Details, Details! The Devil Takes Labor High and Low in the Cascades

July 28, 2006

Bend, OR

Pound : No Chain. No Brain. No Pain.

MKA's chiseled. Bicep and Tricep delineations perceptible. Weighing in under a buck fiddy. Eager to climb with the tweedies. Eyes steely, sharp, and poised to pounce. Sticks striated, springy, and latticed with big and small vessels. Right hip lubed and elastic. Bone spurs temporarily abated, squelched by mixture of adrenalin and denial.

Cover boy pritty. Self-Love Quotient: Peaked. Note to self: Archive this new and improved body habitus for future adoration. Will soon resume flab, fatigue and creakiness. For now, primed for battle, finger on the trigger, impervious to insults, assaults and mundane biological needs. 75 miles. 6,500 feet of climbing. Warm, not hot. Five noodnicks splinter away. MKA and Looney Tunes give chase. Blow through first feed zone. Too complicated. No time to slow. No chain. No brain. Got plenty of water. Sipping conservatively.

Figure 1 ROCK STAR! Labor Red-Headed Rocker Looney Toons an instant hit in Central Oregon. The cock-robin red hair, the goofed up goatee, the comically shallow chest, the long floppy clown
Burden on Labor to bring it back. Labor team time trials. Larsen (All World), Vampy (the Dream Crusher), Hippster (with the new strobe light wheels), and Tunes (with the fire engine red head) drilling. Labor catches break, All-World counters with thin-lipped Safeway Robo-Geek in tow. A Hutchy houndog chases, MKA in tow. No man's land. MKA wants priceless real estate immediately behind All-World's bumper. But MKA can't pull, per code. The two abnormals disappear down the road. MKA and Hutch Crutchy get caught, but MKA on alert for imminent counter.

MKA bounces from wheel to wheel, going with the action. Come to feed zone. Darling Wife waving vigorously: "Over here, nimrod!" Body language interpretation: "It's hot, I'm out here in the middle of the woods, I could be luxuriating at the pool, I'm 6 ft 11 inches, I can see that you see me, you're making no effort to come secure your bottle, why am I wasting my time?"

No time for bottles. This is the moment. Water's for wimps. Didn't Apollo 13 make it home on a half tank? Didn't Captain James Riley and his crew back in The Day survive a shipwreck, slave traders, barbarism, locusts, Saharan sandstorms and dehydration in their epic odyssey to get home? Didn't Sir Ernie Shackleton return safely to the Georgian Islands after 500 days wandering without food, shelter or porn magazines on the Antarctic ice? After scuttling the SS Nimrod, no less? Forgot not tomorrow, for it shall take care of itself. I'm in the moment.

Flail: I need a fix 'cause I'm going down...

15 miles to go. All roads lead to the Mt. Bachelor ski resort, uphill, perched at about 6,700 ft. MKA's down to a few drips. No problem. On account it's not that hot out. Plus MKA don't sweat if he don't want to, a little trick he learned playing football down in the Houston swamps. Basically, you don't move, or if you do, you move slowly, and only if the coach-cum-prison guard with the big stick in the mirror shades is watching. Problem: it's hard to be inert in a pel of 100 spastic hack-thrashers jig-jagging at about 25 per, uphill.

Figure 2 What Goes Down, Blows Going Up So far, so good, MKA's pushing about 48 per without pedaling. 72 miles and two H20 bottles later, MKA begs for a bullet.

Hippster rolls by. He's got a water bottle, filled with a syrupy lime green concoction. Looks sweet. MKA salivates. "I want." And yet, MKA, not known for shyness, humbly retreats. The water would probably have kept him alive, and the sugar would have tasted good, but such bliss would come with a nasty price. MKA could hear Der Hiptler's tongue-lashing: "What? You missed both feeds? I'm supposed to feel sorry for you? The big roadie?You I-D-I-O-T!" And then later when Hipp blew off the back the story around the supper table would be he would've hung with the lead group - and even whiffed right by them ten feet after the finish line - but was forced at gunpoint by MKA to hand over his precious fluids.

MKA can take only so much abuse. Between a rabid verbal belting by Der Hiptler the LeatherNeck and a complete body shut down due to dehydration, the choice was clear. MKA would rather suffer a full-on, total-body water vap.

On the final climb, a tasty little 4.7 mile jaunt up the backside of Mt. Bachelor covering a few thousand feet, MKA predictably melted down. Eventually, Darling Wife, Sweet n Lo and my impressionable 10 year old chip-o-block crept by in grave silence, too horrified to speak and too ashamed to offer patently fraudulent words of encouragement. Max just said "Go-" which I finished for him : "...straight to Hell." Been there. It's hot.

Somebody poured a bucket of water on me and I finished about 8 minutes back. A skinny Minnie whom MKA had probably beaten badly in years past took revenge, sat on my dried-out sun-baked hinny and crassly b-slapped me at the line. I imagined myself as King Louis XVI, my severed head in a bloody wicker basket, looking stupidly at the mousy little a-hole peasant still clutching the lever to the guillotine, snickering like the little pissant dipshit that he is.

Pound: Gonna Rock, Rock, Rock around the Clock...

Well, that was awful. All-World won easily, Vampy soloed in for third, and Looney Tunes was top ten. MKA suddenly became persona non grata, the great pretender, undressed, exposed, and quite possibly afflicted with a contagious venereal disease. All MKA could say was Pride Goeth Before a Fall as he lacerated himself for relegating water consumption to a frivolous luxury unbecoming to a rough and tumble Oregon hombre.

Figure 3 All-World Form The Larsenator thundering up the backside of Mt. Bachelor enroute to his first and probably most memorable Labor Vee

Figure 4 Well that was easy.Larsenator thanks his 15 fans in the Sunnyside lodge parking lot, elevation 6,700 ft. Within minutes, the chatrooms exploded with nasty vitriol: "Larsen's a pro, he should be banned from masters races!" And my favorite: "What? The Big Pro Larsen only won by 7 minutes? What a loaf!"

The next day was the Time Trial. MKA's head pounded with self-doubt. Was I fit or not? Did I train alone too much? Did I fall in love with my own reflection? Should I seek counseling from Cleveland? MKA had become fragile and uncertain. The TT was only 6.8 miles, but he didn't want to blow. He feared the ugly prospect of going out too fast and dragging home with concrete lungs and leaden legs.

So MKA took her easy and cruised home with a smile on his face. The professed fitness was not a fluke. MKA comfortably won the 45 plus category and was third overall, 35 seconds behind All-World (who would've placed tenth in the pro 1-2) and 20 seconds behind Vampy. Labor swept, as Looney Tunes sailed in 7 seconds behind Agro's time.

Figure 5 Foaming at the MouthThe Vampire roars down the finishing stretch on a crudely converted road bike with jacked up bars, his blowhole agape, his thumbs up, his water bottle full, and his back arched - pretty much the antithesis of good form.
Flail: Skewered

Deep breath. MKA's on the come back trail. Next up is the long-awaited and highly coveted downtown Bend criterium. MKA ready to rock. On lap one, MKA hits a road rut and the rear wheel slams up against the brake pad. Are you kidding me? The rear skewer had come loose. MKA was careful to tighten, but not overtighten. MKA's losing altitude, dropping back, trying to tinker with the brake release.

Hipp rolls up, says with authority: "Go to the pit." MKA dutifully complies. But an inconvenient truth is nagging at me as I pull in: does a unlatched quick release qualify as a "mechanical?" MKA knows it doesn't, but maybe for once the Blue Coats will have mercy. It's the second lap after all, and oh-by-the-way MKA did sponsor the race. I might as well have asked a maggot not to burrow into a fresh turd. The Blue Coats told me to chase. And it was the right call, but that didn't make it any easier to deal with.

The pack was long gone. MKA gave it the old college try, but the lifeboat had long pulled away, and it was only a matter of time before the sharks sensed the open wounds. This was awful. MKA was back. Now he was not only off the back, he was out of the friggin race. What was I going to do tomorrow? Bake in feed zone? Pump up tires? Distribute the precious Gu's? This is not my beautiful life. Why does goofy crap like this always happen to me? Am I too cavalier? Arrogant?

MKA was just about to end the charade and pull over at Deschutes Brewery to drink his troubles away when up comes All-World and Red Reemer, who are all business. Reemer won the Tour De Nez off the front so MKA knows he's got the juice, plus he's sponsored by a dairy farm, which means he's probably loaded with growth hormones. Is this A Brand New Day? Salvation? Have the Gods offered MKA a Second Chance? Has the Grey-Bearded Big Dawg panted into MKA's clammy nostrils the breath of life? With a sloppy tongue swabbing to boot?

Figure 6 Are we there yet? Oh no. I have to turn this damn rig and go fast? Christ. Do I lean into the turn, or away from it?
Pound: Rescued from the Unmarked Grave

Manna from Heaven. All MKA's got to do is sit on this rocket sled and glory awaits. For the next 30 minutes, All World and Reemer drove, dove, sliced and diced. MKA could barely hang on, as Larsen seemed to get stronger with every immortal pull. MKA kept thinking: Larsen, you get me back into this thing, and whatever dirt you're peddling in Central Oregon, I'm buying. You talk about service - this guy's spotting the premium properties and he's pulling me out of the deep dark well of cycling Hell back into the light.

Figure 7 Crit Busters! All-World and Reemer sacrifice creature comforts in order to rescue MKA from the untenable prospect of spending the last stage playing water boy. The screamers eventually caught MKA, who rode the chariot of fire to crit glory and free beer.
With about 10 minutes to go, we catch the field. All World and Reemer have achieved maximum glory by lapping the field and MKA's just happy to be back in the thick of it. On the last lap, MKA from about 20 back spotted something unusual: Der Hiptler, the red-eyed wily predator who comes out to play only when the meat is on the table, was bolting out of the penultimate turn on the point, flames of glory shooting of his backside. Huh? He's going to blow, obviously. MKA pondered his lot: he could finish with the herd and call it a day or launch an Agro and call it a miracle.

MKA decided to sack up. He whiffed by a stalled out Hiptler, launched into the final turn, avoided slamming into the curb, and by the grace of god was permitted to sprint without snapping any spokes, bars, rims or spindles. From the smoldering charcoal of sourness to the soaring quasi-sexual elation of getting to spray the crowd from atop the podium with a frothy full-bodied Deschutes Twilight Ale!

Flail: Outsourcing the Word of God

OK. MKA's back in the thick of it. Two straight vees. Plus time bonuses. Wait. Better check the Race Bible. The Bible's ambiguous. Time bonuses available, but it's not clear whether the 45 plus racers are eligible. The final stage is a grueling 63 mile road race with a tendon snapping vertical climb up Archie Briggs Road. MKA seeks clarification from the Coats. The Coats huddle.

The verdict: "Time bonuses are available only to the 35 plus racers. The 45 plussers are ineligible."

MKA: "Even if a 45 plusser, in the same race, against the 35 plussers, wins the sprints or finale outright?"

Figure 8 Beers for all my friends! Can you pick out the recovering alcoholic in this picture? Ferchrist, you just podied in front of 5,000 race fans in downtown Bend, Oregon and pocketed thousands of dollars plus free brew. How about a smile?
B-Coats: "I don't care if a 45 plusser with lung cancer on a unicycle laps the field solo, dragging an oxygen bottle..on a flat tire… he'sineligible. Period. Our job is to enforce not question The Bible and execute death warrants poste haste."

MKA's not finished. With careful planning, a little support from the Labor cartoon heroes, and a smidgen of luck, MKA can theoretically take back the overall GC jersey. MKA seeks out the scribe who wrote The Bible. The race starts in 8 minutes.

MKA, to Scribe: "Your Holiness, begging your pardon, MKA here, the guy who put up the cash for the show, underwrote the thing, maybe even inspired it, making me a Sponsor, and you sort of an Agent - come to think a relationship not unlike our Holy Father and his inky-fingered monks, worth considering... In any event, I am troubled by the lay if not slovenly interpretation of a passage in the Good Book."

Scribe: "Pray tell."

MKA: "The Blue Coats have ruled that the 45 plussers are not eligible for time bonuses, citing your scroll."

Scribe: "The Blue Coats, as you call them, are a fierce and angry lot, hardened by the ravages of sun, crumpled numbers, glazed donuts and shrill sundialers. They are like tow-truck operators, in a perpetual state of siege, and thus incapable of nuance or subtle adjudication."

MKA: "Meaning that in view of their handicaps, you put pragmatism over fairplay and absolved them of the burden of having to differentiate a red number (corresponding to the 45 plussers) and a black number (which corresponds to the 35 plussers)."

Scribe: "That is correct. It's an onerous task, checking the designated age of the winners on the computer print out, and then making the careful time adjustments. It is like asking a plumber to unclog a coronary artery with a monkey wrench.. Time bonuses, in any case, are not an entitlement. There's nothing stopping you from making up 10 minutes. The roads are open."

MKA: "You're right. If I want it bad enough, I can just solo. Just tell me you have a neutral water feed."

Scribe: "Confirmed. Besides, by your own account, MKA is some kind of god-like benevolent Super Sponsor, so why would someone blessed with your gifts need to bother with time bonuses and water?"

Pound: Beaten, but not Upstaged

MKA won the final stage, completing the trifecta. Alas, the hole dug by Friday's core meltdown was too deep to crawl out of. Fifth overall in the 45 plus. All World's title was never in doubt, as the untouchable Larsinator pretty much had his way with the troglodytes. Vampy overcame nearly a two minute deficit to trash the aspiring Safeway enduro-geek, helped considerably by the latter's teammates cruel abandonment of their charismatic leader.

For the final 20 miles, Vampy dragged Safeway Director Sportif Ratzo Rizzo around, who selfishly refused to "do the team thing" and shut the raging Vampire down with the usual vampire retardants (first, the Christian cross, next, a mirror, and then a clove of garlic; and if none of that worked, a bribe in the form of a freshly killed rat, which, in view of his rodent affiliation, should've posed little hardship to Ratzo, who by the way lives in a beat-to-shit Toyota Tercel and refuses to shave his legs, a lapse in protocol which normally does not nauseate MKA but in Ratzo's case, with the black jersey, the wiry black fish-hook-like leg, forearm and neck hair, the darting deep-set eyes, the acne cratered mug, and the twitchy conspiracy-spewing pie-hole blend together to cast the overall appearance of an armpit stain.)

Asbestos Lawyers for Life CCC 2006

35 plus
1. Steve "All World" Larsen, Labor (sells dirt, rubs your face in it, too) 
2. The Vampire, Labor (give him ten feet, he'll take a mile)
3. Row-Row Martin, Safeway (took oar to treacherous Ratzo)
4. Nathan Parks, undistinguishable
5. Greg Canfield, probably very skinny

45 Plus
1. Hodgkins Disease, Excel (is anorexia contagious?)
2. Carl Working Man Roberts, Decent Fella, I think
3. Brust, undistinuishable
4. Rosenberg, Hutch (faint signals of snap)
5. MKA, Labor (born under the sign of the Water Bearer: Aquarius)

Don't forget to hug your favorite idiot!

[thanks to world class photog and friend of labor, greg descantes, for forgiving me for showcasing his important work without express permission, MKA will get around to it.]


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