Cheating Time: MKA Retires the Goons and Goes it Alone. Murrietta, CA.
February 28, 2005
In 1996, in a business park deep in the O.C., Gen. MKA planted his feet, adjusted his aviators, set his jaw, took a puff from his corncob pipe and decreed that time-trialing was a mutant sideshow in a cult sport. "I prefer to race against humans, not clocks," he sniffed. "Time trialing is for the same 'free-diver' weirdos who put on a lead belt and drop like an anchor until their lungs and heart explode."
Critics pointed out that MKA was at best a mediocre trialist. "Of course I am," he chided. "I'm a bike racer. I prefer to exploit, abuse, and deceive -- that's why we call 'em 'tactics.' The clock doesn't lie, so naturally I'm at a disadvantage. If I can't manipulate, cheat, bribe or in some way goose, grease or finagle the odds, naturally I'm fodder. Like Bill Blake said, 'the weak in VO2 max is strong in cunning.' I'm not going into a knife fight with a knife, I'm bringing a frinkin' tommy gun." Like any good Republican, what Gen. MKA feared most, more even than a superior adversary, was a level playing field. That an the messy business of accountability.
A level playing field itself was a myth. "It's all predetermined," MKA explained. "I can't bulk up my mitochondria, expand the diameter of my pipes, or tack on another few billion alveoli. The Heart-Lung-Muscle Holy Trinity is fixed, and I'll always be mechanically bereft, consigned to the sordid but highly profitable world of capitalizing on the misfortune or flat out idiocy of others."
For the next several years, Gen Agro assiduously avoided individual time trials. He surrounded himself with an army of mules and misfits who gladly sacrificed everything to feed Agro's ravenous ego. Talented racers who in their own right could've been top dogs, but who instead set aside their dreams to avoid the tantrums (and payroll deductions) of their scowlish leader. Legendary lapdogs like MM Hackenflak, Rambo Reid, Vinny the Hack, H. Diddy and Bobby "One-Eyed Jack" Peru. Each, after years of heavy lifting, latrine digging and grenade-smothering in battlefields from Birmingham to Visalia, discarded like wet snot rags. Agro's bloody-knuckled montegard army plundered parking lot crits from Canada to Mexico, leaving a trail of severed limbs and pregnant mutts. MKA loutishly confiscated all winnings, quickly amass a great fortune which he poured into the construction of an impregnable fortress on a cliff on top of a german-built labyrinth of tunnels, crypts and chambers in which to hoard the glittering trinkets.
Gen. MKA road his crew into the dirt, sending wave after wave into the spray of hot lead, often using his closest and most loyal bodyguards as human shields. He refused to go it alone, won thousands of races, broke countless bonds of brotherhood and stood atop the pile of severed heads crowing like a cock. He often wondered if, perhaps, he could find the courage to go it alone without his squad of goons. A few years ago, he entered a team time trial, but of course stacked the deck with thoroughbreds like Vampire, Rican and J "Baby Labor" B, each of whom faithfully pulled MKA around like Caesar on a chariot in record setting time (MKA didn't even finish). Last year, in 2004, MKA greedily saw an opportunity to fetch a starz n barz in the little known nationals tandem time trial. Again he recruited a mutant, the Vampire, whose job was to do all the legwork so MKA's beautiful mind could be freed up to call in air strikes should any die-hard be fool enough not to surrender.
Now, one of MKA's aversions to time trialing is that it requires self-knowledge, as opposed to self-delusion, which had always been like a mother to MKA. Time trialists insist on knowing what their heart rate is, the idea being you're not really tired until that little beep goes flatline and the ambulance shows up with the cattle prods. MKA prefers not to know, choosing to believe that there's a mystical force in the universe that makes you go fast and the only way to tap into it is to close your eyes and drift away. Being an ordinary prudent but high strung man with a pronounced fear of bursting at any moment, the last thing MKA needed to know was that massive cardiac eruption was only a heartbeat away.
He also hated the discipline required to chart out a plan and stick to it. Time trialists, unlike pack squatting predators, couldn't day dream. They had to constantly monitor, measure and calculate vectors, trajectories, ground speeds, distances, wind friction and assorted invisible vortices, eddies and swirls. You couldn't slack off, or grift, or play act or goof. You had to stay long and strong, itself a laughable impossibility for a life-long premature ejaculator with ADD.
So MKA hedged his bets by bringing in a dead ringer who don't know much about biology but a whole lot about producing prodigious amounts of snot and smagma speedballs. Antelope Island, in the middle of Salt Lake. As MKA steered the rig up the final climb, Vampire began to choke, spit and sputter like he was about to blow. MKA back-handed and cursed the non-responsive beast but all he got was fistfull of snot. Despite the oppressive demands of navigating, MKA somehow managed to find the energy to turn the crank arms. The next few miles were a living hell that only got worse after the finish line. MKApulled the smoking rig into the parking lot under the 102 degree F Utah sun and stopped. MKA's hams began to seize. MKA could not lift his left leg over the top tube. A good samaritan spotted the looming crisis and quickly removed the front wheel to lower the front end. Still, MKA was welded to the spot, and the left ham began to bubble, twist and shout as the sciatica caught fire. Finally, the medics called in the jaws of life to remove the smoldering MKA from the burning wreckage. MKA spent the next several hours plopped down on a bag of ice, popping Vioxx and irrigating the bloodstream from an IV bag while hooked up to an electro-accupuncture tens unit.
MKA learned something that day. Form counts. Not the nebulous "form" word as used breezily by euro hacks when they mean "fitness," but form meaning adapting the body's muscular-skeletal profile to the contours of the machine during maximal effort. A time trialist can improve his odds by training in the aero position. It starts with the purchase of a TT bike that's not made out of melted down civil war cannonshot. MKA vowed to fully invest, to adjust his muscles to the radically awkward position, to fine tune his mechanical efficiency, to learn to stretch out and flatten the spine, to actually train -- sub rosa, mind you -- lest MKA's investment yield miserable returns.
The Max Kash Agro Time Trial, Murrietta, CA, 7 miles, Massive, Vicious, Cannibal Headwinds, Negative Life-Zapping Tailwinds, Blood Spattered 18 Wheelers, Really Hilly, Really Stoopid.
Some guys had funny bikes. Some did not. Some guys had funny helmets. Some did not. Some had funny wheels. Some did not. Very few had anything approaching a funny, sunny disposition. It had been raining the past few days and dark, low hanging storm clouds were fast approaching. A mixture of dread and longing hung in the air. Bad cliches abounded. Nervous chatter filled the void. Nobody had anything appropriate or remotely interesting to say. A short wave radio buzzed with the news a time trialist -- " a state champion" no less-- had collided with an 18 wheeler, fracturing a femur. Drummed out marine, jabbering CBR mastermind and everybody's favorite pinata Chris "Blood" Clotts returned minutes later with the pretzled remnants of a very expensive bike, offering to let the looting begin for a low, low price.
Strategy? Go slow. This sounds absurd. But that's what the experts all say. You have to throttle back to have any gas left. The race isn't won in the first half, but in the last mile of the second half. Huh? You go fast by going slow? Yes, the paradox of time trialing. So instead of taking off like MKA was being chased by a swarm of rat-a-tatting zeroes, red barons, messerschmitts and pissed off Africanized honey bees, MKA resisted the temptation to blow it out with the tailwind and consciously conserved the fight-flight juice. On the way back, MKA spun a pritty gear into the headwind, and pretended to run in place on his tippy toes, imagining his knees tickling the lobes of ears, like a complete and total self-degrading powder puff woose.
MKA finished with all body parts attached and a phlegm-free stem. It didn't hurt much. Turns out time-traveling old fart Perturbo beat MKA by a mere 5 seconds, Vampire by 3 seconds. A wave of giddy freaky geekiness rushed over MKA . He had transitioned from a "just for fun" nabob to a thin-lipped, hyper serious "technician." He demanded to know where he lost those precious seconds. He studied the photos like a Nasa space shuttle engineer looking for fuel leaks.
Photo 1: The Grinning Idiot.
The rule is the back shall remain as flat as a pool table and the chin is supposed to tuck in down around the elbows so the wind parts cleanly. Man and machine are supposed to knife through a hole in the wind like a dart. Photo 1, however, shows that MKA is about as streamlined as the bow of an overloaded Bangladesh river ferry taking on water. And that satanic grill with the pointy beak, the puffy cheeks and the owlish eyes. Studies show a time trialist can convince the body that it's not tired by relaxing the face. It's called biofeedback and you employ it everytime you are faced with expelling a fist-size rock through your rectum.
Finally, one can almost see the wind pockets pool up in the eye sockets. Where are the $350 wrap-a-rounds? Or the helmet visor? Turns out MKA opted against optical wear on grounds they have a tendency to wind up in his spokes and the visor was an extra $12 which MKA considered extravagant and bogus in view of his head's propensity to swell in the heat of battle which of course would fill in any wind-sucking gaps.
1) Scrap the Dukakis-cum-tank commander bobble-head helmet. Deduct 3 seconds.
2) Swap out the chipmunk-eating-nuts position for the snake-in-the-grass pose. This is like war, keep your head down and put your faith in the respect, admiration and love of humans operating dangerous multi-wheeled weapons. Deduct 10 seconds.
3) Cocoa butter up the blinding, milk white, legs and consult hollywood make up artist to accentuate hidden muscle striations, chasms and gutters. Time savings: not important. (Risk: Obsessive self-leg loving possibly distracting).
4) More sit ups, fewer chocolate almond clusters. A happy SpongeBob will never beat a miserable elextric eel. Deduct 5 seconds.
5) MKA decided years ago that booties were an unbecoming effeminate accessory. Despite mounting evidence of their wind-shaving properties, and a secret yourning to look really cool, MKA has remained doggedly faithful to his original knee-jerk premise and stubbornly refuses to boot up. He does carry a fat roll of duct tape in his game box. Poor pre-race clock management, however, prevented MKA from strapping up. Deduct 5 seconds.
Photo 2. Snotticus.
The Vampire's transylvanian roots are well known. Recently, a complimentary theory that Vampire's metabolic pathways share many analogs with the arthropod family has gained wide support. As evidence, scholars note that he has a voracious appetite for sugar, no matter how many calories he ingests he never gains weight, as a gardener he soils key body parts daily with aphids, cicadas and related stinkbugs, he has poor table manners and he tends to excrete highly viscous tendrils of foam and phlegm during maximal physical efforts. In short, the Vampire is part spittlebug.
Evolutionary biologists have debated the advantages of plastering the mug with quid-like gobs of spit. Proponents note that the foam acts as a shield behind which the Vampire can hide from potential predators -- one look at the rope of snot swinging between the lower lip and chin and most will opt for a less noxious morsel, or simply get away to avoid fall out. Additionally, the foam barrier insulates the spewer from extreme temperature swings and on humid days can even provide a source of recycled fluids. It is has not yet been shown that the phlegm-bot is able to recycle nutrients as well, but research does indicate the presence of essential amino acids in the secretions.
Unfortunately, one cannot chose his parents. Either your parents are part-bug or not. Consquently, this knowledge has little translational value.
Two observations: 1) Despite a rudimentary brain stem, the Vampire is able to grasp and synthesize the data from his heart rate monitor and SRM. 2) Blessed with a rudimentary brain stem, the Vampire understands going long and strong has more to do with training the body than festooning the bike with discs and fancy front ends.
Photo 3. The Silver Bullet
We keep waiting for Perturbo to slow down or retire. But he's going faster than ever and now that he's 45 years old he's able to enter virtually every race offered (viz. the dreamer race, the baby masters, the nasty masters and the happy buddha masters). On a good day, he'll place in all four races and haul in $100. On a great day he'll win all four races and bring hiome $112.12. Turbo has forgotten more about time trialing prep and execution than MKA will ever know so at the risk of presumptiousness MKA offers the following clues as to what makes this alpha grey roll.
It's the visor. It's actually a Doppler Vortex Radar Lense of the type used by jet aircraft to detect wind shear, vortices, eddies, wakes and wind walls. The reason Turbo bobs side to side in that romp-romp unorthodox fashion is he's constantly ducking and dodging wind blasts in favor of the path of least resistance. This also explains why MKA is unable to hold his wheel.
The Max Kash Agro TT (overall)
1. 14:36 Curtiss Carrying a Gunn, Knows How to Use it. Lou Reed Rollers. P1-2 Dreamers.
2. 15:01 Jason "Baby Labor" Bausch. SeaSaliva. ("C'mon guys, let's do repeats on Saddleback!")
3. 15:09 Perturbo Rogers. Hoffy's Heroes
4. 15:10 Peter Trollsom. Tazmanian Devil Dawgs. (built like a snowplow but he can blow).
5. 15:11 Vampire, Labor Power (Smagma easily removed with Simple Green).
6. 15:14 MKA, Labor Power (manipulating results to amplify glory, as per)
7. 15:22 By Josh Webster, Future Labor (welcome back to the pack)
8. 15.24 Hutch, Spineless (pure evil).
Scattershots: Vampire went on to win the 40 plus overall. He beat Turbo in the mucky road race, which put him into a tie. In the criterium for the vertically challenged, Turbo won but Vampire won the 5 point bonus to secure the overall victory. Chris Lotts and crew did a fantastic job planning and managing the race but in the future perhaps the points bonus can be trimmed down or distributed over a few places to better parallel the time bonuses in a timed stage race....Droober shocked the world in the road race, pulling away on a long grinder uphill from the gun, and quickly getting out of sight. The pelaton piddledinked around until Turbo and Vampire grew bored and blasted off. They caught Droober on the last lap and, despite the hint of obligation that comes from honoring courageous acts of mud-caked heroism, they treated him with all the respect of a burglar who has tripped a spring gun...
...Three days of bike racing, no disqualifications, no center line violations, no fleecing of racers with arbitrary penalties, no timing snafus that went uncorrected. But take some advice from a guy who has spent a good deal of his life tip-toeing the razor's edge: don't give the destroyers a plausible reason to bash you. To wit, please don't threaten to charge racers $20 to look at the finish tape. It's like penalizing a movie star for looking at herself in the mirror. Of course racers will challenge the results. We always believe we placed higher. We always believe the officials conspired to undermine our glorious finish. Sometimes MKA will talk himself into believing he got shortchanged just so he can see himself on the television monitor in a skin suit all gassed out with the triceps bulging, the choppers gnashing and the quads popping -- it's the stuff of dreams ferchrist! As for heckling the lackadaisical pelaton for sundialing as the break pulls away, this is vintage Blood Clotts which MKA fully supports. Folks, note the authenticity, the honesty. Here's a merchant selling a low cost/high return product to customers riddled with a fascinating array of psychopatholgies whom he absolutely refuses to butter up, kowtow, schmooze, fondle or mollify. He is like Seinfeld's notorious "Soup Nazi" -- full of bluster and uncouth outbursts but he serves up a very satisfying bike race with big chunks of cash and no cheap-ass lima beans.