Battle of the Clipboards
Irvine, Mercury Cycling Classic, 30 plus, 8 turns, 60 minutes, Sit’N’Sprinters Doomed, 72 Mere Mortals plus 2 Rockstar, 2 Garage Band and a Smattering of Teen Beat Clipboard Dreamers, including Sultan of All 12-K Hallucinators-Texas’ very own Trash Can Troubador-Pearl Jam-O-Whamo!
Every few thousand years, the Dark Lords gather in the lush green highlands of Scotland for a seismic Battle Royale. The weak lose their heads and the strong inherit all the finest women, the biggest castles, the fastest horses and the shiniest swords. We call this epic showdown a "Quickening." In cycling, we have a similar ritual, played out every so often on or about our great nation’s cleanest shopping malls. The team titans put down their hi-tech toys, step out of their team cars, trade out their standard issue team monogrammed polyester polos for skinsuits, and prepare to put up or shut up. We call this clash "The Battle of the Clipboards."
Among the exalted Clipboards: Ed Demonseed of the Boat People, aka Navigators, with his trusty Belgian hatchet man, Franky HasnDinknKakn; John Horseteef Wordin of the Toxic Persistent Carcinogenic Bioaccumulating Liquid Metal Heads, aka Mercury, with his trusty silver haired throat slitter, Purr Turbo; Tomo Komosabi of the big budget 40k Fembot bad dream team, with his trusty meat cleaver, God’s Gift; Blood Clots of the villainous Velocity semi-pro team, with his trusted angry, Aryan army-trained pit bull, Mike McFive Dollars, and of course your favorite fun guy, the always cheerful and ever grateful Max Kash Agro of Labor Power, with his kennelcrew of freshly wormed and trimmed poodle pups.
Last race of the year. No holding back. Strategy is to make the pelaton think Labor has a strategy. Operation Infinite Madness. Idea is to attack relentlessly until the chasers surrender. Soften up the beast with multiple rabbit jabs to the midsection. Eventually, after much pushing, straining and gasping, something stinky will pinch off-an unbreakable, unyielding, rock hard Labor Love Log if you will. Labor figures this way, even if we do get flushed, we’re not going down without breaking a few plungers, maybe clog the pipes, you know, splash a little Eau de Labor in our Nemesiss’ face so that champagne don’t taste so sweet. And no podium babe’s going to plant a wet one on a guy looks like he just got fished out of a port-a-potty.
Single file romp-romp from the gun. MKA figures he’s doing two races today, might as well blow the legs up early. Plan unfolding nicely. Ed Demonseed waiting in the weeds, monitoring his dials and the pack’s collective unconsciousness, preparing to pounce. Horseteef on the cell phone with his lawyers, dodging lawsuit-wielding federal marshals. MKA strings it out like an over-torqued piano wire until it snaps, liberating Genghis, Demonseed, Toxic Metal’s Johnny O. Joey Falcone, from the Nevada desert, who once rode so close to an atomic bomb detonation that he’s got a fireball scar on his right forearm, gives chase, with bossman and Roach Clip-sized Labor Intimidator Texa-Furrball on his wheel.
Falcone and Furrball latch on and a broad grin appears on MKA’s face. It’s over. Time to sit, cackle and clog. L.Ron moves up to the front, feathering the breaks in the corners. The break slips away. Wall Street for Soylent Green and Ian Stuckthrottlemeyer for Velocity take turns at the front. Eventually, and inexplicably, the pack reels the break back in. Apparently Liquid Metal’s Johnny O had orders from HQ to stand down. When the pack catches, Perturbo attacks. MKA and Hoodee Hoverhawk fall in. Within one lap, we have 15 seconds. The fun has begun.
Perturbo, Hover and MKA are working together like survivors of an airplane crash in the Himalayas-we know that in a finite amount of time, as the finish line approaches and the unconverted bitterness swells, the charade of solidarity will vanish. Labor will turn on Liquid Metal, and vice versa, at the first spotting of the treasure chest. In the Battle of the Clipboards, there can only be One. For now, Hover and MKA are simply holding on for dear life, zealously committed, bursting with boyish optimism, giddy at the prospect of souring Labor’s legions of detractors, and careful not to aggravate the cantankerous old warrior, lest he grow weary of our humble supplications and put a bullet in our heads (mercury after all is used as a detonator for explosives). Patience. In time, there will be a reckoning.
It wasn’t as though Perturbo was a virgin at this game. Early on, as we approached our first prime sprint, Perturbo announced gruffly that "we’re splitting the primes." MKA tried to sound charitable: "No, you can have my share." Only a dink would swallow this thinly veiled insult. "Negative. We split everything." Perturbo was not going to be in anyone’s debt. Plus he had a closetfull of DeFeet socks, a pantry full of Cliff Bars and he didn’t need another 6 year old box of Up Time! energy tablets. Rule of Engagement No. 1: Pigs get Fed, Hogs get Slaughtered. Why breach the fragile trust over a few greasy corn cobs? Keep your friends close, your enemies closer. Nurse them. Befriend them. Unimaginable riches await.
But there’s a Clipboard missing from the table. Where’s Demonseed? Labor has long had an easy alliance with the New Jersey DevilDawg, who has spawned many a young 12k dreamer with his promises of eternal life, boundless glory and all the cinnamon-raisin bagels you can eat. Plus, with tenure, first dibs on riding shotgun in the Team Stationwagon or the sleeping bag of your choice. With the Demonspreader on board, Labor’s victory would be a foregone conclusion, as he understands the natural order: first, angle for a fair and noble fight; second, try not to get upset when Labor cheats, steals and plunders; and third, anyone but Horseteef, or the stolen mount he rode in on.
The announcer, hopped up on No Doz, rallies the sleeping Demon. "There goes Van Hockencrotch at 33 mph with Demon tightly attached like a strap on dildo, Holy Buckets look at ‘em go! The entire field strung out like a tapeworm in a Biafran’s belly! Gap’s down to 12 seconds. Turbo better ‘break-a-leg’-harr harr! we know he’s coming off a broken femur when that Rottweiler mistook him for an Avon lady and broke him to bits, his first race back and still he’s practically carrying those two Labor impostors... "
We’re down to about 10 minutes to go. Starting to tire. Time crawling. Heudonics waning. Einstein once said, "If you are sitting on a hot stove, a minute seems like an hour, but if you are doing something fun, an hour can seem like a minute." I get his drift. Hover sharing my agony, expelling grunts and gags like a rock climber dangling from the overhang, down to his final three fingers. Hmmm. Need to conjure up something rejuvenating. Tibetan monks sitting naked in a snowbank with ice cubes perched on their heads converting same into steam by dint of sheer will power? Naahh. How about the snarled face and blood shot eyes of an utterly defeated McFive Dollars sputtering protests because this was a real bike race and not a rat race which of course favored his sewer-scraping cheese-hoarding plague-carrying kind? Better.
Couple laps remaining. There’s been very few spoken words. Finally, Agro pipes up to Turbo: "You got second, right?" No response. "Ok, fine, I’m sitting." Agro fully prepared to suckle the flesh from the bones of he who brung me. Hover, with the U.T. degree in tech talk, who had been monitoring the numbers, watched the speed drop below 28 mph and the gap close. McFive and God’s Gift still back there, drooling. Better put this out of reach. He swoops in like Winston Wolfhawk, King of All Cleaners, and brokers the deal. "Turbo, today is labor’s day. We can take 1-2 or we’ll give you 2nd. Final offer. Take it. It’s a good deal, with all due respect, on account you were dropping Greg LeMond when I was still stumblin’ home drunk after all night Jimi air-guitar sessions down at the Black Cat." Turbo relented.
I think it was W.C. Fields who said: "Trust your fellow man, but at my table , to be sure, we cut the cards." As in high stakes poker, in this sport, with so much cash, honor and immortality on the line, you can never be too sure. MKA sprinted anyway.
1. Max Kash Agro - Labor (last seen working Navigators pit stop, accepts 12k promo job and drops all Jones Act lawsuits involving latter’s seagoing insureds)
2. perTurbo Rogers - Toxic Liquid Metal (still got more hump than an Amsterdam brothel)
3. Hoodee Hoverhawk-Labor Power, Pillage and Plunder ("you buy this car or I break you’re f’n head")
4. Ed Demonseed - Boat People (strong as ammonia, gentle as ex lax, clean as a wet wipe)
5. Scott Raymond - Flailor Made (great rider, floundering supporting cast)
6. Genghis Hahn - Labor (unhappy if opponent happy, like he was taught)
7. Franky HasnGlcknKckn - Boat People ("I miss ze sleet, vind and, how you say, piles of sheet...")
8. FurrBall - Labor (nearly top 20 few hours later in the laser speed pro race; beat Cleveland)
9. Woodchuk - Labor (keeps hanging on, like dangling hemmerhoid)
10. McFive Dollars - Velocity (hee hee...cackle...snort...spew)
Hat’s off to Mercury for sponsoring what could be a grand tradition. Labor thanks you and, no, that wasn’t a Laborite in the pro race who waited until he was in plain view of all the sponsors, shoppers and children before whipping out his Johnson and broadcasting his stinging stream of bug killer. Hopefully, this won’t start a fad, as MKA even in his most relaxed and tranquil state can barely clear the rim of the bowl. Also, hat’s off to Soylent Green for refusing to mount a chase, since that would’ve involved working with one or two Laborites in the bridge group, which of course violates corporate policy.