Tuesday, July 2

Catburger and the Amphibious Cyclists: Or, Smoking the Royal Pipe

In a bold move the Chainring family has launched an attack on the Mozhican family to wrest away the coveted Most Cyclo-centric Family of Powell County status.  It's kind of a KOM thing without Strava.  That way we’re not dorks of the Strava persuasion.  Put that in your pipe Jeaph!

Yesterday I got home from work to find my house locked up and dark.  Ole Forester Gump was resting grumpily in the driveway.  Mandy's Kona Lisa and Boone's bike were gone.  This would have put a grin on my face, but the skies were angry purple and rain was falling.  It put a huge smile on my face.  My family was giving me blog-fodder.
I texted Mandy first to see where they were, assuming they were holed up at the grocery store or her parents’ house on the far side of Steamshovel Hill.  No answer.  I tried to call.  No answer.  I’d been home long enough at that point that they would have had time to ride home from the store, so I decided I’d mosey toward town in the SAG wagon and see if they needed assistance.
I really didn’t expect to see them on the road.  I expected to find them either at the store or said in-law Bikeport.  But as I was climbing the long side of Steamshovel I saw Boone leading the breakaway down the wet pavement, his Italia cycling cap (the one signed by Cadel Evans) keeping the falling rain off his speck-tackles.  Mandy and Bean followed on the Ute with saddle bags full of groceries.  Mandy called out that they were okay as we passed, but then they pulled into Hotdog Sue’s so I eased in beside them.  Bean climbed in with me, but I think it was more the novelty of being picked up in a car, and Boone opted to ride home with his mom.  My son!

We raced back home and I walked back out to meet my rain-kissed family and capture their awesomeness in pixels. I was happy they’d made it okay, if only a little soggy.  With the groceries unloaded and the bikes tucked away we settled in for a rainy evening and I worked on…a piece of writing.
In desperation I have reverted to old training schemes.  I can’t do my old mountain bike commutes over mesas to get in the climbing and miles I need toward Leadville, but I can strike off into the heart of Powell County-dom and climb High Rock before heading in to work in the SAG wagon.  SAG Wagon.  Sag Wagon.  
I hadn’t set my alarm for earlier, but my body was obviously ready to attack one of the highest points in the Red River Valley.  I woke un-prodded at 5am, got dressed in my kit, and headed out the door in complete darkness.  These days that’s not such a big deal, but before our car-lite stint in Colorado I wouldn’t have fathomed a pre-dawn ride.  I was rolling towards the summit at 5:20am.
The one thing that worried me was the dense population of dogs on Cat Creek.  Ironically, I think Cat Creek was named such because earlier settlers had to outrace packs of dogs on their Penny-farthings and felt like gnawed cats most of the time.
Tomahawk felt the prick of canine’s last January on a ride up Cat Creek, and I hoped the darkness would conceal, or at least confuse, any early rising dogs.  Or better yet, after a night of howling at the moon and keeping up the neighborhood (as dogs are wont to do) maybe they’d all be sleeping in.
I passed near silently up the valley making really good time, and the dogs I feared most were caught completely off guard and didn’t stand a chance to make catburger out of me.  Of course I had to pass them on the way out, but I’d be going much faster so I didn’t worry.
Before I knew it I was cranking up the bottom section of the High Rock climb.  From Cat Creek the climb is deceptive.  It’s steep, don’t get me wrong.  There’s no giveaway there.  But there are multiple flat and reduced grades as you climb for the summit.  The last two pitches are the steepest, with the final hill being the crux.  
You can kinda sneak a last reprieve by circling over on Cow Creek Road before launching up, and then sticking to the left side of the pavement and the outside of the first curve of the last pitch, but even still, it’s no giveaway.
And then I stood at the high point.  It was 6am.  My cyclocomputerator said 40 minutes out, and I had ridden 10 miles.  I wanted to be home to get ready for work by 6:30.  I was pretty sure I could make it, but there was no time to waste.
I was on the pedals and back in my highest gear instantaneously.  The jump to lightspeed was effortless with such a strong pull from gravity.  I kept my speed in check only because it was a great time for a whitetail or a bear to jump out in front of me just to see what I’d do, and the roads were still damp from last night’s rains.  I didn’t want to skid right off into the jungles at the head of Cat Creek.  I’d not make it on time to my cubicle if I wrapped myself around a tree.
A high gear and a high cadence carried me past the first (and lesser) dog threat, but the Kraut Shepherd and mongrel biter at the second kill zone were located along a slight hill in the road which slowed me despite my attempts to outpace them.  Herr Fido nearly got a nibble of my ankle, but I’d have seasoned it with some Halt! if he’d gotten any closer.
Then I was dog free the rest of the way home.  There are more dogs on Cat Creek (maybe we should petition the County for a name change) but none were awake enough for a good chase.  So I cranked on...being rabbit to my own mental hounds.
I had worried outbound commuter traffic would be a problem on my return, but I managed to sneak all the way out to Highway 15 without being passed by a single car on the rollercoaster that is Cat Creek Road.  
On the outskirts I passed the Mountain View Drive-In and saw they will be playing Despicable Me 2 beginning tonight.  My grin grew three sizes as another scheme was spawned in my cranium.
I continued into town racing away from the rising sun, and opted for a sprint over the steep-faced east side of Steamshovel Hill.  On top of Old Smokey I saw two free-spirited horses nibbling at a lawn. I stopped to call dispatch so they could dispatch a horse wrangler before the ponies wandered into the path of some bleary-eyed car commuter. Or an errant Leadville wanna-be in training.
I rolled into the Red River Regional Bikeport at 6:30 on the dot.  I had just enough time to get ready and get out the door all gussied up like a big boy.  The horses were gone when I drove back over Steamshovel.
Once at work I texted Jeff with my scheme:
Despicable Me 2 at the Bike-In Wednesday night?
Yeah, I had to be the one to throw down that gauntlet.  The family that bikes to the drive-in first has got to be the Royal Family of Powell County Cycling.  Got to be.  So put that in your pipe Geahf.

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