The Labor Cheer & I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Ride Rag

April 2002

Cross-bearing, Phlegm-keeping, Defenders of the Flail:

There's a million reasons to quit this stoopid sport.

Too Hard. Junior High biology teacher advised that the heart at birth is “allotted only so many ticks.” Prolonged oxygen deprivation accelerates dementia. Melanoma. Dry Skin. Mummification. Leathery turkey-neck syndrome. Chronic dehydration transforms kidneys into rock-hard beans. Hip and knee joints dryer than petrified roast beef. Numb nutts. Tingle toes. Epididymitis. Spikes in metabolism producing excess gas leading to putrid, nocturnal emissions which seep under the covers. Darling Wife no longer finds this phenomenon remotely funny (“honey, it’s because around you I’m so relaxed), begins wearing nose plugs and banishes garlic from the kitchen. In fact, MKA doesnt think she ever found it funny. Bleeding escargot-sized bummerhoids. Freezing rain, frostbite, heat stroke, throbbing blood pressure, pounding pulse, anxiety-induced insomnia with the razor-barbed octopus tentacles torquing the temples. BPH.

Too Dangerous. Broken bones. $12k Hackasses. Waning faith in competency of fellow riders. Twin Cab 4x4 Big Dooley Double Wide Silverado Super Tankers, with the gothic sideview mirrors that jut out like the stainless steel eagle gargoyles menacing the Chrysler Building. Billions on overpasses and parking garages, pennies for bike lanes. Getting shaved by pea-brained Monster Truck psychos who then swerve into bike lane to prove that they didn’t have to but let you live. PCH between Laguna Beach and Dana Point, Friday afternoon. If the speeding motorists don’t get you, the cigarette-sucking pot-bellied sluggo who opens his truck door without looking will. If the door itself doesn’t crush your thorax and/or skull, the secondary impact (and subequent grating, grinding and/or dragging) by the undermedicated Yentas in their mini vans with the lipstick and the cell phones stuck to their face will. Parallel storm grates. 18 wheeler vaccuum suction. Industrial asthma. Dirty needles. Underpass dwelling bike rustlers along Santa Ana River Trail.

It’s not that cyclists want to suffer permanent disability or die, it’s just the forseeable result of placing our fate into the hands of crude-oil enriched American consumers, highway engineers and urban sprawl planners.

Too Demanding. Domestic duties slighted, paternal instincts stifled. The way your baby girl clutches your finger. Your son's T-ball game. Camping in Yosemite. Whitewater rafting the Snake. Hiking the Olympia Rainforest. Too tired to take wife out to dinner besides have to wake up for critical 6:30 am training ride. A colicky newborn. A son who's interest in zombies, skulls, shoe laces, and the "grind potential" of every rail or curb borders on the obsessive. Plus he's starting to wear his baggy dungarees down around his crotch, with the boxers pulled up. Overgrown lawn. Dying shrubs. Garage resembling freshly blown up bike shop. Wife on knees holding baby with one arm, tools in the othe, attempting to fix erratic dishwasher. Chain grease on the beige Berber.

Too Demeaning. Blue Coats who think nothing of evoking a technical rule nobody ever heard of to deek a winner but look the other way when a reckless misfit takes out half the field. Entry fees that bear no proportion to the costs or prize list or global investment. Lazybone state police lounging in squad cars at time and one half on a Saturday morning on streets in the middle of the desert so desolate that rattlesnakes sunbathe on the white lines, driving the costs up and the promoters away. Idiot-arrogant cyclists who discard empty Gus on the street. Late fees. Unkind announcers who denigrate sport by forgetting to call super-elite world beaters to the start line (“Hey, what’s the point of winning nationals if I can’t get my call-up”, Ben Jammin’). Unequal intra-squad distribution of swag (“Johnny got 20 Gus, chocolate, I only got 10, plain...”) The painful realization that cycling will never get you laid.

Too Expensive. Rods, plates and screws: steel or titanium? $75 “oversized baggage” airlines penalty for bikes while heavier and clunkier golf clubs travel for free. Late fees. Long stem tubes, $10. Rejected by Baba Booey Life Insurance. Health insurance premium ultra-hazardous surcharge (mortality tables rank cyclists along with deep sea divers, Gen-X rooftop jumpers, fingerless sky divers, peg-legged Aleutian Chain King crabbers, South Afrikan asbestos miners, a Palestinian woman at an Israeli army checkpoint in West Bank who refuses to lift her Burka, a blind Algerian latex-intolerant male prostitute in the S.F.Castro District). Seething anger that cyclists Feds don’t subsidize cyclists (“they pay tobacco growers not to grow don’t they?”). Opportunities for career advancement scuttled because of huge race conflicts. Training rides trumping conference calls. $90 sew ups that explode on maiden voyage.

Too simple. Anyone can ride a bike. Take up mountaineering, kayaking, wind surfing, sailing, fly fishing, knot-tying. Learn to play the guitar. Challenge the mind and body: row a dory across the Atlantic, fetch fat salmon from the jaws of Kodiak Bears, walk barefoot to the South Pole, free climb the Sears Tower for GreenPeace, circumnavigate the globe in a pickle barrel, feed a hand full of Spagetti-Os to the Great Whites of Bora Bora, tickle the tummies of the humpbacks in the Tonga, or play 18 holes at Pebble Beach without a golf cart, caddie, steambath or hot toddie break.

There’s a million reasons to walk away -- as many reasons to quit as Billy Stone has former friends (it’s only a matter of time), or as MKA has enemies (presumed evil, oftener unrebutted than not). Maybe MKA’s time is better spent at home watching his Lovely’s lactating breasts swell. Maybe MKA can no longer argue with Disapproving Wife that training is “like a job, no fun at all”, or that jabbering with needy teammates on the phone is “like providing a medical service, no fun at all.” Maybe it’s time to face up that missing a few days of training is probably not a good reason to delay getting fixed. Maybe MKA needs to settle into an activity that doesn’t require rivals, or speed, or peckerheads to pound (this is very un-Agro). Maybe it’s time to transcend MKA’s juvenile need for glory or attention.

But then along comes something special. A ride when you surprise yourself. When you find new reservoirs of energy. Your heart’s as strong as an M-1 tank. Your lung’s as big as Kenya. Your legs turn over like a hand made fiberglass tri- bladed Mitsubishi wind turbine generator in a Santa Ana Wind. You can hear birds chirping. The harder you pump, the easier it gets. You find your lactic acid threshold, and toy with it, like a tamed lion. You’re no longer conscious of head winds or tail winds, only the rush of air over your helmet and the blurr of the pavement below. You feel efficient, like a german motor car, or a swiss watch. For a moment you understand the “runner’s high”, and you wish it could last forever.

The All-Labor, All-the -Time, Back to Business Bored

Temecula Road Race, 60 miles, 40 plus, April 20.

1. Max Kash Agro, Labor Power (rolling to the tune of The Who’s “Going Mobile.”)

2. Jimbo Pteredacto, Soylent Green (1:45 back).

3. Evander Testicles, Daredevils and Dingbats (2:35 back)

Mt. Baldy Road Race, 20 miles, 35+, San Gabriel Mountains

1. Max Kash Agro, Labor Power (with love to my Cat Eye Trainer)

2. Dreamboat Donnie, Mercury Metalheads (little bit longer in red zone and MKA would have been toast)

3 Emilio Spider Man, Simply Fiddlin’ (spoke in casual tone while MKA’s death rattle wheeze attracted the buzzards).

Oh, a Labor Footnote:

Temecky, 35 plus Road Race

1. Hoodee Hovercraft, Labor Power (trigger pulled)

2. Hector Commacho, Simple Grunt

3. Shimano Mike, Labor Power (all beef power puller)

Mt. Baldy Road Race, 40 plus

1. Hoodee Hovercraft, Labor Power (on borrowed bike after frayed and rusted cable snapped)

2. Larry the Ratfink, Dot Commer Come Lately

Irwinflail Raceway

45+ Dale Lugnuts, Labor: Vee.

30+ John Psycho Wiko, Labor, Vee.

2. Gods Gift, Flailer Maidens (de facto coach and closer)

3. Hans Von Bigelow, Labor (break out day for the big boy, glory from the gun)

4. Max Kash Agro, Labor (still wary of the $12 Hackass)

5. Mighty Joe Davis, Zombinoids



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