From the heavens above, Chris IcePic and his terrible metal machine looked like a flaming volcanic rock just spit out the front end of a rolling river of boiling fire snaking down The Jefferson Riviera Road—a colorful conflagration of cyclists hurtling themselves down the byways of Fate to the Pink Church finish at breakneck speeds.
IcePic held off the roiling and moiling chase group and won the 90-mile, 4.5 hour Get Fit (with Jacob Fetty) Down South Classic on 27 December 2003 in fiery fashion. Ice on Fire escaped late in the Attack Zone, with 1 mile to go, with Tony The Blade Scott, Pomeranz the Pomegranate, and the surprising Mulkey The Milkman, and then out-kicked his ill-fated breakaway companions to score his greatest win of the year, the decade, and the century (so far).
Shooting Starr Bridges held on to The Yellow Jersey with a solid effort as he continued to leave a luminous trail of sparkling dust in his wake as he streaked across the winter sky. Shooting Starr put a few more spaces between himself and his challengers as he was the first Non Pro, 1 or 2 to cross the line, finishing sixth overall, and missing fifth by the length of one heartbeat. Roberto Rivers kept Shooting Starr within striking distance as he finished less than two fingers of Jack Daniels behind The Yellow Jersey, second for the Non Pros, 1s and 2s. Darryl Reynolds–Rap held on to the Red Sprint Jersey, but The Blade did slice his lead in half as he began his Frodo-like epic quest to the top of the mountain where the Red prize waits patiently to be won, like Love. With every pedal stoke, this small but select group backed Life into a corner, and squeezed It for all It was worth. On this Saturday, Life was passing through The WBL neighborhood, and there was a price to pay.
A cloudless night sky dappled with the clustering of a million stars finally capitulated and gave way in the early morning hours as the first fiery finger of red stretched its way westward through the eastern morning sky. The pinpoints faded, giving way to a blue-veiled sky that was filled in the east by a big yellow silver dollar sun that was heating-up at its leisure, like a coy lover. But the forecasted high was 62 degrees, and a small, but powerful group of sixty signed in ready to honor The Sun and cross swords on the first event of the year in which Pros, 1s and 2s were eligible to sprint. The Man in The Golden Fleece looked around at the aspirants who signed in, and it (The Golden Fleece) leaned over into a window in The Little Black Box and its wearer said, “The hounds are unleashed. Watch my back.” A voice from inside The Black Box replied, “ If anyone tries to backdoor you, let me know. We’ll slash his tire, get him in the Black Box, and crush him beneath the weight of womankind and unrequited Love. He’ll die happy, but in darkness, and without Yellow.”
As the day’s aspirants signed in, if one was considered a danger or posed a threat, The Big Buck Gary Smith would signal with a nod of his head to his Jon Deere Death Sled members. There were so many Death Sledders scattered throughout the waiting crowd the gathering began to look like a family reunion of The Grim Reapers all wearing John Deere jerseys. Some of those causing a nod were: Jacob Fetty bringing a little coal miner’s Love after an all night drive from West Virginia; Brandon Eifred and Joe Dunlap bringing a big brown bag of big city Love from The Big Apple; Jason Leslie and Todd Branham bringing a trunk-full of brotherly Love from Greenville; Allen Hurd bringing a little Gwinnett County Love from Loganville; Karu Kalle bringing European Love by the armful from across the pond (Estonia); and Shooting Starr and IcePic hauling mountain Love down by the barrelful from North Georgia. Not to be outdone, bringing their own spice of life to the big event (and also forcing a nod from Big Buck) was Lee Rain-Showers, Steve 1-legged-kiss Spencer, Chad Salt & Pepper, Allen Griffindorf Thompson, G-Man Arnette, Mitchell Askew not me, Matt Gentry-fied, Todd Allinger and The One Who Shall Not be Named. After rose petals were showered on the announcer’s Lover, the cowbell clanged and the scattered sounds of the clipping-in of cleats rose from group of anxious stallions chomping at the bit. These horses were ready to get the pavement moving beneath their wheels, ready to succumb again to the pull of the road, even stronger than the beckoning plaint from a hopeful paramour. These Zealots were ready to hit the road—this was Love, WBL style.
One unfortunate confrontation did occur in the parking lot prior to takeoff. Roberto Rivers, who sat in second place on the overall, held a small mirror he carries with him in his hand. He held the mirror behind him, down below his right calf. He was checking for old age spots on the underside of his calves. “It’s the only spot on my entire body my eyes can’t reach unaided,” the brassy Roberto liked to brag. Rumor was Roberto inspected himself every evening from heel to crown. Fetty, wearing his trainer’s hat, bragged that Roberto was one of the more limber members of the peloton. As Roberto held the mirror low, his eyes narrowed to slits. Shooting Starr’s image suddenly swam across the face of the tilting mirror like a fleeting apparition. Roberto tilted the mirror back to its former angle, and there he was, primping in The Yellow Jersey like a debutante. Roberto’s mirror had captured Starr looking at, and speaking to, his reflection in the window of his car on the opposite side of the road. “I love you, Poet” Starr appeared to mouth at the window.
Roberto stood up straight, but kept the mirror’s gaze fixed upon Shooting Starr. Roberto addressed his mirror: “Hey funny boy. Don’t get too excited. I’m back, and I’m better looking than ever. Yellow suits me fine.”
Shooting Starr called Roberto “ an ignorant hick.” Roberto said Shooting Starr was “ a fairy princess, just like The Journalist.” Shooting Starr replied, “The Journalist and I are poets. We sing the Body Electric. You wouldn’t understand. You, like Crowe, are a back-wooded troglodyte. You’re plebian-laced verse is mired in a vulgar swamp of dangling participles and misplaced metaphors drowning in the language of the inarticulate—those who can’t say what they mean, and those who don’t mean what they say.” Roberto frowned and furrowed his brows. “One of your kind said ‘Poets, like children, lie for the fun of it.’” He charged Shooting Starr and the two leaders of The WBL knocked each other about a bit before they were separated. While being pulled apart, each hurled invectives at the other: “I hate you.” “I hate you too!” The Loganville Legend Allen Hurd, third place in the overall, leaned on his bike and chewed on a blade of grass, watching the spectacle unfold before him. He reminded me of Flem Snopes watching those painted ponies. He pulled the chewed end out and gazing at it said, “Ain’t no Love stronger than the one that can tell another ‘I hate you.’ Them fellazin Love. And that means The Yeller’s mine.”
As soon as this day’s pack rounded the corner, it was evident they were on a mission. I rode on for an hour or so, but veered off after only 20 miles. I have thus relied on Crowe to report the day’s events. I heard they averaged 20 mph. I’m glad I, for one, turned off early. For reasons that shall be made clear, I have printed his narrative verbatim.
“We headed down south to Watkinsville and we started off with a good tempo. Traffic was light. We motored right along. I pressed the pace to make sure The Journalist would be no where near me during my pull. He wasn’t. We went to Watkinsville. We went further south towards Good Hope. We passed cows and horses. It was as pretty as a picture. The hills were small. I could have won the sprint at Good Hope, but I didn’t. Tony Scott did. He took the 1-point. Big deal. Lucky bastard.
“Afterwards, we rode some more. We rolled right along. My mind drifted. I thought about how fun it would be to do a 184 mile WBL event where you lied to everybody and told them you got lost and instead of doing 84 miles, you accidentally took a planned wrong turn and it took you way the hell out of the way and before you knew it, you were looking at 184 miles instead of an 84 mile ride and everybody was pissed-off and looking for you all week but I was hiding and nowhere to be found and then another Saturday and another ride rolled around and we did it again and we ended up going 168 miles this time and the same thing happened all over again but everyone forgot about it and just kept bitching and showing up anyway and it was a hell of a lot of fun, and Candi was there too. I thought about that for so long, but it seemed like only a moment, that the next thing I knew we were on The Jefferson Riviera Road and I blew the whistle. It was time to attack. Damn son.
“So I did. Attack that is. I went clear before the Jefferson Riviera Wall, on the downhill. I had a 10-second gap at the bottom and said sheet, I gotta go now. I nearly tossed my lunch climbing up that bitch. My legs felt like they had been run through a paper shredder by the top. The One Who Shall Not be Named finally bridged up. I said where you been bitch, pull. He did. I tried. At The Kings Bridge Road intersection, a group of 12 made contact. I was grateful. I could hide my tired bones and fake it for a minute. Damn, that bothersome Drewdini was here. Noah Fouts too.
“Then, The Blade countered. He took The Nameless One with him. Then The Yellow Jersey bridged. Go you stupid bastards I yelled. Pull my arse up there. They did. We caught them. Jittery Joe and The Greenville Godfather pulled like lobotomized banshees. I hid in the back, yelling and cussing and blowing snot out of my nose. The chase group swelled to 20. Another attack. I blew some more snot out. Gentry Arnette and Reynolds-Rap moved clear. Damn. Pull, I thought, Pull. They did. Again. They were putting the hurt on me. Bad. We got them, barely, just before Alligator Pond. I thought that from way up high this must look cool as sheet. Then at the bottom of the bottom, the very bottom of Alligator Pond before the final right-hand turn on Pink Church Road, The Blade exploded. Crap I said. Man he was going. But I knew it was over a mile to the line. And uphill at that. But sheeeet, he was stomping on the pedals hard. He grimaced. I saw that. Then we took the last right, one mile from the line, and Pic launched a killer attack. Double crap I said then. Then Pomeranz shot out. Crap crap crap. Triple crap. I was trapped or I’m sure I could have, and would have, bridged easily. Then Milkman went. He was at the front. We were still 700 meters from the line. I waited. They stopped going away and began coming back, the ones up front that is, just a little. Milkman closed to 30 meters of them and then stuck there. I smiled. I don’t like Milkman. Our animus goes back a decade or so. Milkman looked like a roach swirling around in the toilet bowl just before the water takes its last gurgle and sucks that roach down to who knows where. I passed him 200 meters from the line. He was fried, draining right down the bowl. But me too then, so Spencer passed me 100 meters from the line. We were like two snails having a drag race. Sheeeet, I was dyin dude. I looked back. I said Man after all this sheet, I gotta hold on for 5th. I saw The Yellow Jersey coming at me like some hound of hell. I pressed the pedals as fast as I could—about 28 rpm. I got it, 5th. Couldn’t even tell who won. I was blinded. Heard Pic did. Big deal. I could’ve.
“Afterwards, The Journalist asked me to write a narrative of the ride. He said to include something about Love. I said O.K. Sure. Here goes: I’d Love to see The Journalist’s head pressed in a vice and pop like a cherry tomato. People think I’m him. Give me a break. I mean, what in the hell would you think if you linked on to The WBL site and wanted to read a nice ride write-up and you started reading his crap. You’d think we were all a bunch of damn pansies walking around reading Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus and drinking white wine with our pinkies held out. Not me buddy. I don’t go for that pinko-communist crap. Get a grip son. I’m here to say that woman’s words ain’t none a mine. I rest my case. See you on the 1st—Thursday.”
And so I rest mine also. The words of a poet verses the words of a dirt road, barefooted hayseed interested in no one but himself. The truth is, in the final breakaway, Pomegranate and The Blade tried to work Ice over. But The Ice parried every blow and countered with one final deadly riposte to the heart and slayed his breakaway companions. It was a gutsy move by all. Ice raised both arms as he crossed the line, accepting the Love from the hordes of thousands of fans.
As The WBL enters its second month, Shooting Starr Bridges has a firm grasp on The Yellow Jersey, but Roberto Rivers is not far behind. These two have left the others at the starting blocks. Can they be caught? The race is on. Will Love prevail? See you on the 1st—Thursday.
- IcePic +10
- The Blade +8
- Pomegranate +6
- Spencer + 4
- Crowe +2
- Starr + 5
- Roberto +3
- Eifred +1
- Blade +1
- Pro,1,2 (+2)
- Non Pro, 1, 2 (+3)