Tough Love Inside the Hipp Star Chamber: Confessions of an Unrepentant Flailer. Redlands
March 31, 2004
Redlands, Post 40+ Criterium, Turbo has just unofficially nipped MKA in a three nim break. MKA splayed out, face up on hot blacktop at Labor Base Camp, wrists pinioned beneath sharp cleats of Hovercraft and Stricky. Der Hiptler presiding, heels resting menacingly on MKA's sternum.
Der Hiptler: Tell me you won.
MKA: I won. I mean, the announcer said ... I threw my bike, it was close. He gapped me, last turn, wheels skidding, I came up ...
Der Hiptler: You're lying. You lost [nods to Stricky, who gleefully thrusts safety pin into MKA's left palm, who wails].
MKA: OK, OK, I lost, perhaps, but not because I worked. I swear I didn't work in the break.
Der: I saw you pulling.
MKA: No. I was pulling through -- soft pedaling -- big difference. I'm not even breathing. Feel my pulse.
Der: Wrong Answer. [Nods to Hover, who stabs MKA's right palm with safety pin, producing sustained howl.] We had sprinters. All you had to do was sit.
MKA: What about Labor don't sit? Attack! Pound Flail?
Der: Your problem is you think it's dishonorable to sit. And yet you savagely insist on winning. You demean the rest of us for flailing. You pretend to revere flailing as the Yin to Pounding's Yang. But when we flail, we're either selfish dopes happy just to be on the Board or gutless cowards. When you flail, it's because you piously refuse to compromise moral absolutes. You are a pathetic romantic, with a twisted fetish for martyrdom.
MKA: My only weakness is I cannot concede weakness. If I sat, that would send a message to Turbo that I feared him, that I was inferior.
Der: This is not about you. This is about the team. You elevated your own glory, your own high-minded win with honor standards above the team objective [nods to stricky, who inserts another safety pin, followed by more wailing, bloodflow and gnashing of teeth.]
MKA: You're talking about golf. You want me to handicap myself. You want me to penalize the strong and reward the weak. You want me to shift the burden. You're asking me to contaminate, to coattail.
Der: I am reminding you to practice what you preach: maximize team resources. [grinds heel into MKA's sternum]. You're the one who ordered the team to set up a train with three to go. And you were the first one to abandon the plan, to chase your own dreams, costing us the victory.
MKA: Now wait. The plan was and always will be to hammer. It's because I forgot to adhere to that overriding mandate that I flailed. On the last lap, I wanted to attack and be done with it. But I heard a voice, your voice, at once evoking the image of a yellow-toothed donkey braying, berating me with a strong undertone suggesting I was a complete IDDDDEOOOTTT, to sit, suck, coast, jump, pass and pip. I thus waited, deferring to your counsel. At the moment of truth, Turbo jumped me, I pulled a Bob Dole and went limp as a garden hose.
Der: You're blaming me.
MKA: Yes -- [Der drives cleats into breast plate, as blood gushes and MKA screams].
Der: This is your doing. You built this kitchen. Skewered over your own spit. You set the agenda, you broke ranks, and now you must pay.
MKA: Circumstances changed. Turbo and Benny the Cabana Boy were away. Labor had to latch on. Plans are fluid. It's like returning from outer space, a million things can go wrong, adjustments have to be made. Besides which, why weren't you in the break? Where was the cavalry?
Der: Hover and I were chasing. I saw you on the front, pulling. [Stanky, excommunicated former Labor apostle, rolls in, face sweating, eyes bloodshot, broken teeth blackened, and whispers into Der Hiptler's ear]. You were seen gapping Turbo. [Der nods to Stricky, who happily inserts another safety pin, while Hover tosses the yellow dog informant a box of Gu, who scurries off, chortling].
MKA: [Anguished] It's true, It's true. I thought I could drop him. I admit it. Forgive me, I thought I could suffer and win, a grievous mistake, for which I accept punishment. Torture me. Chase me down. Persecute me. I deserve it. I am beyond reformation, forever bound to the lure of The Dream, the dream of pounding and winning with honor against impossible odds. I have flailed, but my work is not done. Mother Dreamer! Into your Vast and Deliciously Soft Bosom do I tender my infantile pecker-headed muse... [MKA passes out].
40+ Wailing Wall, Redlands
1. Perturbo, Jackass (drove the break, ramped the final two turns, gapped MKA, won)
2. MKA, Labor Power (Failed to attack, failed to hold the rabbit's tail, failed to close, failed to cure cancer, failed to prevent 911, but did succeed in winning snow cone and plate of griddle cakes.)
3. Benny Parks, Palm Springs Cabana Boys (politely beseeched break buddies let him have the win, may have triggered subconscious guilt response)
4. The Vampire, Labor Power (soloed the last few laps. Note: epidermal layers transitioning to iguana scales; Louie Vuitton handbag quality).
5. Wall Street, Cycles Veloce (snookered Stricky at the bell)
6. Stricky, Labor Power (tumor cells in remission, recurrence delayed if acts on promise to lead out MKA)
note: A few hours later, in the Pro 1-2 knock-off Dreamer race, in the first few laps, there went Hipp Starr, dangling off the front with a fungible, standard issue nimroddicus, in flagrant violation of every rule our master sit-n-sprinter stands for. This nonsense lasted about 3 laps, just enough to completely sour Hipp's swollen, fluid-retaining legs for the field sprint 50 minutes later. Repeat after me: S-t-o-o-p-i-d-s-p-o-r-t....
30+ Criterium, 5 hours later.
MKA was sick of it. Just line me up. Don't want to think, cogitate, strategize. Just want to pound, inveterately, robotically. Sacrifice. Vows made. Will not even pretend to work with anyone not wearing the Labor colors. Will set blistering pace. Will feel no pain. Will deliver sprinters to the line. Will don full body wet suit spiked with a thousand safety pins like thorns on a Saguaro cactus. Head will come off. All will be well.
Besides which Gspot's in the house, battered -- even broken -- but not beaten. Last week Gspot, who won Redlands in 2003, was flicked by a truculent hackass from Team RocknSocknasium. Gspot was leading out Vampy on the first of 10 climbs when Blockhead flagrantly elbowed Gspot's bars, causing Gspot to smack the pavement face first. Two ribs fractured. 3 inch gash over right eye. After the race, Labor filed multiple eyewitness accounts, including admissions by the Blockhead's embarrassed teammates, all of which the Blue Coats summarily dismissed. As for medical care, no efforts made to stanch the flow of blood or ice the swelling. The Blue Coats did offer a marine issue collapsible shovel and a bag of lime to be used to bury the dead on the side of the road. No insurance forms or leads offered.
Nobody really tried to persuade Gspot to do the prudent thing and sit this one out. Might as well ask a falling boulder to stop. He was in, and hobbled or not, Labor was going to deliver him to the line.
Early on MKA bolted off the front with KB-snacky and LRon, who won the day before in a two man break. LRon won this race in 2003 on a chilly, blustery but magical day when Labor went 1-2-3, a feat not since repeated. We were only ten minutes into the race and already Labor had a sizeable gap, the kind that induces a sort of dangerous sleepiness. Sure enough, a few laps later, shockingly, we were caught, apparently because Turbo and Copeland decided to terminate the Labor dream dance.
Much nonsense ensued. Eventually MKA and LRon pinched off with a pretender who I learned later calls himself The Force.** We let him have a prime and a few laps later, after skipping pulls, he silently slipped back into the safety of public anonymity. Labor thundered onward, with 15 minutes to go. LRON rode with an easy confidence that both inspired and struck fear. Normally MKA backs off in the tight corners, putting safety above shaving a few microseconds. But LRon was gliding through Rat's Alley (the right-left-right S turn) so fluidly he looked like Herman Maier on the giant slalom. MKA hitched his wagon to LRon's star, and put his faith in the latter's trajectory. It's amazing how a little faith can slacken the jaw muscles, relax the sternocleidomastoids and slow the flow of cortisol to a steady drip.
With five to go, Labor came to believe the move was neither sacrificial nor superficial. We had a monolithic 15 second gap. But the juice began to cake. The gears began to grind, the lube all but gone, in MKA's crankcase. LRon sensed imminent shutdown and began to ride my sorry, sinking behind. More! Harder! Bury it. Boy oh Boy I didn't want to let my hard-charging man down. So I uttered a few whimpers to let him know his tongue lashings had met their mark. I am your slave. Use me as you will. Let my fading legs be the vessel of your swift and passionate labor lust. It was, of course, mildly erotic.
We barrelled forward. With three to go, at the top of the long home stretch, a tiny but unmistakeable voice penetrated MKA's fog filled head: Go Daddy. Not a resounding shout from the rooftops, mind you. Sort of an obligatory mock-cheer, as if Mommy was holding up flash cards or offering a bag of Skittles. And yet it motivated me. This is a cross that must be borne. Pull this off, set aside muscle lock, stave off the encroaching enemy and maybe just maybe the Buck Bear will see with his own eyes the manifest power of a diet consisting of peas, corn, spinach and tomatoes.
Two to go. MKA said he wouldnt think, formulate or calculate, but my fuel light had been on the last several laps, and I needed data. MKA looked back. Big, blissfully wide, quiet, long, empty streets. MKA wanted to back off. But LRon's fire was burning hot. He had apparently not looked back, choosing instead to presume that we were on the verge of being swallowed by the Great White. He kept admonishing, exhorting, barking -- Drive! OK, look, I'm all about sucking the marrow out of the bone of every moment, but this is ridiculous. Im on the verge of serious brain damage, and I just got to slow it down some. MKA kept these thoughts to himself. Far be it for me to dampen a motivated man's entoosiams. He wants to flood the cerebral cortex with massive amounts of adrenaline, and this makes him ride like the devil, I'm just happy to contribute to the insanity.
A few years ago, LRon, Genghis Hahn and Hoodee Hovercraft shocked the world with a clean sweep of the Redlands podium. Those who witnessed it said it was a fluke that would never happen again.
Redlands 30+ Wall of Redemption
1. L Ron Mother Hubbard, Labor Power (scalp still smoldering 30 minutes later -- Del Fuego!)
2. MKA, Labor Power (as Blake said, the weak in courage is strong in cunning. Will reincarnate as plow horse).
3. G Spot, Labor Power (dove underneath Copeland before final sketchy turn, fearless and unmindful of broken ribs stabbing right lung).
4. Psycho Wiko, Labor Power (after aborting dreamer race, upchucked what looked like a Portuguese Man-o-war, vowed to skip pre-race sushi).
5. Der Hipp Starr, Labor Power (all in a day's work: 76 miles of crit racing, gobs of cash collected).
*** MKA was lobbied post-race by a reader who calls himself the Force. It looks like he'll agree to ride for Labor on condition MKA say only nice things about him and footnote each flail with a bevy of excuses. As my power to pick talent has been legitimately questioned, you decide.
Okay so I turned out not to be much help in the 30+ crit finale. I was pretty blown from a week of racing (or trying to race!) When you right the race report could you refrain from belittling my performance; try to be positive and say nice things...that was race numero 6 for the week (and my second that day). Say something like the big meat was useful for about 2 laps
BTW who took it? you or Elrond?
bucking for a Labor spot in 2006
Labor? Yes ____ No _____
Socks Veloce? Yes ____ No _____
Flailer Made? Yes ____ No _____
$.00012K Dream Team? Yes ___ No _____
For exciting podium glory shots, see http://www.laborpower.us/photos/Redlands-2004/