Misfits and Madmen:
Want to know how to deny your enemy the pleasure of pounding your brains out? Simple -- just deny having one, something Max Kash is accused of quite often. But there's an added bonus: by stripping your body of it's pain registry, you can do all sorts of twisted things, like walk barefoot on hot coals, love your neighbor's pit bull, donate your paycheck to the Moral Majority or even share a pace line with world-beater bike legends like Horseteef and The Aryan.
One look at these Titanic Demi-Gods and MKA just knew it was going to be an exercise in horror management. First, Horseteeth and The Aryan cannot stand to be around anyone who doesn't worship the crapper they sit on. Second, these Two Horsemen of the Apocalypse disdain masters racers in general, as they still find themselves immersed in the 12k dream. Third, they get very testy, choppy and pugnacious when they can't drop, torment, belittle or intimidate you. And fourth, they probably don't like racing all that much, as the outcome of any honest competition is by definition uncertain, and they despise what they can't control, fix or flog.
Look, these qualities are not all bad. It's hard to be good at any sport without loathing your opponent. Who among us does not vibrate with pleasure at the sound of our victim's whinnies, whines and whimpers? Who among us hears the pleas for mercy and does not step up the pounding? Who among us doesn't bask in the glory of "dropping", "popping" or "spanking" the weak? Nobody -- we're all infected with misanthropism to a degree. In fact, want to know who the patron saint of cycling is? Marquis de Sade, who well understood the ecstasy derived from making others suffer and the joys of absolute despotism. Sade focused on the orgasmic nature of Pounding but fairly dismissed the reconstructive power of Flailing. Labor understands that both are necessary complements, but revolts at any suggestion that it actually enjoys Flailing. A racer who touts himself as all-pound and no-flail -- as in the case of our prideful purebreads who expect to ride us knaves off their wheels from the front into a headwind -- is flirting with the sin of arrogance, and Labor loves to exploit sin.
So the point here is that anyone who comes to the start line with the air of a wealthy aristocrat expecting Labor to bend over like a chubby 18th century chambermaid had better be prepared to hang from a hook like that Turkish prison warden in "Midnight Express."
And so it was at the Boulevard Death March, a 67 mile affair down near the Mexican border that involves sun baked boulders, curious lizards, hungry buzzards and throat-parching headwinds. Perfect for Labor, except for the lack of stoplights, which of course Labor must run.
A good road race is like a bad date: you spend hours feeling each other out only to discover that you lack the passion and just want to end it quickly. So I'll cut to the last lap. 35 started but on the final 22 miles we're down to maybe 15. Horseteef and the Aryan, after pushing the pace up the climbs, are clearly frustrated that they are still surrounded by unclean mongrels from Labor and other lowly proles like Kiwi Rouse, Bullethead Ballentine and Flailer Made rat terrier Larry Shannon (aka Ratfink). The pack catches our break and then something very odd happens: Hoverhawk glides off the front solo, and nobody moves.
Hover's out there bleeding, slowly. Normally, predators see a splatter trail and ramp up the chase. This pelaton however was paralyzed -- do we let him twist in the wind or do we put him out of his misery? If we chase him down, won't we be honoring the threat of his attack, which is but a suicide mission? In the end, the egos prevailed, and the hunters decided to respect the decoy. As the grim reaper closed in, however, Hoverhawk grew stronger, nobler, more determined. The chase was close enough to see his entrails dangling. A buzzard swooped down for a snack. All I remember next is seeing a ball of feathers and much squawking -- seconds later the pack rolled by and there on the road was a headless raven-like creature. Hoverhawk had bitten the scavenger's head clean off.
This was a good omen. Energized by the fresh kill, the Hawk attacked the next climb, forcing the Aryan to mount a chase. Meanwhile, MKA is admiring his freshly shaved legs but notices he missed a spot. After about 4 miles, at the base of the final climb the pack finally reeled the Hawk in, who rasped as I went by "Focus, Feed, Speed." This is the way of Labor. It's called teamwork. Guy on labor know's his time's up he's going down with a bang and a boner. And no sympathy cards. Besides which by taking himself out he was denying the sadists the pleasure.
The final assault begins. Horseeteef and the Aryan break out with MKA stuck like dung on a diaper. The wrathful Mighty-Mights initiate War College counter measures. Horse attacks, MKA chases, Aryan counters. Repeat this sophisticated "shake and bake" maneuver about 5 times, minus any measure of real drama or crisis. Then it occurs to MKA: I am a Jew. Better, I'm a Polish Jew with bad teeth, pink eye, head lice and bleeding hemmorhoids. And a bloody dislike of jackbooted authority and arrogant self-lickers. There is no species of pain I can't endure (in dreams it's ok to fib a bit). Added to which I have cousins in Calcutta of the Untouchable class and an aunt in Ireland who runs the boilers down at the shipyard who eats boiled dog (MKA dreams darkly). You call this cruel? Besides which I am here as the emissary of Como Worlds and will countenance no prettiness from a pair of Dreamy Valley pseudo-pro pretendos.
So MKA dons the mask of the noble political prisoner and the costume of a clown and decides to jack around with his erstwhile tormentors by counter-attacking. The old Agro would've kept going stupidly. But the new Agro wasn't interested in anything epic, just a simple win. MKA eases up the throttle and looks back to see Horsetoof and Aryan lowering their horns likes cows looking for grass while the chasers bridge across. MKA rolls to the front and announces that the road is open for all takers. Nobody takes the bait and the next few miles are drab. No smack. All business. The weight of a billion ghosts rest easy on my shoulders as we hit the 200 meter mark. A billion voices resonate in the space where my brain once sat: Never Forget. MKA surges across the line, the reign of terror over.
1. Max Kash Agro, Labor Power
2. The Aryan, Pimple Creem
3. Joe Bullethead Ballanty, Trek
4. Horseteef, Mercury Urban Super Tankers
5. Daryl Kiwi Rouse, JAX
6. Larry Curly Moe, Flailer Made
El Cajon Crit, Sunday (great race, well organized, bright future)
1. Russell Geronimo Ames--Labor Power
2. James Berry-HPL
3. MKA-Labor Power
4. Tom Gates-Team Bel/Motorola
5. Christopher Evertsen-Red Adventure
6. Doug Pomeranz-Fullton Flyer