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!