Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Carnage, courage, and cadence: The Antelope Fall Classic, Stage I

[spoken in the voice of the NFL announcer dude)
The hills are alive. From every corner of Oconee and Clarke more and more riders have heeded the call. There are riders everywhere. Good riders, strong riders. Men and women who dream of being fast and are ready to lay their souls bare in sprint zone after sprint zone. The Antelope Herd is thundering through Oconee again, a phenomenon, a stampede.
Hey is there where I should park? Can I borrow your pump?

We have been having great turnouts for the Wednesday ride. Over 25 riders came out to contest Stage 1 of the Antelope Fall Classic. Many are new faces to the Wednesday night ride. Tyler P announced his presence with what would be a strong showing as a climber .

Every morning I climb this tailgate 95 times to warm up my quads
Charles" the Caribou" Carabello brought an interspecies herd animal rivalry to the series. 
and some caribou can actually outrun the average Antelope

 Approximately 79 men named Jon, John, or Jonathan joined the herd on Wednesday.  

We also welcomed Team Rentz who are sure to run away with the "married couple in matching kits competition."

 Cheetahs Frank the Tank and Brian da  Hub joined the herd to tame the wind when we got tired. Of course King Dan was there and he was ready to roll. You can always tell when Dan is serious about competing because a small section of his head hair gets an erection and pokes through the vent of his helmet. 
I'm ready to ride
Bethany brought her “backpack of courage” to the stage today.
Oh shit he's taking my picture. He'll probably make me say something stupid.

Nearly 30 old friends and new took off after a brief announcement by the commissioner. It was a perfect evening for cycling and the double pace line winded its way out of the Watkinsvillian metropolis into the wilds of South Oconee.  And the wildlife was out this evening. Even before we hit Weiner Dog Central on Watson Springs the herd was accosted by a pit bull and a Chihuahua. The pit bull we could handle but the Chihuahua was particularly vicious. It gave several riders the evil eye and we had to make a brief stop to cleanse them of evil.

I keep chasing but they won't stop, I just want Val to take a look at my eye.
We made it safely by old red eye just in time to shoot the rapids of weiner dog central. The herd was stalwart and mostly together in the run in to Elder Mill.  The pace was brisk with no major attacks, building and building on the hill when….

Oh the sound and the horror. We hate crashes. Chris W had touched wheels and gone down.  The good news was that Chris did a magnificent roll, minimizing his road rash and protecting the hard parts (no he did not have a hair tuft erection) of his anatomy. His titanium frame was undamaged and with a few minor adjustments, Chris was back on the bike.  As the commissioner I immediately thought to award Chris an Asphalt Rebound point. However, I was stunned by what unfolded. Not only did Chris get back on his bike, but every time I tried to ride beside him to see if he was OK, I couldn’t hang. He had this fury, pounding the pedals, pulling a line of riders chasing the leaders. It was clear that Chris had gone beyond Asphalt Rebound to Stomach of Anger. As we all know, Stomach of Anger points come in pairs.

Down the road the heart was out of the sprint due to concern for a downed herd member. Many good Samaritans immediately stopped their efforts, forgoing pain, nausea, and oxygen debt to see to their fellow man.   A quick consult with the race officials ensued and a judgment was rendered.

Once again together and sailing down Colham Ferry, the trauma faded in the whir of wheels and the click of derailleurs.  With the sun setting we made the turn to Bishop and the fireworks began. With a massive lead out from Frank and others the herd split in half on the midway hill.  Heading  towards the line at 30 mph an elite group of about 8 sprinters survived.  Dan and his hair tuft looked unbeatable but he couldn’t match Jonesy’s final kick.  Chris H, despite the wind drag produced by his new Grizzly Adams look dived into Jonesy’s slipstream but couldn’t get around him at the end. Tale of the tape:

Jones—3 points
Chris H—2 points
Dan—1 point

Not  more than 2 seconds later, rival Queen challengers Bethany and Molly were neck and neck, crankarms groaning from the power being laid down.  In a photo finish, Molly edged Bethany at the line by a pink handlebar. 

Molly R—1 Queen point

And Stage 1 is in the books. Remember King and Queen awards are based on the best 6 of the 8 stages.  Also, the grapevine  is abuzz with rumors that there could  be swag  for herd challengers in the future.  
See you next Wednesday. Ride hard, next week Elder Mill counts!

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