Keeping the Wolves at Bay
Keeping the Wolves at Bay
(WBL 2013 #5: Colbert)
Tony the Blade Scott clawed his way from 10 meters back with less than 200 meters to go and scored a spectacular win on the first sprint ride of the 2013 other season, the Cappy's Custom Cabinets-Stove Richmond Cruise to Colbert. But the Blade had to reach into the bottom of his bag of tricks because Jason Bewley and Justin Smith nearly stole his thunder as they jumped the gun and attacked 250 meters from the line on the steep, vertical finishing slope. The two bail jumpers crushed the asphalt and opened a 10 meter gap that looked impossible to cross.
But the Blade looked across the chasm, momentarily pondered the great riddles of the cosmos, and then mustered all his savvy, all his cunning, and all his giddy-up-and-go, and he stomped on his pedals in a blind fury. Heading towards the line, all three frontrunners were battling a furious headwind as they pedaled with every quark of energy each could summon, digging into the deepest reserves of the most painful places any of the three had ever been. Their heads rocked and their knees pumped and their elbows flapped and their eyes bulged and their lungs burned like they were filled with liquid lightning as they hammered for the greatest victory of their lives. But the Blade, showing what over 4.5 millions mile will do for a pair of legs, applied a massive amount of torque to his poor pedals and scorched across the line first, leaving a vapor trail in his wake. He threw both arms up at the line and pointed skyward—it had been seven long years since his last WBL win and he couldn't hold back the tears. Later, he did manage to dry them long enough to politely inquire, "Is the prize money cash?"
The Blade's win came at the end of a short but punishing day in the saddle. Though the Cruise to Colbert was a mere 3.5 hour, 70 mile misadventure, the winds conspired with the clouds to create less than salutary conditions, and at the start of the ride in downtown Athens 70 or so Zealots were shivering to the core of their baleful beings. Dallas's own Rough Rider Drew Lifsey was distressed; Los Angeles' Doctor of Disaster Scott Thomas was horrified; and San Francisco's magical mind reader Maggie Shirley was alarmed. I myself was absolutely petrified. The blanket of gunmetal gray clouds was so thick that surely Old Sol had no hope of ever breaking through. And the wind, which was already blowing with a persistent resolve, was only predicted to grow stronger. However, though conditions were pernicious, the WBL prognosticators assured the flock that the clouds would eventually burn away and golden rays of sunshine would pour out of the skies and warm the Zealots and the world would be righted. And as the group headed out of town via the arduous Nowhere Road, sure enough, the clouds parted and the sun found a blue hole in the sky. After less than 30 minutes of suffering in frigid conditions, the Zealots were suddenly warm and comfortable. Fletcher Fletch Lydick and John Turner even swore they saw angels singing above. Rob Hall experienced the same sort of seraphic vision on the upper slopes of Everest. At the time he was turning into a block of ice.
The lusty gaggle of hammer-mongrels pedal-ripped through a northeastern quadrant in the Emporium, zigging here and zagging there, sailing down bumpy back roads and climbing over formidable hummocks, but never venturing out into the white spaces beyond the pale. Still, within the parameters of the Emporium, there are plenty of places to inflict pain. But after one hour, a butterfly flapped its wings somewhere and the bright blue skies were again plastered over with an army of gray clouds scudding eastward as if they were in a hurry and the conditions turned raw and blustery. Old Sol's beneficent rays were lost for good and the temperature immediately dropped by 10 degrees. Oliver Quinn's right eyebrow involuntarily arched upward, usually a sign of a coming cataclysm.
At this point (one hour), the pack bent back to the east and gale force busters was gusting at their backs. A propitious breeze would have been a cause for celebration had it not been for the ruthless duo of T Scott and T Brown. These two mischief makers went to the front and pressed down on their pedals for an extended period with the strength of two elephants, seven small pigs, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a freaking partridge in a pear tree. The two whirred along in certain sections at 30 miles per hour, tapping out lightning-quick circles with their feet with the greatest of ease. Jordan Heimer looked up at this point and also saw angels and bellowed, "Everyone hold on to your hemmy, the angels are about to start singing!" I thought he was blowing smoke again but shortly thereafter I heard the high-pitched squeal myself. Tank swore, however, that it wasn't angels singing; rather it was Erin Winter berating some young naive out for his refusal to pull.
After two hours of pavement-pounding in a bitter and hostile clime, the group approached the first intermediate sprint of the year, the Ladies Danielsville City limit sprint, an 800 meter stretch of blacktop guaranteed to please. As the Ladies sailed towards the line, Morgan Patton, Erin Winter and Maggie Shirley separated themselves from the unruly horde of she-devils and sailed away. The terrible triad, however, could not shake each other. On the last hump approaching the sprint line Winter jumped like an alley cat and sprang clear. But the ever-observant Patton was watching for just such a sneak attack and she latched onto Winter's wheel by the hair of her chinny-chin- chin and jumped hard too and managed to squeak by Winter at the line. Patton claimed the Ted's $25 gift card and the 3 points. Drs. Winter and Shirley followed close behind in 2nd and 3rd.
Ladies Sprint (Danielsville):
- Morgan Patton: 3 pts
- E Winter: 2 pts
- Maggie Shirley: 1 pts
After the sprint and the store stop the temperature continued to fall while the wind speed continued to rise. Departing the store at the 40 mile juncture, the Zealots' bones were rattling like ice in a glass. In order to warm-up, the group once again had no choice but to press on the accelerator and gallop down the road. Unfortunately, the road from Danielsville to Colbert is bumpy in a bad sort of way and during this stretch lactic acid splinters stabbed me in my thighs. After an expeditious run through Colbert, the frozen herd reached the entrance to the first Final Attack Zone of the year, a 7-mile stretch of a highway with several likely spots for causing maximum damage.
When the whistle blew and the Attack Zone opened there was an immediate surge up the 1 kilometer long Kenny Rogers Hill and the pack split in half and then into thirds. Over the top of the first hill not only was the gagging group spread into one long, serpentine line, a furious crosswind was bludgeoning them, causing several riders to become unhinged at the rear. Turning right at the top of the decisive hill, a group of 25 surged clear.
West Coast Zealot Scott Thomas thought he was about to blown out the back of the group on the flats because the helmsmen were pushing so hard. The little surfer devil that lives on his shoulder yelled, "Man, what's the point? Sit up, you're making me ill. I deserve my creature comforts. After all, I'm a gentleman with class and a refined sense of taste. Come on, spit the bullet out." Sometimes, of course, biting the bullet is of no use whatsoever. Sometimes, when both the pace and the grade ratchet upwards, no matter how hard we struggle, no matter how hard we try, no matter how much effort we pour out, we will still be unceremoniously ejected out the back. However, there are also those times when by clamping down on a bullet, that is, by sheer determination, grit and resolve, we can fight and hang on. When the little surfer devil finished his belly-aching, Thomas looked right at him and grinned. I could plainly see the silver bullet he was clamping down on perfectly positioned in his missing-tooth hole.
B Cornett and T Brown laid down a little Old Testament law—they opened the throttle to full tilt and the two dastardly taskmasters kept it there. But the group was now heading headfirst into the wind and those at the front were being pummeled. Jumping away from the group in these difficult conditions seemed like the pipe dream of an eternal optimist. For many, like myself, simply hanging on to this flying phalanx took every bit of chutzpah we could muster. However, I do admit, I had an edge—my lucky chicken claw was tucked into my pants.
A few stray attacks tried to flee from the front group, but no one could overcome the bodacious wind. The front group of 25 was together with 2 miles to go. As the frontrunners tackled the Mur De Winterville and took the last right hand turn on Billy Melton Road only 1.5 miles from the line, Dark Hurst and Fletch Lydick jumped clear with two others. These four risk takers had a tenuous but dangerous 4 second gap. They were all committed to the task at hand, and they put their heads down and hammered
But the front four were again battered by a relentless wind and the chasers ran them down. After the effort everyone was gasping for air. As the lead group flew down the last steep drop only 1 kilometer from the line, trying to suck in a few more breathfuls before the final surge, the group hit speeds of over 40 miles per hour. As they motored out of the bottom and charged up the final, interminable 800 meter pitch, the wind once again hit them in the face and chest, slowing forward momentum yet sending heart rates soaring into the stratosphere. Riders at the back of the bunch were peeling off in bunches, thankful at last that their day was done.
As the pack hit the final steep run to the line, Justin Smith and Jason Bewley sprang away like gazelles. They opened up a sizeable patch of real estate and looked to have the day won. But the Blade is a master at closing a deal, and he did just that. He accelerated away from the group, caught and passed the two, and grabbed a dazzling win—talk about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat! Scott Thomas and Michael Waine, silver bullets proudly displayed between their teeth, rolled across the line in 4th and 5th with stunning rides. The remainder of the group mercifully rolled across the line in bits and pieces, relived to have this one in the books. Though the group only averaged 22 miles per hour, Salud, Ladies and Gents, this was one for the books.
- Tony Scott: 10 pts
- Jason Bewley: 8 pts
- Justin Smith: 6 pts
- Scott Thomas: 4 pts
- Michael Waine: 2 pts
- All Riders: 3 pts
Many smart folks claim the world is going to hale in a hand basket. Treatises, tomes and dissertations have been written deriding the current state of affairs. Somehow, riding the WBL seems to make me think that perhaps they are all wrong. And even if they aren't, at least its four hours spent holding the wolves at bay.