Temecula: The Race of True Lies
There is nothing so despicable, or amusing, as a lie masquerading as the truth told by a fool.
March 2, 2004
Temecula Stage Race. 12 mile Time Trial. MKA warming up on rollers. A very muscular tank-like creature approaches, wearing dark round glasses on a face dominated by big white piano-key choppers. His pie hole is rimmed with powdered sugar, evidence of a successful pre-dawn kill of a box of Hostess Donettes. He introduces himself as “Droober,” like the peanut.
We shake hands. MKA at once feels something sticky on his fingers. Sticky like honey or, maybe, could it be -- sweet n sour sauce? Droober says he’s a friend of Billy’s, so immediately I’m suspicious, as Billy has no friends. Tells me they spend a lot of time in the basement in front of the Computrainer back in the frozen tundra of Northern Indiana, where he jokingly tells me the average temperature hovers around his body-fat index. “That hot?” MKA asks. “No, silly, in the low thirties.”
Droober’s on a beater bike with knobby tires, a shopping basket and mudflaps. “Serious about today’s TT?” MKA asks. “Nah, this is only the second time I’ve seen the sun this year [it started to hail minutes later]. We Hoosiers are still working off the winter fat”, as our husky friend pulls out a Bento box and a set of chopsticks. He notices my eyes fixed on the unusual pre-game food supplements. “Eggrolls. They’re called Eggrolls. Found ‘em in the frozen food section. Kind of icy, but with enough of this plum sauce, they taste great. Like a sushi snowcone.”
MKA admits to liking this affable yuk-yuk, who’s as threatening, and apparently as sugar-crazy, as a Jellystone Park bear. And yet, there’s something faintly sinister about him -- perhaps it’s the dark round glasses, like those worn by renegade North Korean nuclear scientists, or Yoko Ono. MKA wonders what this inscrutable foreigner’s hiding from the rest of us.
22 Hours later. The Time Trial results have been posted. Louie the Rican, who arrived at the start line about 3 hours early in full gear, is listed as DNS. Hoodee Hovercraft, MKA’s 30 second man, is listed as DNS. The Rican truthfully scorched the difficult uphill out/downhill back course in about 26.50. Hover was in the low 27s. Both of these times, based on post race chit-chat (admittedly fraught with strategic embellishments), were among the best of the day.
Tops on the leader board was of course our boy from Hooterville, Droober. Pretty good time. In fact a very, very good time -- about 10 to 30 seconds faster than Chris Horner, Flash Gordon, Mariano Friedich and Thurlow Rogers, guys who probably get a little more Vitamin D than our hibernating donut-eaters from Hooterville. The guy in sixth place had a scorching fast time, too, especially for someone who spent the entire day behind his desk in Pasadena. Also in the money was a former pro dream team financier so big he’s got to take the freight elevator.
MKA and Rican “congratulate” Droober, whose basking in the limelight. Now, it’s a delicate thing to call a colleague a fibber. You sort of dance around it, hoping the prevaricator will come clean and make a full confession. After all, it’s not his fault the Blue Coats can’t tell time. He wasn’t the genius who decided to compute the times using an abacus and a sundial on a rainy day. It’s not like Droober drugged anybody, or paid ‘em off (although that morning MKA did see a ring of powdered sugar around the Chief Blue Coat’s blow hole, raising suspicions of payola).
Why not benefit from the Blue Coat’s Blunder? Why do the honest and virtuous thing in a sport governed by a band of boobs who think nothing of taking your entry fees, your time and your precious prize money without apology or shame? For the oppressed cyclist (who is typically besieged with a number of pre-existing conditions, including but not limited to megalomania, melancholia, hypochondria and excusomania) dishonor is all too easy to justify, like looting, or fragging, or forgetting to return that wallet with the wad of Benjis to it’s rightful owner.
The gift of instant glory goes straight to Droober’s head. Yesterday, before the Race of Truth, he was flagellating himself with excuses, beseeching MKA for mercy, like a sinner seeking forgiveness. Today, Droober was all teeth, grins and Stephen Segalesque casual cool. With the nonchalance of a superhero long accustomed to accolades, Droober iterates: “Yeah, that was my time alright (24:45, again about ten seconds ahead of the pro 1-2 winner, Flash Gordon, the New Zealand National Champ).” A stone faced, incredulous MKA: “Rully?” “Yeah, I’ve been training in the basement with Billy. The way it works is when he stops for a Krispy Kreme I go really hard, and when he stops to eat a cannister of Pringles or Cheezums, I go even harder. So you just know I’m doing a whole bunch of these really hard efforts.” Droober offered to show us his syrup-stained training log.
By all accounts an otherwise decent human, Droober’s sudden transformation from stammering hayseed to cocksure celebrity was complete. He had drunk the magic Kool Aid, tasted the forbidden fruit. He had come to believe the Big Lie. He had in fact become it’s most ardent and happy-wappy mouthpiece.
MKA asks: “So does this mean you’ll be replacing Lance for the time trial in Athens? “Well, I’m not saying that. But, you know, Billy’s going to suck the oxygen out of his basement [by not talking for 3 minutes?] so I can simulate altitude training and he’s promised to add jelly bean mallow bars to his snack menu, so you just know I’ll have to boost my intervals up by several minutes. Added to which there’s a guy I met this morning, sort of mousey, says he’s a doctor, wants to sell me his audiotapes about the key to winning time trials. He says he can learn me to bend time like a spoon.”
About an hour later, 25 miles into the 55 mile road race, our huggable hero was spotted in the feed zone slathering on the cocoa butter in search of Little Debbies. Afterwards he admitted somewhat sheepishly that riding up actual hills was a lot harder than the cartooney hills on his computrainer in Billy’s basement.
Meanwhile, Labor had a stage race to win. Robocop, back from a one year hiatus, with the furry legs and pudgy howdy-doody cheeks, went up the road with Todd Parks, who by the way drives a souped up, clean air killing white hearse Cadillac calls an “Escalade.” With 20 miles to go, MKA and Hoverhawk conspire, in our own secret code, because you can’t be too careful, with all the spies and earphones:
MKA: “Hawk, this is going to get really slow and stoopid. The Puff Daddies are balling up. The A-Train ain’t pulling away from the puke-stained chasers. I can win the sprint. You need to flick the ticks, boot and scoot, and fly like an Eagle...”
Hoverhawk: “...Into the future, I mean, let that spirit carry me?”
MKA: “Yes. Now go. Feed the babies, can’t get enough to eat. Shoe the children...”
Hover attacks but hard past the start finish up a long grade. Postal Pritty Ricky Squeeker, all alone, yet somehow impervious to the Labor gang bang, ramps in pursuit. But the pelaton either yawns or finds a measure of tranquility farting into the wind. They settle in like brittle old maids in front of the fire, contented. Up the road, Hawk is down low and sleek, pushing the tractor gear, and eventually disappears.
With 10 miles to go, the pelaton comes to Dead Man’s Corner, where a smoldering car is flipped over like a dead roach, and another vehicle is in the ditch, a limp and lifeless body smothered inside an inflated air bag. Apparently the Walmart announced a 10% price cut on Cheeze Wiz and Nascar pennants made in China and the locals got in a hurry.
You hate to see life, liberty and property sacrificed in the pursuit of high fat snack products, but the carnage did slow the pelaton down some, a trade-off that made MKA wonder: would a superstar like Lance, for example, cut a deal with the Devil that allowed Lance to win a sixth yellow jersey but only if he permitted a bubonic plague to wipe out everybody in South Dakota, or Tonga, or Calcutta?. How much are we willing to pay for the price of success? What are we willing to ignore, give up or cover up? If the Dark Angel himself told me he’d let me win but I had to agree to replace Yosemite National Park with the hellish fires of Mordor, would I take the deal?
Sometimes it’s best to shut the brain off and simply ride, which may explain why the sport attracts so many airheads, pretendos and tinkledinks. The fact is when you’re in the heat of battle you’ve got no time to shed tears. It’s kill or be killed, metaphorically speaking, of course.
With a few miles to go and the Labor love bug up the road grooving towards the line, a tiny Cubano with enough bitterness to fill the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository was digging up the road. Attached to his bumper was a familiar parasite, Chicken Legs, with a history of contaminating breaks and attracting all manner of carrion-eating scavengers. In a moment of rare tenderness, MKA actually felt sorry for my little Brother the Rican -- up there, burying it, emptying his tanks, shooting all his bullets, in what was obviously a suicide mission the draw of which was so strong that resistance was futile.
We caught Rican with a click to go at which point he dropped a perfectly timed and poignant F-Bomb, a defiant finger to all the gods, Blue Coated demi-gods, and mortal lickspittles who had collaborated to render what could have been a wonderful weekend into a sordid and sick slide down a rabbit hole of farce and defilement. I couldn’t tell which he despised more: the Blue Coats who seemed to take special joy in crushing the hopes of those with a sincere passion for their craft, or himself, for choosing to subject himself to such forseeable abuse week after week, like a battered wife.
Hoverhawk wins. Robocop second. MKA takes the field sprint for fourth ahead of Squeeker in fifth. The Bus (Bob McCall of Labor), Bennie the Desert Rat and Peter Trollson round out the top six.
After the race MKA asked the officials to re-examine the TT results, which was about as reliable as Chainsaw Cheney’s map of the smoking stockpiles of the WMDs in Iraq. The Blue Coat was very civil and contritely admitted mistakes were made but added ominously that the notes were missing, a disclaimer that sounded an awful like “the dog ate my homework.” MKA, ever a believer that justice in the end will prevail, still clung to the hope that order would be restored, lest a twisted message get sent to the greasy- fingered mob that to win a time trial all you need to do is e-mail in your time from the comfort of your office or slap on another 60 pounds and trust the Blue Coats to deduct several minutes out of sympathy. Why shove away from the dinner table early? Why spend $10,000 on instruments of aero-warfare? Why comb the web for steroid masking agents? Why bother?
Look, Labor knows better than most it’s a stoopid sport -- we invented the cliche. But saying it doesn’t mean we excuse or endorse the nonsense, no more than when we say “the masses are asses” we think it’s cool to live in a country of dimwits who rush down to the Kmart to spend $29.99 for the “actual nails” used to crucify Christ -- buy two and get an autographed picture of George “Burning” Bush naping a village viet cong village near Brownsville. I know, I know, the trick is in lowering expectations, but MKA’s expectations from the Blue Coats are already so miniscule I consider it a god blessed windfall to finish a race without being sideswiped by a USCF motorbike.
The final stage is the Criterium, which has an uphill finish. Hoverhawk is tops on the leaderboard, with Squeeky within striking distance. Labor’s “solidarity” has become more of a utopian ideal than an actual protocol. Allegiances are diffuse. Pessimism rampant. Doubts amplified. The Blue Coats breached their promise to make the TT results right, choosing instead to perpetuate the fraud. Labor has been reduced to a highly trained but confused fighting force on an ill-defined mission without a clear objective. A sense of anarchy settles in.
Meeker wins the bonus sprint. Meeker wins the stage. Meeker wins the overall. He took on the entire Labor team and prevailed, with skill, speed and precision. Years from now they’ll be talking about one Postal Pritty who wasted an entire legion of Labor Gritties. And it’ll make for a compelling, rebellious sort of story. Nobody will mention the elephant or the foul stench of the fart in the living room. We will honor the lies by building the legacy. A few cranks will grouse and grumble about the phony TT results, but their complaints will over time burn off like the morning fog. And yet, MKA can’t help wondering how things wouldve turned out if the Blue Coats had actually recorded the times faithfully.
MKA will not, however, waste a second contemplating what if by some miracle the benefactors of the Blue Coat’s derelection stepped forward and disavowed their ill-gotten time cuts. In the end, we cyclists are little more than Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits -- those scruffy, grabby little ragamuffins who hoppped from place to place in search of the perfect haul. You can’t expect nattering, self-absorbed cyclists to elevate honor over 12 seconds of purloined glory no more than you can expect a pirate to give up his booty.
The Temecula True Lies Stage Race Leader Board, 35 Plus
1. Ricky Sqweeker, Postal (had the wisdom to laugh about the time bonus blunder -- why should he give it back? The last time he tried to reason with the USCF over being made whole after one of their own nearly broke him in half the Blue Coats told him by signing the release he could no longer expect to be treated with respect or common decency).
2. MKA, Labor Power (nothing like a Blue Coat Mega-Blunder to awake the sleeping muse)
3. Mark “Butthead” Scott, aka, G-Spot, Labor (comparisons to Mark Whitehead way out of line)
4. HoverHawk, Labor Power (vowing once again to banish the word “points” from lexicon)
5. Bob The Buss McCall, Labor Vegas (hard charging lead out in the crit-- thanks)
6. Robocop, Labor Vegas (just getting lubed up).
For a doctored photo of The Rican not starting the time trial, see:http://www.prismphotos.com/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=166&thumb=1
BTW: no disrespect to the race promoter, Ben Cardenas, whose only fault was trusting the Blue Coats to regulate the event free of incompetence, whimsy and caprice. We love you Ben, please don’t let the clock-knockers sour you from continuuing to pour your blood, sweat, tears and cash into our most beloved sport.
The Vampire Lives! Labor is pleased to welcome The Vampire Chris Walker to the Labor freak show. In the Pro 1-2 road race, The Vampire powered a break with Horner, Flash Gordon, Friedich and Erker and took fourth after Gordon was relegated to fifth for crossing the center line in the sprint. After the race, Vampire looked like he had just dipped his face in a vat of snot, making it difficult to carry on a conversation. Finally, MKA begrudgingly handed Vampy a clean, downy soft towel. I always liked that towel, not it must be burned.