All the problems leading up to the week 3 www.cartecaybikes.com Talmo Torture Session started when Carney awarded 1 extra point to the ladies because of the complete meltdown in the Pee Planning Department during the previous week’s WBL adventure to Monroe. True, heads rolled. In fact, Todd Little T Henriksen was fired on the spot from his position in the WBL hierarchy as Supervisor of Pees for his piss poor planning. Carney has now formed a 12 person search committee to suggest a replacement. Of course, King Carney has final veto powers over anyone selected. In the meantime, the powerful search committee will determine the precise spot in the road for all future pee breaks, contingent upon the King’s blessing of course.
I do think this is a step in the right direction, but I’ve got a major gripe with Carney handing out points when it benefits him, especially when it comes to the ladies and the dropping of their drawers. If a woman can score points for exposing her big white backside in broad daylight, well, that puts King Carney in the catbird seat, and that’s a mighty enviable position to be in. He’ll only call a pee break when his perspective is a favorable one—and he always rides in the rear. It’s just not fair. On behalf of all the beaten and battered boyfriends, all the forlorn and forgotten husbands, and all the kicked and cuckolded men everywhere: We Cry Foul! We also demand 1 point for pulling our pants down. This is an egregious violation of our constitutionally recognized birthright of equal pee points. Jefferson wrote this sacred right into the Constitution in an obscure clause on the verso of the parchment later that night in 1776 after he’d gotten drunk. Maybe Carney and his cronies should reread our country’s sacred charter, the back of the back page anyway.
During the month of December, all Zealots are supposed to only be awarded 2 points for signing in and riding. There are no sprint points in December. The 1 extra pee point given last week pushed seven ladies and one man* (explanation forthcoming*) to the top of the leader board: Kari Bradley, Kim Potter, Sarah Crawford, Remington Stone* (the one man* see explanation below*), Nancy Jones, Jackie Soladay, Kirsten Davis, and Charlotte Crenshaw were the seven designated hard women of the WBL vying for the ultimate honorarium, fee simple ownership of the WBL’s coveted Golden Fleece. I’m not sure who sits on the secretive 12 person Pee Planning Cabal, but I know a conspiracy when I smell one. Allow me to prove my point. As the return readers of this weekly column know, in order for me to bridge the gap between points A and B, I’ll need to run a line out to points x, y, and z, and then circle back through points q, k, and f. It’s possible I might mention points w, v and g along the way. And possibly j too.
First, though, to x: It’s an irrefutable fact that the really difficult problems that life hurls at us are like English hedge-mazes. An English hedge maze is one of those intricate, elaborately designed pathways cut through large hedges on either side that are impossible to see over, climb under, or crawl through. (Think The Shining.) They’re easy to enter and easier to get lost in, but nearly impossible to find the center of, or in our case, the root cause of the problem. But if a man were to intuit his way to the bullseye of any intricate and difficult situation, he won’t find a bug-eyed and bewhiskered Jack Nicholson, bloody ax in hand, cackling, “Here’s Johnny.” Instead, he’ll find a beautiful woman sitting on a Persian rug painting her toenails, smoking a cigarette, shaking a crystal ball, and complaining because he’s late.
My hypothesis: If a problem can ever be traced to its source, a man will find a woman at the epicenter of the storm, pulling levers, sticking sharp pins in dolls, reading tarot cards, and creating chaos. Basically, she’s the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz, and brother, I speak from experience. I’ve catered to my wife’s every need and every desire for twenty-nine years now: I’ve crawled across broken glass to satisfy her every whim; I’ve fulfilled all of her lustful cravings; I’ve showered her with diamonds and pearls, fancy cars, and membership at all the fancy clubs; I’ve supplied maids, sitters, yardmen, and drivers; She’s had her fill of fine wines, lean cuts of beef, butter biscuits and red eye gravy. And just where do you think that’s gotten me? Nowhere, that’s right, nowhere! I work like a sweaty stevedore, and I’m nothing but a nervous wreck—it’s the bell that causes that. When she rings that damn little silver bell of hers, it sends a cold, steel splinter racing through my heart. I never know whether it’s a request for goods or a demand for services, and it’s damned upsetting to my equilibrium. It matters not what I’m in the middle of—I’m required to come running. I’ve lost more than my dignity in this conjugal contract that her lawyers drafted two decades ago. They called it a “joint adventure” instead of a “prenuptial agreement” when we married. Joint my ass; but it didn’t matter what the contract was called at the time—I was focused only on my erectitude and I was blinded by my lack of a moral compass. My weakness in matters of the flesh has cost me dearly. I’ve been used and exploited. My life is in tatters. Without my valium I probably couldn’t cope.
You see, scientists know that species evolve not to satisfy some artistic whim of an omnipotent grandee, but rather to carve out a niche so that particular strain of flora or fauna can take root, hunker down, and hold on for as long as possible. Yet some designs of Nature leave us clueless. Certain species of dinosaurs with bony ridges, elongated snouts, stubby arms, and spiky horns have left us scratching our theoretical heads. Even amateur dabblers in deep time wonder, “What do we make of such apparently inutile extremes of morphology as the elaborate skull frills of some ceratopsins or the horizontally protruding front teeth” of others? I’d like to pose the same question about Woman. Teleologists and optimists alike argue that Nature doesn’t make a mistake. But when it comes to the female species, I beg to differ. I feel as if some mind blowing blunder has possibly been made. Woman is not the soft, meek, mild, obsequious servitor that men like me intend her to be. She refuses to be pliant, and refuses to live under the old ius primae noctis principle of the Middle Ages, which is the privilege granted to the lord of a manor to share the wife of a peasant. Instead, my principals have been squashed by Nancy Sinatra’s boots. Like the design of the sleek and slender shark, Woman has been made in the image of the perfect killing machine. Unfortunately, she has radar lock on only one prey: Me. I sometimes wonder if it’s simply that God, like the Irish, has a wildly comic sense of humor and men like me are the brunt of the joke.
And this leads us back to where this missive began: The threat of a pluvial catastrophe hung over the heads of the Zealots for the 15 December 2007 adventure to Talmo and the WBL whether prognosticators decided to pull out the mileage clippers and do a little trimming. Talmo was put on the back burner and the route was tweaked, twisted, bent, and bowdlerized. The pack was ordered to ride the Around Athens Loop, a route which allowed the Zealots to stay at a decent distance from downtown in case they needed to abandon ship and head for home. It was a decision that was met with much accord and plenty of satisfaction. Many nervous hearts pounded a little less violently.
The memory of the calamity—frozen precipitation—of two years prior kept many of the weak-kneed, phlegmatic, slugabed Zealots at home, but 70 or so dedicated, determined, disciplined, and driven pedal bangers showed up, signed in, and started the ride. Many of the rock stars in the cycling community, those expected to be the beacons of light for the grasshopper Zealots, did their due diligence and rolled out of bed and stumbled to the start. The list of the heavyweights who answered the call to arms included Mister Matt Crane, Cleve Blackheart Blackwell, Nick Jelly Roll Reistad, Jon the Kid Murphy, Frank the Cuban Missile Crisis Travesio, the speedy young charlatan Keith Norris, Matt Songbird Schectmann, Whit Tree Trunk Clifford, Frank Hit Man Crumley, Casey Away in a Magner, Nick the Latin Lover Dale, and Rob the Don Giannini.
Cartecay Bikes also brought a small army of riders hoping to sink the WBL’s ship in a hit a run style attack. Some of those making the trek from the hinterlands of Ellijay included Ken Nix, Sam Thompson, Kevin and Mary Kellar, and JJ Wadkins. Cartecay Ken, in a bold move of an experienced card shark, signed local legend Kim Potter to the team just before the ride began in an effort to land a K.O. punch in the parking lot. However, the move backfired when the curvaceous Ms. Potter swiveled her hips and JJ Wadkins’s eyes lolled back in his head, his knees buckled, and he hit the deck. JJ was out cold when he was only halfway to the ground. It looked as if Cartecay Ken would be forced to start the ride with one less man. He stood over JJ with his arms akimbo shaking his head in disgust. He broke open a capsule of smelling salts and waved them under JJ’s nose. Potter also bitch slapped him a few times. Finally his eyes blinked open and he was back among the living.
A startling discovery was made before the ride by Carney himself. Carney said he smelled a rat and demanded to physically examine Remington Stone* (*explanation promised from above). She was tied for the Overall lead. Stone protested and cried entrapment, just as Senator Larry Craig recently did, but to no avail. Stone protested that he’d never said he was a woman, but Carney said that didn’t matter. The two ducked into the ladies’ room with Carney carrying measuring tape, a flashlight, a pair of pliers, a divining rod, chain lube, degreaser, a disposable camera, duct tape, a toothbrush, hand sanitizer, a plastic bag, a spare pair of socks, two Tall Buds, and a pack of menthol cigarettes. Shortly thereafter a smiling Carney emerged with a menthol stashed behind his ear, followed by a red-faced Stone. “She is a man” Carney bellowed, pointing at R. Stone, “and a fine looking one at that. But it makes no nevermind. MINUS 1 POINT!” Remington was summarily dumped from the leader board, much to the relief of his wife. (The Board suggested to R. Stone that in the future he not squat in the grass when taking a roadside pee. This will avert further confusion. “But I wasn’t peeing,” Stone protested, “I was—” “—That is way too much information.” Carney put his fingers in his ears and began humming Row, row, row your boat.)
The two-wheeled flyers, volant vagroms, wandering gypsies, itinerant picadors, roaming ramblers, picaresque rovers, wayfaring gadabouts, Irish Travellers, and big ring freaks, all falling under the umbrella of “Zealot,” once again cruised at a gentle pace out the Tallassee Road. At the terminus, the grupetto turned to the north instead of the south, and resumed its nomadic circulations around this spot on globe. Today the bunch was traveling in a clockwise direction, but the wind wasn’t—it was bellowing in their faces. Bulbous clouds, like fat burritos rolled in a tray of gray paint and wedged together, pressed down from above creating a living space below of less than 500 feet. The coldest air yet of the season swept in from the south in gelid blasts, and with the smell of rain hanging in the air, the powerful gaggle of contenders bobbing about at the back of the pack were like race horses gumming their bits, nervously twitching in their cages, waiting on the gates to drop so they could blast out into the open air. It would only be a matter of time.
The pack, under the impetus of Songbird Schectman and JJ Wadkins, skirted around the edge of Arcade on a series of lumpy hillocks. Former favorite pack helmsman and current icon of the WBL, Canada Dave, made his first appearance of the season at the head of the herd and also dished out a little old time religion to the swarthy scoundrels and menacing marauders following behind. As the group passed through the Gaelic enclave of Jefferson and approached the store stop at the halfway point, Bandag Bill Boonen moved to the fore and also made his first appearance at the front since the early stages of the Jurassic Period. BBB showed that despite his age (52), he still has the calcium in his bones, the color in his hair, the testosterone in his marbles, the love in his joints, the lust in his heart, and the go-juice in his legs to be a pack drover with the best of them. In other words, when it comes to making love or playing marbles, BBB can run with the big dogs.
The rowdy and rambunctious group sliced several z’s through the heart of Jackson County and arced back towards Maysville just south of I 85. The bumps in the rippled roadway were incessant and unyielding, like my bellicose wife when she’s drunk. The clouds held onto their rain sacs, but continued to exert an ominous gloom, once again exactly like my intransigent wife when she is on the warpath. As new Jittery Joes entrepreneur, billionaire businessman, and all around nabob Glenn Bradley led the herd into the store stop, he kept one eye always peeled to the sky. He realized that at any moment it may be time to cut bait and scram. If that scenario were to happen, everyone understood that the pack would live by the Darwinian Code: (1) Survival of the fittest; (2) Hang with herd or the vultures will feast; (3) All bets are off; and (4) The pack waits on no one. Even the mention of Darwin’s Code sends shivers of adrenaline skipping through one’s chest. It’s enough to make poor Elvis leave the building.
As the pack pulled into the store stop halfway between Maysville and Jefferson (a.k.a. the Middle of Nowhere) at the 2 hour and 15 minute mark, the skies appeared to be holding firm—their water had not broke. At this precise moment, the Route Rogues made a fatal mistake: The Rogues began to congratulate themselves on a well chosen course and a perfectly timed event, especially Bill Lancelot Lanzilotta. Lancelot was on the phone, combing his spear-shaped beard with his knuckles, and telling his wife how smart he was when suddenly he turned pale as cotton. Lancelot pocketed his cell phone and said, “There’s freezing rain in Athens.” Tears welled up in the rims of his eyes. With 30 miles still to go, terror gripped the pack—rain had snuck in from the south, and it now stood between the Zealots and home. All realized Darwin was in the house and Elvis had left the building. Everyone knew it would be a fast gallop home. BBB’s knees were knocking so hard that Lenny Boy Slote had to put his head between them to cushion the blow.
The Whistler started huffing and puffing on his whistle like New York City traffic cop. Everyone, including Joe, was jittery. We might be looking down the barrel of an epic adventure, I thought. The pack rolled out of the store, and after a brief warm up, it was finally time to let the good times roll. The pros in the pack moved to the front of the bunch like the big boss lions do when it’s time to eat lunch. The ante was upped, and to stay in the game everyone had to push all their chips into the pot. It was a race against the rain. All assumed that they’d get soaked; it was only a matter of how close the pack could get to Athens before they encountered a frozen Hale.
The group rocketed down the South Apple Valley Road and up the monster incline at its end. The group flew across to the Brockton Loop and scudded down the roadway like a supersonic jet. The pack stomped up the ridges on the B. Loop and cut across to the homestretch, Jefferson Riviera Road. The rain was still holding off. As the grupetto zoomed up and over the Riviera Wall, the size of the bunch continued to shrink. Speeding down the comfortable angles of Jefferson River Road, the front bunch had shrunk to a small clan of 25. There was a slight mist falling from above and it seemed as if the skies would open up and unleash its fury at any time. But it didn’t. In fact, the mist dried up. It stopped just long enough for the Zealots to reach Sunshine, pack up, and head for home. One hour later the skies were weeping in misery.
The lead pack touched home plate with 72 miles under their belts at an average speed of 20.1 miles per hour. The rest of the groups trickled in within a few minutes of each other. Carney, showing his beneficence, awarded the entire group an extra Foul Whether point. I have no problem with that, but what happened next serves to strengthen my complaints about Carney and his method of distributing points. It’s almost like a cult—remember Jim Jones? This is where I circle back to q.
Q: After the event, Carney announced that he was raffling off a Cartecay Bikes jersey to one of the seven women leaders, and along with it an extra two points, thus guaranteeing that the winner of the raffle would move into sole possession of the coveted Golden Fleece. Combined with the 3 points already awarded, the Cartecay jersey winner would score a total of 5 on the day, doubling her present point total. No sooner had Carney started to draw a name from the hat than Kari Bradley strolled up and said, “I’ll take that, I’m the only one left.” She grabbed the jersey and slipped it on. She looked in the glass of Sunshine and said, “Damn, I look fine, especially my red jet rocket hair.” Carney looked around and sure enough, K. Bradley had hung on with the front group and stolen the prize. She paused for a brief photo op before being hustled away by her handlers to a waiting copter with swirling blades sitting atop Sunshine Cycles. Just before she entered, she turned and flashed the peace sign a la Richard Nixon to the clamoring throng below. Then she started ringing that damned little bell and stepped inside. The Golden Fleece, like Frodo’s ring, really does a number a person’s head.
No sooner had the copter departed than Kim Have No Mercy on Men Potter rolled into headquarters. She was the next woman in line and Carney summarily deposited an extra 1 point into her account, moving her into sole possession of second place in WBL 2008 with 9 points. I just stood there with my mouth hanging open while this bit of bribery was taking place. It happened so fast, I didn’t have time to react. But now that I’ve gathered my thoughts, I’d like to circulate a petition. Allow me to jump over to point k and explain.
K: Everyone knows that Woman is a fickle creature. Lord knows, they can’t be pleased. Man, on the other hand, only needs whiskey, horses, and the occasional woman friend. Woman, knowing Man’s weakness, has historically taken advantage of Man’s Achilles’ heel—that spot is where she has aimed her arrow. I here and now make my summation and my two-pronged proposal to men. Email me immediately to let me know if you’re in: (1) All men shall remain sexless for the duration of the WBL season; and (2) All men shall march to Carney’s house where we shall drop our drawers to our ankles and demand 1 point. Email me now and I’ll start posting the numbers as soon as they start rolling in.
The Humble Chronicler
8 a.m. (Sunday morning): Looks as if no one signed up over night. No worries, they were all celebrating Little T’s graduation last night, and from what I witnessed firsthand, reading my little tome was not on the agenda. In fact, to the Kid, the world must have appeared as if only a narrow slit.
12 noon (Sunday): There probably still sleeping.
3 p.m. (Sunday): Silence.
6 p.m. (Sunday): I know Boonen and Crumley are awake because I saw them both at Barnett’s downtown looking through the picture books in the back. But I’ve not heard from them yet.
9 p.m. Caller i.d. showed Glenn Bradley was on the line. Finally, I thought. But when I answered he only wanted to berate me for giving his wife that “[gosh darn]” ringing bell. He was royally pissed.
Midnight (Sunday): Where is everyone? Looks like I’m going this alone.
1 a.m.: JJ’s on the phone: Same problem—Potter won’t stop ringing her bell.
2 a.m. (Monday): Crap, my ball and chain is ringing her bell now, and I was sleeping like a little lamb.
7 a.m. (Monday morning): “Crowe, this is Humble. Can you bail me out of jail? The charge?—Indecent exposure. I pulled my pants down in front of Carney’s house at 4 this morning and I was arrested. I’ll explain later. It’s not my fault. And bring me a valium, I’ve got the shakes.”
WBL 2008 OVERALL
- Kari Bradley: 10 Points
- Kim Potter: 9 Points