PThe Times They Are A Changin’: Labor Crackpot Hits the Jackpot, Postal Brings up the Rear. Reno/Nevada City
1. John Psyche Wike
, Labor Power (still waiting for Kitana Baker’s call up)
2. Scott Smack Kinley
, Postal (advised crowd he rides three miles a week on his kid’s trike)
3. Briggs N Stratton
, 12k Dream (fully submerged)
Tour De Schnozz, Reno, Nevada. 30 plus criterium, 11 turns, 1 rim-scraping cliff side corkscrew widowmaker, 87 slugbug swallowing trenches/cracks/chasms, 1 cheese grater section, two bridge crossings, intoxicating scent of Widmer beer and Truckee River whitewater rapids, 10 Postal Poster Pritties, several thousand fast-fingered Bill Bennett disciples and two supersized orbs belonging to Kitana Baker (Miller Lite catfighter) between which race winner gets to bury muzzle.
After waiting for 38 minutes with Bics held high, the door of a souped up rock star bus swings open and out saunters ten Postal Pritties in full-on Lancelot regalia. Amidst the cacophony and bedlam, a phalanx of hulking security guards escort the High Priests directly to the start line, crushing several children who had crossed the yellow police tape seeking autographs. Men in trench coats with dark glasses pat down anyone suspicious in the crowd, such as the lone onlooker who refused to clap, whistle or ogle, a rebel who just happened to be Johnny Red Corn, Labor's local bookie and itinerant resident of the Wadshot Inn, Reno's oldest and most venerable house of ill repute.
With gushing adulation normally reserved for Tiger Beat heart throbs, Eddie Van Guido introduces each Hall of Famer: a creaky Kent "the Bostosaurus" Bostick, looking lost and befuddled. Mike "Huggie Bear" McCarthy, offloading one final sixer of oscar meyers into his ballooning gas tank. Scott "Smack" Kinley, unfurling the fabioesque golden locks whilst the slot sluts in stretch pants swoon. Glen Twinkles, seizing the moment to point to his ripped quads as evidence that dead chicken embryo anti-bodies really do work. Ricky Squeaker, on the cell phone, moving the merch, eyes roving for marks. Lars "F-Truk" Nolan, more powerful than a warthog tank killer, all business. John "Wayne" Stetson who of course started it all and finally a coattail rider who won a Tuesday night crit last year in Globe, Arizona.
The precious "call up" was more like a dinner bell. The announcer might as well have chalked out the rump, the tender loins, the backstraps and the tongue on each living legend like a fat cow about to be slaughtered. Our mouths drooled. To his left, MKA heard Perturbo snicker, "Toast." Behind, Der Hiptler licked his chops: “Yum Yum.” To MKA’s right, Greg Lemond grumbled, "What am I, chopped liver, over here?" -- a rhetorical question the security detail did not find the least bit amusing, as two square jawed men in blazers appeared out of nowhere and whisked Lemond off, never to be seen again.
We were a hungry and vengeful lot. Like elephants, masters racers have a long memory. We remember the snubs. We remember the chops, the hacks, and the flicks, back in the day when we were cat IV dorks juggling careers and families while the icons in front of us were living the life. Now was our chance to get even. We wanted to smash our idols -- enraged at the patent fraudulence of their larger than life intro. They’re past their prime, undeserving of the spotlight. The sands of time have been cruel and the tables have turned. Now its our turn, the late bloomers, the steadfast, plodding turtles for whom life is a marathon.
At the same time, ever sensitive to the importance of spin, we stood ready to excuse our own crummy performance if we lost -- of course we got pummeled, they were pro’s, since in this unforgiving world where excellence invites scorn and rumors of drug abuse or mutant DNA, once a pro, always a pro. We had to be prepared to face the reality that mileage, diet and discipline may not be enough. The difference between the elite and the hackers may transcend bodily limitations. They looked portly and saggy, but maybe they were blessed with something we lacked -- an idiot savant like sense that allowed them to see portals to glory where we saw only toilets clogged with turds.
Nonsense. They were beatable. A sense of mission pervaded the mob. The call up, far from engendering reverence, instead served to rally the ugly, embittered masses to lay waste to the golden temple. In the end, we wanted blood, washed-up golden boy blood, the blood of our oppressors. This was it, the chance to bag a world champion, smash an Olympic idol, and boast about it to all the oafs back at the office. If we beat them, then we too were the stuff of legends (forgetting for the moment that beating the crap out of today’s quivering version of Muhammad Ali hardly makes you a champion boxer).
But mainly we just wanted to be dunked by Kitana "tastes great" Baker, who stood like a goddess in her black bikini knee deep in a portable swimming pool on a specially raised platform, waiting to mother if not smother whomever should be fast and furious enough to shoot through the final chicane first without tapping the brakes. Squeaker knew the shot. He didn’t need the hype, he needed the love. His eyes remained fixed on the prize like an old toothless prisoner in a siberian gulag eyeballing a cup of hot borsch. “Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit, I want some of that.”
Labor's John Pscyhe Wike decided to test his fast twitch and his nerve on the first lap, which promised a $100 prime. Do you have any idea the odds against winning the first lap? 0ver 100 nimrods bottlenecking into each of the 11 turns. Postal on the front lining it up by the book, forced to throw down to live up to their billing. The final run up to the corkscrew hideously scarred with cracks and crevices, forcing the herd to follow a narrow path of only marginally rough pavement. And then you got to dive left and rotate right like downhilling a black diamond except you've got unwanted company all around you coveting your line. In other words, a perfect environment for the likes of Psyche Wike, for whom the course is never too slick, too steep, too nasty, too radical or too bombed-out, beat-up, or too insane.
Can you predict ferocity from body type? There’s nothing fierce about John Wike’s profile. He’s jolly, well-mannered and modest. He’s sheepish about posing for pictures, as the camera tends to accentuate a double chin. His legs are neither ripped nor vascular. His abdominals conjure more of a kegger than a six pack, yet oddly, this Irishman doesn’t drink. If anything, Wike’s puffy, pale and relatively soft. Yet behind that ordinary exterior lurks the teeth and savagery of a shark. Wike in a criterium is like a great white in bathtub filled with blood -- a slashing, tearing beast that cannot be tamed.
Wike takes the first lap, somehow, and the pace never lets up. Agro is hanging on for dear life. Intellectually, he knows it’s safest and easiest at the front (think that every time you tap the brakes you are adding 10 pounds). But getting there is a bitch. And once on point, the senses dull and the body aches. Recovery remains elusive. It’s Labor’s way to attack, attack, but today the tactic seems suicidal. Intermittently, MKA finds himself dangling off the front with Diesel and Hutchison, a gangly decapod with spider crab-like legs. Normally, MKA would pull through and nurture the dream. Not today. MKA finds himself sprinting on the moon without an oxygen mask. I can’t breathe g-damn it, and retreat to safety.
The weakness extends to my bike handling. Instead of slicing like a knife into the corners, MKA’s line is soft and buttery, a routine that irritates my brethren. Tiring of my gappiness, McCarthy sidles up next to MKA and suggests strongly that I move to the back of bus with the cheez wiz and nanner-eaters. When I turn my head to connect the voice with it's speaker, I can see only two things: the rainbow colors on Huggy’s sleeves and the pepperoni pizza stains on his belly. Motivation comes in odd forms. The insult digs like a probe in my crankshaft and MKA hacks his way back to the front.
With 5 to go, it’s anybody’s race. Breakaways have fizzled out like water on a hot rock. Nonetheless, Labor’s G-spot makes a brave yet seemingly foolhardy solo move off the front --foolhardy since this is the first time he’s been on his rig since stacking it three weeks ago, resulting in a grossly disfigured shoulder. Postal lets it go. Labor’s Hipp Star and Genghis move to the front to slam and cram. G-spot’s gap opens wider.
It’s hot out there, the air’s thin and the pelaton is merciless. Diesel goes to the front and throttles down. This man races with a horse size heart. With two to go, MKA has slipped behind Briggs n Stratton (picture a leaned down version of Frank Zappa) who’s on the Diesel/Squeeker train. G-spot is holding his gap, miraculously -- he’s out there blazing through the badlands solo while I’m dying behind a convoy of heavy equipment. One to go, there’s still fight in that dog. G-spot won’t relent. We hit the rough section. After what seemed a light year on the point, Diesel pulls off, a hollowed shell of his former self. Meeker reluctantly takes over, but there’s still 5 turns to go, and Squeaky don’t lead out. MKA’s clinging to Briggs as we pass G-spot, whose rumored demise was much exaggerated. Instead of drifting into oblivion, he's snapping his boltcutters. He cuts into the line behind me. I know this is it. If I can hold onto Briggs’ wheel and muster a charge to the final gate, good things will happen and maybe just maybe on the drive home Hipptler will let me play some folk music instead of that brain jarring techno-fop.
But the promise of personal glory fades. With two turns to go, the stampede rushes by, but MKA’s forehead is banging his bar stem, gassed out. All I see is Hipp Star’s furry legs and black shoes rumble past, itself a minor motivation. Hippstar has been recovering from multiple crashes, including a take-down that very week during a training ride when everybody’s favorite jokester K. Klown forgot his benzos and reputedly chopped Hipptler after an all-important city limit sprint.
Meanwhile, at the front, the firefight is fierce as the bodies begin to pile up. MKA is passing corpses with gaping holes in their sides, others completely cut in half, and still others gasping for air, the unlucky targets of probable al quaeda chemical gas attacks. Meeker and Smack Kinley have their wires crossed on who’s leading out whom. Wike senses the confusion and launches into the tunnel of doom first, not without scratching and clawing his fellow carnivores. Smack lowers his head on instinct and steels himself for the imminent slam-bang, but then the memory from a decade ago of an innocent poplar tree around which he wrapped his left leg when he bar-banged another psycho on a downhill sprint forced him to yield.
Bob Dylan sang:
The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a changin'.
In time, the legends do die, or get wise, and stay at home. Wike, after taking the first lap, also took the last, thus completing the changing of the guard, and capping Labor’s finest hour.
1. John Psyche Wike, Labor Power (still waiting for Kitana Baker’s call up)
2. Scott Smack Kinley, Postal (advised crowd he rides three miles a week on his kid’s trike)
3. Briggs N Stratton, 12k Dream (fully submerged)
4. Hutchison, Spindlelegs aka Spider Crab (nice ride for shattered leg in March)
5. Ricky Squeeker, Postal (last seen getting into white limo with catfighting trio Baker, Ballinger and Anderson)
9. Der Hipp Starr, Labor Power (jersey unripped, lungs unclotted, legs uncleaved, helmet unshattered)
10. G. Spot, Labor Power (greatest sacrificial set up since Omaha Beach)
13. Max Kash Agro, Labor Power (closed like a Republican’s brain come election time)
Nevada City criterium, 35 plus, 300 feet of climbing per lap, gold rush era saloons, frothy blend of $1.2k and 12k dreamers, 48 mph descent, g-forces, hay bails, body English, razor’s edge straddling, chain ring clickety-clicking, rabid fans, residual Postal bitterness.
Before the race, Starsky n Hutch aka Crablegs let me in on a secret. He was motivated. Why? His heart was riddled with bullets on account of a nasty divorce plus he was coming back from a skiing-related shattered tibia. The latter wasn’t that worrisome, since crusty crabs are blessed with multiple legs and the amputated ones grow back quickly. The divorce was different. Without belaboring the point, or playing for sympathy, Crablegs let on that his addiction to the bike was the wedge that drove his ex away. He was thus on a mission to prove that minus the ball and chain he could fly with the eagles.
With refreshing candor, Crablegs offered to work with Labor in the preemptive objective to dethrone, disrobe and unceremoniously defile the princely Postal prima donnas. The game plan was simple: stay at the front, cut your own line on the high speed downhill loop to loop, and attack the narrow, twisting climbs. From the gun MKA hastened to the point. It wasn’t until the 3rd lap the MKA shifted into his big ring, figuring it was more prudent in the early going to have freedom to pop-snackle-spin to the point.
Postal sent Twinkles out early. Crablegs waited patiently while Turbo and MKA traded pulls to bring him back. When absorbed, Crabbie scuttled off unfettered. The burden clearly fell to Postie, who had four guys, but they punted. MKA felt no obligation to chase -- crabbie and I exchanged pleasantries before the race, making us practically brothers, which on reflection confirms what I’ve known but forgot that it’s better in this sport to maintain a healthy dose of dislike for the competition. MKA expected bona fide brothers Hovercraft and Genghis to counter but alas even Laborites are entitled to an off day.
Crablegs pulled away like so many mutants before him had done -- the Vampire comes to mind -- and the battle was for 2nd. A few times MKA launched an attack on the uphill but aborted when nobody countered in earnest. With about 5 to go Turbo thundered forward on the rough section towards the apex and that was enough to cut the “chase” group down to about 8, including Labor’s Stanky, who with typical grit was not content to sit on but found it difficult to fly off the front with broken wings. Stanky’s grit was surpassed only by the never say die spirit of Diesel, who managed to lead the charge down the hill after getting dropped on every climb.
In the end, MKA had a choice: throw tactics to the wind and attempt to break away on the uphill or conserve until the final surge and fling myself off the cliff and hope to fall faster than the other buffaloes. He chose the latter. As we approached the cliff, MKA found himself behind the postal train and Briggs, who last year porked me at the line for 2nd, a lingering insult that has inflamed my self-debasement as much as my prostate. Every night at 3 am I got to get up to spray the bathroom floor on account of that miserable buggerer. MKA swung to the outside as the stampede reached the precipice and dove head first into the chasm, regaining consciousness only just before the line when the silver fox sketched up beside me. We both threw our bikes.
Who won? I’d like to think Agro had him fair and square. But the Blue Coats forgot to turn the camera on. Whether due to grace, sportsmanship or simply because he had a long drive ahead and was tired of waiting around for 3 hours while the blue coats posted then reposted fabricated results, a weary Turbo eventually capitulated, collected his shiny nickels for third place and drove off. It must be said that Turbo could’ve argued and perhaps won, as MKA was not present to defend, finding himself fully imbedded in the 12k dream race.
Seems that MKA felt so good with the old farts that he deliriously concluded he could teach the young turks a lesson or two. He entered the dream race, triumphantly stayed ahead of Eric the Hoser Wohlberg (who won both days off the front) for exactly 5 excruciating laps (Wohlberg broke a spoke on the first lap and had to change out a wheel and chase back on) until the chemicals and dreams wore off along with his head, arms and legs. The lesson: once is enough, or quit while you’re ahead, or, for the Laborite in all of us: you don’t need to punish yourself to feel good.
1. Hutchinson, aka Spider Crab, Spindlelegs, Team Spineless (magnificent ride, move up please)
2. Max Kash Agro, Labor Power (
3. Perturbo, Monex (got 4th in the Reno dreamer race, goose still charred from Wohlberg’s cooking)
4. Ricky Squeeker, Postal (nothing ventured, nothing gained)
5. Briggs n Stratton, 12k Dream Weavers
? Bubba Melcher (last seen scarfing large deep dish pizza with the works)
? Diesel, Postal (rolling thunder review)
? Stanky, Labor (a mule with a kick who can fly)
BTW: Turbo had an excellent suggestion regarding the collection of prize money. The rules require us to challenge the results within 15 minutes of their posting. The problem in the real world is that the blue coats can literally take hours to post the results. The only thing worse than not placing is placing but having to loiter around for hours waiting for the meager winnings, a humiliating exercise if not a form of punishment. Why not impose a 30 minute rule on the officials: that is, if they don't post the results in 30 minutes, the 15 minute protest rule is waived. Masters racers have places to go. We can't wait around while the Blue Coats fiddle fart with their clipboards, decipher their chickenscratch and figure out how where the rewind button is on the video camera.