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
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.