The Grim Reapers of the ATOC

Who would have thought the Grim Reapers had individual names? Curse me for not breaking out my pen and paper right there, but I believe one is named Bruce Campbell, while the other may very well be named Chuck Bramwell. It is not everyday you get to meet cloaked Death, and survive to tell the mortal world about it.

Who would have known this pair of Reapers hailed from Southern California's very own City of Irvine? If you ever needed a reason to not visit that city, the fact that they reside there may be it. If you made the now-clearly-unfortunate decision to move there, I'm sorry, you are that much closer to your doom.

Who would have thought the Grim Reapers needed help getting dressed? It is just a cloak and cowl after all.

Who would have thought the Grim Reapers are not always all bones and shadows? In their human guise there is actually skin and flesh on those bones. Kind of scary really, they could be the person in the cubicle next to your own.

One thing I did know is that the Grim duo slipped on running shoes in order to take care of business - if you are going to give chase to someone on a bike, someone not yet ready to give up the ghost, even when going uphill, you have got to be fast on your feet.

Over the years the Grim Reaper, or Reapers when they work in tandem, have become a familiar sight along the verges during the Tour of California's toughest stages. Right up there with antler guy and the Pope. I don't know that the Reapers have ever been spotted along the various downtown circuits of the Tour. After all it is on those highest, steepest pitched slopes where mouths gape the widest in futile attempts to suck in enough oxygen, where the legs come closest to synthesize into the rubbery compound we all have been familiar with at one time or another, where the body comes closest to physical collapse, and where the mind shuts down all but the most essential thought processes. In other words, where the Grim Reapers' services are most likely to be required.

While these particular Grim Reapers owe their existence to the race (Reapers have also been known to stalk the annual Breathless Agony ride) they don't limit their attentions, nor intentions, to the racers. Average Joe's riding up to watch the pros will avert their eyes and cover their faces. Women will take a wide path around, nervously smiling and warily watching from the corner of their eyes. Though the Reapers mostly avoid the youngest children, those of toddling age, should the youngsters catch a glimpse they quickly hide behind their fathers, tears welling in their eyes. Truth be known it is only the older kids who are apparently immune to the powers of the Reapers. 

Should you happen to meet the Grim Reapers your best defense (other than a bag of peanut brittle) would seem to be confidence; above all, never show fear, or weaken in resolve. If you ride up on a Reaper alongside the road, sit up a little more straight, pedal with smooth confidence, and most definitely never waiver from your line; a rider with a wavering line is a sure sign to a Reaper. If a spectator looks to be under duress while shuffling up the mountainside, the Reapers will take notice. Rarely will a hunched over pedestrian, sweat streaming down their face, breathes coming in rattling gasps, escape the sunken eyes (or shaded ones should they be all hip with their sunglasses on) of the Reapers. Be forewarned.

if you're a Facebook friend then you already know the story here. for everyone else, well, i will repeat it: what she is holding in her right hand and pointing to with the left is a bag of peanut brittle. when the reapers said her time had come, she was able to buy they off with the brittle candy

Grim Reapers will pose when the cameras come out