The Splayed End of the Narrative Thread

The Splayed End of the Narrative Thread (WBL 2007: #1)

Despised enemies were stretched taut between two black stallions and finally snapped into two distinct pieces of flesh during pleasant cerebrations of the criminally insane; raunchy rounds of rodomontade were bandied back and forth by robustious raconteurs; lurid innuendo was heaped upon the women folk of the WBL during perfidious colloquies whispered in sotto voce; and mendacious rumors about supposed friends spread like a rolling wildfire in a parched grove of South Georgia pines.

There was the boastful bragging of youth, the censorious caterwauling of the elderly, the claptrap of idiots, and the advice of the “experts” aplenty. There were furtive glances given, unseemly suggestions made, impure thoughts thunk, and malodorous gasses passed. Prime example: when the Bogartarian Bill Bray signed in at registration, he glanced furtively over his left shoulder at George Selgin, who was holding forth in front of Sunshine Cycles on a variety of topics ranging from the benefits of burying freshly plucked goat droppings in one’s front yard along with a headless cat for good luck, to the dangers of combining too many pain killers with too much drink. Based upon his black eye and his gutter breath, I assumed George spoke from a perspicacious position. As I watched Bill watch George hold forth, it was quite obvious to me that Bill Bray’s body had transformed into a burning conflagration of unholy passions: his ruby cheeks were empurpled with the stain of lust, his eyes were ablaze with Hellfire flames, and his earlobes turned the color of a blood-red poinsettia. Bill was burning up on the inside. He lifted his right leg, bent his knee inward, grimaced, and let one silently slip into the ambient air. I had the unfortunate luck of watching the entire sordid scene play out right in front of my eyes. Welcome to another typical day in paradise: Welcome to the cynosure of southern cycling: Welcome to West Washington Street, Athens-G-A.: Welcome to the WBL 2007—Watch your back. (See also new rule # 12 under “Ride Guide.” Consider yourself warned.)

WBL 2007 kicked off the other season in fine fashion on 2 December 2006 as 120 Zealots signed for the first annual Raisin Hell in the WBL. That merry soul Old King Sol blessed the Zealots with a clear, blue cloudless sky and a mercury reading that would eventually climb to a sweltering 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Before day’s end, many in attendance would shed tights and work on tans. In fact, at the store stop in Pocatiglio, when last year’s Sprint co-champ Todd Henriksen removed his leggings, one at a time, like he was a stripper or something, I noticed at least a dozen of the grizzled old vets standing around like statues watching him with their jaws hung open like a lowered drawbridge. Chris Andrus was the worst one of all but I’ll not start naming names. The Zealots were riding this day in honor of Zealot extraordinaire Mister Saul Raisin and his incredible will power, his ironclad determination, his steely fortitude, and his Herculean strength. Junior Southerland also pointed out that Saul has “a way with the ladies, especially the Euro-trash girls,” but Carney said we couldn’t really honor him for that, at least in writing. He suggested we congratulate him on that score in person. I hadn’t known about this side of Saul, so I tried to call him for a few stories before this little tome went to print. I couldn’t reach him, but Jittery Joes’ new signee Slim Tim Henry offered a few twisted tales of his own. I told Slim that his stories weren’t fit to print. I explained to him that mine was a literary endeavor, not a misadventure in pornography. When I broke the news to him, he pushed back from the stage where we had front row seats, and stormed out of the dance club in which we presently found ourselves, leaving myself, Micah Rice and Gutcheck Gruber in a state of confusion. (I was working on a story about a stripper who worked there. I’m not sure what the others were doing in that locale.) I killed the rest of Slim’s bourbon and coke. Sucker. It’s a great story—mine, not Slim’s. It’s titled Shake Your Moneymaker. An internet site might publish it. It will only cost me 50 bucks. At first, the editor wanted $100, but I haggled with him, using skills I’d picked up when I was temporarily living on the streets in Tijuana. But I’m straying from the thread of this story, leaving tread marks in my wake.

CEO Briggs Carney was on hand and made his flatulent flunky announce his (Carney’s) presence over the bullhorn. Crowe is an obsequious sycophant no doubt, but I’ll give him credit for not calling Carney “the greatest person presently walking the planet, possibly even a god, but certainly a living legend,” as Carney was insisting in the back of Sunshine Cycles shortly before announcements began. I overheard the heated exchange while I sat atop the toilet bowl in the midst of a reverie. I was contemplating the cosmos, specifically Hawking’s theory of the origin of the universe. Hawking claims that the universe was no bigger than a chestnut 15 umpteen-zillion years ago, but heavier than Mount Ararat, even with the Ark sitting atop its summit and filled with two each of all the largest mega fauna that has ever graced our planet. This was before the Big Bang sprayed the seeds of the chestnut throughout the firmament. I can’t seem to wrap my mind around that little metaphysical philosopheme and it has caused me a considerable amount of perturbation, consternation, disorientation, and outright constipation, which was the specific problem I was experiencing at that particular point in time. While I sat atop my throne, I drifted off the tracks; far, far off the tracks, as I am wont to do in both my abstract musings and my scholarly writings—at least this is the main criticism of my readers, but most of them are mental midgets—and were it not for the discordant squawking of these two hostile voices, I might still be seated atop the toilet in silent disputation with my mythical me—that’s the part of myself that doesn’t go in one iota for these scientific expostulations that are nothing more than a fancy display of smoke and mirrors with a few big words tossed in for good measure. I’m not related by blood or marriage to a damned monkey. Crowe told Carney that as the appointed announcer, he’d say what “he damned well pleased.” Carney resorted to name calling and a bitter philippic ensued. Carney said Crowe was a “worthless sack of [word goes here]” a word that doesn’t rhyme with Church goin fella. At times, Carney can be one heartless bastard.

After taking the bullhorn in hand, Crowe reminded the pack that they ride these rides at their own risk, and that they assume all risk of injury, and that the whole lot of them was nothing more than a gaggle of misguided fools destined for failure on a doomed planet spinning around in circles. Then the whistle blew, the pack shouted “Hot Damned,” Shirey clicked his ruby red slippers twice, Brian Bibens crossed himself and thought Dear Gawd, Here we go again, Mrs. Crowe screamed “Hail to the Chief,” Bryan Ryles rubbed his lucky rabbit foot twice, Skinny Dan sang I Love L.A., Jason Crosby said “Me too,” and WBL 2007 was officially underway. The world was righted once again, at least for the next 4 hours, or 72 miles. But in order to pretend that worldwide equilibrium was established, the pack was forced to pretend George Bush wasn’t president. That is a difficult task at best. It’s as hard as imagining Donald Rumsfeld in blue jeans flashing a piece sign at an antiwar rally; or Michael Vick flipping the eagle to the home crowd—wait, sorry, scratch that last one. Only someone with the mental powers of a super hero could pull off a mental feat like that—someone like me for instance, your most Humble Chronicler. Sometimes my thoughts are so strong that they can bend spoons, especially when I’m thinking about having sex. Once I thought about one of my better moments in the faraway days of yore and I bent a 12 foot piece of rebar into a pretzel using nothing but my mind. I’m rock solid I tell you. At least I used to be. But I’m straying slightly here.

Carney ordered his minions to the front and the pack slipped through and out of downtown Athens, dove under the train trestle, stood on the pedals up North Avenue, and veered over to the Nowhere Road, stopping traffic in both directions as they did so. Old time gospel singer and pack favorite Steve 6-Gun Sevener hit the front on Nowhere Road and showed the group right away what the WBL is all about. 6-Gun Sevener is well aware that the Zealots don’t hammer in December, but neither do they cater to the wishes of a bunch of feeble bodied jellyfish, a clutch of fat cat lawyers, nor a group of hung over leprechauns hoping for an easy spin in a field of four leaf clovers. “Better head on over to PBL if you’re looking for that kind of geriatric excitement,” Sev said with a crooked smile. Sevener put his head down, started huffing and puffing, locked his cruise control on 20 miles per hour, and kept it there for the entirety of the ride…other than that one scalded dog section on the Hudson River Church Road where Nathan O’neil shot lactic acid splinters into the thighs of the entire pack, except Jeremy Wadkins a.k.a. the Fire Starter—who was fortunately driving the sag wagon, and Carney—who by this time was back at the homeplace, feet kicked into the air, with a Tall Boy in one hand and pornography in the other. Other than those two fortunate souls, the rest of the pack spent a little time during the store stop retrieving their long lost limbs that were strewn helter skelter along the uphill slant of the Hudson River roadway, and stuffing their collapsed lung bags back down their throats. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

As the groupetto rode compacto out Nowhere Road, the prevailing winds showed themselves to be blowing from a backwards position. Instead of blowing in the usual manner—from west to east, the wind had assumed a most illogical point of departure and was howling from the east—the direction today’s group was ultimately headed. “So much for a tailwind,” last year’s Yellow Jersey winner Greg G-Man Somerville said. “The best laid plans.” But for the moment the pack cruised towards the North Pole, and whether the wind was pounding the left side or the right, it didn’t much matter. It’s similar to a wife who is complaining to her husband about his woeful abilities as a handyman, or his lackluster commitment to romance. Either way I lose. I’m damned well tired of it too. But I’ll not stray down that path tonight. It’s dangerous to do so, especially when I’ve been drinking. If I’ve been drinking, it’s better to write. But I’ve learned not to post the damned story until I’ve sobered up. I learned that rule the hard way. I learn most stuff that way though. It sticks with me better. You know, Once bitten, twice shy. I’m straying again. Where the hale was I?

The Milkman Tommy Mulkey, Ole Thomas Brown, Master Scott Beam (me up), Ronnie Bratcher, Jeff Ford (Lita’s former husband) and Doug Gillifan ( no relation to Gilligan) were a few of those safely tucked inside the innards of the speeding peloton enjoying this fine day in Paradiso. The group cruised up and down, first towards Heaven then back down towards Hell, gliding over the ripples in the road that came at them like angry waves. The pack skirted around the northern perimeter of Commerce, intersected with Highway 326, and cut a 90 degree turn west, into the wind, on the aforementioned Hudson River Church Road where two of the nastier inclines of the day awaited. It was during this brief stretch, just before the store stop in Pocatiglio, that the previously referenced Aussie tamped down on the pedals in a most malicious way. But the store stop was in sight, and Carney ordered Crowe to play constable, and he swept up the strays from the flock and brought them back into the fold. At the concrete block store stop moon pies, R.C. Colas and 25 cent cream puffs awaited. After pouring plenty of sugar into their tanks, the pack continued advancing due east on the Wesley Chapel Road. Some of Madison County’s finer bulls watched with a protective eye as the wayward herd of wanderer-lusters pedaled past.

The pace was quick but steady and the blacktop was flat, at least for the time being. The groupetto recuperated as they set sail to the kingdom of Comer. Naturally, the trash talking resumed. Jim Stradley claimed he was a “genius on paper,” Leigh Valletti said she was “a man crusher,” and Robbie Kollar bragged that he was “a chunk of burning love,” which thereafter caused Tom Fahey to shout “Amen Brother, I’ll drink to that,” which caused Rory Mellinger a.k.a. The Pilgrim to suggest, “Just make damn sure it’s a non-alcoholic drink Tom. You know how you get,” which made Drew Genteman say, “You’re one to be talking, Rory,” which sent shockwaves through the pack because everyone knows that of all people Drew Genteman shouldn’t be criticizing anyone about drinking because he’s been known to drink more than a sailor on a 3 day pass Timbuktu. Molly Freeman was about to launch another grenade into the festivities, but once again a final round of cantankerous inclines began and didn’t cease for a good 15 miles. It caused everyone to close the bung holes in their faces.

The pack tackled a wicked trifecta of roller coasters on Highway 191, immediately followed by a double dose of extreme pleasure-pain heading into Colbert, ending with a hateful hill in front of Kenny Roger’s former pad that squeezed every last drop of kryptonite from the quads of the remaining Zealots. Though a few were lopped off the rear during these tumultuous times, they all fought like valiant warriors to hang on until the last hour of the day. A few even incredibly dug down into the nether regions of their souls and clawed their way back to the pack and rode into town with the group. Congrats!

A front group of 70 finished in one big bunch and all agreed it was a most glorious first day. The pack completed the 72 mile day in 3 hours and 45 minutes at an average speed of approximately 20 miles per hour. Many were in shorts as the group climbed the last uphill pitch of the day, Railroad Hill, which dumps the group smack in the middle of downtown Athens. Many denizens in the sidewalk cafes looked as if they were gazing upon a marauding group of wayward backsliders. Perhaps they were. Robert Parks noticed their dazed expressions and yelled, “At least we’re fit when we start sinnin’!”

Back at Sunshine, Carney announced that all those signing in were granted an extra point on the day, for a total of 3, making it a 120 way tie for first. However, since ties go to the current Yellow Jersey holder, the Big G still stays in Yellow. Mayola-Pic and T. Henriksen remain tied for the Red jersey, all with 3 points. Carney also ruled that the sag van can motor pace riders back on to the rear of the bunch. I wished I’d known about that. I might not have been dropped 23 miles out.

Shortly before this story went to print, Carney called me and “ordered” me to keep my narrative running along somewhat of a straight line. I told him that as a self annointed genius, my mind often sped off in directions over which I had little control, like the old school WBL. See you Saturday. And Saul, keep up the good work. And congrats on your way with women, especially the trashy ones. Who cares what Carney says. The hale with him.

The Humble Chronicler