"Fcuk Lance," "Legalize Dope" and "Labor Rules": The Best of Euro-Trash Graffiti. Alpe D'Huez

October 11, 2006

Figure 1. Another Lance Nasty-Gram on road to Alpe D'Huez. Author: unknown, but probably a yellow-toothed, scabies-infested skinhead Nazi sympathizer.

Alpe D'Huez. Climbing L'Alpe D'Huez, you have a lot of time to study the blacktop. The graffiti, from top to bottom, can inspire, depress, enrage or amuse. Here are a few of MKA's favorites.

The Giant Floyd Cock-Rocket. Picture the name "Floyd" tucked inside a squirting banana-shaped rocket, anchored at the bottom by two anatomically impressive balls. The image is most certainly a squirting penis, but why the painter chose to associate Floyd with the mother of all orgasms remains a mystery. The artwork was located at the base of the climb. In keeping with the pervasive anti-American sentiment along the route, was the artist hoping Floyd would "blow his wad?" by prematurely attacking? Was he calling Floyd a dick head? Or was "he" really a "she" with a massive crush, a cavernous love canal and a fertile imagination?

The authentic "Fcuk Lance" euro-puke hate mail. Although in 2006 Lance no longer posed any sort of danger to the pelaton or the French manhood, a whole lotta Euro-fuks apparently felt threatened. MKA counted Tour De France Enemy No. 1's name about 20 times, all of them derogatory. Which goes to show that if you can't beat 'em, slander 'em. MKA wondered how Lance must have reacted when he read the hate mail as he climbed Alpe D'Huez this year as a tourist. We've all heard of his legendary anger and how he can masterfully convert slanderous attacks into motivational stimulants. Did he at least briefly contemplate coming out of retirement just to punish the peckerheads?

MKA for one felt strangely nationalistic. My goodness, the enormity of Lance's world-class ass whupping! A kid from the rolling yellow fields of Plano, Texas sauntered into the French Alps and managed to spank the best climbers in the world not once but seven times. It boggles the mind. What's the equivalent? I don't know. Maybe like a no-hops Max Kash Agro strutting into the wildest hoop cage in the Bronx, clowning the hi-slamma-jamma homies and punctuating his Uber game by tearing down the no-net backboard with a monster sky jam.

The fact is the only thing Lance has tested positive for is kicking skinny Euro ass in workmanlike fashion. He went into the scariest den and bearded the angriest lion. He rocketed up those 21 plus switchbacks through a snarling gauntlet of fanatics, many of whom spat on him, punched him, or spewed filthy invective in his face. He kept his head down and his legs churning. I wish I could've seen the fire in his eyes. It wasn't enough to tame his own demons, Lance had to go out each day (after a crummy night's sleep in a closet- sized hotel room with drunken revelers keeping him up all night) and lay waste to all the frothing idiots intent on bringing him down.

Max Kash doesn't normally hero worship but, ferchrist, go to France yourself, ride up L'Alpes D'Huez, Col du Galibier and Mt. Ventoux and try to tell me that winning the tour 7 straight times isn't like the most awesome and insane athletic triumph of all time. It took MKA about two hours to get to the top of Alpe D'Huez. Lance did it in 45 minutes. And most of the time he'd win or place after logging a grueling 150 kilometer run-up. And then get up the next day and do it again.

Figure 2. "Legalize Dope." Somewhere between switchbacks 8 and 9, just as the thrill has worn off and fear and fatigue have set in. At that point, dope could help, the Pope probably not.

Which brings up the solution to all this madness: "Legalize Dope" Look, we take medicine when we're sick. Isn't racing in the Tour De France a kind of sickness? 21 days of hard core racing against the best-trained, best-equipped sprint and endurance athletes in the world. Thousands of feet of climbing. Searing time trials. Token rest. Crashes aplenty, some fatal. Feed and speed anxiety. Heart pounding insomnia. Deydration. E. coli. Battle fatigue. You could go on. Just wanting to race is, itself, a form of sickness. And then doing it only compounds the sickness and creates a fertile bed for serious mental and physical complications.

The whole deal is cruel. Who can possibly weather these daily insults without a little help? For most, the object would simply be to finish, or survive. But to win, to actually have the juice and the legs to attack on Ventoux or Galibier, to overcome what amounts to "inhumane" conditions, you're going to need to go beyond merely mortal limits. To do that, it takes chemically sweetened lungs, blood and muscle. (Heck, Max Kash never would have summitted Alpe D'Huez without a huge does of cortisone to the hip. That and 3 pots of pre-ride cafe noir. )

And why not? Why should professional bike racing be any different than professional wrestling? We want to see a show - a freak show, consisting of pumped-up guido misfits banging bars with Aussie bad boys. We want to see feather-light super-striated skeletons flying up impossibly steep mountains. We want to see super if not "supra" human performances against the backdrop of unfathomably miserable rain, sleet, snow or heat. Nobody questions whether The Claw or The BitchSlap are hopped up on steroids. It doesn't matter, because everybody's on steroids.

The playing field is therefore level. Nobody has an unfair advantage. Each has equal access to as much juice as his body can take. What's left is a combination of guts, bravado and talent (and residual genetic mutations to be dealt with later). And who cares if an adult professional chooses to chemically blow out his brain or lungs? Makes for good TV and decent short-term glory.

MKA keeps coming back to what Tom Boonen said about drugs. He had just hauled his hulking mass up L'Alpe D'Huez. The next day he'd have to slog over the Col du Galibier and the Col de la Croix-de-Fer and finish on top of some other windswept moonscape. He wasn't exactly warming up to the challenge. He pondered (I'm paraphrasing): "If the Tour organizers want to discourage drugs, maybe they ought to map out more humane stages." Nobody can exactly call the World Champion a wimp.

The connection between insane courses and altered states is legitimate. The Tour favors climbers who can also time trial. What helps climbers climb? EPO and blood doping. What helps time trialists hammer? HGH. Steroids. To both drop the skinnies and crush the flatland motors, you're going to need either a major chemical boost or damn good magic. Perhaps, if the courses were shorter, shallower and just more all around warm and fuzzy, 12K dreamers would be less justified in tapping the vein. Maybe a more humane tour would make drug taking less mandatory, is another way to put it.

But then again, a more humane tour might mean we wont get to witness grown men killing themselves in the name of sport. And that would be a shame. Who wants to go to see a Nascar race if the cars have regulators that keep the top speeds below 80 mph?

And what's "humanity" got to do with it? Look, not everybody can summit Mt. Everest. And those who do reach the top can be divided into two camps: the cheaters (who used supplemental oxygen, bolts, slaves, etc) and alpinists (who made it on guts, swelly lungs and good luck only). The Alpinists abhor the commercialization of mountaineering. They detest oxygen bottles. They either have an abnormally high hematocrit or they spend weeks acclimating to build up the red blood cells "naturally." They don't believe everyone has a right to summit, or even that everybody should summit. It's instead a rarified experience reserved for the freakiest of the freaks.

And maybe that's what the Tour should be - a coming out of the freakiest of the freaks. No drugs. No vitamin supplements. No tents. No teams. No race support. Or we could just spare everyone the bother and hold the race in a giant coliseum with every athlete on rollers. Now and then we could pipe in Carbon monoxide or even egg farts to see what kind of Aryan men we're dealing with. Losers of course would be executed, Aztec-style.

Me, I'm all for a tour in which all the racers are forced to down 2 pints of Belgian-brewed Trappiste Rochefort No. 10 before each mountain climb. Now that would be exciting. Have you ever tried to pour and pedal? It's a gas. At the start, you're already snug as a bug in a happy, euphoric place, where everything's warm, moist and lives forever. And then you start bobbing and weaving fearlessly through the narrow, winding cobblestone streets, oblivious to the prospect of crashing and feeling pain. MKA never got far enough to actually trigger endorphins, but can you imagine the sublime joy of mixing drunken bliss with natural endorphins? There's always next time.

Figure 3. Ah, the Fruits of Labor. Darling Labor Love-Wife and former wine snob savoring a gulp of Belgian brewed Kwak. Attempts later to make DW qwack like a duck thwarted. "I'm a Beaver fan."
Figure 4. Everything is Baked and Beautiful, In it's own way. Five hours later, the table littered with Chimay, Rochefort, Kwak, Leffe, Lucifer, and Grenbergen, DW and MKA pose happy-wappily before wobbling home. Annecy, France.

For the most part, the graffiti was positive. You could tell who the heroes and villains were, as well as the crowd favorites. Boogerd should probably be the next Secretary-General of the U.N., followed by Zabel, Boonen, Sastre, Schenk, Kloden and Periero. Basso and Ulrich got a mention more than once, each name punctuated with an ominous question mark. MKA noticed that the font and size of the lettering seemed standardized, as if one had to hire a vendor to paint the message. Good way to make a buck, but takes the fun out of it. The best messages not surprisingly were bootlegged, like the huge, neon-bright finger-painting of Captain Nimrod and of course the ubiquitous "Labor Rules!"

Au Revoir,

Max Kash

Bitter Good, Sour Bad. The LA Times today reported the Chinese distant runners back in The Day were subjected to a cruel and inhumane training regimen. According to the story, "China's women [rose] to world leadership in... distance running in the mid-1990's, but that emergence was tainted by doping and accusations that the distance runners were conditioned to 'eat bitterness'..." MKA would like to know which contributed most to the runner's success: the dope or the diet.

Figure 5. Love Wife Pounding L'Alpe D'Huez. Don't you look at me! I'm on a mission.

Figure 6. Wasting Grapes. MKA goes public: “Wine is bogus. It tastes sour. And I don’t want to have to teach my tastebuds what’s good. Give me a brown ale anyday. Wine is for getting torched on somebody else’s dime. Beer's for sipping and...internal cosmography.”

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