The Savage Zealots

The Savage Zealots

(WBL 2010: # 2)

Jason Bewley: Early Saturday Morning of 12 December 2009 (Bewley’s bedroom): My eyes popped open two seconds before the alarm buzzed—I’m hardwired for action. Finally, it was time to report to the second WBL ride wearing my Yellow Leader’s Helmet Cover. (I hadn’t taken it off my head all week—the waterproof helmet cover also functions as an exemplary shower cap and is superb for barbequing in the nude.) I shuffled to the bathroom and flipped on the light and stood and stared at myself yet again in the full length mirror behind the bathroom door—I was locked in a trance. Other than my yellow socks and the Yellow Helmet Cover that doubled as a hairnet at night, I was au natural. If others could only see me naked then they might understand why sometimes I’m bit brash and a tad overconfident. Why, if others were blessed with the same benison that’s been bestowed on me, they’d bray and bloviate like a bombastic mule. However, I am a well-heeled blueblood, and I keep my vanity in check. I winked at my doppelganger, and with a snap of my fingers, told my reflection that my grand endowment will just have to be our little secret. After 17 minutes of intense cogitation, I tore myself from the mirror. As I walked away, I couldn’t help but glance back over my shoulder to check out my backside. I noticed that my double did the same.

Humble Chronicler: Saturday morning (9:00 a.m. Milledge Avenue): I was driving to the start of the second WBL ride for Twenty-Ten, Monroe Sideways, and inspiration struck while I was sitting at a red light on Milledge Avenue. I’d been racking my brains for a lead-in for the ride report, but my mind had been nothing but a static hum.

So while sitting at the red light, when a brilliant idea flared across the bow of my brain (I’d been reading Bolaño), having no other memory abetment at my disposal, I looked in the mirror and shouted my lines out loud: “Though the world be a spinning orb of darkness and despair, there was one brief crack of light emanating outwards from Athens, Georgia, home of the WBL, as Carney’s Zealots held the world at bay, albeit temporarily, as they ripped out a 4 hour ride in Oconee and Walton Counties, tearing between rimy cow fields dappled with steaming skat patties, and ripping beside dark woods crowded with tall, skinny pines.” I was in the zone and possibly suffering from a bout of logorrhea as I imagined the impending ride. I was bouncing and bobbing in my seat like a spastic Jack that had sprung from its box. If you’re not a wordsmith you would have no understanding of the electric sizzles that course through a poet’s veins when  he or she strings together a pitch-perfect little phrase. Some scribes have even compared this type of high-voltage shiver-shake to the involuntary contractions that occur at the apex of amatory excitement, but I don’t concern myself with such animalistic acts as sex. I’m only concerned with high art.

Brian Bibens: Saturday morning (9:00 a.m. Milledge Avenue): I was running a quick side errand before the start of the second WBL ride of the year, Monroe Sideways, and as I rolled up to a red light at Milledge Avenue, I noticed the Humble Chronicler’s car in front of me in the inside lane. We were both headed in the same direction. As I eased up to the red light, I stopped the front of my car about a foot behind the front of his and prayed he wouldn’t see me. I gripped the steering wheel in terror and stared straight ahead. Presently, I peeked over. When I did, Humble was screaming at himself in the mirror like a lunatic who’d lost his lugnuts. It was clear that he was crazy and that he’d gone completely mad. As his demented ravings continued, sweat beads crystallized across my forehead. When the light turned green, I floored the gas pedal, leaving a four-foot burn mark in the asphalt. I had to beat him to the start of the ride and warn everyone that the Humble Chronicler was non compos mentis. Now, there was no telling what he would write in his ride reports. I took a quick left, then a right, then a left-left, followed by another right. I made sure he wasn’t following me, then quickly pulled into the porno shop to finalize the “quick errand” I mentioned above.

Humble Chronicler: Saturday morning (9:01 a.m. Milledge Avenue): When the light turned green, I saw Brian Bibens’s car leap by me like a fired bullet—no doubt he was challenging me to drag-race.  (I knew it was Bibens because of the “Honk if You’re Horny” bumper sticker.) The bastard knows I drive a Yugo with a hole in the muffler, so I honked my horn and flipped him a bird. The sudden intrusion of Brian Bibens into my world stoppered my creative burst, so I felt under the seat for the flask—I needed a quick shot of inspiration. While stretching my fingers with my cheek flattened against the howling horn, I nearly sideswiped a jogger who gesticulated wildly with his arms. I yelled, “F--- off, M----- F-----,” and flipped him the finger too. I turned the bottom of the bottle skyward and drained the last dreg, and zinged the glass cylinder out the window with a perfect spinning pitch and nailed the back of a stop sign: THWANG—THWACK!—the bottle shattered off the back of the metal sign with the force of an atomic blast. I took a quick left, then right, hit the gas, and was long gone birdie.  Brian Bibens, I mused to myself, what a prick. I desperately tried to recall what I was thinking just before Bibens disrupted my cerebrations, but once again, all I heard was a static hum. Just as I was about to pull into the porn shop, I spotted Bibens’s car in the handicapped spot. “I knew it, “I shouted, “he’s a pervert!” Now I had a lead-in to my ride report.

Mike Edmonds: Saturday morning (9:30 a.m. His bedroom): When the alarm buzzed at 9:30 a.m., I mumbled an unprintable explicative. My eyes bulged like stuffed olives. I’d imbibed too much once again the night before and a sledgehammer was slamming against the side of my skull. I threw the covers back in a rage, blindly slid my feet into my bed shoes, and shuffled over to the alarm. I picked it up and smashed it on the floor. On the way back to bed, I tossed back a glass with the remnants of a brown liquid inside. As soon as the warm drink splashed off the roof of my mouth, I knew I’d made a big mistake. I never saw the cigarette butt, but it lodged sideways in my windpipe like a boomerang.

Nick-Nick Arroyo: Saturday morning (9:45 a.m. Bank Parking lot by Sunshine Cycles): Brian Bibens screeched into the parking lot and jumped out of his car like his hair was on fire and started yelling some unintelligible gibberish. He’s what Warren Zevon would call an “excitable boy.” I knew immediately that he’d been boozing again. Possibly popping pain pills too. I hid my cash in case he tried to hit me up for a loan. Once bitten, twice shy. Bibens isn’t so bad when he’s sober, but his teeth are falling out, and it makes it hard.

Whit Clifford: Saturday morning (9:47 a.m. Bank Parking lot by Sunshine Cycles): Nick-Nick leaned over and said that Bibens is boozing again. I watched Bibens walking in circles and muttering and said, “Nope, this is worse. He’s knee-deep in the muck—he’s been dumped once again.”

Nick-Nick: Saturday morning (9:50 a.m. Bank Parking lot by Sunshine Cycles): I looked at Whit and said, “Oh no, not again.” I then looked at Brian stammering like an imbecile in the parking lot and tears welled-up in my lids. I doubted he could survive yet another dropkick from a {former) paramour. Apparently, he’s a mere dilettante in the bedroom, but I’ll not kick a man when he’s down.

Rob Yo Simpson: Saturday morning (9:55 a.m. Bank Parking lot by Sunshine Cycles): Finally Brian Bibens calmed down and told us what he’d witnessed on Milledge. Once we’d deciphered the story, we all agreed that the Humble Chronicler was insane. “Perhaps he’ll crash and burn up in a fire before he arrives,” Mark Babcock said. “We can only hope,” I replied, “but we can’t bank on that type of good fortune.” I called the police and asked them to come pick him up. “Yes,” I responded, when asked by the 911 dispatcher, “we are worried for our safety…Yes, he threatened us…Yes, he’s known to carry a gun…Yes, he knows how to use it…Yes, he’s sometimes prone to unexpected and explosive outbursts…No, he hates cops…Yes, I suggest you shoot to kill.”

Humble Chronicler: Saturday morning (10: a.m. Bank Parking lot by Sunshine Cycles): Just when I pulled into the bank parking lot, my Yugo burping plumes of smoke into the frigid air, there was a mass exodus of Zealots, as if I carried the plague itself. But I knew that it was just my imagination; sometimes I’m a wee bit paranoid.  I’m actually loved and adored by all. I looked up and noticed six armed officers dressed in riot gear headed my way. I was sure they were sent to protect me from the paparazzi.

Armed Officer: Saturday morning (10: a.m. Bank Parking lot by Sunshine Cycles): We approached the Humble Chronicler with caution, prepared to blow his brains out if he bucked. We took him into custody and jabbed him in the arse with a long syringe filled with happy juice.

CEO Briggs Carney: Saturday morning (10:05 a.m. Storefront of Sunshine Cycles): When I arrived to the start of the ride, as various riders signed-in, I shook his or her hand, and reminded him or her that all donations to the WBL are tax deductible and will also earn a person bonus bucks that are redeemable in Heaven. When I saw the richest rider in the bunch, Madison Avenue glamour boy Kirk Smith, drop a measly quarter in the tip jar, I couldn’t hold my tongue: “You’ll burn in Hale for that,” I blurted out. I immediately put my hand over my mouth. The devil made me do it.

Kirk Smith: Saturday morning (10:05 a.m. Storefront of Sunshine Cycles): I was gracious enough to drop a shiny bicentennial quarter into the sag tip jar and some jackass muttered, “You’ll burn in Hale for that.” I turned around and said, “Say it to my face.” Don Gianinni stepped in and said, “Now, just supposins he dun wanna do dat, den what? I’m just askin.” Naturally, I handed the Don all the cash I had—nine thousand, one hundred, and twenty-nine dollars in small bills—and we parted as friends. As a wealthy ad exec, I’ve bought my backside out of plenty of pinches. Tiger Woods should give me a call.

Bill Boonen-Riecke: Saturday morning (10:10 a.m. Storefront of Sunshine Cycles): I figured crutches would do the trick—I borrowed a pair from a neighbor. I strapped an orthopedic boot on my right foot, threw the crutches in the car, and headed for the start of the WBL ride. With this type of irrefutable proof of an injury, the guys couldn’t disparage me for not riding. The truth, however, is that I wanted to stay home and read poetry; but I can’t admit that to the guys—are you kidding me? So, I feigned an injury to my foot. I told them I’d injured myself “making love after working out.” My wife cut her eyes at me in disbelief when I said it, and in my mind I silently gave her a good cussing-out—I’m sure she could see my jaws flexing. But I’m not sure the guys bought into the entire story though because Tank Crumley made a couple of very cruel and hurtful comments. I went home and spent the afternoon reading Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis and the tears slid down my cheeks.

Slim Tim Henry: Saturday morning (10:12 a.m. Storefront of Sunshine Cycles): I arrived early for the WBL ride so I could bask in the golden light of last year’s WBL Overall Win. All the minor minions and poor dumb saps who love and adore me would be throwing rose petals at my feet. There would be accolades, pats on the back, and sweet words of endearment. I must admit, it’s nice to be loved.  The WBL victory in 2009 is the pinnacle of my life. True, my marriage to my nubile (and flexible) young princess bride only a short time ago was sweet and splendid and romantic and all that kind of crap, but beauty fades, as does a man’s libido (trust me on that score), and nothing’s left, except my WBL Overall win. The only thing that could top it…

Andrew Smola: Saturday morning (10:13 a.m. Storefront of Sunshine Cycles): Slim Tim announced then and there that his wife was pregnant with a Little Slimmer, a future Zealot, and Carney picked Baby Slim  as the Overall Winner in 2029. However, I’ll say nothing of the Slimmer’s Big News and let him have the joy of announcing the upcoming birth of his bay boy to his family first before we broadcast the news on a national site. As Crowe finished announcements, I looked up in the parking lot and saw six guards wrestling with the Humble Chronicler. They had pulled his pants down around his knees. One guard pulled out a 12-inch needle and stuck into Humble’s big white assus. Humble quickly morphed into a limp noodle. He was placed in a paddy wagon and taken away under lock and key.

Crowe: Saturday morning (10:14 a.m. Storefront of Sunshine Cycles): I told Carney I needed a promotion. “I’m weary of being your doormat,” I told him, “and I don’t want to read the pre-ride announcements anymore. Make the Humble Chronicler read them. He’s a lazy piece of…” I also demanded a raise and stamped my right foot for emphasis. Carney whipped out a manila envelope and showed me a handful of photos that were inside. I stood up, told him to forget everything that I just said, picked up the bullhorn, and told everyone everything to do, just like Carney wanted. Afterwards, I blew the whistle and over 100 of us pedaled away. Later, I noticed Carney show some photos to Patrick O’Brien. Patrick then handed Carney a large roll of cash. The same thing happened later Chris Chotas.

Matt Karzen: Mile 1 (Prince Avenue): As the large grupetto turned onto Prince Avenue after the first few pedal rotations of our 85-mile soiree on wheels, we were belted in the face by a malicious and malcontent wind. I yelled for the midshipmen to grab their periwinkle with both hands and hold on tight, and also to batten down the hatches and twist the lock tight. Of course, the aforementioned scene was playing out silently in my mind, and midway through the last act, I was shot through the eyes with a cosmic light—I suddenly perceived that I was surrounded by a clutch of two-wheeled madmen, lunatics, fruits, nuts, and flakes, all Zealots, and all members of a certain lunatic fringe who equate pleasure with pain. Since I also enjoy driving steel spikes into my kneecaps as well as biting down on electric cords while standing in the bathtub, I knew I was in my element. As we pedaled towards the land where the sun sets and into the teeth of the furious wind, I was at ease knowing that while I explored strange, exotic and dangerous lands, at least I was among my own brood.

Buechel, the Marlboro Man

Mike Buechel: Saturday morning (10:25 a.m. Prince Avenue): I knew right away that it would be a tough day in the saddle. The wind was whooping and howling and blowing powerful gusts into the front of the bunch from the start. The sun was shining, but it was still a frosty 35 degrees. I knew that for the first two hours the route took us due west to Monroe, straight into the tempest. The key was to clamp down and fight for your life while riding into the wind. On the way back, the trick was to hang for dear life, no small task for a poor soul with sand in his legs and a pack of Marlboro in his jersey pocket. Fighting for your life (into the wind) and hanging on for dear life (the return trip) may sound similar, but represent two entirely different constructs. It offers a rider twice as many chances to fail (die).

Sam Rafal: (Mile 10): The itinerant group of road warriors pounded headfirst into gale force gusters. I was proud to be a part of such a hardened but disreputable group—my presence could only bring the Average Reputation Rating (ARR) down. The battle-tested pack feared not, for it was chock full of hardcore rock star riders, gritty pedal-hillbillies, circle-stomping-corn-fed plow boys, street-wise city guys and gals, and other steel-willed suspects from all walks of life. Some of the aforementioned ironclad pedal-provocateurs included: John Murphy, Rebecca Larson, Nathan O’Neil, Cesar Grajales, Brent Brookwalter, Frank Trevesio, Michael Creed, Slim Henry, Eric Murphy, Don Gianinni, Whit Clifford, Phil Southerland, Joe Eldridge, Chris Chotas, and the irrepressible Greg Schisla a.k.a. Farmer G. With such a stalwart group of stallions at the front, the wind might decide to give up the fight. Either way, I knew it would be an epic battle. My knees started to wobble when I reached in my jersey so I could rub my lucky chicken claw betwixt my fingers and I realized I’d left it at home on the counter right beside the eye of newt and two bat tails. Damn!

Jim Metcalf: Saturday morning (11 a.m.): I signed in before the ride. I also signed Mike Edmonds in so he wouldn’t be in drop-dead last place. I started the ride, but peeled off at Dunkin Donuts. A dark sedan crept up on the curb and four masked men jumped out and grabbed me and threw me inside the car and sped away. I was questioned under a swinging light bulb with a big plate of frosted donuts in front of me. Under intense pressure, I broke down and admitted the sign-in fraud, but blamed it all on Edmonds. I was allowed to eat all the donuts I could once I admitted the crime. And Dunkin Donuts coffee is par excellent. I think they penalized Edmonds an extra point. He may have already wrapped up last place. I was going to save him a donut, but I ate it instead.

Hunter Garrison: Mile 8 - 15: We rode out the Tallasee Road, and turned to the west at its terminus, and scudded across the Bear Creek Reservoir, wind slamming us from the front. The water in the lake was filled to the brim to our right, and to our left, as we crossed the bridge, the water plummeted down the concrete wall of the damn in a cataract of spume and splash. The wind made the top of the water shimmy and shake as ripples striated the surface. Ducks, literally, were on the pond—it was too damn blustery too fly. Treetops shook and shivered as the fierce gusts rattled through the branches; birds migrated south in the figure V formation; buzzards bobbed on the swales; and the wind whipped past my ears like a freight train was blowing by. The large line of pedal-warriors was blown sideways at times as it leaned into the wind and pounded its way west on its meandering route. Holding a wheel in this wind was hard, and maintaining a smooth double-paceline a near impossible task. Tempers flared, words shouted, fists shook, but I was purblind to the danger out of my blind love for Carney. I put my head down, smiled, and rotated my legs. For a minute, just when I was hurting the most, I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven—all I saw was a bright light, all I felt was blinding pain.

Damien Show Stopper Dunn: Mile 20: We were heading into Statham and I spotted the first assassination attempt of the year on Carney’s life. A large rock had been placed in the middle of the road in Statham only 20 miles into the day’s peregrinations. Obviously, the assassin hoped Carney would hit the rock and fall to his death. However, I took the bullet, so to speak. I intentionally pedaled into the large rock and fell down. Someone reminded me later that Carney wasn’t actually with us at that point. Still, I was given a point for the gutsiest ride of the day (I had to ride home with a busted defribulator). I’m plotting future crashes for more points.

Brian Lord: Mile 20 - 40: After slowing through Statham to regroup after the roadside rock incident, we regrouped and rolled swiftly to Bethlehem and onto Gratis. This is the land of broken down barns, barbed-wire fences, goats in a field, dirt driveways, rusty trailers, and fast-flowing creeks. The landscape here is a rolling series of gentle humps and easy grades, but even a downhill can be hard when the wind is bludgeoning you in the head. As we rode through Gratis and turned towards Monroe, the road became hillier. The lumps in the road the last 5 miles before Monroe are shorter and steeper. The lactic acid in my legs began to sizzle like bacon at this point, even thought we were only halfway home. When the store stop in Monroe came into view, my legs were already burnt to a crisp.

Casey Magner: After the Store: The next 20 miles are a blur. That’s because the surrounding countryside is a blur. That’s because we sailed by it (the surrounding countryside) like a rocket ship. That’s because we were flying. That’s because we had a hellacious wind at our back. And because we were riding on long, flat stretches of smooth asphalt. That’s because we were in Walton County, the land of the Leprechaun and the four-leaf clover. The next thing I remember is the flashing blue lights. That’s because a cop had pulled us over.

Crowe: Mile 55: The cop pulled across our path to force us to stop. Thank gawd, I thought—we’d been ripping. We’d had the wind at our backs and we were riding over fast terrain. The copper exited his vehicle as we approached and slowed. He looked at us and said, “Who’s in charge here?”

Morgan County Cop: Mile 55: And some hapless sucker steps forward and says, “I guess I am.” I look around at the lumpen mass of humanity that was his charges. I call him aside and say, “Bless you, brother. I sure as hale couldn’t do it. I gave him five bucks.” I shake his hand and send him on his way.

Crowe: Mile 55: The rest of the ride all I could think about was the utter futility of my role in the WBL. I tossed the five dollars into the wind and watched the paper catch the breeze and flutter away. I’m nothing but a fly buzzing in a bell jar. The best advice I can give a person is: Don’t take a photo of yourself that you don’t want the world to see, or else you might end up digging holes in Hades, or pumping gas in Purgatory, just like me.

Bill Boonen: Saturday afternoon 1:15 p.m.: I glanced at my watch—1:15. I knew they’d be around the 60-mile mark. Who needs them? I thought. I opened a book of poems by Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal, and immersed myself in my art. Since Baudelaire goes best with bourbon, I cracked open a bottle of Kentucky blended. After a couple of hours of reading poetry and drinking booze, I called my wife at work and whispered romantic prose to her over the phone.

Boonen’s wife: Bill called me at work and said, “I’m horny.” I immediately hung up. I knew he was home drunk watching pay-per-view.

P. Parker Smith: Mile 60 – 80: We finally cruised into Bishop and the fight was finally over; a weight was lifted from my shoulders—it’s a straight shot home from here. It had been a rough-and-tumble day in the saddle, a day spent fist-fighting with the elements, and my knuckles were bloody. The first two hours were spent driving into a cold and bitter wind, and it took its toll on my legs. The chill forced me to burn more calories, and my tank was running dry. The frigid conditions lead to more rapid breakdowns in the engine, just like a car. And even though we had the wind at our backs after the store stop, we were racing down the road like an arrow flung from a Chinese bow. I was spinning-out in my biggest gear, zipping down the road at 28 miles-per-hour, barely tamping down on the pedal.  But even that easy spinning motion is sucking the nectar out of a rider’s legs in a surreptitious way, and at a certain point, the tank is dry, and the parts all freeze. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fight, but when we arrived in Bishop, I shifted to cruise control—we were in the homestretch. Then: horror of horrors. We arced around Bishop, sailed past Watkinsville, cut over the Colham Ferry Road, and looped around for more.

Carney: 2 p.m.: I added 5 miles to the route this week—5 miles were cut last week because of the threat of rain. I knew it would add an added element of grim resolve when the route kicked back out after entering Bishop. I like to play mind games with the Zealots sometimes.

Dog: I saw lots of edible people approaching on metal tubes with rubber wheels from down Little Edna’s way. She’s the mutt that lays a litter every vernal equinox. I eyed one especially fat one in the pack and pinned my ears back and drooled—it was enough meat for a week.

George Schramm: I knew I’d gained a little weight, but the way this dog was looking at me as I rode by made me feel fat. I knew I was only imagining it though because people don’t think that way about what dogs think about what people say if they think what they say the dogs think. Am I making myself clear?

Farmer G: The Last Part of the Ride: During the last part of the ride, the cumulous clouds finally won out and buried the sun behind a thick curtain of smoky-colored, cotton balls. The two sides had fought an ongoing battle for supremacy all day. The high of the day, 47 degrees, was past, but when the sun was shining, all was well because I was warm. But when Old Sol was blocked by a cloud, it quickly felt cold, especially with the howling wind. But at the end of the day, the clouds covered the sky, and the temperature dropped fast. But all was well because it was the last part of the ride. But Brothers and Sisters, the last part of the ride—McRees Mill-Barnett Shoals-College Station—is as lumpy as week-old meatpie soup. The hills in this section come fast and furious, and they all plunge upwards at cantankerous angles. It’s enough to make a person’s thighs wave the white flag of surrender. But as soon as complacency tried to become my accomplice, I slapped myself silly and hoisted the Jolly Roger—I’d come here to fight! I dug in my heels, narrowed my eyes to slits, pressed my elbows against my side, jutted out my aristocratic chin, pursed my lips, snuffed in my snot, cleared my throat, and power-pedaled for home. We blew in College Station and kept our feet on the accelerator all the way down River Road and beside the frat monoliths and until we popped out under the railroad tracks behind Sanford Stadium. At that point, we finally cut the tether and coasted home: 85 miles, 4 hours and 15 minutes: my balloon was popped.

Jason Bewley: Saturday Night: Since there were no sprints I kept the Yellow Helmet Cover. That night my wife asked me if I was going to continue to sleep with the Yellow Helmet Cover on my head. She’s just jealous of my hair.

Dalford England: Saturday Night: I was only 2 points away from the Yellow Jersey. That night I looked in the Yellow Pages under “Murder for Hire.” I called the number. The person that answered said, “WBL.” I thought that odd, but I stated my case.

Crowe: Saturday Night: I was cleaning Carney’s shoes while he was talking on the phone. He went into another room and closed the door. He came back and said that the WBL was going into a new line of business, and he’d been thinking about what I said, and he wanted me to be his “point man” in the new deal. Finally, my life is headed somewhere.

Humble Chronicler: Sunday morning: I was released from jail after 24 hours. Having no idea what had happened on the ride, I sent out a mass email and asked for contributions. Don’t blame me, all I did was assemble the mess, and here you have it, this week’s ride report.

2010 Overall Standings ( after 2 events):

  1. Jason Bewley (the Peacock): 11 pts.
  2. Dalford the King of England (Sir Dalford): 9 pts.
  3. Capobianco (Little Cappy): 7 pts.
  4. Damien Show Sotpper Dunn: 7 pts.
  5. 80 others: 6 pts.
  6. A Murray and V Ball: 4 pts.
  7. 700 hundred others: 0 points
  8. Last Place: Mike Edmonds: negative 3 points (1 pt. penalty)

Humble C, sort of.