Vampy Waves His Freak Flag High: Two R Rs, Two Spee-Rs, Two Vees. Lompoc, CA.
June 9, 2004
What becomes a Freak most?
A Day in the Sun: It's been happy days and sunny skies ever since Vampy joined Labor: three titles in 2004 and more to come!
All smiles: Close ups can be rough for a chronic snotballer with a birdish beak and furrows deep enough to plant corn.
Vampy raises his arm under the watchful eyes of the Blue Coats as he crosses the finish line to win the Calif Elite Road Race ahead of the Silver Wolf, Perturbor Rogers. To MKA's knowledge, this is the first time Vampy has ever broken a rule and Labor is grateful he was not deeked.
MKA lays the wood to the Toonmeister for 3rd.
Not a trivial question. The literature would have you believe that a supernormal VO2 max and robotic discipline are the engines of success. Labor knows differently. You want to make it in this sport? You better either be born a freak or get busy imitating one.
As a case study, Labor offers up its own Christopher “Moon” Walker, aka, “The Vampire” or simply, “Vampy.”. The Reverend Billy once wrote, in his 1998 seminal essay, “Lunacy and the 12k Dream: Combing the Asylums for Future Tour De France Winners”: “Forget about genetics and the size of your pipes or your boiler, if you want to make it to the top in this game of unrelenting torture masquerading as sport, you better be insane, you know, bat freaking nuts.”
Is Vampy bat freaking nuts? Let’s see how Vampy scores against the Reverend’s Freak-o-meter.
Deviant coloration: “Odd skin colour is the mark of greatness among cycling’s highest degenerates.” Vampy’s skin is the color of a deep bruise on a purple tortoise: cracked, scaly, and withered, like a chicken wing left under the hot lamps for 4 days. Coloration and texture indicate massive hours beneath the burning ball. Score: 7.
Emaciation: “The law of conservation of energy teaches us that abnormalities such as excessive leanness coupled with low libido, frequently found among the insane, are also endemic among the most accomplished grand tour champions. A skull face and a bony body strike fear in the hearts of trick o treaters for a reason.” (Footnote: Caesar was reputed to fear the lean face and slender body of Clevelandia). Vampy can find neither shorts nor jerseys that wrap snugly around his sticks. He is more chemical than flesh, more sinew than muscle, more bone than meat, more salt than sweat. Score: 10.
Cranium Shrinkage: “Large skulls filled with brain matter not only weigh the elite athlete down, they interfere with the natural tendency of the insane to focus on ultimately trivial if not destructive misadventures without which cycling excellence would be impossible.” Rumors have been circulating for years that Vampy’s shyness and diffidence stem from a crack induced lobotomy in his youth. However, MKA’s research has concluded that this myth was perpetrated by Aryan-leaning egotists unable to cope with losing to a graceful waif who forgot to recognize his achievement. Score: results pending.
Sterility: “Great men, like Bill Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, Swift and others, preoccupied with the pursuit of high art and the perfect vibrating codpiece, avoided the bondage of marriage and the insidious consequences of procreation.” Vampy, a single adult without known offspring, refused to produce a seed sample for my research so MKA is left to speculate. First issue is whether Vampy ideates on pounding the saddle’s softer surrogate. Research ongoing; however, Vampy recently heard on Santa Barbara campus faintly hungering for buxom co-ed’s endowments. Footnote: refrained from vulgar or profane language. Labor torn: introduce Vampy to the fairer sex and risk upsetting his monomaniacal focus, or Vees be damned let’s get this boy laid.
Precocity: “Elite climbers, like the savagely insane, tend to peak early, thus the proverb: ‘Boy genius at 5, mad mother F’er at fifteen.’ [to wit, Motzart, Picasso, Druber].” Childhood profile in progress. Climbing prowess probably the result of being raised by ptarmagins on side of rocky cliff, despite myth that actual parents were cave dwelling bats. Arguably, Vampire still enjoying childhood. Critics infer from childlike bashfullness the cogency of a simpleton. Laborites (excluding the Reverend), however, interpret economy of chit-chat as a prelude to enlightenment. Still waters run deep. Question: how deep and does the pond ever ripple, if so, why? Reminder: ask Vampire if parents made to sleep in hole in shack where lawnmower kept as in Sling Blade. Score: childhood incomplete, results pending.
Vagabondage: “The elite cyclist is a wanderer who collects experiences like a packrat hoards piles of old newspapers. He is in a constant state of readiness, ready to roll at a moment’s notice, unburdened by the mandates of a tyrannical boss, the shrill screams of insatiable brats or the guilt-loading assaults of the marital scold.” Vampy carries a sleeping bag in his BMW. He enjoys the peace and solitude of nights spent in public parking lots under starry skies. After finishing just behind Horner in a road race earlier this season, he optimistically noted that propping his legs up on the dashboard as he slept in the front seat of his car had the salutary effect of filtrating lactic acid accumulations through his liver. Score: 9.
Obliviousness: “The superfreak in moments of peak stress avoids the paralysis of agitation, or even the repose of self-examination, but instead floats above the madding, throbbing mob of needy, ambitious, excitable idiots in a dream-like, semi-conscious state of oblivion, seemingly refractory to psychic and physical terror.” As an example, Rev. Billy cites Socrates, who was reputed to be able to stare directly into the sun without discomfort.
Let’s see. We hacks tend to record and recall every detail of the pivotol moment in a race. We rejoice in making the right move, or despair over missing the boat. We drench anyone who will listen with our heroic tales of fighting through the pain or overcoming ebola like infections. Vampy, on the other hand, within minutes of vanquishing an opponent, doesn’t seem to recall or reveal much, even when pressed hard for details, as if struck with amnesia, like it didn’t happen.
For example, his commentary after winning the Masters criterium, solo, for 45 minutes, with PerTurbo and Squeeker chasing: “On the third lap, I went a little harder. I looked back. There was a gap. So I just kept it steady.” Labor Translation: “The idiots let me open a gap and I bitch slapped the lot of the dinks, but hard.”
As for pain and misery, you should have seen Vampy’s brittle, salt-encrusted self at the conclusion of the 90 mile road race at San Luis Rey in 104 F heat. He cramped with ten miles to go and got second. Most of us on that day who seized up could speak of nothing else, as if our pain was epic and unique. Vampy, on the other hand, stoically regarded his affliction as a passing nuisance, like an ant bite. At the time, MKA dismissed Vampy’s imperviouosness to bigger ‘n life pain on account the latter barely even had what passed for quads and hammies, too small really to even register pain. Score: 10.
Mutism, or Potted Plant Syndrome: “Without disparaging the magic of language, the megafreak often let’s his legs do the talking frankly because the latter is dispossessed of the gift of gab, rendering him at once very scary on the bike but very boring off it.” Vampy’s shyness, diffidence and reclusivity are the stuff of legend. Prior to joining Labor, Vampy usually powered a break, but seldom won. One theory to explain this was his fear of having to talk to the race announcer or press afterwards. MKA rectified the problem by agreeing to speak on his behalf. Now, Vampy is not afraid to win, but unfortunately nobody wants to talk to his press agent.
Vampy of course is not mute, he’s laconic -- he says little, and what he says usually makes good sense. In a subculture of self-promoting egomaniacal blowhards, Vampy’s spartan speech habits are regarded by some as a defect. He doesn’t dwell on the sport like the rest of us chattering nabobs. He neither beats nor pumps himself up. He is grounded in the present. Angelic qualities all, and yet MKA senses an undercurrent of Sun Tzu “Art of War” influence. By not speaking ill of others, he makes no avowed enemies. By not bragging about dropping Lance in the Tour Du Pont (he didn’t, but he has the right to say he did), he’s not going to motivate his foes to crush his larnyx. By not harping on past glory, he remains poised for the next showdown. Good things, and yet MKA would still like to have a conversation with Vampy without first sticking him with a shot of sodium pentathol.
On the brighter side, Vampy’s mouth is not an insatiable swag sucking machine that constantly needs trinkets, accoutrements, jerseys, fees, wheels, Gu and such. He has yet to ask for anything from Labor and has even turned down swag. He is racing on a borrowed bike (thanks to Lindsey Blount, MD, get well soon) and trains on his race wheels. He’s wearing a tattered 2003 Labor jersey because he doesn’t want to bother MKA about getting the spanking new 2004 version. He gave MKA a watch he won (“I pretty much just watch the sun.”). Score: 10.
Serenity: “The uberfreaks are a pleasant almost imperturbable sort who live like they never left the womb, showing no signs of separation anxiety, contented, seeminly immune to the twin curses of anxiety and ambition.” Vampy’s home life is the subject of wide speculation. He is reputed to have boiled his life’s mission down to two things: riding his bike and tending his flower garden. He is said to reside in a house in Goleta where in exchange for room and board he beautifies the dirt. He does not own a cell phone. He doesn’t have an internet address. He has learned to prepare his rice and beans in myriad ways that satisfy his palate. He buys in bulk. He cleans his plate and makes his bed. In some ways he is a modern day Thoreau, living his life deliberatately, and simply, away from the grabby malcontents. He does not want. He does not crave. He avoids caffeine and obscene language. He admits to needing to firm up his handshake. Score: 10.
Nasty Sybil Syndrome: “When the Freaky Deekies hop on their bike, they shed their cloak of civility and become savage, axe swinging gladiators. The prey becomes the predator. They relish their power to torture those from whom they would otherwise recoil when the feet land upon terra firma.” Vampy. There is a reason for the moniker. Off the bike, bashful, withdrawn, almost sleep walking, a marsupial with big innocent eyes. On the bike, a pair of fangs salivating for fresh blood, who will not stop, until you are dropped, beaten, flicked, with neither apology nor remorse. Score 10.
All of which adds up to what? Is this the stuff of idiocy or genius? I don’t know. What I do know is before Labor the Vampy’s talent was both hidden and neglected. His swaggering pro dream team dipsy-doodle snoot ‘n toots failed to cultivate the vampire’s skills. They confused his oddness with deviance and thus treated him like a leper. Labor changed that. We brought him warm beers, cheerios and trail mix. Rican introduced him to 12 different all-you-can-eat buffets, 7 of which now have his picture on the wall with a red slash through it. We offered him monetary inducements to pummel. We openly discussed female body parts, swore like sailors, and goofed on his freakishness with a mixture of endearment, envy and awe.
Let’s look at the results.
Calif State Masters 40+ Road Race, 77 miles, Vandenberg AFB (“You buy it, we’ll blow it up.”), Lompoc.
In his pre-Labor days, one seldom saw Vampy in the pel. He was usually off the front, churning, his beak tethered to his stem by a tendril of snot. But lately Vamp’s been sitting, patiently, waiting for his moment to strike. At Vandy, after Perturbo, Toons (aka “Tea Bags”), Kiwi, Bennie the Cabana Boy (aka “Desert Rat”) and the Rican busted off with 40 miles to go, Vampy got busy. He charged up the climb, several idiots on his wheel, summited, and kept pushing the pace until the string snapped. He towed MKA to the break and fed the latter milk and cookies along the way, even stopping for pee breaks.
After we latched on, like a doting parent he made his breakaway companions (who only seconds before were determined to avoid him like the plague) feel warm and secure (“oh good, we’re all going to place, Vampy’s here to pull like a mule while I fabricate gasps and choking noises until the spee-r”) until it was again time to cut he umbilical and head for higher ground, alone. Vampy attacked about 5 times until finally he pinched off with Turbo, much to the relief of we drawn and quartered mortals.
The stage was set: two ageless wonders, both 42, both highly decorated, both freakish, one known for his silver fox caginess, the other for his relentless grinding. The cognoscenti, headed by grand seer and oracle Flat Stinky, who pretty much has cross indexed every player’s profile against every conceivable terrain, groupo and tactic, naturally picked Perturbo, on account when he gets grouchy his voice drops 12 decibels while Vampy never really gets grouchy but always sort of squeaks.
It came down to the final 200 meters. Smarty Turbo Jones made the jump but our scrappy little giant killer held on and slingshotted Birdstone-like around his muscular colleague to take the Vee, prompting a befuddled Professor Stinkum to query MKA how much he greased Turbo to throw the race. That’s how epic it was.
Masters 40+ Battle of the Mutants
1. Chris “The Vampire” Walker, Labor Power (afterwards, almost conciliatory: “I hope Turbo’s not too mad, he seemed mad...”)
2. Perturbo Rogers, Team Variable (“Tomorrows a new day...” his only public statement, referring ominously to the Senior Elite RR in less than 18 hours).
3. Max Kash Agro, Labor Power (thanks to Chuck Yeager for coughing up my front wheel when I flatted; he could easily have professed ignorance and kept going but he dropped back, gave me the wheel, and spent the rest of the day working the cell phone in the feed zone).
4. Toons the Teabag Leibert, Orange Crush (in the last kilo he attacked and with 200 to go began cursing everyone and no one, to wit: ‘C’Mon M’f’er! You got more F’er! FU M’F’er F’n F’er!! It was the kind of lurid, insane rant that touches me. Teabag was a miler at Kansas who trained under Jim Ryun so he knows a few things about kicking with gusto.)
5. Louie the Rican, Labor Power (MKA’s not happy unless Louie’s lips are stretched tightly and bitterly across his choppers which open only to drop a stream of F bombs).
Footnote No. 1: G-Spot, who according to the Professor can and will only win parking lot crits, is now the California State 30+ crit champion and the 35+ Road Race champion.
Footnote No. 2: That night at din-din Hippster and I grilled Vampy about the final sprint. “When did you know it was yours? When did you know you owned him? When did you shove him the shiv? Were you ever in doubt? Were you afraid -- Oh no, I pulled him around and now he’s going to pop me? Walk us through it, quickly...” Vampire just looked at us blankly and forced out a few words like a creaky, constipated old man. “Yeah, I was a little afraid, I guess, but I felt good...” This nonsense went on for about a minute until MKA offered to tell Vampy what was going through his head at the time and he humbly agreed so as to get on with his rice and bean burrito.
2004 Senior Elite California Road Race Championships, 110 Miles, Star Wars Central.
Against the comforting backdrop of several towering rocket launch pads, where billions of taxpayer dollars are spent sending out to sea dummy missiles with god-like names such as Taurus, Pegasus, and Titan, the Vampire and Perturbo again engaged in a two-up match sprint spread out over about 50 miles of climbs, descents and rolling coastline.
Again it came down to a freak sprint -- a 1.5 mile uphill freak sprint. Would Turbo get his revenge? Now that he’d tasted the dust from a Vampire blast-off, would he back off, sit on, and save it all for one final thrust? Would Vampy bound up every steep pitch like a springing deer in an attempt to break the grey wolf? Or would Vampy hold back and conserve, confident in his newfound sprinting prowess?
These were the questions all 25 spectators were asking as we waited at the finish line on top of a blustery hill overlooking one of the last stands of prime California coastland. The crowd buzzed with the news that Vampy and Turbo had about 7 minutes on a 5 dreamer chase group. They would come into view at any time.
The first to appear was Turbo, ramping, bike swinging side to side, a red ball of silver-streaked fury. They surged past the 200 meter mark. Vampy crouched low like a tiger, waiting to pounce. When he jumped, he maintained his equilibrium, focusing all of his 130 pounds of power on the pedals. His upper body remained low and fixed. His legs were again doing the talking, leaving it to slightly bored hacks like MKA to interpret and tell the tale.
What becomes a freak most? How about a gentleman 42 year old roadie who in the sunset of his career has just learned to sprint?
Big, Strong, Young Elite Road Race Champs Motherboard:
1. Chris Vampire Walker, Labor Power (“[Turbo] worked hard.”)
2. Turbo, Team EPO (“You got yourself a real stud here.”)
3. Young no name pretendo, 5 minutes back (“I don’t get enough support from the Feds...wahh!”).
4. Cameron, Monex (Annonymous Monex money man who delivers).
Note: After the race, the Blue Coats discussed the legalities of disqualifying Perturbo and Vampire for “unsportsmanlike conduct” on the theory that by refusing to act their age and let the youth of America have some glory they were hurting the sport. There is merit to their theory. How is the USCF going to line up big corporate dollars for fair skinned pretty boys if the latter can’t be expected to win instantly? Why don’t the old farts take up golf and quit usurping the dreams of our youth? Reliable sources say the Blue Coats are paying super lawyer Black Bart $350 an hour to fashion an emergency addendum to the rule book forbidding amateur masters from racing down in the Senior Elite division.