Try again. Fail again. Fail better

Try again. Fail again. Fail better

(WBL #4: Bowman)

Joey Jack Flash Rosskopf broke out the big brass knuckles and bludgeoned a 100-man field into a teary-eyed, weary-boned, whipped-dog submission as he scored the greatest win of his budding professional cycling career. Rosskopf nailed the victory on his papa's eponymous ride, the Bowman Classic, by deftly displaying his potent pedaling prowess while also driving forward into an ill-mannered, foul-tempered, and punishing squall. To make matters worse, he was simultaneously surrounded by a cantankerous throng of malcontent hammerheads, all powerful pedal-people, who could not be sated. The 90-mile, 4.5 hour event, turned into a ball-busting blisterfest that harkened back to the fantastical days of yesteryear. During the Bowman jamboree, the Zealots ventured deep into the frozen hinterlands of pain, a locus where all should occasionally shine a light, though most seldom (if ever...never) do. The Zealots were treated to a brutal day of pedal-banging which is best simply described as an old school, take-it-back-behind-the barn, ass-kicking good time. The frontend factotums were relentless and pushed the pace in extremis at times. Back at headquarters, Carney was bloated with pride and puffed out his chest when he heard that the Bowman Classic had morphed into a gladiatorial contest that had adopted the mantra Kill or be Killed. "Ahhh," Carney said quite satisfied, "if pain is truly a portal to transcendence, today's trek reached the shores of Nirvana." Which begs the question, how the hale would he know?

Despite the fact that the frightful forecast predicting ferocious westerly winds and frigid Arctic temps struck fear into the hearts and minds of most, about 100 battle tested Zealots appeared on scene ready to fight on 8 January 2011 on the Kenbikelaw Bowman Classic. And in spite of the fact that the first half of the 90 mile misadventure was spent ripping over field and dale like a heat seeking missile hugging the turf, over 70 intrepid, fortitudinous, audacious, and stouthearted Zealots pulled their shoe-straps tight, pulled on their booties, kissed their loved ones goodbye, and took on the challenge of the entire 90-mile loop. This particular pack of riders was truly a murderous mob, a menacing pastiche of perfervid pedal-personae hale-bent on burning-up the road and running roughshod over anything in their path. The zeitgeist of this group was that of hardcore roadie, and only the rottenest, the meanest, the most obstinate, i.e., those hardwired to love pain, dared to even sign-in for the Bowman Classic. Before the ride when I looked around at the stellar cast of misesteemed characters, I knew the rest of us were in for a drubbing. My knees knocked, my heart raced, my voice cracked, and my hands trembled. Despite long odds, I clicked my heels together twice, threw my leg over my frame, hustled my little package into a more favorable position, prayed for a miracle, and threw myself feet-first into the fray. Come hale or high water I was riding this train.

Several former Yellow Jersey winners were among the cast of characters present and accounted for including Slim Tim Henry, Cleve Blackheart Blackwell, Don Giannini, and Thomas El Magnifico Brown. Other hammerheads of the First Order ready to rock the boat were Frank el jefe Trevesio, Daniel Hollywood Holt, Big Joe Eldridge, Andy Scarface Scarponi, Clever Cleve Blackwell, Hank the Beanpole Beaver, Nick Horse-pull Housley, Jordan Hitman Heimer, rootin-tootin Cal Hootin, the Tyrant Ty Magner, Scott Mule-kick Morris, the sachem Artur Sagat, JJ Jetson Jeremy Wadkins, Brian King of the Hill, Jon Hartbreak Harbert, the truculent Michael Trivette, and even a few fantastic young phenoms from Frazier Cycling in Gwinnett. But the band started playing when Michael York signed in because with the 3 points he earned by putting his mark on the page, combined with the fact that Dinkins was AWL (Away with leave), pushed him into the Overall lead in WBL 2011 before the group even rolled out the door. As York was placing the Yellow hairnet over his helmet, a torrent of tears gushed down his cheeks. His multitude of fans cheered wildly and chanted his name and poured money into his outstretched hands, leading some to speculate that perhaps York's lachrymose sideshow was simply a sham. Either way, that night, when he was well past the point of no return, he was still purchasing PBR's with other folks' cash.

We might have mentioned this before: Though Zealots hail from all walks of life, and from all points on earth, and come in all shapes, and all sizes, and some have big feet and some small, when the pedal-rotating begins, an egalitarian form of existing takes over the tribe, not out of self righteous liberalism, but because of brute necessity. This isn't a city-state of sedentary fat cats importing incense from Yemen after all. Instead, this group is a fleet-footed band of cycling savages, a nomadic herd that must move to live, and has to kill to survive. Zealots are more akin to the San of Africa than Sargon the Mesopotamian King. So when the rowdy and boisterous group hoisted the Jolly Roger and headed north, up the declivitous road that leads to Nowhere, they already knew what lay ahead, and like the Zealots atop Masada, they knew what needed to be done.

As the Zealots scorched out the cruel contours of the Nowhere Road, then flew down the more comfortable gradients beyond, it didn't dawn on any single male that he hadn't had sex that week-they were too focused on a winning the WBL. Dinkins proved that she is a visionary, and her mass movement may yet morph into a cult. (See last week's ride report, The Codex, for further inquiry into this murky issue.) As the pack bent east and put the tempest at its back, first timer Victor Karm leaned over to WBL veteran John Best and said, "I don't know what it means, but in my dreams, I keep trying to force a big ole butterbean through a straw and it just want go. I wake up in a cold sweat. What does it mean?"

Best said, "It means you'd give your right nut to win a WBL ride."

Karm knew instantly that Best had unlocked his innermost secret. Karm unconsciously touched his scrotum and tried to imagine life sans one testicle. It'd be weird, he thought, but still, a WBL win...While Karm was lost in a reverie, debating the pros and cons of life with only one nut, someone at the front of the slobbering pack of ravenous hound dogs suddenly upped the ante to thirty miles per hour. Karm nearly had a stroke. Someone else in the field apparently did and keeled over dead. Groups were falling out the back like dog hair on a hot summer day, and we were only one hour in. I said another little prayer in case He thought my fist appeal might have been only a jocoserious lament. I knew I needed all the help I could keep.

The pack tore down the steep runway into Elbert County and ripped across the burbling brown waters of the Broad River and continued its perilous pace up the backside slope and beyond. Of course, at this point, the pack still had the wind, its most trusted friend, at its back. But sometimes the senators, those most faithful of servants, seek a more sinister satisfaction. Sometimes when what they want to do is stab you, they lead you right down the garden path. As we left the store stop in Bowman at the 40-mile point, I glanced up at the sign and I noticed the street name was "The Garden Path." I hoped we weren't headed straight down it.

After departing Bowman, the pack slowly but definitively arced back to the west as if it were rounding round the top of a horseshoe, back towards the Land of the Setting Sun, back towards A-Town, back towards home. It was here, still two hours from the finis, that the first fusillades were fired. The world, as the Zealots were about to be reminded, is an apathetic spinning orb that doesn't give a ratsazz about your petty problems or your meaningless rights. At this point in a WBL ride, you have no rights in reality; all you have is your ability to get yourownazzhome. No one but you can drive your bus. There are no free lunches in the WBL. There are no government bailouts in the WBL. No one here is too f---- big to fail.

As the pack drove down the long stretch of roadway on the Nickville Road and headed in a southwesterly direction, the gale force busters now belted the grupetto from the side. And this wind was a truculent taskmaster, a cruel curmudgeon with an autocratic attitude. What had once been a trusted, inner-circle confidante, in the end, turned out to be nothing but a money-grubbing grifter. George Stephanopoulos never looked so good.

Suddenly and without warning, and without adequate explanation, as in the creation of the little toe, as the pack dive-bombed down the Nickville Road and into the fierce crosswind, the front of the pack echeloned across the road, set the cruise control at "full tilt," rotated at the front, and caused carnage behind. Only a dozen or so could inveigle their way into the front echelon, and behind, 60 or more were forced into the gutter, soon to be cut free and cast adrift. Someone at the front had dropped the Big Belgian hammer and bodies were scattered up and down the road. Panic set in, the whistle blew, lungs heaved, and weary legs pressed down on their pedals in an all-out effort not to get dropped way-the-f----out-here. Eventually, the helmsmen relaxed, but the damage was done. The pack was rent to shreds, and some large groups that were lopped off never reconnected. Oh well, we loved you all, and you are sorely missed, especially if you pulled. Such is life death in the WBL.

The pack continued pressing forward into the wind for another 30 miles. There was no easing of the pace, no yielding to pedestrians, no stopping for trains, no waiting for stray cats to cross the road. The wind continued to howl with the gusto of a drunken Ginsberg. Nearly four hours into the affair, the shell-shocked peleton mercifully made it to the final Attack Zone, a vicious 9-mile section of undulating blacktop. By this point in the day's perfidious peregrinations, the pack had been reduced to a valiant clan of forty warriors.

A group of seven almost immediately unhitched itself from the unruly mob, but was run down after 1 mile of freedom on the first of six monster uphill sections. Once again, another group of seven ran up the road, but again, in a repeat performance, the escapees were brought back on the uphill incline of following hill. Still, each hill, and each surge, took a heavy toll. The front group was shrinking to a small cabal of pedal-nabobs.

Heading towards the third huge hummock and the Gene Dixon Intermediate sprint line halfway into the Attack Zone, Team Type 1's Big Joe Eldridge struck out on his own. Big Joe gained a sizeable amount of real estate, but still had 1 mile to go. Heading up the giant hillock, Big Joe was still away, but a violent surge behind lead to his capture only meters from the line. Cresting the top of the hill first and taking the sprint and the cash was the speedy Cuban, Frank Trevesio, followed closely by T Magner and T Brown. And after the line a group just kept going. Seven sirens sounded behind.

Again the lead group was reeled in, but again several more feckless lads were lopped off the rear. Heading up the fourth hummock, Christian Parrott shot off the front, but he was weighed down by an large anchor, i.e., a hanger-on latched hold of his rear and weighed him down like a fifty pound albatross. The albatross tried to pull, but he was no more than a dead man walking. His pull was futile, frivolous, and fruitless and ended in bitter tears.

The pack, now down to twenty, tore through the right-hand turn at Beaverdam Road, and relaxed momentarily as it turned left on Smithonia. But then, as the group headed down the damn hill, the first eight in line attacked and opened up a 50 meter gap. Behind there was no panic-there was still 2 miles to travel.

Flying up the Mur de Winterville the front eight held a 5 second gap: Rosskopf, T Henry, Trevesio, A Hill, T Magner, Scarano, J Atwell, and Don Giannini were pouring it on. As the front eight took the last right-hand turn on Billy Melton Road only 1.5 miles from the line, the chase group, now down to a dozen, surged behind the impetus of Hollywood Holt and closed to within 3 seconds of the leaders. But the pros in the front group turned up the volume and cranked down on their pedals. The front group painfully pushed its lead back out to five seconds as they plummeted down the last severe drop only 1 kilometer from the line.

The chasers chins were riveted to their handlebars and snot was flying helter skelter from their faces as both groups barreled for the finis. The chasers closed to within 3 seconds again, but the fulminating wind made even that small amount of space seem like several leagues in length. Though the chasers could have thrown a rock and hit the boys in front, the pros in that group were wise enough to floor it and stay clear. The chasers, though within spitting distance, could not close the gap.

As the lead eight hit the final, vexatious, and exceedingly sharp slope to the finish line, Rosskopf and T Henry motored slightly clear. Nearing the line Henry surged again and moved barely ahead, but Rosskopf tore into his pedals one last time just before the line and caught and passed the horrified T Henry, taking the 200 bucks as he passed. Trevesio, Hill, and Magner rounded out the top five, and Jonathon Atwell, showing he is both a force and a freak of nature, was the only non-Pro to make the front eight. A tip of the hat to the Indianapolis pavement crusher.

The final tally for the day was just over 90 miles covered at an average clip of nearly 21 miles per hour. Salud! And for anyone who fell out the back of the bus, kudos to you for even daring to hop on board. In the profound words of the angular Irishman: Try again. Fail again. Fail better. Failure, some even say, is another path to transcendence.

I'm not so sure,
just don't let it become de rigueur.

Humble C


  1. J Rosskopf (Pro!): 10 pts
  2. Slim Henry (Pro!): 8 pts
  3. Frank Trevesio (Pro!): 6 pts.
  4. Brian Hill (Cat 1!): 4 pts
  5. Ty Magner (Pro!): 2 pts
  6. All: 3 points!

Non Pro:

  1. Jonathon Atwell: 5 pts.
  2. Crowe: 3 pts.
  3. Yo Simpson: 1 pts.

Gene Dixon Hill Jam:

  1. F Trevesio: 3 pts
  2. Ty Magner: 2 pts
  3. T Brown: 1 pt

WBL 2011 Overall:

  1. Michael York: 18 pts.
  2. Crowe: 18 pts
  3. Joey Rosskopf: 17 pts
  4. Frank Trevesio: 16 pts.
  5. Jamie Dinkins: 16 pts.
  6. Jonathon Atwell: 14 pts
  7. Ty Magner: 14 pts
  8. Slim Henry: 13 pts
  9. Catherine Peacock: 12 pts.
  10. Gina Voci: 12 pts.
  11. Igor Rudola: 11 pts
  12. Nick Housley: 10 pts.
  13. Yo Simpson: 10 pts
  14. Brett Magner: 9 pts.
  15. Scott Morris: 9 pts
  16. Tommy Mulkey: 9 pts.
  17. John Newton: 9 pts
  18. DD Dunn: 9 pts.
  19. John Best: 9 pts
  20. Brad Parkerson: 9 pts.
  21. Kirk Madsmith: 9 pts.
  22. Parker Smith: 9 pts
  23. Smola: 9 pts
  24. Christian Foster: 9 pts
  25. Russ Foster: 9 pts
  26. Steve Kogan: 9 pts
  27. Brooks Lide: 9pts.
  28. Nick Fragtino: 9 pts.
  29. Clarke Hurst: 9 pts.
  30. Ruben Jacobo-Rubio: 9 pts
  31. T Brown: 8 pts
  32. JJ Wadkins: 8 pts.