Drifters and Grifters:
Way back in 1993, before there was Max Kash Agro, I found myself at a velodrome in Colorado City pretending to be a trackie. I was advised to not wear socks. I complied. I was advised to don gloves when changing out cranks, cogs and whatnot. I did so, but still managed to brand my calves with chain grease. I was advised to stop fidgeting, conserve energy and imagine mountaintops erupting. I tried, but kept drifting towards porn. I was advised to learn about rings and gear ratios. So, wanting badly to belong, I went up to a young lady who had just won her third event. She cut a lean figure, her blonde hair was of a straw-like texture, and her weathered face just ugly enough where she couldn't possibly think I was flirting.
I congratulated her and then cheerfully popped the question: "What kind of gears are you using?" She looked at me like I had just asked her for an ovary. In a huff, she tossed a big towel over her rear wheel, apparently in an attempt to prevent me from counting her precious cogs. I was confused. I thought this was how trackies talked. I didn't mean to steal anything from her -- I mean, we were in separate categories -- I was a man, and she was, well, she was a stinkard known as Carole Ann Bostick.
On that day, I decided to turn Agro. Why? Because I learned something: Those who play 'hide the ball' usually don't have any balls. I decided then that I would become a champion of full disclosure -- warts, carbuncles, delusions and all. I vowed to form a team one day of misfits, sluggos, and Neanderthals who were afflicted -- tormented even -- but honest about it. There would be no hiding, no deceit, no smart bombs, no mascara, no scripts, no regulation of the adrenal glans and, when the race was over, nothing left but froth, smoke and spittle. There would only be pounding, suffering, and blistering self and posse abuse. Winning was never the objective.
Years later, Agro's brain developed and he learned that timing and temperance could be valuable weapons. He found himself sitting more, pounding less, waiting for the right moment, conserving. This strategy yielded more victories, but somehow they were less satisfying, as if using one's noggin was cheating. And the team, Labor Power, grew into a juggernaut that became obsessed with The Board. Winning, once merely a welcome bonus, finally became an obsession. Our mission changed, as did our language: to wit, Get the chalk! Always be Closing! Convert the c-sucker! Tops on the leader board! Sign on the line! The pure joy of pounding was replaced by the cheap jargon of the con man peddling penis extenders.
Then something startling happened: last week MKA found himself in a 5 mammal break, including one small rodent (aka, the Ratfink) and one stout flightless bird (aka, the Kiwi) at the Redlands crit. With three turns to go, at a spot where the internal flame would normally mushroom into a big burning ball of fury, Max Kash lost his Agro. No spunk, no pep, no juice -- not even a trace of bitterbile in the bloodstream.
So, heading up to Monterey for the Sea Squirter Pop Festival MKA's mind was on injections. Infusions. I needed juice. A fix -- something to rekindle the spirit, arouse the passion, awaken the inner beast, incite the madness. Yet, I hate needles. On account they induce cold sweats and put me on the doctor's couch in a fetal position muttering "Mommy." Besides which that kind of fix is fleeting. MKA's demons were dug in deep and it would take something far nastier to break their suffocating grip. Turns out help was on the way, in the form of an impish, overwrought, tempestuous, overtly dramatic Pep-hammer goes by the name of Kevin Klown.
30 plus Road Race, 63 miles, 100 man field, 2000 feet climbing per lap x 3. Weather: post card perfect.
This course had it all: steep pitches, rolling hills, blazing descents, and full throttle straightaways. Hovercraft, Genghis and MKA at the line. Mass confusion at registration with 3,000 mountain bikers, BMX stunt runts, roadie-dodies and a smattering of action heros in full body armor -- all clamoring for a race number. Unable to locate Kevin Klown, who bleeds Labor red but wears Alto Visto blue. We converge at the start line. MKA spots Ed the Demon Beamon and asks about the Navigator ringer. Oh, that's Von Hackenbrokendinkensnot. He's just training, won't sprint. Right Ed, and that's Dr. Hannibal Lecter, he's offering free prostate exams, but he promises not to snack.
On the first major descent the pack runs smack dab into a meteor shower. Fist-sized rocks flying in our faces. MKA tucks teeth behind lips and breathes through nose, to protect the dental investment. Demonseed, Tomo Kemosabe, The Marathon Boyz, the Battery Acids and the Bristol Farmboy pushing the pace. On the second lap, Labor decides to shred the climbs. Agro throttles with a Dead Battery and Bristol Farmboy on a steep grade. We get away, slightly. Out of the saddle, tugging the bars, straining, but keenly aware of a photojournalist crouched low at the summit behind what looks like a bazooka. Must get his attention. To his horror, MKA notes that he's wearing long sleeves and thus cannot push his arm warmers down around the wrists like the pro's do in that seductive way that blends the awesome beauty of a climber's fat free biceps and the sickening daintiness of fat-armed opera madame. The Gods would later punish MKA for his focus on things frivolous.
On the third lap Genghis is raging. Caginess would inhibit me from disclosing this bombshell: Genghis is but a babe who knows not his thermonuclear potential. He sidles up to me and confides, using perfect labor pound/flail logic: "Feeling blown, so I'll start attacking." Genghis takes off. Gets a nice gap with another rumrunner, going for broke, the blue dogs yapping along behind. About this time Navigator Von Hackenhoffendink comes up and confesses too much: I don't know why I'm here, I'm over the hill, can't even stay with you blokes, no miles and so on. All of which depresses MKA, who wanted to believe that "EuroPoser" merely described US posers who pretended to be rough and tough like our much ballyhooed counterparts but it turns out the Europritties are just as haunted and tormented with self doubt and self-loathing as we are.
By the way, no offense to BEamon's teammate, but I was sort of busy and not in the mood for idle chit-chat. Added to which Van Hack moments later moved to the front and pulled for two miles until he reeled in Genghis. Proving again there are liars, cheaters, thieves and, on top of that heap of scoundrels, mealy mouthed bike racers.
Things were shaping up nicely. Genghis was in full metal Cool Hand Luke mode and couldn't be boxed, clipped or chained down. Hoverhawk was just itching to launch. MKA sitting and waiting: do I attack on the final climb and bury the trash or wait for the sprint and burn it? About this time the Gods are conspiring overhead. This MKA's pride has run amuck. Let's teach him a lesson. Seconds later my left cleat pops off, cleanly, at the base of the penultimate climb. Suddenly I am Sir Lawrence Olivier as King Richard III on the battlefield rushing about wailing: "A Shoe, A Shoe! My kingdom for a shoe!" The breakaway is pulling away. Flailers are popping off. Hey, you, Johnny Annonymo, never won nothing, how about lending me your shoe... I'll close, I swear. The nonsense of it all. The desparate lunacy. A Cat IV rolls by and barks, "Shut the F up, A hole," and MKA meekly retreats to the shoulder, cursing.
Meanwhile, up the road, Genghis has frightened Hades back into his hole and continues to push the pedals. Hover goes with an attack that enters the Laguna Seca race course with a slight lead. The breaks meld. As they approach the 500 meter mark, a few flailers are dangling and Kevin Klown, Laborite in sheep's clothing, throws Genghis a bone who lights it up. They roar by the deadlegs and Klown noodles by Genghis at the line for your basic Labor ONE-TWO.
Laguna Seca Circuit Race, 30 plus, 100 man field, titillatingly steep curves and death defying corkscrew descent.
Fresh horseshoes installed. MKA seeking revenge. Throws Klown the Labor J, about three years late. A perfect fit. Not a whiff of coyness or poker face about Klown. Races on pure adrenalin. Does it his way. "I want this race, call me a selfish M'F'er, but I want it." Labor respects the candor. Vows to club him in the head if he gets too cocky. There is a fine line between Poser and Closer. Actually it's a simple matter of adjusting the lips, tongue and larynx. At first glance, with the frat boy brassiness, Klown would appear to be all poser, a conclusion based of course on the easy presumption that pritty cannot be gritty. Let's see.
On the first two laps Tomo is setting pace on the climbs and waving to the rotatillers. The Battery Acids continue to jump start the pel. Hover and Genghis on the move. Klown growing impatient. With three to go a break forms with Klown, Agro, Genghis and some others, including a quiet non threatening vegetable type creature goes by the name of Pomegranate. Of all the biomass stinking up the break, Klown decides to focus his wrath on this one tiny vegetable. I don't get it. Klown rides up and starts railing, all the while waving his fist like he was going to cold cock the poor sap. The reasonably prudent man inside wants to intervene, but Agro interrupts: Wait a minute, we've seen this before. Regular nice guy dons the Labor J and turns into a blood lusting nutcutting berserker. This will pass. But it doesn't. THIS is the real Klown, Labor J, clown suit or buck naked -- your basic raving lunatic howling at the moon. This is not show. This is business.
I don't know what happens beyond remembering that Klown backed up his harsh words with a several lung busting power pulls that burned off the barnacles. With one to go, MKA attacks with a skinny minny named IAN and a huge lunk with enormous O2 tanks and we are off to the races. Three up break and somewhere deep down Agro is thrashing through the quicksand of lethargy and fatigue on his way to the cockpit somewhere in the base of the brain. Bogies Approaching! Bogies Approaching! A long legged spider type critter for Natural Pollutions latches on the break. No time to bother. We round the 180 degree turn, about 1 kilo to go. Suddenly, the cavalry arrives. Klown and Genghis have bridged across.
Confusion sets in as we near the 500 meter mark. Genghis moves to the point after tapping his ass in full view of the enemy -- again, Labor don't sneak the cheek. Klown and MKA sort of flail, and Pollutions (Morris Haldane, aka Boris the Spider) seizes the moment by sinking a silk harpoon in Klown's fanny. Going into the final bender Genghis is approaching ramp speed when he fritzes on an apple core. Klown's boiler is overheating as we enter the sprint zone, which is narrowed by barricades. Boris scampers to Klown's left and MKA follows and sets up for the blast but Boris smartly shuts the door to his left with a quick flick of the knees and elbows. MKA regroups and tries the right, but time and distance have evaporated, and MKA is again thrust into that dark place... just can't close, forgot to pull the trigger, out-muscled by an arachnid (whichever direction I tried to pass, he seemed to have extra legs), too patient, too cautious, too...
Hey! Wake Up! Snap out of it! MKA looks up. It's Klown, with the choppers gnashing, like a caricature of a wild eyed Dr. Frankenstein. Don't give me this "I cant close" bulls--t. You're Max Kash Agro. That means something. You've got to take it. You've got to put your dink out there, risk everything. You can't pussy foot around and expect anyone to hand it to you. You've got to earn it. Kriste, you let a spider beat you? I crush spiders, grind them into the ground. Not with boots either -- bare hands. Comes from being raised by a black widow and sired by a scorpion. Fear. Primal fear. Poppycock. You fear what you don't know, and you know how to win, you're just flailing. Snap out of it. And wipe that 'My dog just died' look off your face.
Klown was right. MKA had given far too many speeches. What he needed was a speech of his own. A Labor b-slap from a pepped up adrenaline freak who you want to believe is acting but isn't.
Next thing you know MKA has entered the cat 2 race, four hours later. As we approach the 500 meter mark, MKA is about 20 back. And then it hit me: a voice, "You're Max Kash Agro". You know, many moons ago in the Mesopotamia river bottoms there were nubile young virgins who believed that raindrops were fertility seeds and if they spread their legs open to the downpour they would get pregnant. Silly, but true. This is the power of faith. It also helps to enjoy pounding, long and large. With that thought, Max Kash got his Agro, bolted to the far outside of the train, chunked it in my 54 x 11 and went about crushing, pummeling, stomping and yes, pounding the peckerheads with impunity purely for the sake of pleasure. Like Hipp Starr tought me, and like Kevin Klown reminded me. Never forget that. What does "Agro" mean? What do you want it to mean?
Bottom line: Labor walks away from Sea Squatter with a 1-2 in the road race, a 2nd, 3rd (Klown) and 7th (genghis) in the 30 plus circuit and a Vee in the Cat 2 circuit.
MKA Fool Disclosures & Assoc.