Dreaded Dreamers, A Few Bad Apples, Straight to Hate and Unscrewing The Doors from Their Jambs: Or How MKA Learned to Love Life's Little Unpleasantries. LAX Airport Crit
March 9, 2006
Everyone knows cycling would be a whole lot more fun if you didn't have to deal with cyclists. As a rule, cyclists can be a miserable lot, prone to whining, chronically needy, egotistically bloated and one slight away from unleashing their inner and barely suppressible mujahideen.. Most live on the edge of poverty but oddly enough demand to be treated like royalty. The ones who talk about having fun, or working for the team, are usually the ones who never have fun and seldom race, which is probably a good thing.
It would be too simple to call adult cyclists who constantly behave badly mere "children." It would also be unfair to children. MKA knows a few things about children, having raised a few (the key: delegate; if that doesn't work, ignore; if that fails, vamanos post haste). Plus MKA has spent the last few months coaching my boy's basketball team (age 8 to 10). Children can certainly behave badly, but not nearly as badly as adult cyclists.
Take my son's basketball team, appropriately monikored "Chaos." The talent range goes from precocious to just fell-out-of-the-crib. Literally three of my players can't tie their shoe laces. One responds to any threat of pain by curling up in a fetal position. Three are positively afraid of the ball, and they should be, since whenever it's around they tend to trip over it or stop it with their nose (which really does hurt). One appears to be incapable of running on his toes - he sort of lopes, like R. Crumb's "Keep on Truckin" grinning heel-walker. Several think that rebounding consists of finger swatting the ball out of bounds. None have ever "boxed out." In ten games, we've had seven assists. One little dynamo must think we get points for simply shooting, because he will jack it up no matter where he is, whether 50 feet out, or three feet behind the glass. One time he shot it hard right under the backboard, the ball ricocheted off, smacked him in the head and instead of crying he just started laughing. So did his teammates. That was a high moment.
Despite the talent disparity, they somehow get along. The big strong swans avoid belittling the ugly ducklings. After we lose, which is almost every week, there are no catfights. No recriminations. No stink eye. No pecks, jabs or pokes. Their only concern is whether at the end of the game they will get boxed juice (yeah!) or bottled water (not again…), or snack packs of Chips Ahoy (awesome!) versus fresh fruit (I hate this crap.) They really don't care whether the team wins or loses. They don't compare their stats. MKA supposes their tiny little brains have not yet fully embraced the survival value of going straight to hate.
Straight to hate. Yes, we all say we want to get along, but deep down we know that for the most part we can't. Sure, it's easy to respect the very best, or tolerate the very worst. But what about our peers, the guys who occupy our same narrow band of talent? Or who think they do? Can we get along with them? Can we pursue happiness, together, as equals? We can try, but more often than not, it turns out to be a bad investment and colossal waste of time that devolves into a war of words or worse.
That's why my life long buddy - a lineman, by the way, against whom I never had to compete for the same position on the football team - simply laughs at me when I tell him how thankless, stressful and just plain awful it is to try to manage hopelessly deluded, savagely competitive adult cyclists. "You idiot, " my buddy Mr. Blatter decrees, ex cathedra. "You F'ed up. You trusted somebody. You tried to be nice. And now you're getting abused. That's funny. Save yourself the trouble next time. Do what I do: go straight to hate."
Straight to hate. Life would be so much simpler (and shorter, and bruter, and nastier). MKA wouldn't have to deal with the daily trespasses of adults behaving badly. The prima donna who promises he'll race for Labor as long as we get him an oddly angled and strangely tubed custom frame, which we do, but Billy made fun of his lordly finickiness so he quit, and now the misshapen million dollar frame is dangling from the rafters of MKA's garage.
Seduced by the $12k Dream.
For Sale: one customized bike frame, freakish top tube length, capricious angles, designed by serious artist, tthenthive thespian, and Pro Dreamer for Life, Jamie Paul N Freddy. Father of 12k Dream Crushers MKA, hoisted on his own petard. MKA has vowed henceforth to always don his Navajo "Dream Catcher" necklace when cavorting with cyclists, which according to lore will repel the invasion of bad dreams launched by wicked dreamers.
Or the teammates who just hate each other for reasons not entirely clear. One calls the other names. The other responds, appropriately, by training harder so he can, inappropriately, lay waste to his putative teammate. MKA tries to mediate, badly, by offering to referee a smackdown, provided that each man-child sign the requisite waivers. This has the strangely unseen effect of escalating instead of deterring the prospect of violence, so much so that MKA is forced to play peacemaker for real, but by then, one of the martyrs had decided it was too late, and declared jihad.
This is a good time for a prayer. Oh, Stoopid Sport, Why do I Bother? Why do I Suffer the Fools? Why do I Aid and Abet the Takers? I Just Want to be Irresponsible. I Just Want to Live the Life Cruising the Coffee Shops between Laguna and Balboa Island. I Don't Want to Pay Entry Fees for Anyone but Me. I don't want to order Stems, or Groupos. I don't Care About Sponsors. I Don't have any Inside Deals. I Don't Even Want Any. I Don't know Someone Who Knows Somebody in the Industry. And I Don't Want to. If I Need something, I'll buy it. I Don't Want to Command Teammates to Work For Another. I Don't Want to Answer Angry Phone Calls from Irate Dads whose Baby Girl was Spat Upon at a Stoplight by a Labor Thug. I Don't Want to Berate a Teammate for Missing Deadlines, for Failing to Show, or for Forgetting to Share, or for Hogging the Fruits. I Just Want to Have Some Fun. I Don't Even Care if We Win, as that Creates a Sense of Entitlement. I Just Want to Hammer, Unthinkingly, Without Any Thought of The Future. And I Do Not Want to Drive to a Venue that is Beyond a 20 Mile Radius of My Castle. And it Better Not Rain. And there Better Be a Baja Fresh nearby. Glory Be To Labor Forever. Amen.
And so, with little expectation of joy, MKA trudged up to possibly the most boring "crit" course in the world, essentially a landing strip with two U-turns. MKA parked in a remote spot, hoping to avoid detection, lest somebody yell at me, or god forbid ask me for something.
Funny how in the heat of battle with all the fur and bullets flying how quickly you forget what a stoopid sport it is. You actually lose yourself. You attack. You chase. You put your head down. You grind. You drop your elbows, pull on your hoods, scoot your butt to the back of the saddle, bring the knees in, flatten out, and pretend to be something you're not now nor will you ever be. You hurt a little and smile a lot, at least on the inside.
Don't get MKA wrong, it's most certainly not all good. But there are moments, in the saddle, during a blazing fast race, when it comes pretty darn close to being worth it. In retrospect, to reach that state of bliss, it really doesn't matter what the activity is, as long as it's so consuming, so simplified, that the brain shuts off. At least that part of your brain that tends to fixate on the bullshit in life.
45 Plus LAX Airport Runway Ride Masquerading as Crit
1. Stricky, Hoffy's Heroes (complete package - pursuit, sprint, monster pulls and tactics)
2. MKA, Labor (premature jump, which was good, as brain clicked off with 50M to go)
6th. Larry Ratfink Shannon, Labor (praised by stunned pel for attacking relentlessly with no apparent reason. "It must be the Labor J." )
MKA hung around for the finish of the Pro 1-2. The rumor was that Labor's Karl "the Viking " Bodine was solo OTF. Then somebody corrected that no, Karl Von Labor had been caught. And then finally a BlueCoat accosted Evander, who was standing near the finish line, holding his bike, but not wearing a helmet. The BlueCoat screamed at ET that he had just broken several important rules and, as punishment, he would have to disqualify any Laborite who might have gotten an unfair advantage from ET's willful and deliberate hatlessness. Even MKA knew that this was pure bluff, until he saw the irate Striper whip out a glock and take aim at a rider, wearing Labor red, who just appeared over the horizon on the home stretch to glory and imminent afterlife.
Cooler heads prevailed and the executioner holstered his firearm. Which was good, since Karl presented a very large and easy target, strolling in unbothered by his lonesome about 4 minutes ahead of the chase group. Karl looked fresh as a daisey, and seemed to be enjoying himself. As as sponsor, MKA was particularly proud that Karl had the presence of mind to spread his wings so the "Labor" emblazoned on his chest virtually popped out like a caped crusader. In so doing, however, with the hands off the bars, and the legs compensating by pedaling in a knees-out fashion, undue attention was inadvertently diverted to the side panel on his shorts, which boasted another sponsor with whom Labor is not affiliated. Rest assured, Labor Power Inc is working feverishly to secure its 2006 swag as soon as possible.
And it just got better.
The chase came thundering in. On the point, Mr. Toons himself, Greg Leibert, drilling it, followed by a scrum of thrashers. Funny, from my angle, Toons looked like what I imagine a 20 year old to look like, all leaned out and eager, with the chesire cat grin. Toons is 44 and looks fondly towards next year when he can cat up to my geriatric division. And yet there he was, in the pro 1-2 , 80 mile drag race, coming in hot, a big orange tanker loaded down with the defoliant, about to drop his toxic load.
But wait. A couple of tomcats were closing in fast. Who is that? Could it be? Our long lost Hawaii Monster Wave legend, Eddie Aikau, last seen paddling a canoe off Molokai, twenty five years ago? Yes! JB "Fast Eddie" Labor, fresh off the beach, rolling in like whitewater on the lip of a 20 foot barrel. Spank me with a long board, JB's back! With the mop flying, all legs and elbows, the choppers glowing like the exotic white meat in an Almond Joy. JB switches to guns and surges past the quarrelsome gnats while Toons tries to drop his Agent Orange but there's a malfunction and instead nosecones into the jungle erupting in a huge fireball.
JB snatches silver. Not bad for a snakebit dreamer whose spent the last several months avoiding his bike like a horny fat chick with bad breath.
Thor, Meet Eddie Aikau!
Two sea-faring warriors, one from the icy cold waters of Scandinavia, the other from the warm blue waters of Polynesia, combined to lay waste to the lard-bearing local skiffs, barges, scows, rafts, rubber duckies and ding-dingies. Question: do Polynesians sweat? Dude, the hair's dry as sagebrush. Didn't you just do 80 miles, most of it into a headwind, by youself, pulling a dead tiger shark?
But wait, we're not finished. One more race to go. The 35 plus, featuring that loveable tub of pound cake, Labor's very own Puff-Daddy, the inimitable, the impossibly fast, the inconceivably aerobically elite wunderkid, Mr. John Psycho Wiko. No teammates, no worries. Wiko attacts. Wiko gets caught. Goes again, a break forms, including arch rival G-Spot and his teammate. The roll. Lap after lap. Dinner bell rings. Wiko winds it up. Wiko wins. Gspot 3rd.
Note clever strategy by Double Chin to tuck the flab up tight with the chinstrap. Also, it's a proven fact that by widening one's smile, which forces the cheeks to expand horizontally, there is an equal but opposite reaction for the junk under the chin, which happily retracts, much in the same way that a Large Marge bent over don't' look half bad under the right conditions.
In conclusion, cyclists can be a real pain in the ass, but sometimes you get a reach-around for your troubles and it's the pursuit of that little bonus that keeps MKA going.