Viva la France 2006

Viva la France! (The Jeff Shirey Classic)

WBL Sag Driver, the vivacious vixen Ms. Venus Saturday, was arrested and charged with attempted murder in the middle of the post-ride press conference following the Jeff Shirey Ye Ole (Around) Commerce Classic on 10 December 2005. The Zealots had just completed the 4-hour, 78 mile affair and all the protagonists, glory hogs and antiheroes in this season’s WBL were on the stage babbling to the reporters like a blustery bunch of country-clubbing Babbitts. Tina Mayola-Pic was in the middle of her explanation of how her nickname—the Dominatrix—had become indelibly imprinted upon her upper left pectoral muscle (…and so I pulled on my leather boots, strapped on my holster, threw back a whiskey or two, and headed inside this here little ink palace…), when about 20 members of the Jackson County Rural Swat Team exploded into the room pointing semi-automatics at everyone.

The 20 men in black were followed by a swaggering Canadian—the Canadian. He was holding his chin up high as if he was disgusted with the whole lot of the Zealots. He was still wearing his cycling clothes. There was a gaping, crescent-shaped tear in the area of the left cheek and his pride was exposed. He was also eating a slice of watermelon he had purchased from the roadside while hitchhiking home. The juice from the melon had run down his chin and neck and left a big stain on the front of his jersey. Several seeds were stuck to his neck.

The Swat Team members were helmeted and their faces hidden behind big black sunglasses: 20 Death Vaders they were, all wearing black jackboots and flack jackets. These fellows hadn’t come to play checkers. The Canadian pointed his watermelon slice at Venus Saturday (she was on the stage whispering and grinning like a co-conspirator with Yellow Jersey holder Erin Winter), and screamed, “That’s her!” The 20 Death Vaders all rushed Venus Saturday, yanked her off the stage, and rushed her out of the room. After she was whisked out of the room, the Canadian clicked his heels twice, turned, and marched out, stage left. The entire chaotic episode took less than 30 seconds from beginning to end. The Zealots were shell-shocked to say the least. What had started as a glorious day in the saddle had ended in a total wipeout, like Dresden the morning after.

Earlier that morning, at 7 a.m. on 10 December 2005, the freezing air outside was biting like a cobra with frozen fangs. But the sun glowed unimpeded in a brilliant blue sky. This was a classic case of good (the sun) verses evil (the cold). Still, the sun was only putting off the light, and thus the heat, of a 20-watt light bulb. Three hours later, at 10 a.m., the mercury has passed the magical mark of 40 degrees and was still climbing. Spirits soared. There was no chance of rain, and after last week’s sleet-filled torture session, a bit of dry air was a welcomed respite. Good had triumphed—at least the Zealots thought so at the time.

About 100 Zealots signed in for the Jeff Shirey (Around) Commerce Classic. Shirey, a former Yellow Jersey winner, has parlayed his success in the WBL to success in the real estate field. Shirey, in his own words, takes a cutthroat approach to his job. He’s fond of declaiming, “If you don’t list your house in the Athens area with me, I’ll cut your throat.” (His manifesto and his motto seem to be working; he’s now reportedly worth one-ker-zillion dollars.) Despite rumors to the contrary, CEO Carney was again a no-show. His absence was expected, however, after Connie Rice had announced a new definition of torture earlier in the week. He had flown directly to Washington to take care of business.

After last week’s bonus points were awarded (2 point foul weather award), many aspirants for the Yellow throne had shot out to a 4-point advantage. Points were already important only 2 weeks in. Everyone who attended a ride in December would receive 2-points, if he or she signed in. But everyone had seen what had happened the week before—an unexpected award of additional points. Some of those signing in from afar for this week’s adventure and jumping into a tie for the overall lead in WBL 2006 were: Aaron Furniture’s demon sprinter Kari Bradley, Cleve Blackheart Blackwell, Bill Christmas Carroll, the best-looking man in Oglethorpe County (self professed) George Drewry, Billy Boy Harper, Kyle K.K. Kuykendall, the Flash himself Colin Huff, super speedster Shannon Hutchinson, Bruce the Jacobean Jacobs, former President David Nixon, Dustin Mealor a.k.a. the Man made of Money, Ken the Irishmen Mulligan, Tommy el Presidente Mattox, Erich Peanut Butter Mattei (rumored to keep peanut butter in his water bottle), Jittery Joes’ front man Micah the Bean Rice, Oliver Elvis Quinn, J-Man Wadkins, Brady My Man Rogers, Len 6-Hour Slote, MKK Stukes, and of course, the freed felon himself, Loehr Young.

Before departing, Jeff Shirey held a Guess the Number of Pennies in the Bottle contest. Each Zealot took a stab at attempting to guess the total number of pennies held in an empty bottle of moonshine. Unfortunately for the Zealots, many missed the mark by over 1 million pennies: Whit Oliver guessed 1.4 million; Jim Kastner picked 8.3 million, Robbie Kollar chose 22.3 million, and Emile Abraham estimated 17.2 trillion. The actual answer was 4001 pennies in the jar. First time attendee Stephen Dean from Dahlonaga was the closest and won both the cash and the vice-filled prize box. He pumped his fist in the air, grabbed his cash and his big box of booty, and said, “Man, this is great. I’ll be back.” He jumped in his car and left. The whistle blew and the Zealots pushed off for the day’s adventure.

Chris the Iceman Pic, the Big G Greg Somerville, Rhino Barnett and Big Jon Atkins assumed the role of helmsmen, and made sure the appropriate pace was set as the pack pedaled out of town and into the wild blue yonder. Today’s route wizards planned for the pack to cruise out Prince Avenue, cut over to the Tallassee Road, zig east towards Arcade, and zag north into Pendergrass. Once in Pendergrass, the group would continue its northern push into the tiny town of Talmo. In Talmo—the apogee in the orbit of the day’s loop—the pack would begin to bend back home, ultimately winding around the Brockton Loop and sailing home via the Jefferson Riviera Road with an expected tailwind. As the pack cruised out the Tallassee Road in bloc, neither the weather, nor the mood, could have been finer. The fodder was flying. Still, in a moment of quiet calm, a member of this select group could feel the overall strength of the pack whenever there was a push up an incline. When the group leaned down on its pedals, it sent little shockwaves rippling through one’s femur.

The pack was rolling along at a smooth and steady tempo when around 1 hour in, tempers flared. Someone allegedly elbowed Canada Dave, shoved a pump into the spokes of his rear wheel, threw a plastic bag over his head, knocked him off his bike, and beat him about the head and face. The Canadian swore his attackers were screaming Viva la France! during the felonious assault. Unfortunately, no eye witnesses in the pack stepped forward. Joe Burch claimed he “was thinking about a tough math problem at the time. Anyways, I’m an American.” Dani Dembrak claimed she “can’t see Canadians.” Chad Strickland said, “What Canadian?”

By the time the Canadian managed to remove the bag from his head, the pack had sped off down the road, and the sag wagon-van was headed for his head. “The right half of the car was completely off the road,” the Canadian claimed, “and accelerating towards my head. I rolled down the hill as fast as I could and the van missed my head by an inch. The last thing I remember seeing is Venus Saturday laughing like she was demon-possessed and coming right at me. She almost got me.” The Canadian was left behind for the buzzards. Many Zealots thought they had finally seen the last of him. The tempo increased ever-so-slightly. The glorious sun was shining in the sky like a white diamond. O happy day!

The Zealots continued their hasty push northward after the Canadian’s unfortunate demise. Rhino Barnett was feeling frisky and continuously stretched his quads on the climbs. Rhino bounced and bobbed on his pedals like a prize fighter, but he isn’t. He’s a little shrimp. Unfortunately for the heavy contingent of fat boys present, there were several steep pitches during the day. Rhino was a much-hated person by the end of the day.

The group continued its rapid-fire push towards home, sprinting up and over hills, then tucking low and pedaling briskly during the teary-eyed descent. After the store stop, the pack positioned the wind at is back, arced back to the south, and set radar lock on Sunshine Cycles. The group continued cruising at a steady tempo and a rollicking good time was had by all. It was nothing but fun in the sun: Calories scored at the Waffle House were keeping the furnaces warm; and more importantly, no more Canadians.

When the pack hit the homestretch, the average speed for the day hovered around 20 miles per hour—not too fast, yet by no means slow. Climbing the Jefferson Riviera Wall, a few of the steep hill bastardos decided to try a little taste-tester and again tease the fat boy gang. They revved it up a notch, but only for a moment. But in that moment, panic and fear gripped the pack. For just a second, it felt as if all Hell might break loose. But it didn’t. An immediate calm swept over the group, like a thunderstorm that suddenly ends. “Thank God,” Kat Clark whispered. “I didn’t want to unload on these spineless yahoos just yet.

The jovial peloton danced its way home in a total ride time of 4 hours on the barrel head. The average speed on the day was 19.5 hours. Backslaps and high-fives were shared by all. No more Canadians: Viva la France!

News Flash: On Monday, 12 December 2005, Venus Saturday appeared in the Magistrate Court of Jackson County for her probable cause hearing. Her attorney, the Pettifogger Clay Parks, was at her side. During cross-examination of the Canadian, the Pettifogger asked him to place an x where the incident occurred. He did so.

“Are you sure this is where the alleged attack occurred, the alleged attack to which there are absolutely no witnesses?” the Pettifogger demanded.

“Why, of course,” the Canadian replied.

“No doubt?”

“No doubt.”

The Pettifogger turned to the judge. “Ya honor, I’m afraid this alleged attack occurred in Banks County, not Jackson. That x is 3 feet inside the Banks County line. I demand these spurious charges be dismissed.”

The judge scratched his chin and looked at the x. “You say she thought he was a watermelon?”


“And he’s from Canada?”


“Case dismissed.” He banged the gavel and yelled, “Viva la France!”

Venus Saturday was given a hero’s welcome when she arrived home.

More late breaking news: It was also announced on C-SPAN that the WBL was granted an exemption to Connie Rice’s new broad definition of torture. Seems Carney has done it again.

In the end, good triumphed. But who’s really to say this is the end?

The Chronicler