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.
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.
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).
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.
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: