Cleaners and Clockers:
Time Trial: flat, 20k advertised, windy (Cat II, 128 riders)
MKA watched in amazement while Genghis first took a few strokes on his rollers and then seconds later hopped off and began fiddling with my trainer which I had fully intended to use. What are you doing now, Spready? Uh, I was thinking it would better to start with the trainer and then switch to the rollers right before my start time.
For the next ten minutes, we debated the merits of his theory. Which is fine, this what lawyers do -- consume time, that is -- but Ghengis only had about 25 minutes from the second we pulled up and during that time he had managed to take off and then put back on his front brakes, lose and then locate his heart rate monitor, change out his cogs, hum the complete works of Bob Dylan, borrow three different floor pumps until he absolutely met the 160 psi minimum, all the while spoonfeeding himself from the ubiquitous tupperware about 16 ounces of a corn/stewed tomato/chicken/rice and soy milk gruel that made my nose crinkle and my stomach turn.
MKA had just about had it. The last time Genghis used his TT bike, which he borrowed from a good neighbor, was 2 years ago. So one would think that a seasoned veteran and monstrous brainiac like G. Spready Kahn would've wanted to use the precious few seconds remaining getting to know the horse he was about to ride across the desert on. It was like that opening scene in Saving Private Ryan just before the landing craft lowered it's doors at Omaha Beach -- except instead of throwing up or saying his prayers there's Private Genghy fastidiously cleaning the crud off the bottom of his boots with a toothbrush.
This was a time for leadership. MKA like a stern mother shouted: STOP IT. CUT THE CLUTTER. SIMPLIFY. LESS IS MORE. Get on your bike, say hello, work up a sweat, prepare to Meet your Maker and persuade same to let you kill yourself without dying. The pep talk worked. Private Spready managed not only to storm the beach without a scratch (unless you count the self-annihilation of a few billion brain cells), but he laid waste to about 123 other root n tooters, including yours truly.
TT PIA Board (Pounded in Action)
1. Dreamer No. 1, Dreamboat Annies 24.28
4. Genghis "Spready" Kahn, Labor Power 24.50
6. Max Kash Agro, Labor Tankers 24.57
9. Tomo Mr. Clean Keemosabi, Flailer Made 24.59
Road Race, 100 miles, 6 x 16.7 mile loops, one long big ring climb, two bonus time primes; somewhere south of the Gila River Indian Reservation.
MKA breaks out the new secret weapon, a super swanky pearl colored Tsunami so light I got to holster extra bottles to keep the rubber on the road. The rule is never race on a bike without riding it first. But it rained all week so MKA was faced with a dilemma: break a rule or expose my shiny new race rocket to all manner of mud, slop, germs and microbes? The choice was easy: bust the rule and bring plenty of Ben Gay/morphine shooters for pain control.
First lap: Big stupid pack of idiots cruising around chatting about mid terms, girlfriends who are "late," the latest sega gameboy and that kick ass new CD by Biscuit Breath. Second lap: three young bucks hop off the front before the big climb and the bull in Agro's brain sees red and despite pre-race strategies I bolt after them, finding myself flailing about in no man's land feeling red faced and very old. The pack surges by me on the climb and blows me out like a bad batch of garlic.
MKA's legs begin to fill with acid as excuses begin to rush into the brainbank. Why am I getting dropped? I ask as the pack begins to pull away just before the summit. Is it the new bike -- the head tube is after all 1 cm shorter than my original and we all know what kind of hell this difference invites upon our muscular-skeletal alignment. Why does my heart and chest hurt -- was it those Gingko's I popped with a double esspresso just before kick off? Maybe it was that gray hair I spotted this morning infiltrating my right sideburn. MKA's excuse-o-meter is just getting warmed up when I realize I am surrounded by mud-wallowing zoo animals about 100 meters off the back. It's do or die time: either order up a fear-mone cocktail and bridge across or look for a dirt road and vanish into the Mexican wasteland.
So there I am, hurtling down the mountain out of the saddle in a last desparate attempt to catch on just so I can spend the next three hours pretending to have fun. There's no telling how many weeks that piece of pointless trauma cost my shelf-life. The dumb trade offs we make. For what? MKA doesn't even like road racing. We are locked in a large listless pack and if we try to bust out we get deeked for a centerline violation. So we sit and grumble, or move to the front, attack and get chased down like a criminal. Can't we just cut to the final sprint? And MKA is not even a sprinter. Kriste, what the hell am I anyway? Questions get asked at these moments, never to be answered satisfactorily. You live with the mystery and learn to embrace it.
Tedium punctuated with spats of false fury ruled the next three laps. I can recall only a few interesting details. First, the entire pack was hugging the left shoulder (the centerline became meaningless and we never saw a single official) when a blond-bearded homo sap probably of nordic origin draped in pale blue casually rode away up the right side. The Alpha Males at the front jeered and snickered as if the ghost rider was a lost tourist who had no business challenging their supreme authority. More on this later.
Second, there was not a motorcycle or any other vehicle that offered the pack time splits. Consequently, the pack was rife with rumors and misinformation. With two laps to go, one rumor had six off the front with a 4 minute gap. Another rumor had MKA holed up at the Mustang Ranch with a couple of swedish bims working out the kinks. MKA actually created this rumor himself just to fight the boredom, lonesomeness, and self-disgust that comes from wasting one's life in the middle of nowhere stuck inside a quivering "rave" of goateed generation-X beat-offs.
Third, on the fifth lap there was a glorious moment on a long flat crosswind blown section when the pack did decide to rid itself of the fat. We were single file on the edge of the world and you could almost hear the popping sounds as some of the infirm parasites that had festered unmolested so long in the warm confines of the pack's belly were finally getting blown out the ass. That was fun. Which again made me think that bike racing's only redeeming value is it's ability to identify and eliminate the garbage, sort of like a healthy digestive tract. Ever take a dump make you feel like you could leap tall buildings and outrun a speeding bullet? It's the same thing.
On the fourth lap Genghis won the pack sprint for what we hoped would be a time bonus. In a 100 mile road, now and again bike racers will devise a strategy and attempt to execute same. That's hard to do when there are 12 separate races going on at the same time on the same course and no attempt by the blueshirts or promoter to offer any useful data about splits, tails, gaps or cracks. MKA is not complaining. The key is to lower your expectations, attempt to revive the dormant hunter within and take pleasure in pounding one pecker at a time.
On the last lap, MKA hits the same spot where he launched the futile bridge that nearly wasted him and decides to seek redemption. Busts out with a Kissena boy wonder and another colt from Jane's Lipstink -- Knudsen. Finally, a motivated crew. After so much paranoia and sabatoge, a break with solidarity. Less than 7 miles to the line. Goal is to get a time gap; still no clue how many nimbnutts are OTF. We commence the climb. Same spot where last year MKA attempted a solo and got busted at the line. So we're actually dealing with double redemption. The thoroughbreds are spinning. MKA's legs are loading.
Knudsen pushes the pace and offers much needed encouragement. The pack is about 6 seconds behind. MKA skips a pull to avoid muscular detonation -- besides which the younsters are still spinning comfortably in the saddle. Comfortably. We approach the 1 km mark at the summit. MKA out of the saddle, pushing the 54 x 16, panting and moaning shamelessly like a mother giving birth. Suddenly we come upon the paleblue rider, all by his lonesome -- the Johnny Annonymo the pack had written off as pure wanker had only managed to solo for about 35 miles. He managed to jump on as we rolled to the line. It looked like the Kissena tuff guy (from NY) was going to claim the win. But experience and bitterness trump youth and vigor anyday.
MKA wins the sprint. Knudsen second. Genghis wins the field sprint for 5th. There is no fanfare, no applause, no recognition. An hour later we asked 3 bluecoats who won and they scratched their collective noggin and confessed ignorance. A few spectators advised that there was no break and MKA had won. Others spoke of a phantom 4 man break with a 4 minute gap. The lunacy. That night, we checked the board. Naturally, MKA had been given a zero time. Genghis had been docked 3 minutes.
Downtown Criterium, 7 turns, figure 8, .9 mile, near state capitol, calm winds.
Genghis and MKA spent the evening brainstorming: were we deeked? Why? Centerline violations? Number placements? Blindingly bright jersey coloration? Obscene fantasies? Should we protest? Should we organize a sit down (not a chance! There is honor among thieves, but not among cyclists). In the end, we decided it's best not to rely on external standards. We raced, we won, the Board be damned.
A few minutes before the crit started the officials huddled and admitted that mistakes were made. MKA was awarded the Vee and was now in third only 4 seconds behind the GC leader. All MKA has to do is place 1st, 2nd or 3rd and shut out the TT freak and the GC is Labor's. Tomo and Choko set aside loyalties and committ to breaking balls for the Dark Side.
Nasty. Every corner contested. Cash primes every lap. The pack tightly packed like sardines. Holes open and close like the pores on a pig's snout. Greasy. MKA locks on the front runners. Best to stay near the point to avoid the swarm. Enjoying the new steed. High bottom bracket. Slicing the turns. Twenty years after my first crit, MKA finally learning how to dive into the corners and come out swinging.
Five laps to go. No breaks today. Too much speed and greed. MKA keeping nose out of the wind and firmly tucked up my lead out's backside. Two to go. Genghis and Tomo rage to the front but MKA loses their wheel and drops from 4th to 14th in a matter of seconds. Not acceptable. Tomo's on the point. The lead out has begun. Got to reconnect. MKA salmon-like climbs the fish ladder and squeezes into the 4th spot on the train as the final bell sounds. I shout that Labor is ON and magically the interloper ahead blows and now MKA is locked onto Genghis' wheel whose locked onto Tomo's. Tomo hurtles to turn NO. 2 and bows out. Genghis takes over and slams the gas pedal.
HAY-ZEUS! MKA can barely hold on. "Tempo! Tempo!" MKA concerned Genghis will blow sky high leaving MKA twisting in the wind with 4 turns to go. Genghis looks back: "I've got more!" This is that moment. The one where you have the 30 mph tailwind that nobody else has. This is that Lead Out from On High. This is that Lead Out fueled by converted high-octane bitterness. Genghis was running hot. He couldve been soured -- the USCF-stix had singled him out for not one but three centerline violations on a day when the entire field happily ignored the centerline with impunity. Instead, he's throwing it down for something higher, bigger and everlasting -- not MKA, I'm talking about LABOR.
MKA is rumped locked on Genghy who is down and dirty, diving into the turns, showing no signs of fatigue. We are foxhole hopping, one corner at a time, with an eye towards the final assault. Keep the devils dog at bay. We approach the penultimate turn. Last year MKA had a lead out but yanked his peddle at this very spot and all was lost. Another shot at redemption. Genghy scoots through the turn and does something wonderful -- instead of dying, which seemed inevitable, he swings back into the inside on the gutter, still very much alive. MKA realizes that it's now or never and launches up the left gutter after beckoning Spready to give me a crack. He complies and MKA commences to stomping watermelons with his barefeet but notices the acid is strong. MKA needs a break -- Genghis hears my plea and shuts the door, slamming the chasers up against the curb. I hear the screech of metal and panic-stricken cries and then MKA knows this is that chaos out of which order is born.
Imagine this: the bell lap of a 7 turn, figure 8 crit with 120 cat 2 dreamers that is so fast that the only man the winner sees is his own teammate on the point stringing it out. If it can be dreamed, it can be done. MKA surges over the line at the precise moment that about 8 angry bears rumble by. This is masters racing, by the Book. Now imagine the chagrin of the 12k dreamers when they have to explain to their girlfriends that no, they didnt lose to a euro pro but instead to a balding, ill-tempered malcontented erstwhile legal hack like Max Kash Agro.
1. Max Kash Agro, Labor Power
2. Daniel Rookie, Never Saw Him Once
3. Cody Wait, Sit n spit, Prim -O-Donnas with Ear Radios
4. Peter Knudsen, Janes Lipstink (with special Medal of Honor award for being
the only twenty something brave enough to compliment Labor after the race)
5. Genghis Spready Hahn, Labor Power*
6. Small Freye, Kissena Big City Sluggos
21. Brian Snoop Doggy Tasker, U C L Labor (kudos for the gin n juice)
*Genghis arbitrarily docked 3 minutes for centerline violations, plus ten seconds for pinning number 1.5 centimeters higher than the standard, which is judicious exercise of power since this lawlessness clearly resulted in an unfair advantage). Warning to all clothing designers: be careful about making your jersey too bright, too colorful, too flashy, as this will likely draw the attention of an edgy sniper in a blue coat.
Congrats to Officer Mike Anderson of Vegas Labor (aka Vegas Vice) for nabbing second in the 35 plus road race and to Jesse James for placing 4th in the crit and 6th overall, behind GC winner and ageless speed freak Scott McPhucktruck McPherson. Congrats to Tomo Tsunami for designing a high speed crit weapon that accelerates in the corners.