Saturday, October 24, 2009

Part I: WEMS--The Bluff-Land Epic Chronicles

So after all the trials and tribulations, all the ups and downs, it had finally come to this— his final stage exit. Of course both the poets and the novelists would have conjured a more fitting end to a noble life lived, but such is the tragedy of authenticity. Like Achilles, he was known by anyone and everyone who had ridden with him to be a brightly shining, glowing star that would never stand for the fading mediocrity and spiteful nature that irrefutably accompanies the corps of the aged enduro-racer (think Farrow and his curmudgeons).

Eki’s gums were swollen and his teeth loose— the first signs of scurvy, his hands were decrepit, really mere useless claws— from hours of log jumping, and his lifeless knees were so misshaped and swollen that they resembled nothing more than two large black leather bags of marbles, relics of the like used by school children of antiquity.

"Be a good sport and send me diary to my widow," were the first words he had spoken to his comrade, Farrow, since the second lap of the Buff-lands Epic 12 hour WEMS race, now it was some five hours later. Farrow feigned deafness and thus said nothing. He, too, was living through his own hell, but his base instinctual need to track and hopefully wear-down the man-child rider that was out ahead of them, gave him misguided strength to push through the dark times that they were now collectively experiencing. But let us not forget that Farrow had somewhat comparatively fresh legs while the stoic Eki was six hours into his eighth WEMS race and his eleventh endurance race of the season. Both of the old lads were teetering on the precipice; that fine line between movement and lock-up and Eki, rightfully so, was feeling it down down down to his very soul.

Shortly thereafter, together they arrived to the pit area having nonverbally agreed (using secret hand-symbols as old as Stonehenge) to make a momentary stop to reload on fuel. Upon arrival, Eki (in a sullen down trodden voice that still maintained an air of detachment and honor) declared with candor, yet simply, "I am just going inside to that yonder Porta-potty and may be some time; perhaps I’m cutting you loose. I did enjoy the time. Give my regards." Then with admirable forthrightness Eki stumbled and tottered, ultimately breaking from that sacred bondage that exists betwixt racer and his trusted two-wheeled steed, then he gently laid the freed bicycle on the turf, and did NOT look back. Next with stern deliberation tinged with a hint of regret, he reached into his rucksack and revealed a smallish leather configuration of the size not unlike that of which an antique WWI-era British military-issue revolver might reside. Of course, given DBD speak, the lexicological implications of his statements (and his subsequent actions) were clear, he was all ‘played out’ and thus he knew the manifestations of such a realization required a drastic protocol to fulfill his solemn oath to the DBD Honor Code. Mallory, who was there in an observatory role, recently reminisced, "At the Bluff-Lands epic, we knew that poor Eki was walking to his death, but though we briefly considered an effort to dissuade him, we knew it was the act of a brave man and an English gentleman. I, for one, felt a tremendous since of pride."
The reader may ask, “Where was Farrow with all this drama playing itself out?" Already devastated by a glimpse of the hard-charging dark-angel and mischievous sprite, Schotz, who was in hot pursuit, Farrow was thus forced to confront the real possibility of being lapped and thus further humiliated. Plus he had to wrestle with news that the youth was gaining momentum. All of it put together, essentially had the effect of simply and irrevocably numbing him to the circumstances as they unfolded.

“I admit that I was a wreck, but I do remember when old Eki produced the smallish leather configuration from his rucksack, that my eyes began to fill with a strange incomprehensible salty solution…but really I felt nothing. I guess I do remember hoping that he would leave me his new Gary Fisher. I remember asking myself if it would be inappropriate to sell it, or how long I should hold on to it before I tried to sell it. I guess I also remember thinking that he was going the same path as “King”, Amundsen’s favorite husky, when the Norwegians ran out of food on their back from way the Pole,” reflected an unapologetic Farrow.

At Mallory’s drunken urgings, after a very brief bout involving a deeply, cognitive sense of loss (or may be it was forbearance) for his fallen comrade, Farrow shook off his melancholy and with renewed fortitude manifested by a stiff upper lip and a jutting chin, rode off for another lap with a hope and a prayer that the two leaders would falter. Farrow knew that the leader, Schotz, was solid. In fact probably on any given day, Schotz is the best in the Midwest at this distance, and so the most that he could hope for was that the irrepressible Schotz would suffer a mechanical. However, for the untested youth in second place, he thought that a real chance still existed if he could continue to ride at a steady pace of about fifty-five minutes per lap. Thus a mid-race plan was hatched, Farrow would steady himself and grind it out, playing the odds, which usually meant that the youthful ones would eventually falter, especially once the sun set and the darkness came onto the racers and demons begin to stalk their quarry with tenacity. Yet as the course brought forth its unrelenting climbs and its immeasurable logs (placed willy-nilly, thus representing a scourge of biblical proportions for any lightweight wheel-set), the grave underpinnings of what he had just witnessed regarding the reduction of Eki began to take hold of him. Although the lap times were short, nearly always under an hour, even late in the race, this particular lap seemed to take forever. A loud report, which turned out to be no more than a stick breaking, nearly sent him into the dirt. Was Eki’s “card finally punched?” Had he really ‘cashed in his chips’, ‘bit the dust’, ‘brought the farm’, ‘gone belly up’, ‘kicked the bucket?’ Had the ‘fat lady finally sang’, for old Eki?
To find out….Read Part II…Will Eki end it all to avoid a DNF? Will Kershaw supply the final finger of rum and cigarette to the inconsolable Eki? Will Farrow persevere? Will Kershaw impress? The answers to all these questions and more will be revealed in Part II…

Narrative by W. Churchill, Club Historian


  1. Oh the suspense!!!

    And to think I was drinking beers and doing the Chicken Dance at a wedding reception as it all played out.

  2. The thought of those lanky limbs doing the chicken dance has me laughing way harder than Mallory's tale, which is good humor too. :) JP Thanks, now I'm whistling the Damn tune too.