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.