In Praise of Comfort Foods, Radical Transformations, and Benign Self-Delusions, or, The Psycho Behind the White Picket Fence. Brea, CA
February 14, 2006
The Race that Changed Everything
After failing to win the Red Bull Road Rage, Labor's John "Psycho" Wiko
decided to fine tune his diet. "I needed more ballast," he concluded.
"From now on, I take no prisoners. If it's deep fried, sugar coated and cream filled, down the hatch it goes."
Photo courtesy of Road Magazine/Al Crawford (www.roadmagazine.net
It's been said before, but it bears repeating: John Psycho Wiko is built like a glazed icing, custard-filled Krispey Kreme. On the outside, he's coated with a milky layer of huggable blubber. Inside, he's a gentle soul filled with reverence, humility and sweet jelly.
MKA mentions this without intent to disparage or ridicule. Wiko instead occupies the same place in MKA's pantheon of idols as "The Dude," the carefree galoot in The Big Lebowski, and I take comfort in knowing he's out there, taking her easy for all us sinners.
One look at Wiko and suddenly you're luxuriating serenely in a temple surrounded by Happy Buddhas. The stress and anxiety wash away like gutter scum in a rain storm. Normally, before a race, MKA is overwrought with self doubt, suffocating in a sea of neurotic self-disgust, surrounded by rivals, each an alpha male in his own right, nonchalantly showcasing his intimidating lattice of veins, striations and machine-carved musculature.
But a quick gander at the donut boy and all is well. He's not counting calories. He's not calculating the timing of his glucose spike. He's not feverishly spinning on rollers. Instead, he's munching merrily on a cheeseburger, chasing down all that yummy goodness with a 72 ounce Big Gulp. He waits until the last moment to pull on his lycra, fearful that the constriction may cut off circulation to his brain. Even then, after hard time spent wrapped like a bratwurst, when most of us would be popping veins like a bodybuilder injecting steroids, oddly enough you still can't see any veins. MKA is tempted to inquire about the texture of the third leg at full throttle - roped or smooth as alabaster? -- but decorum prevents hard investigative journalism of this sordid nature.
OK, so he's round, soft, and veinless. Belly up to any snack bar at any bowling alley in America and you'll find hundreds with the same body type. What's so special about another milkshake-loving, disarmingly polite, puff daddy who can't fit into a skinsuit?
To answer that question, you have to go back a few months. Red Bull enjoys carnage so they set up a race down and old abandoned U.S. Army road called Tuna Canyon, a 2000 foot drop over 2 miles with about 50 turns. Imagine racing down El Capitan and you get the idea. Red Bull invited an elite field of daredevils, the kind of athlete whose burning ambition is to earn a Darwin Award but not live to celebrate it. In short, Red Bull wanted the bikie equivalent to a suicide bomber.
Wyko, it turns out, fit the profile. Despite the easy comparisons to comfort foods and deep fried snack cakes, when it's time to nut up, Wiko actually is anything but soft. He's a certified head-loppin' Whack Job. Don't be fooled by the sleepy, easy going façade. Wiko likes it hot. He likes it tight. He likes to hit it, flip it, and hit it again. He pushes through the pain. He doesn't see himself as soft and jolly. He sees himself as a lithe, nimble and absolutely lethal Samurai with one nut but twice the testosterone.
Wiko didn't win the Red Bull Road Rage. This came as no surprise to everyone except Wiko. In the pack race, against a rash of renowned world-beater lunatics, Wiko crashed, got up, tasted his own blood and barreled onward against all reason for a podium finish. Not bad, except Wiko sincerely believed he was The Man, the One and Only, the Cock of the Walk, and it was His Race to Lose.
And that's the difference. The rest of us would be ecstatic. Strike that. The rest of us wouldn't even be there. We heaped high praise on Wiko - "you were awesome, you banged bars with the beasts, you almost won, revel in your glory!"
But Wiko remained contrite. Wait, we thought, he's serious. He doesn't get it. It's all about the reference point. For a tubby guy with a belly draped over the top tube who doesn't train except for the Saturday morning appropriately named "Donut Ride," Wiko did outstanding! But he doesn't see it that way. Training, leanness, discipline, diet - none of that matters. Instead, in Wiko's sugar buzzed brain, the spoils goes to the biggest risk taker, the one who makes not necessarily the smart move but indeed the contra-intelligent move that, combined with lots of luck, a congenital blindness to imminent death, and ample amounts of ballast, leaves the better pedigreed thoroughbreds wanting.
In short, Gritty, Not Pritty. This is what MKA finds comforting: the fact that the best trained athlete does not always win. As Der Hiptler said years ago, mocking then rival Herr Karlson (aka Blue Chip) for training 100 miles a day in the dead of winter, while Hipster sat comfortably on his sofa watching Beavis & Butthead and eating M & Ms, "The more Blue Chip trains, the less I'm going to train, so I'll have exponentially more pleasure when I pound him…"
All of which takes us to the Valentine's Massacre in Brea where, under sunny skies and amidst a stifling Santa Ana heat, a bunch of feckless idiots threw down for God and Glory. Brand new course, six turns, uphill finish, deceivingly fast. Races shortened by about 20% due to massive spill in the sundialer race that left a pool of blood in scary Bam-Bam Thank-You-Maam corner as a grim reminder that eternal salvation is but a pedal skip away.
The 45 Plus: Hoffy's Heroes spat out attacks like a giant Queen Ant with a hyperactive uterus squirting worker drones. Vampire and Turbo got away, much to the delight of the taxed and gagging ordinary folks. The freakazoids stayed away. Vampire spent the off season climbing and avoiding food. He would've beaten Turbo, but that would've required sprinting, an exercise which requires some modicum of fast twitch muscle, a fiber which Vampire was most certainly was born with but had somehow wasted away due to benign neglect. "I just..heh-heh..like to ride… heh-heh. You think I should do shorter intervals? Is ten miles uphill too long?"
Gibby the Golden Bear won the sprint on account he dumped his domestic ball and chain and now has time to train. Exemplifying the zeal of our cowboy pals up on Brokeback in full denim rut, Holy Kal rode the rump masterfully for 4th. Tricky Stricky angrily tractored over the crunchy exoskeleta of sacrificed Hoffy Hero worker ants for 5th. Dave Prechtel with the pear shaped ass followed for 6th.. And new and improved burly sprinter-man MKA launched his domination of the under 50 crowd, scratching, clawing and suffering through multiple indignities for 7th.
It was a pleasure racing with Labor's newest millionaire, Larry Ratfink Shannon, who MKA vows to serve and protect as long as the former lets the latter borrow his rock star tour bus for a weekend jaunt to Vegas with his gun-toting, hard-drinking, brain dead high school brethren.
The 40 Plus: Another full field, swollen with large humans sporting axe-handle wide buttcakes. About midway through, after throwing just about all of its logs on the fire, Labor looked tapped out. About then the sly one, Hoodee Hoverhawk, swooped by enroute to what the untrained eye would quickly dismiss as a "show and blow." But Hawk kept a flapping, and the distance kept a getting bigger. Soon enough, the yellow bellies over at Taylor Flail mounted a counter. Somehow Turbo with the rainbow shoe covers sauntered up, knifed through the sputtering yellow bellies, and left the young punks for dead.
Hawk saw the moment. A moment like this quickly comes and goes, but unless seized, launches a million "coulda wouldas" that haunt you to your grave. You take it, or you don't, and suffer the kind of pain that can't be rubbed out with mineral oil by a ham handed broomhilda come down from the Bavarian Alps. The Turbo Train was pulling away. Get on or get busy making excuses. Hover dug down deep into a place where the detritus turns into diamonds and latched on.
And then they were gone.
The field sprint was something of a formality. Cross-eyed crazy new Laborite and card carrying Sinn Fein knee-capper John Walsh-Out carefully husbanded the front like a swineherder leading his hogs to slaughter. They came around the last turn. Fellow countryman and barroom nemesis (ask me sometime about dispute resolution Irish-style down in Wilmington at the Pubn-Grub) Gibby the Brassknuckled Mugknocker made his move. Twas a long and arduous sprint. Labor's Evander Testicles got within spitting distance, but in the end Gibby crushed all comers.
Thankfully, Vampire had snuck off a few laps earlier and soldiered in for third. Turbo wins again, Hawk 2nd , Vampire 3rd, Gibby, then Evander, then G-Spott Scott.
The 35 Plus: MKA wasn't there, thus the reliability of what follows. Turbo led out MJ. MJ is huge. Checkered history purported to involve large muscles, supplements and temper fits. Family Mann, with a history of little league coaching, pizza parties and sippee cups, said damn the brats in the booster seats and irresponsibly slammed his mini van into the redzone. And he just held it there, resolute, chin out, as the storm behind gathered.
The storm included Psycho Wiko. He ramped around a bunch of totem poles in the final turn, caught G-Spot's sweet spot, took a taste, decided he liked it, and sucked the contents like a jelly donut. Unfortunately, the straw was thin and the jelly was thick. Wiko eventually snapped out of the sugar high but it was too late. He crossed the line in third, crestfallen.
"Sorry Coach, I let you down."
"What? Look at you. You're pudgy. You're beyond pudgy. You got a gut. And yet pound for pound, you are nails. This is like a Ripley's Believe it or Not moment. A podium finish amidst so much refined firepower."
"You're not mad?"
"Of course not, son. I'm proud of you -- I'm more than proud, I'm amazed. You're a cheetah trapped in a suit of concrete. And yet you can roll, baby. Wait 'til you strip it off. Wait 'til you harden up. Wait 'til you get lean."
[Head cocked in confusion] "Strip it off? What off? This? [Pulling up his jersey and grabbing the business end of his elephant trunk-like gut with both hands and giving it a wiggle].
"Yeah, that… that … Good lord! That honking Mother of All Bellies you got there. [Sotto voce] Put it away ferchrist. There are children…"
"Listen, I've always had this. Don't worry. You wouldn't ask Samson to cut off his hair would you?"
Like I said, MKA takes comfort knowing Wiko's out there, doing the things I've wrongfully been brainwashed to believe are bad, bad, bad. Bye bye sixpack. Hello Baker's dozen.
PS. In light of recent events in the Middle East, MKA chose not to caricature the Reverend Billy out of fear that the latter's fanatical followers would react violently by firebombing the offices of my good and brave friends at Truesport.