Thursday, May 24, 2012

Return of the Belgian


                                                             Battle of Break Iron

 Eight Grimpeurs braved the sunny skies and mild temperatures to vie for the right to be called king of the mountain. The Grimp was honored with the return of both Legs and Trip. Legs has of late represented The Grimp in the Belgian Homeland and attended several of the monuments of cycling whilst tackling our sister mountains, The Ardeens. Apparently his training methods of taking on Belgian hills and cobbles, Belgian chocolates and Belgian beer was sound, as you shall soon bear witness.
Legs the Belgian was given the charge of the route and he choose monstrous Break Iron, with some cajoling from Mama. Fat Cat favored a return to a Pixler start but Legs and Mama insisted on Gunnar's starting line. They clearly feared remonstrations from across the interwebs.

 The climb up featured many lead changes and tactics. Mama Jumped first again and although her move did not hold, she took one minute off her time of only one week ago. Vanilla ice was the next to make a move with sandbag and Legs in hot pursuit. Ice pounded the pedals and really looked like he might have the winning stuff through the halfway point. However, the relentless chase of Sandbag and Legs was too much for him. It was at this point that Fat Cat came up to see what was happening. He tried to give Matty Ice a pace that would bring him back to the front. Alas, he had used himself up at the bottom. Fat Cat slowly crept up behind Sandbag and Legs. They must have thought they had the thing in the bag because they still possesed the powers of speech and were using them a little too liberally. Just as they wondered aloud where the polka-dot jersey was, Fat Cat startled them when he joined the conversation. In the final meters, Legs took a strong run but could not make it stick to the finish. Sandbag tried the same with similar results. Diesel, who had been doing a bit of his own lurking, Tried a very strong move from the shadows and nearly sprinted to victory. But, the impending loss of the jersey proved to be more than The Fat Cat could bear. He covered the move and took the finish.
Diesel came in a close second and Legs was able to step onto the third spot on the podium in his first outing of the spring. Sandbag took the fourth spot and Ice took fifth. Birdman took the prize of being most restrained in obeying the pre-tucker county road race edict to do a restful ride today. He crossed fifth, just ahead of Trip and then Mama..

From then on the Grimp went off on the customary Born Loop to Reedsville, Masontown and down Snake Hill to Cheat Lake, all the while regaled with tales of Belgian dandies and lederhosen. Just to add a little excitement, Birdman spaced out on the last curve at the bottom of the Snake. Gravity and inertia double teamed him and nearly shot him into the turnbuckle of an oncoming Buick.

Aside from the last minute theatrics of Big Daddy, it was a great ride with a great turnout of old and new Grimpeurs. Good luck to all those Grimpeurs competing in the tour of Tucker this weekend. You're gonna need it in a race that was voted one of the top ten hardest in the U.S.

Special points were awarded to Legs for representing in Belgium, although there were murmurs that the gift of an Eddy Mercyx, world champion, Molteni cycling cap presented to the Grand Pooh Bah of the Grimp by Legs may have greased the path. Bribery will get you everywhere. Birdman gets a couple of points as well for obeying his trainers advice. Mam gets one extra for pre-race flattery and a massive improvement in time. In honor of the return of the Belgian, any other requests for extra points will be entertained (refer back to the section on bribery if your argument lacks force).

Fat Cat: 37
Birdman: 25
Diesel: 24
Legs: 23
Sandbag: 10
Vanilla Ice: 10
Mountain: 10
The Pink Jersey: 6
Goldfish: 3
Trip: 2
Razor: 1
Highlander: 1

Monday, May 21, 2012

Back in Spots

The grimpeurs were in fine spirits Thursday last. There was nary a cloud in the sky and the air was pleasantly warm on browning skin. The countryside was alive with color. Another fine day to get the old heart pumping and the old brain cleaned out.
Six riders showed up at the start of the latest edition. They rode from The Botanical Gardens down to the bottom of Break Iron. Since Gunnar has been taunting the grimpeurs a bit about where to start
a Break Iron race, the group moved the start of this round to Gunnar's line (not the customary Pixler start). And, since Gunnar, a onetime Grimpeur himself, posted a time of 13:41 for this course it was decided to keep all times for comparison.
The gun went off and so did Mama. She held the lead through the lower slopes until the peleton swallowed her up. From then on the polka-dot jersey set the pace (Mountain Man did not show). At Break Iron proper the group was still relatively bunched but, much wheezing rose up from the tree lined way.
On the 19% slopes, Fat Cat tried to turn a former weakness into a strength. He pushed the pace and got separation. From then on it was a grim procession of mountain time trialists, challenging their own burning legs and lungs.
At the finish it was The Fat Cat of Flanders crossing the line first at 18:40. Birdman came across second at 19:26. Sandbag took the final podium spot at 20:21. Diesel followed at 21:28, Vanilla Ice was at 21:50 and Mamma finished it up at 25:00.

The rest of the ride was a leisurely jaunt away from the mountains. For a change of pace, the grimpeurs headed across country to Goshen Road, on to Little Falls and down along the river on the bike path. Mercifully, the path spared the group any punctures. From there it was up Dug Hill and back to Cheat Lake. See you all next week. Mountain man- come on back and get your jersey. Gunnar- now that The Grimp has your number, they're comin' to getcha.

Current Spring Standings:

Fat Cat: 29
Birdman: 20
Diesel: 17
Mama: 15
Mountain Man: 10
Vanilla Ice: 6
The Pink Jersey: 6
Sandbag: 4
Goldfish: 3
Highlander: 1

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Spring Beatdown

It was a fine spring day this Thursday past. The trees were flush with new green leaves, the underbrush hastily bloomed in the sunlight the burgeoning foliage still allowed and the mountain streams surged with youthful vigor. The Flanders Fat Cat came to this edition of The Grimp feeling his own spring strength and the power of the Polka Dots.

Five Grimpeurs came out to challenge the fabled Mud Pike and to measure themselves aginst their peers. Brahma Mama was there as well as The Fat Cat but, like the shoots of the season, several new Grimpeurs popped up in Haydentown. Marco came over from Italy (well, not directly) Matt peeked out from the local woods and one guy even showed up on a mountain bike!

The Fat Cat was feeling full of himself and had set the impossible goal of under 26 minutes to summit the mountain,  thereby beating his best by a couple minutes and setting the best recorded time on The Pike. At the start, he was so confident that he let the others go while he fiddled with timing devices, making sure that his foray into history was properly recorded.

All metrics properly set, Fat Cat took out on his own personal time trial. He zoomed past the peleton and attacked the steep feet of the mountain. Between heavy breaths he heard an unusual sort of hum just off his stern. Was it?...No it couldn't be. He struggled on into the sky, feeling light and fast, nobody could take the jersey from his back--not today, maybe not ever. Still there was that oddly familiar hum poking at him.
As sweat welled up from gaping poors and began to drip from Fat Cat's brow, a strange and unexpected object popped into his peripheral vision. At first he thought it may have been an oxygen deprivation induced mirage. However as it pulled even, and then passed, it was clear that this was no bit of ephemera- it was the guy on the mouintain bike! As The Cat watched, mouth agape, the knobby tires and thick frame grew smaller ahead. The Cat awoke from his shock and gave chase.
The riders were pegged to the red-line all the rest of the way up. Precious little gap closed with each mile until it became clear that the unthinkable was about to happen. That Fat Cat of Flanders made the summit at a new record time of 25:40...twenty-eight seconds BEHIND the guy on a mountain bike.

If it's any consulation to the defrocked Fat Cat, each time the tale is recounted the listener usually interupts with, "It wasn't Sam Dyke, was it?" A reply in the affirmative is invariably followed by a knowing nod of the head. Apparently Sam is well known in mountain bike racing lore (as is his wife). He doesn't even own a road bike, thank God! The havoc he might wreek is unthinkable. As far as his grimpeur name, captain obvious dubs him Mountain Man.

Marco "The Pink Jersey" rounded out the podium with Matt "Vanilla Ice" taking fourth and woman among men, Brahma Mama, soldiering up the heavy red lantern. 

From then on the Grimp eased up a bit across skyline but was not quite as lax as usual, maybe due to a little posturing up front. The group screamed down the east side of the ridge on Kirby, reaching speeds of 59 mph. Due to time constraints, the Grimpeurs elected to turn right around at the bottom and tackle the 3 miles of hill they had just descended for a nasty little two ascent out and back.

Congratulations to Mountain Man on his first Grimp, an astounding run, and his first turn in polka-dots. Thanks to Vanilla Ice for joining the order and thanks to the regulars. It was, as usual, a great grimp.

There were double points today so the standings add up as such:

Fat Cat: 23
( He elects not to take double points in deference to Diesel and Birdman who could not attend. Or, was it punishment for his defeat? )
Birdman: 15
Diesel: 14
Mountain Man: 10
The Pink Jersey: 6
Vanilla Ice: 4
Goldfish: 3
Razor: 1
Highlander: 1

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Titans of the Grimp

Bet you didn't know about Hill-billy Prometheus. He was cast down from Mount Ventoux for putting fire in the legs of the Grimpeurs. Now he is doomed to labor endlessly up the mountains of West Virgina on a cross bike. Each time he stops to rest, Birdman flies out from his draft and eats his liver.
The Grimp is not just a simple "group ride", it's an adventure. Here the six Grimpeurs who made Thursday's ride encounter fellow adventurer, the West Virgina University Mountaineer, doing his woodsy thing on a fine sunny Thursday.
The Grimpeurs did race up the heady heights of Quarry Run Road Thursday. The pace was amicable for the first third and then slowly ratcheted up as the summit loomed ever closer. Near the end, Birdman took a run, ala last week, and blew up just the same. Rumor is that he is doing it for laughs now. Diesel gamely held the Fat Cat's wheel as the pace quickened and held on until the final 500 yards, when Fatty was finally able to ride him off. At the summit it was Fat Cat 20 seconds ahead of Diesel with Birdman rounding out the podium at 1:15. Thanks to pockets for filling in on the podium shot. Diesel had pressing obligations but still forced the grimp race in sideways. That's dedication.
The ladies of the Grimp made short work of Chestnut Ridge, looking spry at the top.

Fat Cat- 19
Birdman- 15
Diesel- 14
Mama- 12
Pockets- 3
Razor- 1

Next week is the second Thursday and thus a trip up the mighty Mud Pike is on tap. It's double points day so don't miss it. Also, there may be a special "adjustment/recalibration" in order for attendees if the planets align just so.
In other news, The Appalachian Spring Spectacular took place this weekend. Nearly 100 registered riders took to the roads between Morgantown WV and Waynesburgh PA for up to 60 miles of fully supported riding. Several Grimpeurs helped out with sweep duties. It was a great weekend ride. There was even a sighting of The Grimp's wandering son, Talks-With-Legs, fresh off his training tour in Belgium during the spring classics. 

We don't want to forget the bonus ride, death march through Appalachia that was hosted by the diabolical Birdman on Saturday. He led quite a few souls, both suspecting and unsuspecting, through 90 plus miles of beautiful and daunting roads and goat trails. A few even took on Break Iron in the end to make it a century.