Letter From Hale

Letter From Hale

(55nineperformance.com Get Plastered Classic)

Dear Colonel Crowe:

17 January 2010: I woke up from a terrible and disturbing dream this morning only to find myself sprawled out on the sticky concrete floor at the local lockup, the hoosegow, the old county gaol, the clink, the slammer, also referred to by its local constituents and other visiting dignitaries as “home.” When I reached into my mouth to remove the prickleburrs stuck to the roof, there was nothing there but drywall. I’d been dreaming I was riding my bicycle around the hills of Hale with 100 or so other Zealots. Curiously, in Hale, instead of roasting on melting tarmac, we were pelted with slanting sheets of icy rain as we furiously pedaled like frozen madmen to some remote, obscure and unknowable destination in the hazy hinterland of my mind. In my dream (in Hale), we looked more like pedal-rubes and idiot savants rather than fierce warriors as we hammered ahead into the frozen precipitation, plunging deeper and deeper into this Arctic stew of vapor, mist and roiling clouds. In my dream (in Hale) I could only see the adumbrated outlines of amorphous figures and shape-shifting forms because of the constant barrage of mizzle in my eyes, the frozen layer of isinglass stuck to my retina, and the cloudy coating of smog on my glasses. Strangely, this morning as I write this letter, my hands and feet are tingling from thousands of tiny electric needle stabs as my blood tries to reclaim the frozen digits that were lost during my soporific slumber. As you may have surmised by this point in my narrative, I find myself in need of a lawyer, and your name and number are permanently etched onto the underside of the metal bench bolted to the floor in my cell. I noticed it there when I first woke up.

In spite of the caterwauling to the contrary from the cornucopia of jailhouse con men, I am willing to give you the benefit of doubt. I do not believe you’re a “dufus,” or “a complete klutz,” or a “dumbass with a degree,” or a “carnival sideshow;” nor do I heed all the other assorted and sundry recriminations by made against you by the déclassé assortment of card-carrying clowns currently housed at this institution of public unbalance. (Although if you receive word that Randy Cop Killer Savage has been released from the loony bin, head for the hills. He said he’d strangle you if he could ever wrap his hands around your neck. He demonstrated how he would choke you. During the two-minute exhibition, he would finally drop to his knees and fall on top of the imaginary-you, choking the imaginary-you out the entire time with his eyes popping from his head and his veins bulging in his neck. He would whisper, “Die, lawyer, die,” during his one act show. Finally, when the imaginary-you was dead, he would roll over on his back with his eyes closed and spread his arms out like a snow angel and huff and puff like his heart had ruptured. Apparently you were his trial lawyer.) Anyway, I seem to have fallen into a rabbit hole from which I cannot extricate myself, and am in need of your services. Also, I won’t ask for the impossible. Because you’ve been saddled with the brain of a cow, you will not be asked to jump over the moon. You see, my lack of lucre has forced me to lower the bar in my search for legal representation. Thus, I propose a joint venture that will allow us both to restore our good names. Don’t balk yet. Allow me to state my case.

I have no idea how I arrived on the slickened floor of this esteemed institution, or what incident could have possibly precipitated my involuntary incarceration. I don’t remember what happened one year ago or even one day ago for that matter. I don’t even know my name (though it’s obvious from my stained Italian loafers and well-trimmed nails that I’m a man who likes to be coddled), but a guard wrote my confusing cognomen down for me somewhere. The only source of light in my cell is from a small Judas hole in the door that throws a cube of reflected sunshine onto the far wall. In order to write this epistle, I have to hold my paper flat against the wall and write within the lighted contours of the oblong cube as it slides along the wall. (This will explain the brown smudge marks on the verso of this leaf, which represent, I’m told, the unholy vestige of intestinal disjecta that was smeared on the wall by a murdering madman at some former time. I’m assured, however, that because said substance is now coprolitic, there are no health concerns and other possible ill effects. Still, try and avoid licking your fingers while you read this lament.) Anyway, the prison psychiatrist says I’ve inverted fact and fiction, and that my brain has reverse-engineered my dream-state with reality as a result of some horrific physical shock. He claims it’s a defensive mechanism hardwired into my being, and the switch probably saved me from dying. Since the only thing I do remember is my terrifying nightmare, perhaps that is a good place to start this week’s fabulation.

My nightmare began when I dreamed that once upon a time there was a vile and corrupt corporation known as “WBL, Inc.” It was controlled by a martinet named “Carney,” a lazy and corpulent Bedouin sheik who used his friends for personal gain, farted in church, belched in court, whispered “pull my finger” during sex, asked total strangers for untold amounts of cash, threatened old ladies with one hand on his crotch, threatened old men with one hand on their crotches, and who boasted of a harem with over 1,000 catamites and sex-slaves, many of them wives and girlfriends of (former) confreres. In my dream, I soon realized that the WBL was a symbol for Hale because of all the suffering, and Carney represented Old Scratch himself, because he was evil and vindictive and took pleasure in the misery of others. In my dream (in Hale), my wife played herself, as did I, although I didn’t (and still don’t) know who I am.

In my nightmare, the maniacal WBL, Inc. hosted a ride in Hale on 16 January 2010, the www.55nineperformance.com Get Plastered Classic. I interpreted the name of the ride as something different than it turned out to be, and I carried a keg in my trunk to the start. The word plastered, I now know, can be used in a variety of ways other than the one meaning: to imbibe to the point of reaching a stupid-stupor. In the dream (in Hale), we were forced to ride the last 25 miles of a 45-mile ride in a freezing rain that came only in sporadic spurts at first, but then turned into a soaking deluge later, and plastered us to the pavé without mercy. Ice beards formed on several riders’ faces, and bushy brows turned into ridges of white drift. My tears even turned to ice crystals and plinked off my top tube as I dream-wept (in Hale). In spite of assurances to the contrary, the rain kicked-in about 1 hour into the ride, and the group of 90 or so was battered by a wet, freezing drizzle that only continued to gain steam. The entirety of the 9-mile Attack Zone was spent not only trying to hang on, but also trying not to die from hypothermia and exposure. Vision, because of spattering water, was reduced to nil. My hands, my feet, and my legs turned to blocks of wood. Pedaling was like trying to lift two anvils attached to my feet, one at a time. When I finally rolled into the parking lot at Sunshine Cycles, I was temporarily insane, non compos mentis, and I am not responsible as a matter of law for any misconduct, malversation, or other misdeed I may have committed thereafter.


In my nightmare (in Hale), before the ride, some fat guy standing on the back of a bumper announced that another fat guy standing beside him named “Mulkey” had guaranteed that if we cut the originally scheduled 90-mile ride back to 45 miles, then we would be back home before the rains came. He promised “plenty of places” to turn back should the skies open up and the water fall early. The mistake of relying on two fat men to accurately calibrate the future, even in a parallel universe, is mine alone, especially considering the source.

About 80 or 90 of us shoved-off into a chilled air under boiling gray clouds. The ominous clouds slowly rolled and dipped and rotated as they blew from south to north as if on a conveyor belt. The pack sensed the need to push the pace because the smell of rain permeated the damp air, and the tempo right out of the blocks was fast and furious. As Dustin Mealor ratcheted-up the speed at the vanguard of the large group only 5 miles into the day’s misadventure, the first scattered drops of rain barely trickled down from the sky, but then abruptly stopped. It was a herald of the future calamity to come.

In my dream (in Hale) the skies remained mostly dry during the first hour of the pedal-jubilee as we sped east to the apogee of our elliptical orbit. As we motored ever forward into the eyetooth of the tempest, the pack was overcome by a false sense of security, and we were lulled to sleep while the enemy fortified its position. And as the pack pushed further east at a rapid pace, our kismet was sealed. At one point only fifty-minutes into the day’s sortie, the Jolly Green Giant started pissing down on us with a vengeance from high atop Jack’s Beanstalk, and the group quickly turned in an attempt to clip 7 or 8 miles from the total tally. But strangely, as soon as the front seven made the turn, the rain immediately ceased, as if some omnipotent grandee had turned off a faucet in the sky, only to douse us later. As soon as we turned back around and continued with the longer loop as planned, the skies began to weep in misery again.

Only 1.5 hours into the nightmare, I was looking at Yellow Helmet Cover leader Mike Buechel and I noticed his orange shorts and his orange jersey and I was reminded that I was in Hale (dreaming). Suddenly, the harrowing scream of the whistle cut through the air and shattered my serene (but insane, and intensely cold) refugium: Dear gawd, the Attack Zone was upon us. The shrieking whistle was also a signal for the skies to open up its vault and dump the entirety of its watery payload on top of our heads with a virtuosic vengeance. We were 25 miles out. A formidable task confronted the Zealots. I tried to wake myself up. I started counting sheep even though it seemed I was approaching the task from a backwards direction.

Joey Roskopf, Nick Housley, Thomas Brown, Nick Reistad, Malachi Peacock, Brian Bibens, Yo Simpson, Mike Buechel, Steve Sevener, Brian Parkerson, and Oscar Clarke showed signs of bad intentions right away as they went to the front and floored it and the group stretched into a long, weaving rubber-band. Groups shot away in one’s and two’s, but the hard-charging pack refused to allow any riders to gain more than 5 seconds. The stampeding chasers were on top of all the early breakaways after only a matter of a few hundred meters. And the entire time, the oblique rain was slicing through the air, pummeling the pack, forming runnels in the road, and spewing upwards in a hundred hissing rooster tails. While the insistent patter of rain wetted us from above, the shooting streams of water from other riders’ rear wheels blasted us in the faces and soaked our chests, guaranteeing that there was not one dry spot left on our poor, hapless, miserable, frostbitten, snake-bitten, deceived, lied-to, battered and bruised bodies. In my dream (in Hale), I was beginning to freeze.

Atop the third monster hummock in this Attack Zone (in Hale), a five-man grouped surged ahead in search of fame and fortune. At the precipice of the huge hillock is the eponymous Gene Dixon sprint line, with 25 bucks and 3 points to the winner. Over the top, the wily strongman Thomas Ride My Train Brown jumped away and stole the show, followed closely by J Rosskopf and the impressive Hunter Garrison. (It was at this point in my dream that I intuited that Gene Dixon is one of Carney’s (Lucifer’s) angels, probably Beelzebub.) But on the steep drop on the opposite side of the hill, once again, the front of the pack surged like a riptide and chased down the brief break as they started another long uphill section, the fourth so far on this treacherous road.

At this point in the brutal Attack Zone, the pack seemed to resign itself to the belief that nothing could or would claw clear, and the cyclists ambled along pianissimo, taking on water like a sinking ship. As the group strolled up the last hill before turning right on Beaverdam, the rain turned to a deluge and the group seemed to close rank and huddle close together for warmth and comfort. Only one lone rebel dared roll away, old-time rabble-rouser and all-round hale-raiser Steve 6 Gun Sevener. Sevener took the right hand turn at Beaverdam and pedaled away. Ten seconds behind, the pack was catatonic with cold as wet legs turned to marble slabs. If Sevener was allowed a little more rope this close to the line (2.5 miles), he might bring this bad boy home. But as Sev approached the left hand turn on Smithonia, he was foiled by Fortuna as a line of cars impeded his forward motion. Sev was stymied by the hand of fate and the chasers ran him down.

The downpour continued, but when the group caught Sevener 2 miles from the line, they began to revivify. As the long line of protagonists hit the base of the Mur de Winterville, they opened the throttle once again and raged up the other side. The group began an all-out blitzkrieg 1.5 miles from the end that would not stop or slow down until the winner raised his arms and crossed the line.

As the pack flew through the last right hand turn on Billy Melton Road spread out in single-file formation, the riders were standing in their pedals, sprinting, shoulders hunched over the bars and rocking, mouths wide open, tongues twisted, eyes narrowed to an assassin’s slit, and gasping for air. There was no let-up in the speed as riders, like worker ants, sacrificed themselves for the good of others. The group barreled down the vertiginous corkscrew descent 1 kilometer from the line, avoiding cars slipping and sliding in the opposite direction, and without skipping a beat, charged up the final hill like a missile in hot pursuit of its target. But this sprint, because it is located in Hale, is not only difficult, but also deceptive. It’s easy to jump too early on its long, steep slope and falter as the end approaches. That’s just how things are in Hale.

300 meters from the finishing stripe, as the pack was motoring along at 33 miles per hour, Thomas Brown was the first to go for gold. Brown dug even deeper into his mosh pit and gripped his bars and let out a fiery, “AHHHHHHHHHHH!” and charged away. But Casey Magner smelled blood and latched on to the rear of Brown’s wheel by an eyelash and managed to barely pull Brown back and to actually catch Brown and come around him. Magner’s heart was pounding against his chest wall like a battering ram on a drug dealer’s door. But the vexing hill is so demanding that T Brown had just enough time for one last life-or-death surge and he let out a rebel yell and stomped forward with all his inner angst and clipped onto the back of Magner’s wheel as he passed and somehow managed to fight back and barely slide by him before the line by the width of a whisker. Both riders fell over and died on the spot. Thomas the Train Brown picked up his greatest win to date and his tears dinked off the front of his jersey and were lost in the stormy mix presently falling from the skies. There was still 9 miles to ride after the sprint and frostbite was setting in. The game wasn’t over.

The last 9 miles of my nightmare are a jumble of painful memories. I burrowed deep within myself and tried to keep my limbs from turning to ice. At this point in my dream (in Hale), I was willing to forfeit a few fingers and toes if I could just hang on to my limbs. I decided it would be best to wake myself up, but I couldn’t—I was stuck in my nightmare, along with everyone else—I was stuck in Hale. With each pedal stroke I became colder and colder and colder. The one focus of my mind was to make it home. Who cares about the others, I prayed, just let me make it home. I finally arrived home and blasted the fireplace. I threw my soaking wet clothes into the wash and sat naked in front of the fire. I’m sure I looked like a shaman.

I knew I had to wake up, so I thought I’d try moonshine. When my hands thawed out in my dream (in Hale), I opened a jug of North Georgia moonshine and drank freely—the ride had nearly killed me. I didn’t know what moonshine brewed in Hale was all about, but I was about to find out. It worked, because I woke up in jail. Edie O’dea is my cellmate. He looks worse than me, but don’t tell him I told you so. His breath could cause a dynasty to crumble.

I anxiously await your reply. Take me from this Hale. I remain,

The Humble Chronicler (the name scrawled on the scrap of paper)

Finish (16 Jan: The www.55nineperformance.com Get Plastered Classic):

  1. Thomas Brown: 10 pts.
  2. Casey Magner: 8 pts.
  3. Dustin Mealor: 6 pts.
  4. Brad Parkerson: 4 pts.
  5. Mike Buchel: 2 pts.
  6. Everyone: 3 pts.


  1. Erin Winter: 5 pts.
  2. Morgan Patton: 3 pts.
  3. Fiona Handsdrin: 1 pt.


  1. Brad Parkerson: 5 pts.
  2. Mike Buechel: 3 pts.
  3. Stephen Leotis: 1 pts

Gene Dixon Hill Sprint:

  1. T Brown: 3 pts
  2. J Rosskopf: 1 pt.
  3. Hunter Garrison: 1 pt

OVERALL (After 16 Jan 2010):

  • 36 pts: Buechel
  • 31 pts: Erin Winter
  • 28 pts: Rob Yo Simpson
  • 24 pts: Tim Cornett 24:pts: C Magner
  • 24 pts: D Mealor
  • 22 pts: Damin Dunn
  • 22 pts. Sam Rafal
  • 22 pts: Ally Stäches
  • 21 pts: Brent Bookwalter
  • 21 pts: John Murphy
  • 21 pts: Jason Bewley
  • 20 pts: Hunter Garrison
  • 20 pts: Frank Travesio
  • 19 pts: T Brown
  • 19 pts: Lil Cappy
  • 19 pts: Nathan O'Neil
  • 18 pts: B Magner
  • 18 pts: B Parkerson
  • 18 pts: Malachi Peacock
  • 18 pts: L Slote
  • 18 pts: P Smith
  • 18 pts: Smola
  • 18 pts: Jamie Dinkin
  • 16 pts: J Roskopf
  • 16 pts: N Housley
  • 15 pts: The Don
  • 15 pts: Fiona Handsdrin
  • 15 pts: Rich Nelson
  • 15 pts: Russ Foster
  • 15 pts: Patrick O’brien
  • 15 pts: Kirk Smith
  • 15 pts: Catherine Paecock
  • 15 pts: Tunis
  • 15 pts: M Patton
  • 15 pts: Crowe
  • 15 pts: Bill Bray
  • 15 pts: Nick Arroyo
  • 15 pts: Tank Crumley
  • 12 pts: Matt Karzen
  • 12 pts: D Imes
  • 12 pts: D McGarvey
  • 12 pts: M Whatley
  • 12 pts: Joe Collins
  • 12 pts: Ryan Wolf