Thursday, December 29, 2011

The "I Can't Make It" Grimp.

Diesel said he might not make it to the last Grimp of the year. So did Birdman. Fat Cat said several times, in writing, that he could not get out. Yet somehow, the thrill of the hill was too much for them to resist.

A tiny window opened up for Flanders just at departure time. He scrambled onto the still decorated blue Cervelo and called, "I'm coming!" through the ethereal bands. The other Grimpeurs left The Botanical Gardens and met him at Snake Hill. So, there they were in the icy cold at the bottom of The Snake: The current Grimpeur of the Month, the prior Grimpeur of the month...and Fat Cat.

The "race" was to Mayfield again. The pace up to the Wildlife Management sign was laid back. Heavy breathing and grunts were replaced with full sentences. Birdman and Fat Cat rode side by side with Diesel lurking on the wheels. The Fat Cat soft pedaled when the pace upped a bit. Birdman matched him while Diesel was kept in his box. All through the course, opportunities to make a break, to dole out some pain, were let pass. Who would jump first?

Finally, on the last rise, with the finish in sight, Diesel could take it no longer. He shot out from behind and the others took up the chase for an all out uphill sprint. The tiny pelton rotated and somehow The Fat Cat got boxed in behind Diesel on the right who was fighting it out with Birdman. Not being able to push through the right side due to ice, The Fat Cat had to go back around to the left. Diesel was punishing his bike but it looked like Birdman might make it. Fat Cat desperately wanted to quit and watch, like always, but he let the pain flow.

Birdman sat up 20 or 30 yards before the finish. He would later say that he was content to cross together and that he just didn't want to hurt that bad this time of year. All noble and intelligent thoughts.

Fat Cat and Diesel knew nothing of nobility nor intelligence. They had become mindless brutes. Diesel was giving no quarter and had the line in his sights. Fat Cat issued sad and painful whines with each stroke. Miraculously, he slowly drew alongside Diesel ( I use slowly as a relative term. It seemed like an eternity down there in the pain cave but mere seconds actually passed.) At the line ( which is always amorphous and in dispute) it was a photo finish. Although arguable, the judges had the Fat Cat of Flanders back in pokka-dots by the width of a tire.

As a consolation prize, the runner up felt "pretty good" in the post race while Flanders was unable to lift his leg to dismount. His head throbbed on the handle bars and he breathed ominously. He finally got to the ground and lay in the snow, writhed about a bit, and then eventually made a snow angel to comfort the onlookers. (Lest you think this all hyperbole, Birdman later called Fat Cat at home to make sure he was okay.)

 Back at the bottom of the hill, Fat Cat, cold, tired and with things to do, took his three points plus one for the weather and went home. Diesel and Birdman rode over and knocked off the Beulah climb before they made their own ways home.

Here are the overall standings. The Jingle Grimp participants last week all got winners points which were five. Diesel still holds a commanding 17 point lead, but it has been ever so slightly chipped away the last couple of weeks. Legs is still only 4 points off the podium and still in it if only he could overcome his aversion to the cold. Mama has steadily moved up and is only 2 points away from former jersey holder, Boyscout.
1) Diesel- 97
2) Fat Cat- 80
3) Birdman- 60
4) legs- 56
5) Boyscout- 47
6) Mama- 45
7) Sandbag- 45
8) Tallboy- 18
9) Fixie- 14
9) Trip- 14
11) Razor- 9
12) Highlander- 6
13 Knickers- 5
13) Chunks- 5

Happy New Year from The Grimp and happy riding in 2012!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Jingle Grimp

 T'Was the grimp before Christmas and all through the hills, Grimpeurs were riding -getting their thrills.

 The bikes were all decorated and spun with great care, in hopes that King of the Mountain would soon be theirs.

 The Grimpeurs were all nestled snug in Gortex , visions of toe warmers were better than sex.

 And Mamma took second with Trip in at third, Jack took the jersey as the crowd gasped," my word."
Birdman won the month, on a cross bike that clattered. One tiny point was the crux of the matter.

 Just like Steve Jobs and flash, Blogspot and Grimp videos-they always crash. But an end-around through Youtube fixed up the clash.
So there it is, the holiday champions were celebrated with pride. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good ride!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It IS about the bike

No offense to Lance, but he don't know squat. Five Grimpeurs made it out in the wind and rain Thursday. It was a day for bike changes. Mama showed up at The Botanical Gardens on her man's red Cannondale. Fat Cat blew in on Kean's time machine.

Fatty didn't intend to ride the lightning. This was a machine unaccustomed to losing. The stalwart blue soloist was the rain bike of choice. However, 10:00 snuck up and the soloist's chain hung broken from her cogs. Apparently, a quick link is anything but in the wrong hands. The R3 screamed "Pick me!" while the Colnago cross lay in the corner, fat and unenthusiastic.

Well, there must have been some magic in that carbon bike he found. For when he placed it on the hill it began to dance around. The R3 launched up Snake Hill and never looked back. wheezing and grunts could be heard from behind but only clear road was ahead.

Of course, Fat Cat was sure he would be swallowed up by the chase. Kean's bike would have none of it. They crested the usual finish in the lead with Big Daddy a few lengths behind. Fat Cat raised his hands, happy having won the first battle in the war for Mayfield and the new finish line. The R3 had just begun.

The next climb came. The Cat remembered Kean's advice to rip it off like a band-aid and hit it in the big ring. The bike reverberated with the echos of past glories and jumped ahead. The Cat's legs caught fire and his finger twitched on the down shifter. The digit was stayed by a voice from the past, "Stay in the big ring!"

The pace left an over-dressed Diesel over heated and cooked. Big Daddy Birdman gave it all he had but his cross bike was no match for the sublime power of the Kean's time machine. The Flanders Fat Cat reached the Mayfield finish line and a first time in the polka-dots 31 seconds ahead of Birdman. Diesel crossed the line a minute thirty after that. In another surprise, Razor took the women's division. Mama brought up the lantern with pride.

The overall shakes out like this:

1) Diesel- 89
2) Fat Cat- 71
3) Birdman- 58
4) Legs- 56
5) Boyscout- 47
6) Sandbag- 45
7)Mama- 40
8) Tallboy- 18
9) Razor- 9
9) Fixie- 9
9) Trip- 9
12) Highlander- 6
13) Knickers- 5
13) Chunks- 5

Afterwards all ambled about together and made their way around to the Zion climb. From there it was back down the Snake and back to the Gardens.

Thanks to all that came out in the rain and had some fun. A big thanks to my lovely wife who actually encouraged me to get out and ride Thursday. What a woman. And don't forget kiddies, magic does happen at Christmas time. Thanks Kean.

Friday, December 9, 2011

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout.

It no longer comes as a surprise to find 7 riders waiting in sub freezing temperatures and several inches of snow to ride up into colder, snowier weather. It's just the way of the grimpeur.

One of the more interesting aspects of this sort of adventure is equipment choice. The roads are clear in the lowlands but what about the mountains? Four riders chose slower but gripier cross bikes, One chose an older road bike with as big tires as could fit and two chose light bikes with fancy paint-jobs and skinny tires. What kind of clothes would be the best to balance cold protection and overheating avoidance? The choices ranged from knickers to long, heavy, black jackets.

The initial pace on the false flats of Mud Pike was benign. As the pavement rose up, so did the pace. Gradual gaps began to form all along the frosty slopes. By the three quarter mark, first and fourth were essentially decided. Diesel steadily powered off the front to take a convincing win. Fat Cat said he wasn't feeling it and kept drifting into daydreams. Far from throwing up at the line, he puttered across having broken the Grimpeur code and seeing no chasers. Legs missed a golden opportunity to gain a point or two. Instead he loosed his grip on second in the overall, now trailing by nine. His grip on third is tenuous at best with Big Daddy Birdman only one point down.

Sandbag had a fair gap on Birdman early but the always-game Big Daddy made a strong move and was able to close. Knobby cross tires carved tell-tale gashes across the icy spine of Papa Bear's back. The podium combatants really dug into the pedals. At the finish, Sandbag had pulled away for second and Birdman followed for third. All of the top finishers rode cross bikes.

Brahma Mama came across in fifth and well ahead of  her chasers. She rode a Lemond with the biggest tires that would fit. She had been chasing Fat Cat for a while but also lost concentration and drifted into snowy daydreams.

Congratulations to "Knickers" on his grimping debut. He picked a great day to really experience what The Grimp is all about. Unfortunately, he choose wrong with the light bike and the skinny tires.

 You'll learn, young Jedi. You'll learn.

 Highlander brought up the red lantern. He had it tucked in some sort of longshoreman's North Sea jacket. He made sure to dismount his summer-time stead so as not to damage the lantern rouge in a fall. It surely had nothing to do with fatigue or severe overheating.(A video is supposed to be here but it has been uploading forever. Videos are problematic in this corner of cyberspace.)

As usual, Mud Pike day was moving day in the overall. Double points were awarded plus one for the snow.
1) Diesel- 86
2) The Fat Cat of Flanders- 65
3) Legs- 56
4) Birdman- 54
5) Boyscout-47
6) Sandbag- 45
7) Mama- 39
8) Tallboy- 18
9) Fixie- 9
9) Trip- 9
11) Razor- 7
12) Highlander- 6
13) Knickers- 5
13) Chunks- 5

After all due pomp and circumstance, some riders continued across the ridge on Skyline drive. The route was free and clear of hazardous conditions. They enjoyed a brakeless descent down a sparkling clean RT 40 and then came back to the beginning via Fairchance Road and 857. The rest chose to get back to the comfort of their cars asap by going back down Mud Pike. We are still awaiting reports but we trust they were able to slip and slide back down safely.

Thanks to all the stout hearted souls who braved the elements for a real taste of the Grimp. See you all next week back in West Virginia.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Victors and Vanquished

The victors,

and the vanquished.

The first thing you notice in these photos is that there is none of the normal raised hands or other exuberant expressions. There was no energy left for that. This stuff was hard.

Well, maybe not for Diesel. The ride featured a return of his super light carbon fiber pal from a broken derailleur. He looked in control the whole race and was spry for the after-ride. Still, he finished just 30 seconds ahead of the second place finisher, the amazing Birdman. But, we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Seven Grimpeurs took off from The Botanical Gardens. A Snake Hill route had been planned but events interceded. Fixie forgot his helmet and had to go all the way back to Morgantown to retrieve it. Fat Cat, being the ever benevolent dictator, decreed that the Grimpeurs would meet their number 8 at the DMV. Birdman proposed an alternate race course. It turned out to be a real killer. Never trust Big Daddy.

The group kept a brisk pace up the rail trail towards Little Falls to try and ward off the cold. By the time they got to the start, everyone was warmed up and ready to run. The group stayed together up the steepest parts of little falls and across the varied grades of the rest of the road. The pace was high. Riders took probing forays to the front but none could break away.

A quick jog to the left on 73 took the competition to Goshen Road, about 2 miles from the start. That was where the fireworks started. Through most of the nasty grade of Goshen climb one, the leaders stayed together. But, near the top, Legs, and then Fat Cat became unhooked.

No worries, thought the Fat Cat, he would catch them down the other side. After-all, that is the advantage of being fat, downhill momentum. The three leaders went balls out down the hill. Fat Cat went into full tuck, his crotch on the top tube and under the seat. Unfamiliarity with the route took its first bit of flesh. The Cat got going too fast and a curve jumped up. He tried to hop back into the seat. A jacket he had tied around his waist hooked on the nose of his Sella Italia. He was left to take the corner riding the top tube and scrubing speed. He wobbled through but made it, just a little shaken. Unfortunately, he didn't make time on the leaders.

The next climb was steeper than the last. All went at it hard and status quo held. It leveled off a bit and the three leaders were still in sight but had gained a bit. The Fat Cat, looked back and did not see a chaser. Believing he must be near the end and suffering badly, he decided to accept an easy fourth place. I know, I know- let your jeers rain down. But, he thought the race was too near its end to warrant any more pain or for anyone to catch him. He was wrong.

The road turned up the volume again. Soon enough, there was Legs, impossibly, latching onto The Cat's tail. Fat Cat turned up the revolutions, thinking they were near the end, and got a nice gap right off. But the hill kept hitting.

Seeing all that uphill road around the corner with no end in sight touched off The Cat's first surrender. He literally turned around and went down hill until Legs caught up. Legs kept going with no regard for his comrade's acute distress.

The Cat was pissed at himself and motored back up to Legs. Legs was stone faced. The Cat feigned running him off the road and pushed him in a guise of playfulness. Surely Legs would take the chance at an amicable amble to the finish. He would not pass up the chance to turn down the legs and turn up the gab. Despite the desperate ploy, Legs remained masked in determination. The Cat quit again.

Legs rode on ahead leaving the Cat and his side stitches behind. The Cat swore at himself. Several times, what looked like the end of the race came and went with Legs gaining and the Cat giving in to the fact that he couldn't catch Legs before each demoralizing faux finish.

Not far ahead of the battle for fourth, Big Daddy Birdman was on the razor's edge and couldn't repeat his finishing flourish of last week where he pipped Sandbag for the victory.  Diesel powered across the finish 30 seconds ahead of Birdman, who said it was the hardest ride this season. Sandbag, couldn't close the gap but did fend off his pursuers for the final podium spot.

Legs looked back and saw no sign of The Fat One. He struggled towards the finish, having given the full measure and having fended off The Cat's challenge to his overall standing. He felt an exhausted euphoria just yards from the cheering fans on the summit.

The Fat Cat rounded the corner. The true finish came into view 100 yards uphill. Legs was a good 50  or 60 yards ahead of The Cat. The Fat Cat had already lost to Legs what seemed like 100 times at each side road and false summit that pretended to be the finish over the past 2 miles.  The urge to quit welled up again. He remembered an article he read in Bicycling Magazine just the night before. "If you don't sprint, you can't win." it said. A 100 yard sprint uphill, inconceivable!

Legs heard the crowd yelling in excitement, he thought it was a joke- He had left The Foul Cat far behind. That small part of The Cat's brain that still received oxygen wanted them to shut up, lest they alert Legs of the sneak attack. The finish came up fast and it was The Flanders Fat Cat by a wheel! He promptly fell over into the grass and watched the sky spin and wobble about above him while his friends took pictures of his distress.

Brahma Mama crossed a very strong sixth, not far behind the melee for fourth. She was so strong that she later took on Breakiron all alone, because no one else had it left to join her. Razor finished seventh and good ole fixie brought in the lantern.

In the overall standings Diesel consolidated his lead by gaining 3 points on his nearest competitor for a 15 point stranglehold on first. Fat Cat clawed into a tie with Legs for second. Boyscout remained in fourth despite his absence but Birdman moved right behind him. Time to get back in the race, Boyscout. Fixie continues to move up the overall through fortitude and stick-to-it-ivness. The entire standings are as follows:
1) Diesel-71
2) Fat Cat-56
2) Legs-56
4) Boyscout-47
5) Birdman-43
6) Brahma Mama-32
6) Sandbag-32
8) Tallboy-18
9) Fixie-9
9) Trip-9
11) Razor-7
12) Chunks-5
13) Highlander-3

The rest of the ride limped through the countryside, up and down Cobun road, down Aaron's creek, up Aaron's creek, down Summer School and Poole Hill and down to Beulah. Mama couldn't entice anyone up Breakiron (because it was crazy) so she went up alone. The balance of the Grimpeurs spun up Tyrone and back to the gardens.

Don't forget, next week is the big Mud Pike double points extravaganza!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Edge of the Storm

Bull fighting!

Unidiscovered country right in my own backyard.

Blue skies on Sturgis church road.

Two paths in the woods diverge and I took the one without the arrow.

I caught myself laughing out loud in the middle of the first stream and thought myself silly. Plowing though the second, giggles bubbled up  again. I made the right choice and opened up a new route from Bull Run to Snake Hill- Mt. Run Road.

All these new roads found, never more than eight miles from home. Sometimes when you drag yourself out in the rain, you get your reward.

Friday, November 18, 2011

One Helluva Fight

When you combine this sort of neanderthal training with-

This kind of punishingly beautiful terrain-

You get-

This kind of stunning result:

In a truly inspiring ride, Birdman sprang up from mediocrity and grabbed the polka-dot jersey that he had lost oh-so-long ago. But, before we get into the specifics of his daring deeds, there is important Grimpeur business to attend to.

With great pomp and circumstance, the Grimpeur of the month was awarded to, drum-roll please, Diesel! He racked up the most points in this first month of the Grimping season and has proven himself worthy of this prestigious award. And now-

At the foot of the day's penultimate climb, eight Grimpeurs stripped off layers of shielding against the cold in anticipation of the inner furnaces they were about to ignite. Their breath hung in white clouds. Once again, the Grimpeur's course had been newly paved as though they were in some grand tour.

Skinny tires seemed to roll almost effortlessly up the smooth black slab beneath them. The pace jumped up from the get-go. Fat Cat played the role of rabbit, trying to make a little headway on the lesser grades before Beulah proper.

Legs marked the move and smartly tucked into the draft. He had learned the lessons of the past. He was inside Fat Cat's head.

As the road rose up, Sandbag and diesel powered past, as expected. In an unexpected turn, Birdman was with the other two. Not to worry, He had not been on form lately. He would be caught and dropped.

Legs tried to use weight and gravity to his advantage, He launched past Fat Cat only to drop his chain. Fat Cat pedaled by. Legs clawed back up, his steamy breath rolling across Fat Cat's back. Clank. Legs dropped the chain again and saw The Cat ride on while he fumbled in the cold. But, again, legs bravely scratched his way back onto the Cat's wheel by the top of Beulah.

As the course turned onto Summer School road, continuing its relentless rise. Sandbag led the way with Diesel, Birdman, Fat Cat and Legs all tight behind. That was the hierarchy up most of the tough inclines. The gaps spread a bit, but none got out of site.

Legs was the first to pop off the back of the lead group. The mechanicals sapped too much energy and were his eventual undoing. The Fat Cat Kept his eye on Birdman but the gap would not close. Then, the shocker. Birdman jumped and passed the yellow jersey, Diesel, who could not respond. The Cat was taken by surprise, never suspecting such a shot across the polka dots bow. It had never occurred to him that they would pass Diesel. However, watching Birdman fly away, he had to try. The Cat's bike creaked and groaned under the strain. He was sure the cacophony would wake the slumbering beast. The Cat slipped briefly into Diesel's slip stream and then it happened. The Cat slung out of the draft and made his own pass of the polka-dot and yellow jersey holder.

Just ahead, less than a 1/2 mile from the finish, Birdman's world was a contracting blur. Oxygen debt consumed him, toying with his consciousness. Despite his body's protestations and warnings, he flung himself into the breach once more and passed Sandbag. There he was, after 4.5 miles of climbing, with nothing but clear road between him and the finish line.

Mere yards behind, The Fat Cat was still too far behind to make a run when he saw the finishing flag. As a knight of the order of the Grimpeurs, he is sworn to never look back. So, thinking Diesel and Legs were right on his tail, he made his own maddened sprint. He crossed the line third and had just enough time to throw up (again) before Diesel finished. Legs Came across in fifth, spent from his valiant efforts in the face of mechanical adversity. Soon after Brahma Mama surged across the line just ahead of Trip and Jack.

Thursday's race was the most hotly contested of the year and perhaps the most well ridden. Kudos to all who came out in the cold and really gave it their all. Congratulations to Birdman on his secret deep mountain training and his leap back to glory. Congratulations to Diesel for his "Grimpeur of the month" caliber riding.

In the overall, Boyscout fell in the rankings like Tiger woods. Diesel held the yellow but gave up some of his point lead. Legs limited his losses and held onto second by a slim margin over Fat Cat who regained the points he lost to Legs on Mud Pike. Fat Cat jumped into third and onto the overall podium. The rest of the Overall Standings (including +1 for the cold) are as follows:
 1) Diesel- 63
2) Legs-  52
3) Fat Cat- 51
4)Boyscout- 47
5) Birdman- 36
6) Mama- 29
7) Sandbag- 26
8) Tallboy- 18
9) Trip- 9
10) Fixie- 8
11) Razor- 5
12) Chunks- 5
13) Highlander- 3

The rest of the ride featured Reedsville, a flat tire, a very cold stretch of road, Masontown and a race down Snake Hill.

Thanks to everyone for coming out. It was one of the best rides yet. See you in two weeks and Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Go Till You Blow

Seven Grimpeurs were blessed to find Mud Pike a smooth black and yellow ribbon dangling from the pale blue-grey sky. Right off the bat, The Fat Cat tried to take advantage of the fresh tarmac. The other Grimpeurs would have none of it. They were on to his psychological games. If one was to win this edition, it would be on strength, not trickery.

It was pretty much all together on Scylla (The first steep section) when Kevin, a past Grimpeur who somehow escaped naming, made the first move. He got a small gap. The leaders responded and the move was covered in short order. It was a valiant effort from a man headed up unfamiliar roads. We pray he doesn't make such missteps as he made on The Pike this day.

Shooting through the jowls of Scylla and on through Charybdis' slopes, Diesel made his own move. This one had legs. The Cat and  Talks-With-Legs followed as best they could. Through the Doldrums, Legs and Fat Cat took the measure of each other until Legs was finally able to make some headway. It is well known to Legs that Fatty hates the doldrums. Legs was able to get about 75 yards on the Cat before the gap settled.

From then on the leaders were locked in painful, lonely bubbles- only the distant backsides of thier competitors to keep them company. Fat Cat cycled through gears and positions, looking for any ounce of extra power to close the gap to first and second. The distance to Legs shortened in agonizingly slow increments. He was not about to surrender his one point lead over The Cat. The Cat pounded the peddles up Baby Bear and Mama Bear but so did legs and Diesel. Diesel crested Papa Bear too far ahead of the other Grimpeurs for any challenge for the top spot. With Boyscout in absentia, Diesel knew the jersey was his for the taking and he would not be denied.

Back on Papa Bear, Legs still had a good 25 yards on Fat Cat. Old Fatty knew he had waited too long to make a move but, really, there on the leg breaking grades of Papa Bear was his only window. He stood up and throttled his groaning bike for all it was worth. Four lengths were all that separated him from second right before he popped like an old inner tube. The Cervelo lathered up and nearly came to a stop. As Legs rode off, the Fat Cat tried to squeeze of one last impotent attack but only vomited in his mouth. No excuses-he had nothing left to give.

The Fat Cat passed Kean's Tree at 31:30. Legs put in a fantastic effort to cross 30 seconds faster. Diesel was about a minute quicker than that for a glorious solo victory in the fine white snow and a week in polka-dots.

Birdman came through in fourth. After a bit, Brahma Mama powered across the line, a big smile on her face. Kevin took the sixth spot after vomiting three times on the fine new pavement. Thus he will now and forever be known as "Chunks". The lantern rouge was brought up by Highlander, who came down from his high Herring Loop cabin to do battle on Mud Pike's Famed slopes.

At the Summit, Brahma Mama carried out the charge of "honoring the living" with a poem for Legs.

"A Poem for Tim

A man was proud to be a non-believer

Logic ruled his mind, not superstition

Yet he lived as Jesus would wish

(If Jesus really was who they say he was)

Showing kindness to a girl stranded at the bus stop

Taking Chinese visitors to meet Albert Einstein

Rescuing a kitten from a one-handed cyclist

Sewing up a friend’s wounds

Talking, problem solving, inspiring strangers

And always: making friends laugh

Nearly every day this man gave generously of that thing called love

Even though he would rather call it something else

Humanity? Kindness? Giving?

This man found generosity to be a way of life

And I get to honor him while he’s living

For this man is very, very much alive "

After the battle had been waged and the accolades paid, the Grimpeurs were allied once again in shepherding a helmetless Legs down the mountain (He left it at home but was undeterred). The group sauntered about in the lowlands for a bit, had a bit of libation, and then each headed on about the day's business.

The double points- plus one for the snow- shook up the overall standings. Diesel swooped in and swept up the Grimpeur of the month honors as well as the overall lead. Legs tied Boyscout for second and fended off Fat Cat's podium challenge. There was also a change in the standings due to an error that was honorably pointed out by Trip. The updated standings are as follows.
1. Diesel- 57
2. Legs-47
2. Boyscout- 47
4. Fat Cat-  44
5. Birdman- 27
6. Mama- 25
7. Sandbag- 18
7. Tallboy- 18
9. Fixie- 6
9. Trip-6
11. Razor- 5
11. Chunks- 5
13. Highlander- 3

It's back to the friendly climbs of West Virginia next week. Don't forget to clear your calenders for the second Thursday of December.

                                             No Press!
                                           Here's your interview!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Seeing Spots

As you can see, this post doesn't start with the now traditional podium shot. Oh, it will be unveiled, trust me. It's just that it is so unnatural, unnerving, even shocking, that leading with it may well cause your mind to seize up, leaving you to be found drooling under your desk by your flabbergasted co-workers. All you thought you knew will soon be turned on its head. The only humane thing to do is to massage the reader's brains  a bit and ease them into it.

Nine riders made the start yesterday. From the onset they were champing at the bit and clamoring to flog themselves on two climbs like last week. What a monster we have created. It was decided to have one climb at the onset and one in the end to test the mettle of The Grimpeurs. The peleton started the first race at the bottom of Snake Hill. The pressure of the upcoming fight was such the unafflicted wrested banned substances from the needy and desperately sucked them into their lungs.

As usual, Fat Cat (sans le dopage)started off fast in vain hopes of making a show of it. He swore at the pois a rouges who marked the move and later rode The Cat off his draft. A little further on, Diesel made a move to try and catch the jersey he covets so badly. As the Fat Cat saw first and second decided ahead of him, he chanced to look back. There was no need to think of a surge. He was unchallenged and could drift across the line and onto the podium! Do not scoff you non-believers. There is a Santa Claus, Bigfoot is real and The Flanders Fat Cat did make it onto the podium. A shout out goes out to Sandbag without whose absence this moment would have never been possible.
Tallboy, who had been travelling and off-bike for two weeks, took the forth spot. Legs, despite his nefarious actions lost a couple of points to his arch nemesis and came in fifth. Brahma Mama tore up the femme division and finished sixth overall. The fans rose to their feet for the gallant battle for seventh place. It was a photo finish. Being that there is no camera, the nod is given to... Razor, who put in a mighty acceleration to try and beat Trip. Fixie brought a knife to a gunfight again and hauled the lantern rouge up on his cross-bike.

After the ceremonies, everybody regrouped for the Herring Loop. The idea was to get the competitors a little more tired for the second run up a hairy climb way back in the Hatfield's back yard called Mt. Zion. All along the loop The Fat Cat coughed and hacked up pieces of his broken lung, seemingly being made to pay a price for his hubris. He was further punished with a flat tire and a dropped water bottle. By the time the Grimpeurs reached the bottom, The Fat Cat was begging for the order to rescind its decree of a second race. The mob would not acquiesce.

The Cat's legs were nothing more than ground meat held together in a pastry bag. Any form that he may have had was left steaming in the ditch. His upper body bobbed up and down in a violent effort to compensate for quads laced in barbed-wire as the regular suspects made their moves.

 Boyscout tantalizingly waved the polka-dot jersey in front of Diesel only to yank it away like a matador. Further down the hill, Tallboy made his own move, spinning past Fat Cat heading into the steepest part of the climb. He got about seven bike-lengths before the gap settled. The Fat Cat desperately wanted to sit up. All he had to do to relieve his suffering was stop turning the pedals and be engulfed by his pursuers. Legs cried out from behind that he was coming. The Cat pushed a sliver more and inched up on Tallboy. Near the top, The Cat had cut the gap to five lengths but was hurting badly. He had reached the stage of bargaining. The grade rose such that his front tire lifted when he mashed his ham-foot into the poor pedals. He promised that he'd make an attack if he could hold the gap to the rusted dumpster  at the final bend. He secretly prayed that he couldn't.

The dumpster came and the gap held. The Fat Cat rose from his saddle and staggered forth. He squeezed past Tallboy and clawed onto the podium (helped in no small part by the fact that Tallboy did not know the exact location of the finish). Legs came in yammering at The Cats near lifeless form about the location of the finish. The rest is very hazy. We think the remaining finishing order was leg strong Brahma Mama, Trip and Razor. We now Jack was the red lantern because he flatted out and gave us the luxury of lying in the open field, throbbing in the sun.

After the finish it was a simple matter of badgering Legs into descending Snake Hill without braking, which he managed divinely.

The points standings are as such:
1. Boyscout 47 (catch me if you can)
2. Diesel 42 (I think I can-I think I can)
3. Legs  34 (Stay back, you rabble!.)
4. Fat Cat 33 (From hell's heart, I stab at thee!)
5. Brahma Mama 18 (Girls Rule!)
5. Tallboy 18 (What was that yellow blur?)
5. Sandbag 18 (Where are the pants in this house?)
5. Birdman 18 (I'm waiting for the snow.)
9. Trip 7 (Get off my inhaler, dude.)
10. Razor 5 (I wear the pants!)
11. Fixie 5 (Big tires aren't supposed to flat.)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Jerseys and a Smidgen of Cross

Here are the Jerseys. Email or call me with your size. Also, last chance to voice any dissatisfaction or suggestions.
"Team" jersey
points leader

Daily winner

These fellows were a little too literal with the word "cross"

Friday, October 28, 2011


The weather was just above 50 degrees. It had been raining all night as well as the day before. The rain persisted through The Grimp start time. It was a day to gather up one or two points while everyone else gathered by the hearth and sipped Jamaican blend. At least that was what one would expect. But, the revamped Grimpeurs were hungry to climb hills as fast as their legs could push them, weather be damned. Eight riders saddled up and headed out onto the wet West Virginia Roads.

At the onset, it was decided that the ride would stay relatively close to home. A planned start from the shores of Cheat Lake got the kibash when Boyscout lived up to his moniker, scouting out a passage to the closed bridge. The Grimpeurs decided to make the crossing and tackle Quarry Run.
                                                       (Occupy The Bridge 2011)
The pace was high up Quarry Run from the outset when boyscout took a flyer. He thought he had distanced the group. But, when he swerved across the road to survey the damage, he ran right into Fat Cat. The race was on. The hills echoed with labored breathing and painful grunting. Nary a word could be fitted between gasps. It was something to see, the way all Gripeurs had quickly progressed this season and were really fighting it out. The race stayed tight throughout, riders passing each other only to be hit with a counter punch. At the top Boyscout ( on a cross bike) won by a slim margin. Sandbag came off the bench and turned in a solid second place. Cross-eye rouded out the podium. Legs finished just ahead of Fat Cat with Birdman, Brahma Mama and Fixie coming in after. There at the top of the hill, steam still rising though helmets and into the golden foliage, the Grimpeurs decided that they had so much fun, they'd do it again.

This time The Grimpeurs took on the originally planned course. They crossed the Ices Ferry bridge and raced up the river hill. The Fat Cat broke away this time, knowing that there was a downhill back to the lake on Rockley Road. The descent of Rockley was unfamiliar and strewn with storm debris-- nothing to do but let loose and pray. At the bottom Fat Cat still held the lead but heard the war whoops behind him.

Halfway through the Rockley climb, Boyscout, Sandbag, Cross-eye, and Fat Cat were tightly bunched. The wet road pitched up such that skinny tires started slipping and bikes became disobedient. Cross-eye slid sideways, but kept his balance. Fat Cat had to go foot down so as not to T-bone Cross-eye. The Cat was left waving goodbye to a shot at the podium as he tried to get started again.  The whole affair was reviewed by the judges and ruled unintentional- no foul.

Cross-eye took the win at the top of Rockley and, by virtue of his win, got his wish to change his nicknname. He is now called "Diesel". Sandbag put in another gritty performance and finished second again. Boyscout could only muster the will for third, his polka-dot jesey already re-won on Quarry Run. Fat Cat's legs and lungs begged for quarter and it was nearly given until he glanced back and saw Birdman (who he thought was Legs). He opened up that hurt locker and found a little something under that old cyclocross jersey. After Fat Cat and Birdman crossed the line, Brahma Mama pulled off a stunning upset over the former holder of the overall points lead, Legs. Fixie proudly hauled up the Lanthern Rouge.

There was quite a shake-up in the overall standings:
1. Boyscout (I want all the jerseys)- 29
2. Diesel (The artist formerly known as Cross-eye.)- 26
3. Legs (I don't like downhills) -24
4. Fat Cat (I'm the law in these parts)- 19
5. Birdman (Why is that fat guy ahead of me!)-18
5. Sandbag (Wait till I fix this tire.)- 18
7. Fran (Tete de la femmes)- 10
8. Tallboy (MIA)- 6
9. Fixie (I'll kick butt next time without this damn red latern to lug around!)- 3
10. Trip (I might melt.)- 2

Don't forget to mark your calenders for the Mud Pike double points race on Thursday November 10th.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Breakiron Breakout

Bad weather can't keep a good Grimpeur down. The Temperatures dropped into the 40's with a cold wind and wet roads (but little rain) for the race up Breakiron's dastardly slopes. Despite this, six riders made the start including one who is notoriously weather averse. Legs, drawn by the siren call of series points, not only  broke character- he busted out carbon fiber and skinny tires. Methinks he is serious. Watch your backs, kids.

The Fat Cat expected little of himself, harping on about how the hill's profile really didn't fit him; Traditional excuse tendered. Surprisingly, the race didn't split apart as much as would be usual on a climb with 20% grades. After the worst of it, The Fat Cat found himself within eye-shot of the leaders.

Shocked, he coached himself to stay at, but not cross, the line. He focused on Big Daddy, fooling himself that he might catch him. And then it happened! Fat Cat finally caught Big Daddy Birdman on a climb. Birdman said he just didn't have it that day? Fat Cat, capable of speaking in sentences even, said, "Well get it, man!" and upped the pace a smidge. In another first, he rode away from Birdman. We'll give Fat Cat this short gloating window, he may never get it again.

In the end, Boyscout pulled away to extend his reign in polka-dots. Talks-With-Legs pulled off a stunning upset, cresting ahead of Cross-Eye to take second. He also secured another week as the overall points leader. Looks like the yellow jersey(figurative for now) has given him wings. Fat Cat just missed the podium with a very self-satisfying fourth place. Birdman was next with Brahma Mama carrying up the coveted red latern.

Now rememder, the Grimp is not all about who can turn the pedals the fastest. Its also about endurance and perseverence...embracing suffering. As such all the participants were awarded 1 extra point for braving the elements(Very Hogwatian,eh? 50 points-Gryffindor!). This will be the norm with conditions below fifty with rain, any days with snow, severe cold or any other weather requiring a stout heart and a weak mind.

After the hill climb was over, the Grimpeurs headed down Summer School and Aarons creek into town and then back to Cheat lake via Dug Hill etc. for an early finish.

The overall standings are as follows:
(1) Talks-With-Legs, 17pts
(2) Boyscout, 15 pts
(3) Cross-eye, 12 pts
(4) Birdman, 11pts
(5) Fat Cat, 10 pts
(6) Tallboy, 6 pts
(7) Brahma Mama 5 pts
(8) Sandbag 4pts
(9) Trip 2 pts
(10) Fixie 1 pt.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Kobayashi Maru

The Grimpeurs raced up Snake Hill Road yesterday. High points were available with eight riders at the start. The Fat Cat kept it at 90% from bottom to top, wheezing like an octogenarian, 5-pack-a-day smoker whose oxygen tank just ran out. The leaders were kept in sight throughout the joyous ordeal and , possibly for the first time ever, The Fat Cat did, distantly, witness the win. Boyscout took the top spot along with eight whopping points ( We didn't get the polka-dot jersey back in time for the podium shot). He was followed by Randy and then Andy rhymed out the podium.

On the upper reaches of the climb, Talks-with-legs snuck up behind Fat Cat. It was particularly disturbing in that a blind man can usually mark Legs' approach via the constant discourse. The pace had apparently stolen the power of speech from the great orator, almost. He did have the capacity to ask The Fat Cat who was riding just ahead. Fatty must have been right at the red line because the supreme effort of saying ANDY (with an implied DAMMIT) nearly caused a brilliant explosion of flesh and lung right there.  Legs used the occasion to pull away by about 20 yards. Fat Cat wondered if he had some extra reserve deep down in the bottom of his own pain locker, maybe under that musty old cyclocross shirt.  Maybe he could sprint up the last incline, take 4th place, vomiting as he crossed the line. Or maybe, legs would just speed up a little himself, leaving The Cat to die in his wake. The musty old shirt lay undisturbed. Legs was 4th and Fat Cat was 5th.

The Fat Cat wobbled around in a haze of oxygen debt while the remaining riders crested the climb. Brahma Mama was followed up by Trip and "Fixie" Jack  who brought up the Red Lantern on his brand new cross bike with soul crushing knobbies.

The overall standings are as follows: (1.)  Legs has dethroned Big Daddy with 11 points  (2.)  Birdman is tied with Boyscout at 8.  (4.) Randy -who shall be called Cross-eye for his fascination with ultralight cross bikes- is in sole position of 4th place with 7 points. (5) Fat Cat and Andy  -or Tall-Boy because, well he's tall- are tied for 5th at 6 points. (7.) Sandbag has 4 points.  (8.) Brahma Mama has 3 points (She'd have more if training Tuesdays counted). (9.) Trip has 2. (10.) Fixie has 1.

The rest of the ride consisted of a pleasant jaunt through Preston County. The Grimpeurs turned onto East Street behind the Pharmacy in Masontown. They proceeded to drift down Long Hollow (or South Street or Gibson depending on the map you use). A right onto Dillon's Creek Road led to that steep punchy climb and everyone knocked it out. The Grimp took another right onto Oak Flat Road and crossed Rt 7 to bombed out Burke Rd. Zinn Chapel Road led to Born Road where the wide fields and blossoming fall colors slowed the pace. After that it was Kingwood Pike and the rocket ride down Summer School before each Grimpeur went off on their separate paths.

Next up is the Tuesday Training Ride on Mud Pike at 12:30. The next point race is next Thursday, 9:30 (botanical gardens start-try to ride there if possible).

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tuesdays Are Back

In the spirit of getting some of the old ways back in The Grimp. The 12:30, 2hr or less, lunch-time ride is back on the menu. It always starts in Haydentown and there is no rest for the last on the course. Don't worry, that is usually the Fat Cat. The Grimpeurs sorta raced up the Pike. That is to say that Brahma Mama kicked tail, The Fat Cat blew big time, and Legs hung out with Fatso until he could stand it no longer.

After The Cat recovered, he combined his anger at the 44 minute climb with a return time deadline and kept up a strong tempo pace leading the group all the way across Skyline, down Jumonville through Fairchance and back to Haydentown. It was a great workout ride. We'll do that same sorta thing next week for those interested. Call it a training ride for the Grimp point climbs.

Here is an idea for a Grimpeur jersey. I was thinking that we would sell it to ourselves for cost plus ten dollars. The extra money would go toward a cyclist of the year type award, one we can do to praise our brethern while they are still alive to hear it. (Oh, yeah- Legs read "The Road Less Traveled" post ride in honor of The Fat Cat.) Here is the tentative design. Any of you graphic artist types, feel free to submit a design or logo.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Old Time Grimp

The endless Seattlesque weather torturing West Virginia and Southwestern PA retreated swiftly at the announcement of the 2011-2012 Grimpeur Championship points series. Talks-With-Legs, Big Daddy Birdman, The Flanders Fat Cat and Sandbag showed up on a fantastically sunny and temperate day to give the old Mud Pike Mountain what for.

Back in the days when the mighty Aerobinator roamed the hills, The Grimp was a painful affair. It was all someone of the Fat Cat's stature could do to hold on to the slipstream across the rolling spine of the mountain. All uphills were anaerobic death marches. Since then the Grimp has migrated from Tuesdays to Thursdays and has matured into a congenial cycling affair. Each incarnation has its merits. Meandering through hill and dale, parsing out the nature of God and man on the backs of carbon and aluminum steeds has become well-loved. However,the Aerobinators ghost got the Fat Cat nostalgic for the days when all was given to the climb.

So, it was decided, by royal fiat, that old and new be combined. From this day forth, one day a week, willing Grimpeurs will attack a designated hill/mountain with all the fervor they can muster. For their efforts, points will be awarded. The points will be based on how many riders are on that days ride. For example: If there are six riders, the first to the top gets six points and the last gets three. The series will continue through next September with a trophy presentation and other wondrous prizes and accolades. The weekly winner takes the Polka-dot jersey at the top of the mountain and keeps it until someone wrests it from him/her by beating them to the top on a subsequent ride. On the second Tuesday of each month the ride will be on Mud Pike and will be for double points (I just thought that part up!).

After flogging themselves for 30 minutes or so, The Grimp will go casual again. The world's problems will be solved from atop bicycles and stress will be pedaled away.

With the above in mind, the four combatants line up at the other side of 857, muscles twitching like racehorses in the starting gates. They rode the false flat at a pace above the norm, but still not punitive. After that, the story must be told from the rear, as any familiar with the illustrious history of The Grimp, must have expected.

The Fat Cat held on valiantly as the gradient ballooned. Ahead he could see Big Daddy and Sandbag just ahead of Talks-With-Legs through about 2/3 of the climb. However, around each turn in the road, the leaders grew smaller. The Fat Cat was alone by the pull-off before the small downhill dip.

The race had been won several minutes before that Fat Cat arrived on his erstwhile blue cross bike, Earnestina, at 38 minutes. Birdman had edged out Talks-With-Legs by a half a wheel and Sandbag had faded to third. By virtue of his performance, Bridman got 8 points and stripped the Jersey from Fat Cat's back. (Somebody had to get it to the top, so why not wear it. It'd be the last chance.) Legs got 6 points, sanbag got three and Fat Cat got 2.

Another tradition of the Grimp is The Fat Cat's excuse. This time it came on the part of the climb called "Baby Bear". The Fat Cat had to stop as a real live bear (and it was no baby)regarded him from the middle of the road.

From then on it was a happy ride, sometimes fiesty, sometimes calm. The Grimpeurs stopped at the Summit Inn for coffee, green tea and excellent conversation. The descent of Jumonville was fast, with Grimpeurs passing trucks and cars along the way.

Over the finishing miles along the Mountain's feet, The polka dotted engine and the red lantern caboose teamed up and lashed across the countryside and back to Haydentown.

It was a truly great ride and an illustrious start to the Grimpeur Championship series. Can't wait to see you all out there next week.

Oh, one more point of order. Fan and Tim thought it'd be nice for one Grimpeur to do a post ride poem. Fran did a nice one last week. I'll go a little off course and offer up a painting: