Blackheart and his Legs of Doom

Blackheart and his Legs of Doom

Cleve Blackwell chiseled his name onto the granite tablet containing the WBL’s legendary list of winners as he crushed the field with a textbook attack late in the day and soloed in for the win on the New Year’s Day Fortson’s Clothing Commerce Backasswards Extravaganza. Blackwell bolted from his confreres with 5 miles to go on the new, dastardly Pink Church Circuit Loop and never looked back. Despite the concerted effort behind, the evil and black hearted Blackwell simply put more real estate between himself and his chasers with each downward thrust on the pedals. Approaching the Pink Church finish, Blackheart had not only ridden the powerful contingent of chasers off his wheel, but also out of sight. Crossing the line, he fell, weeping of course, into the arms of his Aerospace handlers who refused to let the media have any access to the instant glamour boy. But I’m an experienced reporter and know how to deal with people refusing to speak with me—I put words in their mouths then stick quotes around the words. It’s a simple as that, problem solved. I do it all the time.

The Fortson Backassward Event was run on the first day of 2007 beneath skies a blue and a big corn-colored sun. Both Mr. Blue Sky and Old King Sol donned their finest in honor of the passing of one Godfather and in celebration of the hanging of another. One of the honorees could rap out a tune on the floor with his feet, twirl in a circle and suddenly drop to the floor, then bounce back to his feet and howl, “Ayyyyiiiiiiiii—I feel good, I knew that I would now.” The other could stuff his gut with fine fare, fire big guns in the air, and appear in public with splendidly coiffed hair. (Actually, the WBL fact checkers have pointed out with proof positive that both men had marvelous hair. An exception for one being the instance his mug shot was taken in ’96 by authorities in the backwaters of South Carolina, and the other being when he was photographed after being yanked out of a hole in the suburbs of Baghdad only a few years ago.)

A small but hearty group of 30 signed in to contest the first sprint of the year. It seems that a few of the less dedicated, but more decimated, were spotted out in downtown Athens in the wee hours of the morning on the eve before and were soundly sleeping the next day when the ride departed. Some of those hitting the hay at a respectable hour the night before and heeding the call to battle were Ms. Chamblee Abernathy, the Bogartarian, Yellow Jersey holder Len Slote, the Fireman Jeremy Wadkins, G-Man Somerville, old timer Brian Kee, the Milkman Tommy Mulkey, P-Diddy Rice, Franklin Crumley, Roberto and newcomer Antonio Guglielmo. After a few cautionary reminders, the groupetto departed to seek its destiny. Fortuna spun the wheel.

The Backasswards Event is a short, but stout, 50 mile affair, and with the winter winds whipping in the usual manner, there was optimistic hope the day would be filled with toil and trouble. Strongman Jacob Fetty put the bunch on his wheel, pushed off from the dock, and let ‘er rip. The group waltzed out Nowhere Road and was quickly headed to Commerce. Halfway to Commerce on Seagraves Mill Road there was a strange sighting. The pack came upon a group of thirty or so on horseback and wearing red jackets so tight that it surely constricted their breathing. A tethered group of 30 or more yapping hounds were traveling with the elegant looking group. As each grouped slowly passed the other, we eyed each other suspiciously, each group wondering why in the hale a member of the other could dress up like a dandy on these rural roads, and spend hours riding around in plain view for the blue collar farmers of Jackson County to see, and calling the experience “fun.” Those fox hunters are one strange breed of folk, misfits more than likely. I think they’re also slightly touched.

The New Year’s Day Zealots were quickly through Commerce, and suffering up the steep incline of Waterworks Hill in flat time no. After wards they dove west to Apple Valley and enjoyed another short, but steep, sufferfest on the Apple Valley Lung Twister. Once over the Twister, the pack cut over to the Brockton Loop and cruised in the Jefferson River Road, tackling the third big brute in 8 miles, the Jefferson Riviera Wall. All this fun and adventure was before the glory hounds even hit the day’s Attack Zone, which though new, is rumored to be nasty and unforgiving. The rumor, I might add, has been upgraded to verifiable fact based on consistent narratives from those who suffered under its strain.

The Pink Church Circuit Loop starts at the bottom of Pink Church Road at the intersection of Alligator Pond. The pack climbs the cruel, windy incline and 1 mile later crosses the Pink Church Sprint Line. But the fun’s just beginning; 7 miles later the winner will be back to this same spot on the globe. The parcours takes the next 3 right hand turns, eventually ending up where it began—at the bottom of Pink Church Road at Alligator Pond staring the vexing slope straight in the eyes yet again. Fate is a cruel master, and so are the members of the Attack Zone Cabal, a powerful but secretive committee that meets only during full moons, drinks PBR by the truckload, chants “Papa was a Preacher” while handling poisonous snakes, and sticks needles into little Gene Dixon dolls that each is required to carry on his or her person, and to exhibit if called upon, at all times. I’m on the committee and I carry my doll in the front of my trousers where there is ample room, though the needles, which there have been plenty of lately, sometimes cause a problem. You’ve noticed my limp?

Heading up, over and down the Jefferson River Road, the Bike Game’s main conspirator Master Blaster J-Rod Fetty made sure the pack was plenty torqued before they ever tackled the fist cantankerous slope in the Attack Zone. When the pack turned right at Alligator Pond and the first fire alarm of the year sounded, most were already winded.

Straight away future Yellow jersey holder Tom Old School Fahey went on the Attack. Fahey put his head down, pedaled like a real bastard, and set off an explosion behind as he opened up a tenuous 50 meter gap. Addictive Cycling’s Jack Howland read Fahey’s move, reacted fast, and hopped on board. Fahey, with Howland on his wheel, drove it up the hill. Behind, there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth, like when God cleaned house in Sodom and Gomorrah.

A small knot of contenders formed behind Fahey, who continued to pour it on up the hill. Frank Crumley, Roberto Rivers, Eric Hollifield, Shireymania, the aforementioned Fetty, G-Man Somerville, Blackheart, Shooting Star Bridges, Erin Winter and the Fire Starter were gagging for air in the Gordion knot behind.

But ‘tis a quite a lengthy drag to ye top ‘o da hill, and Fahey succumbed to the cruel winds battering him in the face. Crossing the Pink Church line the first time, the group behind had clawed its way back. But some had already spent their last nickel.

The 10 person group turned right and flew down the fast, snaking runway to the bottom of the hill where a short, steep, hateful pitch awaited. (This new ball breaker of a hill in the Pink Church Circuit Loop is now Offishulee dubbed Hateful Hill by Order of the Route Committee. Are ye, are ye.) Climbing the beast now known as Hateful Hill it was Eric Hollifiled’s turn to inflict a little damage. Hollifiled exploded out of the group and put those behind in high dudgeon—there were splinters, cracks, breaks, rifts and splits.

Blackwell, who had been waiting patiently (Old Indian proverb: If you sit on a riverbank long enough, your enemy will float by), sped up to Hollifield, took two deep breaths, and said, “See ya later.” He powered away up the long, false flat over the crest of the hill and opened up a 10 second gap. The wind was pounding him from the left side. There were 5 miles to go. I didn’t think he had a prayer.

But Blackheart put the bit between his teeth and showed what a man is capable of doing when he needs cold hard cash. He took the next right hand turn onto Crooked Creek Road a ½ mile later, then in another ½ mile turned right back onto the Jefferson River Road. There were 4 miles ‘til paydirt, and with the first 3 angling down, and with the wind at his back, this boy took those behind to the woodshed. 1 mile later, Blackwell, riding like a demon possessed, had opened up a 60 second gap. Those watching on pay-per-view were left with their mouths hanging open.

Blackheart continued to stroke the pedals down the hill and when he took his final right at Alligator Pond to begin the final assault to the finish, he could afford to look behind to make sure his lead was secure. It was. Behind, Fahey was continuing with body blows of his own, finally landing a solid kick to the groin that brought the others to their knees. Fahey went clear and along with him went the Yellow jersey and the Overall Lead of WBL 2007. Fahey crossed the line in second place all by his lonesome. The Aerospace boys waiting at the line, recognizing that Fahey’s superb tactical maneuver had prevented Blackheart from taking Yellow, hurled wholly inappropriate invectives and downright obscene language at him. Fahey, adhering to the advice of his grandmother, paid them no nevermind, and showing his class, simply flipped them the bird.

There was an entanglement of wheels with 3 miles to go causing 3rd through 5th to finish outside the time cut, a huge break for both Blackheart and Fahey. Kudos on the day for supreme and superb efforts from Gene Dixon, Jeremy Wadkins, Chamblee, Slotey, Super Dave McCoy and my man Steve Lamphier.

As WBL 2007 enters the heart of the other season, Fahey has surged to the top of the heap, but several are poised behind waiting to knock him off his dunghill. With the ladies event on tap next, Erin Boots Winter, currently tied for second with 18 points, could be the next Zealot sitting on the throne.

Stay tuned for more adventure tales from the rough and tumble roads of the WBL.

And as for you Carney, don’t tell me I can’t keep my stories from branching off onto dusty side roads. The fact that I am on my medication has no bearing on this subject, none at all. No, not none at all.

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

All work and no pay make Jack a dull boy.

All work and no pay make Jack a dull boy.

All work and no pay make Jack a dull boy.

All work and no pay make Jack a dull boy.

And so forth and so on.

Your heavily medicated Humble.