It's the Love Yall
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE LOVE YALL!
(WBL 2004: The Home Opener: The Dave Martin Classic)
And they’re off: Over 250 two wheeled well-wishers showed up on the WBL home opener on 6 December 2003 to honor our former compatriot, Dave Martin, who was also fond of jostling and jousting at high speeds atop a steely steed.
After three successive days of gray skies, whippin winds, and weepin clouds, Divine Providence smiled and blew a hole in the roof that opened up a bottomless blue sky that rained down sunshine on the 250 Zealots for the entirety of The Dave Martin Classic sponsored by The Forum Athletic Club at Lenox. They came not only from Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, and Greenville, but also from Brooklyn, Manhattan, Alabamy, Trinidad, and Purdue U. Some of those signing The WBL guestbook included: George Comin on Back Home Schramm, Erin Singletrack Solutions Winter, Tracy InSaine, Jason Spruilly, Curty Baker, Iona Wynter, Keith Goin-my-way Callaway, G-Man Fink, Ricky Aqua Fuqua, A.J. Johnston, M.J. Jennings, Nod Dewman, Shannon Thundersprint Hutchinson, Pomeranz the Pomegranate, Candice Blickem, BC Powder Coker, Big $ Garland, David Pres Nixon, Chip Davis, Basil Moutsopoulos, Jackson’s State Run Funny Farm, Bob Dylan Wilson, Chris Andrews, Rudy Johnson, Nathanial Tallini, and our very own Pack Shouter—Phil Gilman. Former Overall winners Mineral Man, Shireymania, Rich Barking at the Moon Bayman, Canada Dave, Cathy Rx, and Junior placed their thumbprints on the sign-in ledger, along with former stage winners Slim Tim Henry, Big Jon Atkins, Jon The Kid Murphy, Drewdini, Cathy Connell Rx, Boy Brian Bibens, King Kurt Garin, and Major General Jacobian Fetty. Over $600 was raised on the memorial ride and donated to Bike Athens, a local cycling advocacy group, by The Forum Athletic Club (Chisel), Get Fit Sports (Fetty), and the denizens of The WBL in honor of our eternal pinpoint of blue light glimmering like a beacon in the heavens above—Dave Martin.
Chief Information Officer (CIO) Canada Dave mapped out a stellar loop for the groupetto that featured 74 miles of meandering byways and roller coaster dips and rises that penetrated north through the backwoods of Jackson County where many a cousins still wed and bed one another. (These kissin cousins are known to keep ample supplies of buckshot and Budweiser—Tall Boys—within arms’ reach at all times, adding an additional element of excitement to all Jackson County excursions.) The CEO instructed all denizens of The WBL to leave heavy artillery at home on this day—there was no Attack Zone. After The CEO’s puppet-on-a-string finished the mandatory pre-ride announcements, it was time to clip in and shove-off. But, there was one small matter to attend to first: The Reading of the Release (to decide who would own The Yellow Jersey for week number 2). CEO Carney gave all the day’s attendees 2 points (if they signed in), but he gave The Reader an additional 2 points, and thus, The Golden Fleece. The anticipation had caused much grieving and gnashing of teeth among those hoping, praying, even lusting for a chance to fulfill a dream—to wear The Yellow Jersey. And what a pleasant shock to The Zealots (like straddling an electric fence) when The Lady in Big Red, Ms. Candi Bridges, read the release and ripped The Yellow Jersey right off Junior’s back, at least for week # 2. After a standing ovation for Ms. Candi, Cecilia Is That all U Got Crowe clanged the opening cow bell, and the coruscating river of rogues, renegades, roustabouts, and rapscallions rounded the corner and set off to begin Chapter 1 of The WBL 2004. As I looked around at the ample supply of characters scattered throughout the pack like manure in a cowfield, I realized writer’s block would not be a problem; these fecund fields were well fertilized.
The leaders of the various different feuding factions agreed to sound the bugle call of armistice, at least for this day, and an uneasy, albeit temporary, truce was reached. The WBL helmsmen eased back on the throttle on the way out of town as the quarter-of-a-mile long pack wended its way down Prince Avenue, loped out The Jefferson Riviera Road, and glided around The Jackson County Correctional Institute. Spotted on the northbound end of this northbound train breathing the rarified air “up there” were The wunderkind Jon Murphy, veteran stage winner and finisher Drewdini Johnston, Overall Champ Junior—in Yellow, and the CIO constantly checking GPS grids. (Did that deer have a homing device implanted below the maple leaf?) The gentle pace and the sledgehammer-like headwind allowed old friends to reminisce, and first-time attendees to make new acquaintances. A feeling of goodwill permeated the peloton. The powerful Genesis women’s team always seemed to be surrounded by a knot of well-intentioned young lads. But as usual, any time there is a perceived calm in the halls of the WBL, it is only because the eye of the storm is passing directly overhead. All good things must end, mustn’t they?
The initial rub of friction took place with an ingenious, but futile, assassination attempt obviously orchestrated by the Canadian Mafia. As Crowe rounded a corner at a languid pace near a Crooked Creek, a 6-point buck suddenly bolted out of a black wall of pines and tried to spear the double-talking lawyer right between the ribs. The agile buck mistimed his move and missed his prey by the width of a pedal stroke. As the would-be killer bounded across the road and into the awaiting dark and evil forest, all those near the front could plainly see the maple leaf insignia branded on the upper left flank of its hindquarter. The Canadian, who has studied the alibis of Teflon John Gotti, had already established a foolproof one—he was talking smack in the back of the pack with none other than John Swivel-Hips Calhoun and Lucky Tony Luchetti. All he said when told of the incident was “Thazza shame.” However, most knew the rest of the sentence would be “that that brave buck didn’t run the razor-sharpened tip of his antler right through the center of that fool’s heart,” if he had only finished his statement. He continued to look at his GPS monitor and shake his head.
The pack continued on to Maysville, and at the two-hour point, looped in a counter-clockwise direction and began the trek back home to Sunshine via The Atlanta Motor Speedway. Now, the wind blew from the rear. And the wind is a trickster. The leaders of the various rival cabals and juntas began plotting; they simply could not help themselves despite best intentions, and like all of us, should not be blamed for falling prey to the intoxicating allure of a little bedevilment.
On the return trip, the various gangs began to segregate themselves throughout the groupetto: The Canadian Mafia, The Dirty Old Bastards (DOBs), The Atlantans, The Athenians, The Bohemian Luminaries, and Team U.G.A. all began speaking in whispers and exchanging furtive glances. When The Greenvillains sent hitman Steve Sperry to the front, the observant eye could see a slight fissure begin to form in the foundation of the pack, could hear the cement quietly splitting from within. Sperry and Co. put their heads down and pulled the group forward like they were carrying a king to a coronation. The average speed, aided by the propitious winds of fate, began to climb its way back up the thermometer like a spiking fever. The Greenvillains plan was obvious: Outpullem.
But others in the peloton would have none of it. Many demanded their voice be heard—they insisted on pulling and spoke truckloads with their legs. They insisted on sharing in the fantastic phenomenon sweeping the WBL known as “pulling.”
The pack pushed on back underneath I 85, through the northern outpost town of Commerce, and began to head down the blazing-fast highway to home, i.e. 334. Emile Abraham, The Trinidad Torpedo, took over at the front and blazed a trail towards Athens like a fighter jet with radar lock. But his target escaped when The CIO turned the tables and unexpectedly headed the pack back out, riding another loopty-loop, and adding a historic section of roadway in the arcane backroads of Madison County. The pack was lost, but not the CIO. No sooner had The Zealots began to fret, than they just as unexpectedly plopped back out onto The Nowhere Road, and began the homestretch to the promised land—the Elysium fields of the parking lot.
After 74 miles on the road, and 3 hours and forty-five minutes in the saddle, the jubilant pack arrived safely home without a major mishap. It was truly a glorious day in the saddle and a fine way to honor our friend. The CEO issued a statement that stated only: “We done good by Dave.”
Big Jon added, “It’s all about the love yall.”
At the far edge of the Milky Way, a brilliant baby blue star burned bright.