fun stuff and a tough workout on a cross bike. Roots and rocks hidden under a blanket of fresh snow, easy fodder for fat tires proved just the right challenge for skinny tires and drop bars. The Cat spent most of the time alone in the soft serenity of nature’s cathedral while the other Grimpeurs mixed it up ahead and then waited.

Unless you like white noise at 3 am on your old Sylvania, the scenic overlook of the river gorge wasn’t very scenic at all. Still it had an arctic vibe that made the Grimpeurs feel like hardy souls.

On the way back down the mountain, Aerobinator flexed his muscles. At the end of the roadside trail there was no sign of him other than tracks in the snow. Either he was tired of waiting for shrinking hearts, still trying to prove his status, or just downright sick of being cold. Come to think of it, earlier he did ask why we never thought of turning back when the conditions got bad.

During the descent of the higher altitudes, The Fat Cat found that he did not like high speed drops through packed snow and slush. However, a bike that occasionally slides a foot or so to one side or the other didn’t seem to bother Birdman in the least.

A realization: Bike pumps really aren’t that great at pumping things up. They are really talismans that ward off evil, tire flattening spirits. For months The Fat Cat has been flat free while looking silly ferrying a pump around in a musette bag from The World Championships courtesy of Talks-With-Legs. Knowing his fellow Grimpeurs would have pumps, he left his home. Let the voodoo begin. Following just behind birdman at around 40 mph the gremlins struck— sudden catastrophic failure of the front tire. All the Cat could do was keep it under control and watch Birdman and his talisman quickly fall out of sight. He’d be a couple of miles ahead and a thousand feet below before he even noticed he’d lost his tail. Bye-bye pump.

As luck would have it though, there was one old Co2 cartridge at the bottom of The Cat’s seldom opened seat bag. He had one shot to get it right. Not as easy as it sounds on the windward side of a mountain on a winter’s day. Damn, it was cold. It didn’t take long for the Cat to realize that he was soaking wet from the trail effort. Might as well’ve been naked. He would have taken the burning quads of a 20% grade any day to frozen hands clawing at hard rubber and aluminum hoops.

By the time The Cat got to the BFS station he was as rigid as his bike frame. Aerobinator had already ridden the 3 hilly miles to his car and come back to gather Birdman, whose brakes had given up the ghost. What a hero. Yes, yes, you are the fastest. All pay homage. Blah, blah.

It might not sound like it but, damn, that was a good time. Summer just won’t be the same.