MKA to All Fresh Meat: Stop While It's Still Fun

June 20, 2006

Vandenburg AFB, CA.

MKA wants to know: When did it stop being fun?

Remember, back in the day, when suiting up for a road race was a really big deal? You carefully studied the course map. You calculated exactly how many bars you would need, and plotted out exactly when you'd eat them. You earnestly sought the advice of real-live Cat 1 racers on when and where to attack, what gears to use, what wheels to use, and what magic powders to put in your bottles.

You shaved the night before. In the morning, you buffed and burnished those beauties eagerly, lest there be any doubt that you did indeed have striations, and you did indeed belong in this highly elite sub-culture. You were nervous at the start line, but harbored no illusions about winning. You simply wanted to race hard ("hammer"), suffer heroically and finish utterly spent, but stronger for it.

And then, about ten years later, it got stale.

The photos below illustrate the point. See the Howdy-Doody Numbnut in Figures 1 and 2? That's Omar, aka Pugsly. Look how happy-wappy he is. The pie hole agape, the ruddy cheeks bursting with bliss, the head cocked joyously, the wrap-arounds caked in salt, absolutely useless, but steadfastly in place. Pugs just won, right?

Wrong. Pugs just got waxed in the Cat IV-V road race at Vandenberg, his first road race ever. He missed the split on the tough climb with 10 miles to go. He rolled in with the second group, sprinted for all he was worth, and beat a guy.

Was our budding hammerhead bummed? After all, to prepare for the big race, he had hired not one but three coaches - Max Planck, Neils Bohr and Werner Heisenberg - and one yogi, Tantra. His coaches instructed him to go hard, but not too hard, to drink often, but not too often, and spin fast, but not too fast. His yogi taught him to relax and go with the flow unless he wanted to bow up and inflict pain. He had invested a fortune in the best Italian bike, the lightest wheels, and the finest components. He had flown in on a private jet and stayed at the Bacara, an elegant 5 star spa near Santa Barbara, where the day before after a short ride he had his bike shorts and jersey laundered and pressed.

 
Figure 1 All Happy Wappy! "It was great! I hammered myself into the ground and nobody laughed at me. Pass me another pitcher of that Labor Kool-Aid. I'm hooked!"   Figure 2 Yuk Yuk! Ain't life grand! I haven't had so much fun since I won a case with no evidence. Its all good! This ought to be illegal. Somebody, arrest me! I'm having too much fun.

Why's he so gosh darn jolly? It doesn't seem right. Here's a guy who's at the top of the food chain in the litigation world. Voted top trial lawyer under the age of 40. Has brought the most powerful chemical and asbestos companies to their knees. Has never met a lady juror, no matter the color or vertical height of her hair, he couldn't with a wink or a smile transform into a quivering, shaking, screeching Meg Ryan. His opening statements are so sculpted, so smooth -- dare I say "riveting" -- it's been widely speculated that the only reason he doesn't have a $100 million jury verdict in his trophy cabinet is because the defendants won't let him go the distance. They simply pay Omar to go away: a victim of his own success.

One would think that such a master of his universe would have trouble starting over again in a completely different arena at the very bottom. But Pugs enthusiastically accepts the challenge. "I'm a mere plankton," he says, gleefully. "The script is unwritten. Tabula rasa. It's my oyster. Or empty bucket. Anyway, it's all good," at once demonstrating he's a bit behind the curve on bikie-speak.

Omar has lost about 20 pounds and his body fat is now in the single digits. He just got his test results from Dr. Planck. His numbers don't exactly match with those of Indurain, Lance or Lemond, but the Bavarian Big Three firmly believe that with intense interval training he can add another 10 milliliters per kilogram. Plus he's got a home atop Park City, so he won't need an oxygen tent.

In three years Omar predicts he will be a national champion. A fairly bold prediction from an otherwise humble and understated guy. "National champion at what?" MKA queried. Omar pretty much ruled out the time trial, on account he doesn't have the engine, and the criterium, on account he's never done one, and the road race, on account he sort of goes backward on the hills. So MKA suggested he do what he did, and that is hire a really fast freakazoid, like Vampire, to motor him around on a tandem. And then wait for the Nationals to be held in a horribly inconvenient place where the competition is sure to be sparse and ragged.


Figure 3 The Gumbya Brothers all shitz n grins after finishing their first Cat V road race. That's Omar on the left and fellow hardcore trial lawyer Lyle Lovitt on the right. MKA pegged Omar for 38th place. Twenty minutes later, Lyle suggested Omar really got 28h. And, finally, after Omar learned that the board only listed the top 20 finishers, he settled for 21st. Itz all good!

At this stage of his bright future, Pugs is all smiles. He's with his buddies(see Figure 3). He's single. The sun is shining. He's wearing the Labor Colors. He's flying around the country. He's proud of his strict dietary discipline. A few years ago, he practically subsisted on his airport Cinnabons and ballooned to about 200 pounds. Today, he won't touch the stuff. The other day he took a picture of a big, swirling cinnamon roll on his cell phone. Now, when temptation knocks, he whips out the cell phone picture, like an Opus Dei cilise, and purges the impure thoughts by smacking himself upside the head.

"I couldn't be happier," he says. "As I get fitter, and faster, I'm even going to have more fun. Look, I just got 38th in a Cat V race, and it's still tons funner than winning a $10 million jury verdict."

So there we have it. A charming young wonderkid in a courtroom on the cusp of a new venture to win a national title in cycling predicts it's just "all good" and bound to get gooder. Is he right? Let's take a look.

Here's a few shots of a bona fide Cat 1 racer, Labor's very own Karl "the Viking" Bodine. Karl by all accounts is the real deal. He's won about 10 races this year, including a bevy of pro 1-2 criteriums. He's placed in the top 10 in several NRC races. He can sprint, he can time trial, and he can suffer - like a dog. The Viking has been racing for several years and, like Omar, he knew after his first Cat V race that racing was in his blood.

Is the Viking happy? He just got 5th in the District Championship Road Race. He made it to the break but, according to reliable sources (the Viking refused to discuss the matter), he "got worked." The scoundrel who won, Dirk Copeland, also beat Karl the day before in the 30 plus road race. As you can see, Karl is not happy. Karl is smoldering. See his lips? Very taught. See his chest? It's full of huff and anger. Why? Placing in the money in a big race is good. He should be happy. Right?

 
Figure 4 Seconds after placing 5th in the Pro 1-2 road race, King Karl contemplating picking up his SUV like a beer keg and sending it into orbit. If looks could kill, that SUV would be a pile of smoking wreckage.   Figure 5 Smoldering. It's been 5 minutes. Still, not a word. The Viking has hoisted himself onto a funeral pyre. It's all over now but for the crying. "I don't want your pity, I want a torch."

Wrong. King Karl has retreated to a deep and dark place where a swarm of sharp-fanged winged demons are feasting on his internal organs. He is powerless to stop the torture. This is his reckoning. He was supposed to win. That's why he trained like a maniac. That's why he sacrificed. He was the man to beat. But he got beat. And he let everybody down.

What happened to the music? We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun… Well, it's simple. Karl got good. He became somebody. He became the Man to Beat. So naturally the weevils dragged him down and sucked the joy out of him. This is what happens when you rise to the very top. You can only fall down.

 
Figure 6. Sourness: When the Good Times Go Bad. Here we see a seasoned veteran on the left (Voldemort) angling his bike so as to move another seasoned veteran (Butch) into the barricades. The body language verily screams: "I have the power to render thee a paraplegic. Fear me, or else."   Figure 7 Here, Voldemort has successfully converted his bike into a mea- spirited chariot of ugliness designed to torment and terrorize the competition. Butch's crime? An unforgiveable record of winning over 400 races cleanly and maintaining a sense of humor and camaraderie at 52 years old.

But wait. Do you mean every young racer with ambition to get better is bound to wind up dejected, depressed and disenchanted? Answer: yes and no. At some point, we come to a fork in the road. One way, the way of the Jihad, leads to anger, nastiness, and eternal sourness. The photo sequence below illustrates the point.


Figure 8 More Sourness to Give. Butch, who has won about 30 national titles, has little time for nonsense, and looks for a way to get back into the race. Voldemort, on the other hand, frowns at his failure to drive Butch into the curb. Note to reader: Voldemort has been racing for at least two decades and is 50 years old. How did he get this way? It remains a mystery.
The other way, the Labor way, leads to tomfoolery, perversion and infantile hi-jinks. This juvenile but heart friendly path is best illustrated by the photo below (fig. 9).

So there you have it. You start out brimming with optimism. Over time, as you get savvier, and stronger, you tend to lose your innocence. Training, toodling and racing are not enough. You need to win. It becomes not only your passion, but your duty. And when you don't win, you want to pull your teeth out. Eventually, you have to make a choice. Do I transfer my anger and self-loathing onto others, or do I simply laugh if off as a stoopid sport infested with similarly flawed and defective nimrods? It's your choice.

And if accepting full responsibility should lead to an inconvenience, or unflattering self-assessment, or worse, you can always do what MKA does, and just blame Billy.

MKA
6/20/06

P.S. Fellow Laborite and cartoon character Elmer Fudd suffered a broken collarbone in the 45 plus road race. Reports from the field indicate that Kubla Hahn tangled up with Elmer, who slowed to avoid rear-ending a breaking Hoffy Hero, Tim Crowdy. Kubla and Elmer both veered off the road and fell down in a heap. Kubla then purportedly climbed up on top of the turnbuckle and dove on top of the fallen Elmer, pile driving his shoulder into the dirt. Empowered by his own savagery, Kubla then ripped Elmer's rear wheel out of the drops and tossed it into the woods. When Kubla caught back onto the group, he ordered the idiots to attack, as to the victor go the precious points! All of this, of course, unconfirmed. Elmer is suffering quietly and welcomes any and all sympathy and analgesics. Get well soon.


Figure 9 The Breathe Right for Budget Shoppers?
Here we see legendary masters and senior national champion Chris "the Vampire" Walker getting amped up for the big district road race. The Vampire was having problems with torrential nosebleeds. Big gushers require big plugs. So Vampire tracked down a sun-dialer who was kind enough to part with a feminine tamping device that Vampire converted into a make-shift but not entirely un-aerodynamic nasal dilator and depacker. Which reminds me: "You know what happens to nosy fellows? Huh? No? Wanna guess? Huh? No?" Also featured: Nosy, Kit Kat and erstwhile Jake-ass, Hoodee Hoverhawk.


Figure 10. Lord Huff 'n Puff?
Despite the store-bought nasal strip, MKA was unable to breathe through the nose in the sprint. The blowback from his powerful exhalation actually impeded his forward progress, allowing L. Ron Hubbard to nip MKA at the line. By the way, after 15 years MKA still hasnt learned how to prop the Briko's on top of the Helmet, thus rendering him ineligible for the 12k Dream Team. Finally, note the Ullrichian jowls and squint, both emblematic of a diet consisting mainly of Fruit Loops and Hoggy Dee, Vanilla Swiss-A.
 
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