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.)