Labor All Happy-Wappy doing the Warm 'n Fuzzy, photog by Ratfink
February 4, 2003
Buried at BullyVard, Labor 2003 Breaks Out at The Box (El Cajon)
Boulevard, CA, 5 miles from the US-Mexican Border. Race Day. MKA woke up to the bad news that the Columbia was lost, walked outside, saw a wide contrail of jet exhaust and clutched. Is this a sign from on high to repent? To kick the habit once and for all? MKA had already decided to race, despite the rotten hip. Even yesterday he went ass over tea kettle when his chain snapped, launching him rudely onto his other hip. No matter, common sense had long ago lost out to the craving. But this was different. Was the disaster above a prelude to the Apocalypse to come?
Reason dictated prudence and prudence commanded restraint. But the opium-soaked demons within yourned for real, tangible misery, if only to convince the critics that my maladies were not simply in my head. MKA's grip began to slip. Who's in charge here? So MKA did what any lost soul would do: I snatched the neighbor's cat, slit it's belly open, and searched the viscera for the hairball, which we all know is the wages of clean living. A clean cat always licking itself will suffer, sneeze and bloat with an obstructed bowel. The unclean cat, on the other hand, lives happily, roams about carefree, and scats without anxiety. Fortunately, I located the hairball and, to appease the angry gods and atone for my wicked addiction, I lit it up as a burnt offering. I was free to punish myself.
Besides, MKA figured might as well seize the moment before my President outlaws all bicycles and orders us to own Hummers so we can quickly use up all available gasoline thus justifying a massive invasion of a sandbox 9,000 miles away where to date no weapons of mass destruction have been uncovered unless you count every unsterilized, unsheathed post-pubescent male with an erection. Why not live like every day is your last? We've got a lunacidal Jesus Freak in the White House who seems hellbent on rushing towards that glorious Final Conflict while simultaneously rallying all good Americans to love your neighbor, crank up your snowmobiles, shop 'til you drop, and spend more time debating "tastes great" versus "less filling" and less time worrying about the horrors of dropping "tactical" nukes affectionally renamed as "bunker busters." I mean who wouldn't need a rest from all this madness?
So with Armaggedon all but a sure thing, MKA figures what good is patience anyway and plots a course for BullyVard instead of the Mustang Ranch which can only offer sublime pleasure without the draw of noble suffering. Disaster is the logical outcome of any obsession and cycling is no exception. I mean there could be an asteroid bigger than Arizona headed straight for us within hours of impact and only an unreformed cyclist would choose a nasty 67 mile road race with multiple lung/leg busting climbs over a Dionysian festival of wine, women and song. We may dress ourselves up pretty and preach the gospel of fitness and "healthy lifestyles" but in the end we are merely slaves with a shortened lifespan addicted to the dream of exquisite torture.
Either that or we're just like Breaker Morant on the firing line who just wants to get it over with. And so it was the solace of a quick death that prompted MKA to attack the 35 plus field solo with about 63 miles to go. MKA figured I could bust out on the downhill sections, draw out the big guns, and maybe hold on for a few clicks. Louie the Rican had driven across the desert for the inaugural men -from-mutant separator and rumor had it that he had stopped eating three weeks ago yet his power had multiplied. His abs looked like a scorpion's. And then Labor had the always crafty Hoverhawk laying in wait, along with the salty dog L. Ron Hubbard whose lean limbs, languid pulse and mountain training invited comparisons to the Vampire himself. Plus if things got sticky we had the plunger-like Stanky on call to chase, squat and clog or unclog, whatever was necessary. In the offseason Stanky survived a traumatic brain injury, so he had embraced his role as Labor's inflicter of emotional distress as a form of get well therapy.
MKA advanced his gap steadily. Nobody chased, which was sort of an insult. By the time I hit the start/finish line at the 22 mile marker, my lead had stretched to 2.5 minutes. I'd like to think it felt good, that I was immersed in that mythical harmony where the mind, body, wind, road and machine all merge. But instead it felt like I was getting rolfed by a ham-handed Broom Hilda, the kind of brutess who talks about "cleaning out" calcium deposits and scar tissue by jabbing her grizzled cucumber-sized thumb into your tendermost spots. Where's the much ballyhooed rush of epinephrine and dopamine? When do I get to luxuriate in the warm, salubrious waters of euphoria and wash away all this jagged, jerky bustedness? And just where in the dickens is that Labor Calvary?
The nonsense continued for another 22 miles. I started to cramp at about the 50 mile marker. In the distance I heard a train whistle and forced myself to fantasize that it might stop the chase group in its tracks. But I shuddered that would only prolong the death drag. And I'm not suggesting for a second there was anything grande or glorious about my mounting misery-- to the contrary, it was depressing and stupid, utterly without value. It wasn't going to make me stronger and ferchrist it was just a joke, I didnt want to be out here this long, I was just a pugnacious poser setting up the Labor closers. I imagined my highbred brethren back there chatting and snacking on Gu's, politely sipping their energy drinks, and contemplated just pulling over to underscore the insincerity of my caper (MKA is not that kind of dreamer -- I had it, I had it, why'd ya chase? Didjaseeme?). But I was out in the middle of nowhere, it was hot, the polar ice caps were melting, the hole in the ozone layer was expanding at approximately the same rate as my bald spot and my sunscreen had evaporated hours ago. So I trudged on, eyes blank, fingers numb, my seat a red hot poker, and every time I stood up to air out the joints I saw an orthopedic surgeon flopping a bloody human leg over the patient's chest to insert the titanium hip.
Long about then Winston Wolfhawk blows by on the downhill and I Iatch on barely. I look back for Laborites but see only a raven snacking on a dead squirrel. Bejeezus don't tell me now I'm expected to hold this spring chicken's wheel and pip him at the line. We still have eight miles to go, most of it uphill. "Where's Labor? " I panted. Wolfhawk, all business, retorts: "Busy obsessing about Schroeder." I don't have a clue what that means and really don't care, I just want to get back to the Sag Hag's van so Lil Stank can feed me yogurt covered almonds and I can pop a motrin/vioxx cocktail. "How'd you get away?" I blurt, hoping to engage him in idle conversation so at least he'll slow down. And then my tormentor drops the bucket of rotten eggs on my head: "It was easy." MKA is in deep doo-doo.
Wolfhawk's fresh legs and spry cadence compound my despair. I've been losing body parts for the better part of the last hour and it can't go on. On the penultimate climb Wolf just sort of motors away as I watch without a whimper. Regrettably, I was not reeled in by the chase group for another few miles, on top of a long gradual grade. No attaboys, no adulation, no Jalabert or Jackie Durand worshipping frogs on the roadside offering praise and bottles of Chateau Lefite Rothschild. Some foul-breathed idiot instead barks at me to get the frink of the way to which the old Agro responds with a genuine burst of obscenities, which felt good for a second, but soon I regretted the unwise expenditure of the few drops of adrenalin that remained. I saw Hover, L.Ron and the Rican in the group of about 10 and a blanket of melancholy fell over me as it was evident that with the finish line only a few miles ahead nobody was going after Wolfhawk and Labor's chances in a field sprint looked bleak.
In the end, Wolf from Arizona soloed in for the undisputed Vee, followed by an annoymous Schroeder Iron porker, the always deadly sprint monster Johnny O, Hawk, Chicken Legs, L. Ron and the Rican. It wasn't until several hours later, probably by the time Wolf had already crossed the California border, when the Blue Shirts whose mission is protect the innocent and punish the wicked deeked 9 nims, including the winner and two Laborites. They did not deek either Hawk or myself, which in itself proves the arbitrary nature of the call (we're usually guilty of something). A few guys went through the motions of protesting but were quickly shot down by a cadre of hard liners whose overture to "Shut up and Ride!" quickly terminated all grievances and left the complainants feeling small and stupid.
MKA vowed that night to put down the hookah and let go of the dream and would have for sure except GMO calls up the next morning all fired up and how could I resist the lure of unpounded peckerheads in downtown El Cajon? So MKA slaps a little bondo on the creaky bones, comes out of retirement and is glad he did because Labor put it altogether in the 35 plus crit. Labor's new daisycutter Mark "Great" Scott vowed with a smile before the race to obliterate all pretenders and with a little help from his friends wound up time trialing the last 12 minutes for the epic solo Vee.
The fun has just begun, and we'll milk it for all its worth, but I'd feel a whole lot safer if My President wasn't trying so hard to protect me.
Labor Break Out Board (El Cajon/aka The Box)
1. Mark "Great" Scott, aka G-Spot, Labor Power (also third in the pro 1-2 dreamer race, stay tuned, he's just warming up)
2. L. Ron "Mother" Hubbard, Labor Power (excellent hard charging snake snapper with 5 laps to go)
3. Tomo Kemosabe, Viejo Smoke and Frump Filled Casinos (yolk stained jersies, fast wheels)
4. Roberto Gassyhola, United Nations Snoot Sniffers (burrowed in pelaton until last lap flyer, buries all for Bored Money)
5. Turbo, Jax (temporary affiliation per The Street)