A Star Is Born
A STAR IS BORN
Big Jon Atkins outfoxed the final group of 12 escapees physically, mentally and spiritually as he crushed the final sprint and scored a resounding victory on the 2003 Porterfield Tire Alto World Cup Event. With his win, Big Jon became the first rider in the history of The WBL to ever win Alto twice as he once again guaranteed himself good luck for the 2003 race year.
Big Jon went clear in a group of a dozen that ripped off the front (as opposed to breaking away) of a deracinated field in the turbulent 9.5 mile final Attack Zone on this magnanimous 5 ¾ hour, 115 mile day. The effusive Genesis strongman played his cards with the skill of a Las Vegas poker player as he held 2 aces close to the vest to the bitter end. Other puissant players unleashed tumultuous, ruinous attacks in the final miles that were causing nothing but unrestrained grief and absolute despair for those behind clamping down on a bullet with all the strength their jaws could muster. After the remaining gamblers in the lead group of 12 had thrown all their cards on the table, Big Jon laid down his two aces he was holding in the form of two turbo charged thighmasters that were pumping like the pistons in Ricky Rudd’s racecar. He blew past his fellow seekers of the Golden Grail as he hit top speed 25 meters from the line and crushed the challengers for his record-breaking win. The young Greenvillian Michael Proctor again showed brilliance as he stormed to an astounding 2nd place on his first ever Alto, just off the wheel of Big Jon. She Diesel was third and was successful in pulling back The Golden Fleece in an epic battle for Yellow in 2003. Broglio, Junior, InSaine and She Diesel are now all within 4 points of each other in this 2003 quest for fame. Cathy Connell also locked up the first annual Women’s Blue Jersey as she also tries to become the first female in the history of The WBL to finish in the top 5 overall.
Old Man Sun announced the birth of a star in a faraway galaxy and he glowed like a proud papa as his effulgence could not be contained on this golden day. But even the warm rays caused by The Old Man’s beneficent smile could not penetrate the seditious miasma created by the alcoholic relative known as Uncle Northwind. The temperamental mistral rolled in from the north reeking of whiskey, just like a Canadian, and blasted the hardcore group the first half of the event with a tempestuous gale force headwind. But, as all judges know, even alcoholics have a good side, and the mistral wind would finally blow propitiously for the return trip from the highlands of Alto. A large group of 120 wisemen from the far reaches of the universe and beyond rolled into town to celebrate the birth of the newborn star. Signing the guest list on this much-heralded day was last week’s winner Slim Tim Henry and his sententious sidekick King Kurt Garin. Greenvillians were present in the form of the previously mentioned M. Proctor and The Godfather Jason Leslie. Pesky, Meanspirited Casey, Edridge, Mihadone Franklin, Younkins, Shireymania and his crew of city-hippie mountain bikers, Skinny Dan, Nielson, Coombs, J. and K. Cooney, Aqua Fuqua, N. Dale, Callaway, Newbold and Millen were just a few of the other Gnostics on hand. Team John Deere was present in full force (and threatened to walk away with the event in the first five miles. They were pulled back 10 miles in much to the relief of a pack that had begun to panic.) A large group of astrologists and stargazers from Birmingham were also on hand to celebrate the Old Man’s good fortune. The denizens were spellbound when they gazed upon the new WBL clothing and each agreed that life would not be worth living without owning a WBL jersey, armwarmers and booties. (Pictures to be posted soon.) After the high-spirited group was reminded to OBEY THE YELLOW LINE AT ALL TIMES and to ride two-abreast, the riders clipped in and pushed off for the world famous 115 mile trek to a prison in Alto that sits atop the mountain of doom.
The rolling sight for sore eyes shot straight north through Commerce, straight out the other side, and on north, skirting around Homer and into Banks County. The first sprint of the day was Alto City Limits, but The Attack Zone for Alto would not open until 2 ½ hours into this World Cup event. The ill-natured Uncle pounded the riders the entire trip to Alto. His feculent breath convinced half the denizens to take the short loop, which was still 4 hours, much to the satisfaction of The CEO. Not only did the wind hit the pack head-on for the first three hours, several card carrying Punks were stepping on the accelerator on the long uphill climbs that came in interminable succession on the trek to Alto. Slim Tim, Saul Raisen and King Kurt all upped the ante on the uphill jam sessions. So did Jed Cyclo Schneider, Pomeranz, The Blade, Drewdini and She Diesel as each spent time helping the pack hurtle up and over the beguiling hills. Despite the best efforts of the intoxicated Uncle, the ingenious group would not be denied as it continued to forge ahead at a constant clip, just like life. Finally, the bruised group reached the bottom of the perfidious triplets known as The Alto-Triple-Stairstep, a series of three hills rising from the bottom of the bed of a mountain stream to the spine of a ridge some 5 miles away. Each sinister step gets a little steeper and a little nastier. The last wicked triplet has caused some riders to dismount and to refuse to ever ride again. The total elevation gained is 500 feet, but the total climbing is more because of some descending on the three-tiered climb. These ill-mannered disreputable triplets usually treat their guests rather rudely. Today would be no exception.
As the pack crossed the bottom of the creekbed the dreaded scream of the whistle unhinged the group. Pain descended on the participants like a setting sun. Saul the Raisin showed his true intentions right from the get-go as he danced up the first hill like a deer clearing a barbed-wire fence at full stride. Then Cyclo countered and doubled down as he tested the waters and immediately split the group in half. But the protagonists pulled painfully back. On the second deceptive uphill incline, it was The Raisin again stepping on the gas at the front. But when Junior bridged to Saul on the hill, The DOBs sounded the tocsin. The DOBs managed to bridge back, but these huge efforts were exacting a heavy price on old legs that were swelling with blood. On the third uphill grinder, Saul The Raisin again jumped off the front with a wicked display of supple climbing prowess. Slim Tim, then Pomegranate, recognized the $100 dollar move and jumped and immediately bridged on the steepest part of the incline. The three moved away from a shell-shocked pack and quickly established a 30 second gap. Then Cyclo Schneider jumped away solo and flew out of the pack and up the hill like he had just remembered he promised the $100 to a coy girlfriend. But the three climbers, who had hit full stride by now, were not waiting around on a climber with European experience who happened to be named “Jed.” As the three escapees finally hit the top of the hill, they turned right and looked back and saw that The Jed Man cometh. They scorched the last three undulating miles without the slightest hesitation proving that sometimes a scorched earth policy really does work. Behind Jed, there was much gnashing of teeth as a third group of a baker’s dozen began to lose their grip on reality. At the line, it was the intransigent Slim Tim springing first and swiping the C-note, and the 3 sprint points. Slim Tim instantly jumped into third in The Atlantis Hydroponics Sprint competition in a dead draw with Junior. The Raisin and The Pomegranate rolled across to take the remaining points, each becoming a player for Red. A temporary truce was called in Alto and the wisemen who had stayed on for the long loop took the chance to lie down and die, even if only temporarily. But at the spying of a mermaid in Alto, the luckiest pack in the freaking world realized they had something to live for – next week!
After the store stop atop the mountain of doom, it was time to pucker up, squeeze tight and scream down the fastest descent of the season, Apple Pie Ridge Road. As the strung out and stretched thin pack raced down the 5 mile hill at 60mph, it was time for the fatboys to seek revenge. J.Leslie, Big Jon and She Diesel, three proven heavyweights, showed that if you ever point the road down a hill, their weight will give them an ace in the hole! The pack screamed down the final mile of The Apple Pie like a kid on a rollercoaster. But, all good things must end, and soon the fatboys did bottom out. Then, the crying started again as the group was bombarded with a relentless stream of arduous ups and downs across the barren badlands of Banks and Stephens County. The only signs of life in this savage rolling countryside were slanted fields of dairy cows over yonder on the left, a ramshackle trailer on the right in the woods down in the gully with clothes, beer cans (Bud-Tall Boys), and tires scattered in a dirt front yard, and two mermaids driving Big Red behind. And Big Red following around a heap of stark raving mad pedal pushers slicing their way through this tough territory with a stubborn, steady and persistent tempo. Many took an opportunity to pull at this difficult moment including the likes of Drewdini and Slim Tim, Broglio, Junior, Bibens, Chisel of course, and the lurking Dr. Chuck Schmidt to name only a few. It is 12 miles to Crackback Hill after the descent, and these dozen miles are filled with steep, backbreaking pitches. Every year, riders are lost here, in the Banks-Stephens Triangle, never to be seen again. This year, like always, riders were lost. (Wire reports did establish the riders did make it back Monday at noon. They were given full ride points.) And after this back cracking 12 mile section is complete, the pack is left to deal with the cherry on top, Crackback Hill. Crackback Hill is a back breaking, thigh-searing, spirit-breaking half mile climb that comes at the end of this treacherous 12 miles. It never fails to break something in all three of the above categories.
As soon as the Attack Whistle for Crackback hill was sounded, Saul the jumpy Raisin bolted out of the blocks. Only he crossed the centerline on his surge. (An official protest was made, affirmed by another, and witnessed by Board Member- auto D.Q.) Saul kept going and surged away from the group. Only this time, Jed responded right away and quickly accelerated up to Saul who was beginning his ascent with an easy turn of the pedals. Jed surged again and rocketed up the climb. He continued to accelerate up the steep hill and took the sprint, the $50 and the 2 points rather handily. With his points, The Cyclo Man moved into 3rd by himself with 4 points on The Red Jersey Competition. (Although The Raisin crossed the line second he was stripped of his point. Though The Raisin lamented “that it was perfectly safe,” that excuse is not recognized by The WBL sanctioning authority.) The crafty Blade timed his final rush up the hill perfectly as he stormed passed a multitude of pretend climbers who were going backwards. The Blade took the all important second place point and held onto first in The Red Jersey Competition with 7 points. After the second sprint, the pack regrouped and set sail for Athens.
The group of staunch stubbornists ripped off the next undulating 16 miles to Commerce easier than it is (was) to dine and dash at IHOP. The double, and sometimes single-file line sailed along at an eager clip with the help of Uncle Northwind, who was in the grandest of moods (he was drunk). In no time at all, the flying bunch of fools were in Commerce and gearing up for this rigorous 9.5 mile test of net worth called The Attack Zone. Once through Commerce, the angry pedalers sped down 334 towards Athens, turned left on Femurbreak Hill Road, and the quest for the grail began in earnest. As the leaders hit Femurbreak Hill, it was The Cyclo Man again making others decide whether hanging on was all that it is cracked up to be. Jed stretched the line into a thin fraudulent thread as the group took the first right in The Zone. On the next long, fast downhill run through a green valley, it was Slim Tim who held nothing back and flew down the hill across the valley at 35 mph and again stretched the thread thin. At the left hand turn onto Seagraves Mill Road, the line was bending, but not breaking…yet. It was here that The Raisin, Jed, Slim Tim and King Kurt laid down a drag with such vim and vigor, that 12 pulled clear and quickly sailed up the road. The dirty dozen contained 3 from Genesis- The Blade, Pomegranate and Big Jon. Junior, Jed, Slim, The King, Proctor and She were there also. Broglio was there too looking for huge points in this select group. But all were fishing for a win, not to mention the $300 cash that went with it.
As the bulletproof cyclists took the final right onto Nowhere Road and sped down the final 3 mile stretch, The Punks continued to torture The DOBs with an endless assault from the air and on the ground. But The DOBs dug deep and hunkered down. Each member of this final group had to get on hands and knees and crawl across broken glass to bridge back to a small group trying to splinter them at least once in the final miles. But all did. The line was too close now, and there were too many difficult miles behind to spit the bullet out now. It was 1 mile to the line. The Punks never stopped their cannonade of advances at the front which lead to a flying finish as the group headed for home. Garin and The Rasin kept it full tilt until 300 meters to go. Then Junior jumped hard and surged for gold. But he faltered and was passed by a flying Broglio, who was trying to steal The WBL 2003 outright. Noticing the crime in progress, She Diesel latched onto the flying Broglio and managed to come around him 50 meters from the line and appeared to be headed for the win. As She was raising her arms, Big Jon came blowing by like a hurricane and flattened all in his path as he crushed the sprint and won the World Cup event in dramatic fashion. Also finishing with exceptional rides were Broglio, InSaine, Dr. Schmidt and Cathy Connell who was again the rookie phenom.
With 3 events to go, She Diesel has The Yellow Jersey. But the top 4 riders on points are all within 4 points of each other. The joking has ended as all sides are dug in for an all out assault. Side deals are being made and lots of lies told as the WBL 2003 marches onward. And with the huge points at stake in the World Cups, the biggest battles are yet to come.
- Big Jon +15
- M. Proctor +12
- Crowe +9
- Broglio +6
- Pomeranz +3
- Broglio +7
- Saine +5
- Schmidt +3
- Connell +7
- Slim Tim +3
- Saul +2
- Jed +2
- Blade +1
- Pome. +1