Jon Kid King Murphy sledge hammered his cycling confreres into submission on the 26 January 2008 Bales Hales Barn Burner as he ripped and romped his way through the final Attack Zone like a rampaging elephant with a fire in the hole, finishing the sprint off with a ferocious final kick that no one could match. Murphy employed a pillage and plunder policy for the day as he sacked the competition, burned their houses to the ground, stole away with their women folk, and left them all gasping for air with his truculent display of brute barbarism. The Kid King scored his 10th lifetime win and became the most prolific winner in the storied, but always sorry, somewhat sordid, and most times salacious, history of the WBL. This particular record, like the Great Pyramid of Giza, may be around for awhile for others to gawk at.
But there was a dramatic moment when the fence could have fallen either way—victory nearly eluded Kid King. With 700 meters to go to the Pink Church finish line, Nick Jelly Man Reistad (Jelly Belly), Slim Tim Henry (Jittery Joes), and neo pro Andy Baker (Time Development) opened up a 30 meter patch of blacktop between themselves and the other befrazzled pedal banging fools—at this point in the day’s drama everyone’s quads were shell shocked and their knees were completely zoombafried. The chasing group behind the triad of escapees contained nine others with Murphy leading the charge. But whether it was because no one would help Murphy or no one could help Murphy, the Kid King was forced to do all the work—no one would pull through. Sometimes being the rock star does have its downside. Just ask Tommy Lee.
The three leaders lurched forward, shoulders rocking from side to side, pressing on their pedals with a puckered-up sphincter, grimacing in pearly-white pain, diggity-dig-digging towards the line, but running on fumes of ethanol. Behind, after determining the exact number of quarks he could imbibe with the day’s prize money (100 samolies = 25 pints of abbatial ale), Kid King looked at his comrades and said, “If ye help me catch those three sorry, flea-bitten goats, ye’ll git ye a pint of monk-made ale, fer free. I swear on me ma’s shot glass. In fact, Bales Hales and spit into the wind, three quarks for Muster Mark!” But no one pulled through, nor did anyone know what the hale he is was talking about. The sad truth is that the others looked as if they’d been pulled through the masher, run over with an asphalt crusher, and then shit out of a cow’s downspout. In other words, they looked no better than a fresh pile of manure swarming with greedy green flies. So Murphy pushed forward, keeping the forward three on a tight tether, but gaining ground too slowly—at this rate, he would not capture the escapees before the line. The three leading heroes appeared to have made the move of the day—one of these fine fellows (relatively speaking) would win!
Even though Damocles dangled his sword in his teeth, Kid King remained calm. He looked around at the Canookies (i.e., Canadians) in the bunch one last time and thought to himself, Bales Hales, them Frency-fried Canookies is sho nuff one ugly breed of human. And that aroma—hale fire and tarnation, sweet baby Jane! T’aint sure they’ll be imbibibibing with me tonight when we all is sittin around celebrating my win. Whewww-weeee, and that Bruno! Hot damn that feller is yooo-glee. I can’t even look at that unkempt sumbitch without my innards knotten all up on me. But Murphy pulled himself together, and showing the compassion of a true WBL champion, actually felt sorry for Bruno and his Canadian compatriots. After the event he even instructed his international money management company, J. P. Murphy, Inc., to solicit money “for ugly Canadians everywhere.” When asked what he intended to do with the money he received, Murphy said, “Bales Hales, get drunk. Then, at least them Canookies will look a haleovalot better. But that inbred dumbassedness, well, ain’t nuthin we can do about that. We jest gone have to leave that in the Good Lord’s hands. And pray mighty hard for a miracle.”
With 300 meters to go Murphy sucked in two barrelfuls of sweet Georgia air, first making sure all the Canookies were downwind, and sprang out of the group like a cheetah accelerating up to warp speed and zeroing in for a quick kill. In three vicious revolutions of his wheels, Murphy was full throttle with radar lock on the triad of doomed desperados charging forward into oblivion. (This is the bleak moment in the weekly WBL tragicomedy when the damned characters in the play realize that they’re all doomed, and have been so since the start. The percipient Reader has known since the opening line, assuming he or she read it twice.) Kid King blasted by the three rabblerousers with 250 meters to go, taking time to whisper as he passed, “Ale’s on me, foolish brethers,” and rocketed towards the line slightly faster than the speed of light. In fact, Kid King may have found a worm hole in the fabric of the cosmos through which he traveled, or at least a small aperture in the flypaper of the Attack Zone. The agile Rob the Don Gianinni, a time traveler himself, almost latched on to Murphy’s wheel and was now tearing holes in the air in the shape of circles, pedaling like a wild yokel gone plum crazy on mountain shine—he was trying to close a five meter wedge of moving space between himself and Kid King.
But the Kid’s not a King because of his mop of unruly orange hair. He was well aware that Don Gianinni was close to his wheel and breathing fire down his neck, so he tattooed a tune on his pedals with more torque than even Mr.Goodwench could muster with a three-foot wrench. (Three torques for Muster Goodwench!) Though the Don was only a split pea behind at the line, the insatiable Murphy held him off and took the win, again, holding up both hands as he crossed the line, his 10 fingers spread out like a peacock’s feathers. (Murph gave his fingers a quick count to make sure there were 10. He was all smiles when he confirmed - see photo below.) The group behind was like Waffle House hashbrowns: smattered, shattered, battered, tattered, and burnt to a crisp on the outside. They rolled across the line afterwards in fragments and bits, shards and pieces. It had been a 70 mile day filled with an electric charge; a day that according to Nashville’s resident hammerhead Jason Guzak, “put the steam back in my shit.” It was his first ever WBL adventure, and we weren’t too proud to help. But to understand exactly why this day would put the go-jack juice back in a person’s intestinal tank, we’ll have to press rewind on the way-back machine and take three steps retrograde to the beginning of the day.
On 26 January 2008 Alto finally occupied that space in Time between “the no longer” and the “not yet.” But Time is slippery concept, and as soon as one thinks he has been granted a little slack in his line, out come the whackers and his thread is cleanly cut sending him cartwheeling back into “the no longer” for an eternity. Or like Alto, Time can be like trying to grab jello—it just keeps oozing out between one’s fingers. And so it was with Alto. The threat of a gray, gloomy day, combined with a pearl of a possibility of plummeting temps, forced the WBL whethercasters to push back Alto again for the next week (2 February), for the second week in a row. But on this day the Zealots would be punished for the whether’s transgressions—they would ride, and ride they would. And there would be no tickets on this bus given away for free—everyone would have to pay the piper.
And if that’s confusing, try matching the names of over 950 Zealots to 950 faces, because that’s how many pedal bangers have signed in to ride, and unwittingly agreed to worship, and give all their money, to Carney over the past five years. (Money, as that term is intended herein, includes all stocks, bonds, 401 K Plans, annuities, pension plans, retirement accounts, IRA’s, checking and saving accounts, prize money, pay checks, certificates of deposit, IOU’s, IUD’s, promissory notes, car titles, bling-bling, signed Led Zepplin paraphernalia, silver dollars, and warranty deeds. Money also, in its broad sense, encompasses wives and girlfriends. However, the term does not encompass Frank Crumley, Roberto Rivers, Andrew Brackett, Jason Crosby, or Cleve Blackwell—yall can keep them.) Though trying to pin down the exact moment the WBL was birthed is like trying to precisely predict when the Big Bang unfurled its sonic boom, scholars who study this strange, cultish clan know that the “Zealot list” was started five years ago. It’s worrisome to many that Carney’s tribe has grown so fast. His threat “to take over the world one Zealot at a time,” no longer, like the rants of Rasputin, seems like the ravings of a madman. (In fact, many believe the recent lunar caterwauls of Michael Ball are no more than a failed attempt to mimic Carney’s biting aphorisms that cut to the quick. Perhaps, except even though Carney is a Kazillionaire, he wouldn’t be caught dead wearing designer jeans. And the ladies pay Carney to hang out with them, not versey-vicey. Carney donates all the cash he receives from the ladies to “The Ugly Canadian Fund.” Carney says he’s a “philanthropist.” If that’s a person who loves the ladies, I’ll second that notion. He’s one cool cucumber.)
Gray skies occupied every square inch in the sky and the sun wasn’t even a mazy blob—it was completely obscured, nowhere to be seen. Even though the whether was gloomier than Tom Palmer’s bedroom on a sultry Saturday night, Zealots came from the dark corners of the globe to take part in another epic day in the WBL: François-Charles Malo and Joél Dion-Poitias were only two of the odoriferous Canadians on hand; Clarke Clingenpeel and Jason Guzak made the trek from Music Land USA—Nashville, Tennessee; Hot Tuber Alder Martez dropped down for Charlotte; Adam Myerson made the trek from the mean streets of the Big Apple; Pat the Rainman and Mike Stoop sauntered in from amongst the rednecks over in Raleigh; Danny Estevez and Dan Vaillancourt skied down from New England; Big Joe Edridge and Ron Bama Boy Hamilton skipped over from Alabamy; Andy Baker cruised in from Greenville; Jake Andrews hopped down from 2 hours from somewhere; Rebecca Hutchinson came by way of somewhere over the rainbow; David Nixon rolled in from Nicholson; and Kim Potter coasted down from Hill Street. Looking around before the ride at the sturdy stable of race horses assembled at the start, Calvin Not Georgia O’keefe said, “Bales Hales, this group don’t be playing.” He buckled his chinstrap and fastened his seat belt. He knew what was waiting up the road. He also knew that a person need not take a trip to Alaska to step out into the wild. The blue yonder of Wild America is waiting just outside the back door.
The group of 70 or so die hard pedal bangers headed north out the Nowhere Road under the impetus of Scott Thomas, a gypsy scholar and an adopted Gael from Southern California, and Jered Gutcheck Gruber, a grizzled veteran of the mazy byways, arcane roadways, and complex cut-acrosses that are within the pale of the WBL. Like the ancien régime of Rome, the WBL Emporium extends outwards for many leagues, and it takes years of study before one masters the maps. Thomas and Gutcheck, with help from the Raleigh’s Rainethman and San Diego’s Schectman, set a torrid tempo. The stage was set early for a tumultuous day in the saddle. There would be no tarrying today, ladies and Gentleman, no hanging fire by the pool. The game was on from the get-go, the accelerator was pressed to the floor. After one hour of pushing northward through the bitter cold, the pace hovered near 22 miles per hour, a hateful number so early in the game. There was much consternation among the galley slaves. Worried creases crept onto foreheads like cracks expanding in ice.
Many of the lesser lads abandoned ship at various intervals, hopped in a dinghy, and headed for home. But the steel plated blockheads in the bunch, the hardest of the hardcore, continued forward, always pushing, driving, and pedaling onward, into the bosky backwoods and wild wilderness of Madison and Jackson Counties and beyond. And as if to reward those who suffer, heading into Commerce and the store stop, the clouds parted, blue skies opened above, and Old King Sol broke into the clear. The temperature and the mood of the pack soared like a let-loose balloon.
After the store stop the pack looked for, and found, every giant hummock it could climb on its way to the final Attack Zone. The grupetto was sent home the worst way possible—every hill in the vicinity was traversed by a multitude of groaning cyclists. The group cruised up and over the ginormous Waterworks Mountain Hill, and followed it in quick succession with the South Apple Monster, the Brockton Road Boogey Man, and the J. Riviera Wall. One of these steep mounds was enough to tear a ligament from the bone; four were enough to make a person call it quits. Unfortunately, the hardest section of the day was coming just prior to the Attack Zone. Brady the Shade Man Rogers angrily shook his fist at the sky and shouted, “Have ye no mercy O Mighty Zeus.” At that exact moment a lightning bolt flashed out of the sky and zinged Shady Brady on top of the helmet. His tires were rubberized so the electric death charge was safely grounded, but smoke was seen wafting out of his backside orifice. Afterwards, the group cheered Shady’s good fortune and was thankful that he remained among the living. Next time his backside orifice may not be so lucky.
After the pack topped the brutish J. River Wall, there was a 4 mile downhill run to the beginning of the Attack Zone at Alligator Pond. It was a chance to catch one’s breath and lick one’s wounds. But not today. Today, the weary could not rest. Several rowdy roustabouts ratcheted the pace ever upwards until the pack was cruising at 55 miles an hour heading for the Attack Zone. “Bales Hales,” Jason Crosby said. “What the hale is happening?”
When the whistle screamed in terror and the group turned right at Alligator Pond, they were already topping out at 45 miles per hour. It was one irascible uphill mile to the line and a sprint prize for 25 buckaroos to the winner. But the heavyweight fight for fistfuls of dollars would be far from over—the group had to keep going after the first sprint and complete another 7 mile loop, sprinting at the Pink Church line again for the final win. It’s a dastardly loop chocked full of plenty of places to leave a friend for dead.
During the first run up the hill the pack pressed down on the accelerator just hard enough to split the field in half. As the group sped up the winding pitch, groups of four and five kept coming unbuckled at the rear and falling out the back. But at the front, the action was fierce. 200 meters from the line Adam Myspace Myerson jumped down the right hand gutter with a wicked charge to the line. He moved a bike length in front of the charging herd behind. But towards the yellow line is where Murphy held court. He stood and stomped at just the right moment and inched passed Myspace by a two cow tongues at the line. Kid King’s sprint portended doom.
- Murphy: 5 pts.
- Giannini: 3 pts.
- Myerson: 1 pt.
After the sprint Kid King kept right on going. He put his head down, draped both arms over the bars, and hammered. After the right hand turn headed down Scorcher Hill Kid King opened up a 7 second gap. Behind, many shrieked.
Kid King kept the pressure on as he trounced up the Wailing Wall after descending to the bottom of Scorcher Hill. The Wailing Wall is so steep it usually breaks the pack to pieces. Cresting the Wailer, the Kid seemed to slow. Could this be the much sought after chink in the armor? Young 19 year old WBL tyro Andy Baker bolted after Murphy, caught him, and zipped right by. Baker kept his legs churning like supercharged pistons. Suddenly, Baker had a 100 meter gap, but he was all by his lonesome.
Cresting the Wailing Wall a lead group of a baker’s dozen splintered off the front. The group contained the who’s who of fashionable cycling circles: Reistad, Henry, Schectman, Gianinni, Langlois, Guzak, Clingenpeel, Mertz, Gruber, Myerson and Murphy were some of the heavies who had made the final cut. At the front Baker continued to pour on the gas.
Baker stayed clear for over 1 mile but was finally run down by the lusty lads behind as they turned back onto Jefferson River Road. The speed was too high for a successful bid on the 3 mile downhill run to Alligator Pond but that didn’t keep these misfits from launching missiles. But all attacks were stymied—too many strong men wanted to win.
As the group took the final right hand turn again at Alligator Pond, Jelly Man and Slim Tim burst forth. Baker quickly followed and connected. At the backside of the lead group, some faltered and were cast adrift. When Baker bridged, many soothsayers and chiromancers thought the party was over—lights out. But Murphy rubbed his lucky shamrock, pulled out his big sledgehammer, and put the quietus on the attack. The gods may have their hammer, but Murphy’s has his. And as Murphy raises his big hammer high over his head, our story comes full circle just before it falls.
On the ladies’s side of the ledger, outstanding rides from Kari Bradley, who soared into second, and Ann Turner, who did the Dogs proud.
- Murphy: 10 pts.
- Gianinni: 8 pts.
- Myerson: 6 pts.
- Baker: 4 pts.
- Gruber: 2 pts.
- K. Bradley: 10 pts.
- A. Turner: 8
Bales Hales Yall!