Alto: The Sturm and the Drang

Alto: The Sturm and the Drang

Big Frank Travieso ripped across the finish line on Nowhere Road like a fiery meteor streaking through the night sky, leaving a black burning vortex of desolation in his wake, as he won his third straight WBL event on 8 February 2014, the Granddaddy of them all, the Porterfield Tire-Atlantis Hydroponics Alto World Cup Event. With his win, Big Frank also locked up the Creatures Comfort Leader’s Jersey as the 2014 Overall Winner, but that wasn’t the only entry scribbled in the WBL Big Black Book of Records. Big Frank also became the first ever Zealot to win Alto three times, not to mention, he has won the 110 mile epic misadventure three years running. Alto and Big Frank are made for one another like ying and yang, like a newspaper and a warm toilet seat, like a Moonpie and an RC Cola. Last but not least, Big Frank’s win was his 6th lifetime in the WBL, which pushed him into a tie for 4th on the list for total victories. And with one event still to go, the 2014 season’s not over yet, and Big Frank has his sights set on pushing further up the leader board. Big Frank seems to have adopted Gordon Gekko’s motto that “Greed is good.” The difference, however, is that unlike big-bellied, candy-coated Wall Street financiers, Big Frank actually has to work to earn his recompense. 

Only a few miles before the Cuban Missile’s stupendous win, the intrepid pack of hardcore pedal-warriors was sailing through the heart of Commerce on its return trip from Alto. The tip of the spear was hurtling forward and drafting behind the flashing blue lights and the wailing siren of a speeding Commerce City squad car—even the Law knew what was on the line. Although the road was flat as we flew through downtown Commerce, I squeezed my sphincter, narrowed my gaze, and called on my inner Superman. I hoped the bastard hadn’t deserted me like he did the last time. I also sucked in my gut, just in case.

Once we scudded through town and the Law stopped traffic at the bypass so we could blow across the multilane roadway without stopping or even slowing down, there were only 3 miles to the perfidious Alto Attack Zone. A sense of black dread settled in my gut like an anvil. To make matters worse, my legs were waterlogged and envenomed with lactic acid, my crippled neck could no longer support the large leaden orb that was bobbing atop my shoulders, and my tear ducts had run completely dry—I couldn’t even have a good cry. Like everyone, I was forced to bite down on a bullet and endure the sturm and drang.

When we took the left hand turn onto Steep Dog Road and entered the sempiternal 9-mile Final Attack Zone at the close of the never-ending 112 mile, 5.5 hour ride, Jered Gutcheck Gruber, as he is fond of doing, set off into the void. As the group of 70 or so climbed Steep Dog Hill, Gutcheck Gruber put his head down and pushed out to a 10 second gap. As the group behind crested Steep Dog Hill, a small group of chasers set off in pursuit: Benjamin Bryant, Jason Bewley, Emile Abraham, and Christian Foster tore off the front and quickly opened up a sizeable gap of empty space.

Behind the four chasers, the third group on the road turned right and tore down Erastus Church Road like a torpedo with a tailwind. But as this group turned left on Seagraves Mill Road with 7 miles to go, the four chasers were fleeing like felons and still widening their gap. Thus, coming out of the left hand turn, Joey Rosskopf jumped up the road like an antelope bolting from a rifle shot. Even though Rosskopf, like Justin Bieber, has a lot of folks follow him around wherever he goes, his unexpected attack gashed the group like a knife-wielding killer and he pulled a dozen clear. At this point the Zealots had 100 hard miles in their legs and there was simply no place to hide. In fact, when several pedal-warriors stood up to follow they simply keeled over and died. Later, we organized a moment of silence in their honor. But not until after the ride—Alto was still on the line.

Rosskopf, Magner, David Cueli, Ruben Campioni, and even Big Frank himself motored at the front of the third group on the road, knowing that if the catch weren’t made before the last right hand turn on Nowhere Road with 3 miles to go, the party might end early because Gruber and Company were not calling it quits. Gruber wasn’t asking for help either, nor did he appear to need any, but if the first chase group connected with Gutcheck, the Fat Lady might start singing a farewell aria even though there were 3 miles to go.

As Rosskopf and his faithful flock of followers climbed the Seagraves Mill Hill just before the turn on Nowhere Road, they increased the pressure at the front until the teapot was whistling. Rosskopf and Company made the catch of the first four halfway up the hill, and in the roiling, frantic whirlwind that followed, eleven riders formed in the front group. With three miles to go, eleven were chasing one down the fast flowing byways of the Nowhere Road.

In the first chase group, Travieso, T Brown, Cueli, Campioni, Ty Magner, Rosskopf, Bewley, Austin Ulich, Big Jon Atkins, E Abraham and Brendan Cornett were chasing Gruber with all the vim and verve they could muster after having the hale beat out of their legs with steel pipes. But Gruber wasn’t making this easy. The long-legged cycle-photog was thrashing about on his steed, chin splitting the air, shoulders straining, face grimacing, snot flowing out of both nostrils like two water spigots, and dreaming of the greatest victory of his life. His lids were filling with tears as he imagined throwing his arms skyward at the line. He quickly came to his senses though and blew out a loud horse-snuffle and carried on. “No time for tears just yet,” he kept telling himself.

But behind, the chase was relentless, unforgiving and without regret. Cresting the final large lump in the road on Nowhere Road with 1 kilo to go, Gutcheck Gruber’s spectacular 8 mile effort came to a tragic end, as the hero’s epic quest oftentimes does. The eleven chasers went whipping by with nary a wink or a nod. Once again, Big Frank’s two fast friends, Cueli and Campioni, went to the front and took matters into their own hands. The eleven strongest fellas in the pack were flying to the finish in a single file line at 40 miles per hour—truly, this furious, fluid line was an evanescent work of art. With 250 meters, T brown left the line and jumped and surged to a quick gap. But Travieso jumped quickly too and was immediately on Brown’s wheel and came around on his left at over 45 miles per hour, with T Magner and Abraham hitching a ride for the next two spots. T Brown held on for 4th and the eternally strong man Big Jon Atkins sprinted home for 5th. Brendan Cornett showed he is ready to storm with an impressive 6th place finish while Austin Ulich once again showed an incredible ability to suffer and followed next in 7th. In fact, each member of the 11 person front group was awarded at least one point for having the savvy as well as the strength to make the decisive move.

Marek Lipold won the sprint in the first chase group with a massive show of brute strength, finishing 13th overall and taking 4th for the Non-Pros. The ageless Eric Murphy and the young turk Dylan Swain took the final two slots for the Non-Pros.

Moran M Train Patton again won the ladies sprint, but she was followed closely by the wolf in sheep’s clothing, Ashley Gruber. All the ladies who rode Alto—Emily Cox and Maria Carrelli also—deserve a shout out for a job well done. M Train and the Pretend Sheep also shot up the leaderboard with their mega-points day and both ladies are now positioned to finish in the Top 5. If they can pull this off, they’ll never work again.

Finish (Nowhere Road):

  • 1)       Frank Travieso: 15 pts.
  • 2)       Ty Magner: 12 pts.
  • 3)       Emile Abraham: 9 pts.
  • 4)       Thomas Brown: 6 pts
  • 5)       Jon Atkins: 3 pts
  • 6)       Brendan Cornett: 2 pts
  • 7)       Austin Ulich: 1 pt
  • 8)       Joey Rosskopf: 1 pt
  • 9)       David Cueli: 1 pt
  • 10)    Rueben Campioni: 1 pt
  • 11)    Jason Bewley: 1 pt
  • 12)    8 mile Attack Points: Jered Gruber: 5 pts
  • 13)    Attack Point: Emile Abraham, Benjamin Bryant, Christian Foster, Bewley: 1 pt
  • 14)    True Grit: Justin Smith, Emily Cox.

Non-Pro (finish):

  • 1)       Emile Abraham: 10 pts.
  • 2)       Jon Atkins: 8 pts.
  • 3)       Jason Bewley: 6 pts
  • 4)       Marek Lipold: 4 pts.
  • 5)       Eric Murphy: 2 pts
  • 6)       Dylan Swain: 1 pt
  • 7)       Crowe: 0 pts

Ladies (Finish):

  • 1)       Morgan Patton: 10 pts.
  • 2)       Ashley Gruber: 8 pts.
  • 3)       Maria Carrelli: 6 pts.
  • 4)       Emile Cox: 4 pts
  • 5)       True Grit: Emily Cox: 1 pt.

The Alto ride started under warm, balmy skies, the best Saturday of the winter so far, and conditions only improved as the Zealots drove deeper into the day. The ladies sprint again came fast and furious, coming only 12 miles into the ride, and Maria Carrelli jumped as soon as the whistle blew. She stomped off the front like she was leaving E Murph and never coming back. She sailed away with the breeze. But M Train responded and came storming by and pounded up the road. She caught Carrelli and edged her out in the sprint by the length of a wizard’s right toe. She took her first 3 points of the day and began her assault on second place in the Overall. By days’ end, she’d laid all enemies, except one(Big Frank), to waste.

Ladies Sprint (Seagraves Mill):

  • 1)       Moran Patton: 5 pts.
  • 2)       Maria Carrelli: 4 pts
  • 3)       Emily Cox: 3 pts.
  • 4)       Marai Carrelli: 2 pts
  • 5)       Erin Winter: 1 pt

The Alto Triple Stair Step Attack Zone opened at Mile 43 and the group was hell-bent for leather to break Gutcheck’s current Strava Record and the terrible triple-humped climb. It was a lofty goal but when the group was hammering up the second hill like the black plague spreading a scourge, I knew someone would break the record and others would die while he was trying, so I whispered a little prayer: “Please don’t let it be me.”

Not only did the Flying Bullet Ty Magner break the Strava record by 8 seconds, he pulled off the double-dutch by winning the Alto City Limit sprint too. T Brown showed he is close to pulling off one himself with a close 2nd and Big Frank further solidified his lead with a 3rd. Ulich was once again in the mix in 4th with the always-present Rosskopf in 5th.

Pro Sprint (Alto City Limit):

  • 1)       Ty Magner: 5 pts
  • 2)       Thomas Brown: 4 pts
  • 3)       Frank Travieso: 3 pts.
  • 4)       Austin Ulich: 2 pts.
  • 5)       Joey Rosskopf: 1 pt

Twenty miles later the Non Pros hit the infernal slope of Crackback Hill and an all-out blitzkrieg began up the 600 meter hill. Showing that he too is a force of nature and a freak of genetics, Dylan Swain soared away to take the win, followed by a host of other climbing phenoms: E Murphy, C Dicenso, Michael Kanning and the Flying Bewley.

Non Pro (Crackback Hill):

  • 1)       Dylan Swain: 5 pts.
  • 2)       Eric Murphy: 4 pts
  • 3)       Christian Dicenso: 3 pts.
  • 4)       Michael Kanning: 2 pts
  • 5)       Jason Bewley: 1 pt

During the 25 mile stretch between Crackback Hill and downtown Commerce, the group was in no mood to rest, no desire to kick back and daydream. Instead, these boys and girls flew over the blacktop like ring wraiths with Harley engines. By the time the group did reach Commerce and the brutal Final Attack Zone beyond, everyone knew that even though they’d been in a war, they would survive. Though there were a couple of times I did indeed feel like flinging myself off the edge of the cliff in order to stop the pain, rolling through Commerce, I knew damn well I was alive—the throbbing in my limbs was too intense.

In the fight for the Creature Comforts Overall Leader’s Jersey Big Frank sealed the deal with his record-breaking win, but the rest of the podium spots, 2nd through 5th, are still up for grabs. M Patton, T Brown and A Gruber appear to be favored in the hunt for the final money spots as the last ride of the season approaches, but a slew of others remain in reach. And the final Top 10 could still see seismic shifts. The final countdown has begun.

2014 Overall (8 February 2014):

1)       95 pts: F Travieso

2)       78 pts: M Patton-Brown

3)       65 pts. F Lydick

4)       63 pts: T Brown

5)       60 pts: A Gruber

6)       58 pts: J Bewley

7)       57 pts: O Clark

8)       55 pts: Mary Zider

9)       54 pts: M Carrelli

10)    50 pts: D Dunn

11)    50 pts: E Cox

12)    48 pts: J Rosskopf

13)    46 pts: E Murphy

14)    42 pts: J Gruber

15)    42 pts: C Tinsley

16)    42 pts: M Trivette

17)    42 pts: B Bryant

18)    41 pts: L Ainslie

19)    41 pts: A Scarano

20)    41 pts: S Philyaw

21)    41 pts: D Gabriel

22)    41 pts: S Wrege

23)    41 pts: B Lide

24)    41 pts: J Smith

25)    40 pts: S Morris

26)    40 Pts: D Crowe

27)    39 pts: B Cornett

28)    38 pts: A Smola

29)    38 pts: D Blalock

30)    36 pts: M York

31)    35 pts: T Magner

32)    34 pts: F Crumley

33)    32 pts: D Jordan

34)    32 pts: M Lipold

35)    31 pts: M York

36)    31 pts: S Parrish

37)    31 pts: M Kanning

38)    30 pts: R Wolfe

39)    30 pts: C England

40)    30 pts: E Abraham

41)    29 pts: E Kirk

42)    29 pts: M Miller

43)    28 pts: D England

44)    28 pts: A Ulich

45)    28 pts: H Garrison

46)    25 pts: C Deluise

47)    25 pts: B Magner

48)    25 pts: B Parkerson

49)    24 pts: R Foster

50)    24 pts: D Hurst

51)    23 pts: B Mayo

52)    23 pts: O Quinn

53)    23 pts: H Nash

54)    23 pts: J Koch

55)    21 pts: S Rafal

56)    20 pts: R Evans

57)    20 pts: D Farlowe

58)    20 pts: J Baynes

59)    20 pts: N Dunn

60)    20 pts: M Klein

61)    19 pts: D Goodman

62)    19 pts: D Mealor

63)    19 pts: T Petit

64)    19 pts: T Pazur

65)    19 pts: T Mulkey

66)    18 pts: J Loudermilk

67)    18 pts. R Conaster

68)    17 pts: AJ Meyer

69)    17 pts: M Szalkowski

70)    17 pts: J Campbell

71)    16 pts: D Swain

72)    16 pts. J Atkins

73)    16 pts: E Winter

74)    16 pts: M Edmonds

75)    16 pts: J May

76)    16 pts. K Corsello

77)    16 pts: B Kerrigan

78)    15 pts: D Ramos

79)    15 pts: J Heimer

80)    15 pts: R Foster

81)    15 pts: E Gruenwedel

82)    14 pts: A Zuver

83)    14 pts: K Madsmith

84)    13 pts: T Robinson

85)    13 pts: B Lanzilotta

86)    13 pts: R Williams

87)    13 pts: R Butler

88)    12 pts: C Dicenso

89)    12 pts: M Waine

90)    12 pts: A Hilliard

91)    11 pts: 11 pts

92)    11 pts: C Constantine

93)    11 pts: E Caldwell

94)    11 pts: W Kaiser

95)    11 pts: C Vogely

96)    11 pts: J Shirey

97)    11 pts: L Radli

98)    11 pts: C whalen

99)    10 pts: R Campioni

100)10 pts: Ian Garrison

101)10 pts: Kara Crowe