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!

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