Sin, Sitting, and Stoopidweek: Beware The Good Christian or, Something Rotten in DeadFish Bay. July 25 (the Sabbath).
July 26, 2004
Promises broken, courage abandoned, cowardice rewarded, hard labor exploited, threats of violence and of course the “Good Christian” defense for sins committed in the service of wasting pure evil. A perfect capper to a perfectly stoopid week of gutless, cream-filled pseudo-racing in our nation’s heartland.
It all started the first day when the Vampire very quietly nearly lapped the field, solo. An angry mob of pitchfork wielding provincials quickly organized, led by the doughboys on Team Snack. “Vampire must go,” they grumbled. “He goes too early, too often, and too fast. How are we supposed to fill our bellies with curds, brats and funnel cake if we’re always chasing?”
The next day Vampire attacked about 50 times. On each occasion, Team Snack dutifully chased, caught, and fanned across the road, avoiding the wind like a fat lady dodging the stairwell. Vampire finally got tired of coddling the frightened lambs, attacked over the center line, and soloed in the last 5 miles for the Vee, fully shut of the sourness. The Blue Coats promptly deeked our salt-encrusted warrior, as the little piggies squealed with delight. “Vampire broke the rules! He attacked when we were tired. He should be suspended for a week,” they oinked, in between cramming glazers and chocolate donuts down their collective gullets.
Vampire didn’t argue the call, finding more satisfaction in illegally going long and strong than legally lumbering around with the lard-lovers. He may be skeletal, shy and chipmonkish, but the Vampire would rather brawl from the bell and cull the pretenders than pussy foot around until a 12th round scrum-fest. He’s the savage embodiment of Stephen Jay Gould’s theory of “punctuated equilibrium”, which posits that criteriums can be long, tedious and boring (like evolution), and the only way to shake off the freeloaders and generate excitement is to radically attack until the status quo is in utter chaos.
The Blue Coats handed a Team Snack drone -- Scary Larry -- the win that day and he returned the favor by offering to deliver a seminar entitled “How to Win Without Competing,” which I can only imagine is a polyglot of cliches stolen from Vince Lombardi and Karl Rove. He actually celebrated. His teammates confirmed that Scary Larry can do it all -- crits, road, time trial, your essential uberputz.
Over the next few days, Vampire won another race in which he soloed for about 25 miles. The Snackers naturally filed a protest afterwards, arguing that Vampy was aided by the cat IIIs, which made about as much sense as a hot knife bouncing off soft butter. MKA overheard one of the Sugar Puffs plead: “But it’s not fair. We promised the bearded ladies at the garden club a polite exhibition of grown men in tutus imitating dancing bears - I bought a bonnet festooned with petunias and everything -- but along comes this ghastly vampire creature with the fangs and claws and just totally wrecks our tea party.”
All of which led up to the finale, a four corner crit downwind from Deadfish Bay, which like many of the pickled masters racers had begun to emit a foul odor like rotten sushi. With about 22 of 35 laps to go, Vampire decided he’d had enough tip-toeing through the tulips. He did not exactly attack -- not exactly -- he just went to the front and systematically began to accelerate so that more people hurt more badly and much quicker. The field slipped into coma-like oxygen debt and you could smell the lactic acid boiling through the pores.
A few withered heroes clutched desperately to the Vampinator’s bony ass until the latter simply lurched again. Only a pop tart from Team Snack held on (hereinafter referred to as “the Good Christian”).
Now Labor had fully anticipated this scenario. Orders had been given from downtown that under no circumstances was Vampy’s wheel to become a half way house for stooges, leeches, parasites, and other money-for-nothing republicrats. If the wheel was infiltrated, Vampy was to either wipe it clean or secure an enforceable promise by the freeloader to sit on for second or suffer a swift and painful death.
Sure enough, within eyesight of the languishing pel, we could see Vampy ride alongside the Good Christian, as words were exchanged. Seconds later, Vampy and the Good Christian were gone for good. For the next 20 laps, Vampy rode like the devil, holding a 45 second advantage over the single file pel. We never got closer than 20 seconds. The Good Christian did not take a single pull. Vampire, a reptilian type creature who can be trusted, honored his promise and never attempted to dump the sainted sponge.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the finish line. As Vampy was preparing to raise his arms in a Vee, the Good Christian suddenly snaked forward and pipped the hardest working man in Milwaukee. The crowd gasped. The announcer shook his head. The Good Christian turned back to a bewildered Vampire and begged for forgiveness: “I’m, I’m sorry. You, you deserved it...” The titular winner hung his head in shame.
The strongest rider lost. No crime in that. A weaker rider sat on the stronger rider in a two up break and pipped him at the line. No crime in that either, although purists would question the winner’s honor and sportsmanship. Here, however, the Snack-Attacker had verbally agreed not to sprint, in exchange for which Vampy would carry him around like a swaddling babe. Vampy relied on the christian’s word, hurtling around the course the remaining 20 laps at an average speed between 27 and 30 mph.
So, a hacker induced a stronger rider to show pity through a bald face lie and then repaid the charity with a knife to the back -- OK, that’s nothing to write about, bike racing’s a stoopid sport that attracts ne’er-do-wells. Lying and cheating hardly amuse MKA, but I will confess now a certain rush when I heard the Snack Attacker’s three prong defense strategy. Most of the time, MKA has to make up such foolishness. Here, they offered it up on a platter. Went like this:
First, Kill the Lawyer. When we first raised the question -- Did your guy lie? And if so why are you so overjoyed? -- a bull-necked lunk responded by collaring MKA’s pencil neck and whispering Capone-like in my ear with the bile-blackened breath that “maybe we ought to head down to the water and work this out, just me and youze.” MKA declined to go wading with the wadcutter, conceding defeat in the face of overwhelming beef and bonepower, but continued to query how a beatingMKA into fish food would absolve the Good Christian of his sin.
Second, Concede the Lie, but Attack the Victim. According to Scary Larry, it was right and proper for his double dealing brother to steal the win because the code of honor does not bind mediocre riders with really good ones. This is a quote: “Walker doesn’t belong here. Bringing Chris Walker is like bringing Lance Armstrong to SuperWeek.” Flattering I suppose, to be compared to a good god for once, instead of the Dark Angel. And it certainly makes you feel good to believe you beat Lance Armstrong’s surrogate, but still something of a stretch. When I told Vampy about the comparison, he chuckled. “Lance? I don’t know. Doesn’t he like small breasted women? I like mine bigger. Heh-heh.”
Third, when all else fails, invoke Our Lord Savior. This is my favorite. Team Snack Attack was getting nowhere. Nobody was buying the forced jubiliation coming out of their camp. The crowd had begun to look away in disgust, as if assaulted by a large brat and kraut fart cloud. And fellow racers were hanging their heads in shame. A deep and miserable funk had settled on the land -- ideal conditions, in retrospect, for the cultivation of Christian mythology.
“Look guys,” a pasty sort of Snack Attacker pleaded, “Our Boy is a Good Christian. He doesn’t lie. He goes to church several times a week.” You had to pay attention, but if you listened closely, what you really heard our apolgist say was: “As a Good Christian, he could not lie. But if he did lie, he had a good reason, such as the need to protect Christendom from Satin, who according to PTL intel has links to Vampires, especially Vampires from hippy towns in California.”
I’m just wondering if in that final moment, when the Good Christian (GC) decided to break his word and steal the victory, was he racing against Lance, as some of his teammates suggested, or against Satan’s first cousin, as the other teammate suggested. It would matter. If he was racing against Lance, then he surely didn’t violate the Ist Commandment (“Thou shalt have no other gods before me), as lying to Lance would prove he didn’t worship the World’s Greatest Athlete. And this might neutralize the GC’s blatant violation of Commandment No. 4 (“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.”) Of course, if he regarded Vampy as Satan, then of course he was discharging his christian duty to take out Satan by whatever means necessary in the service of keeping the Sabbath “holy.”
But he’d still have to deal with the 8th Commandment ("Thou shalt not steal”) and the 9th Commandment ("Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” -- essentially, thou shall not perjure, fib, prevaricate or lie). If Vampy was Lance, GC would be guilty of stealing and lying. Even if Vampy was Satan, it would still be a prima facie violation of the law, but with mitigating circumstances.
A lot of voices in GC’s head those final few laps. Perhaps he wanted to sin -- he wanted to righteously sin -- to hide the shame of violating, in his heart and gonads, that bad old Commandment No. 10: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house ... nor his ass...” After 30 minutes holding on to the ass in front of you for dear life, your mind starts to wander, you start daydreaming, you start to develop a certain need for that hinie, a kinship, a relationship that transcends physical needs or the fear of getting dumped. You covet that ass. Look, we’ve all been there. Just come out and admit it. You’ll feel better.
Now what does it all mean? I don’t know. I do know that Wisconsin is a lovely state with wonderful folks who for the most part live by a code that respects hard work, honesty and good deeds. At the same time, I am troubled by three thoughts. First, the Wisconsin airwaves are being saturated by radio and TV ads telling us that a vote for John Kerry is a vote for the devil. Second, Wisconsin is the same state that hatched one of the lowest scum sucking, corrupt and hateful Americans in our history: Tail Gunner Joe McCarthy. And third, Team Snack Attack’s Head Cream Puff, who’s so slick he thinks he can sell sand to Iraquis, is married to an apparatchik of the Republican Party. If lying, stealing, and cheeze-wizzing can so brazenly infiltrate the ranks of the top masters cycling team in a “Battleground” state, I worry for the country.
On another note, big kudos to Hover Craft for winning a stage, to Tricky Strickey for consistent top five finishes (followed more importantly by blistering post-scrum smack-baiting), to Vampire for pounding the peckerheads purely for the sake of pleasure, and to Our Lordship, the right Reverend Billy Stone, who managed to finish four races, which was exactly equal to the number of sentences he allowed MKA to finish.
And finally a big Labor loveshake to one of our founding fathers, Jeff the Phlamer Fleming, who resides in Boca Raton, Florida. Phlamer was one of the five Laborites who formed the team back in the early 1990s in Dallas, Texas. Phlame continues to race like a pit bull -- by the time you hear him growl, he’s already bitten your leg off. When Phlame-Out wasn’t in the wheel pits with a broken free wheel, ruptured head set or hang over, he was winning field sprints with perfect ease.