Labor Helps Itself to Seconds and Thirds at Redlands, while Col. Robert E. Hipp's Progeny Rejoices in the Carnage

March 29, 2006

One Dixie-Whistlin', Chicken-Eatin', Retro-Gnarly Mo Fo!
a.k.a. Battlescar Galactica
This is the face that launched a thousand Confederate soldiers to their deaths in the Battle for Atlanta back in The Day. It's a little known fact that Der Hiptler's great-great granddad was Robert E. Hipp, Commander of the Rebel Freedom Fighters. By all accounts, the Elder Hipp Starr was one gnarly Mo-Fo. He lost his right arm in the Battle of Gettysburg. Undeterred, a few months later, at the Battle of Chickamauga, the hardboiled Rebel General sent his troops into the spray using his left arm, which he deftly used to signal the optimal spots where the bodies were to pile up. He caught a stray bullet in right leg (rumored to have come from one of his own) and to light applause was pronounced dead on the battlefield. A Yankee surgeon, however, stumbled upon the near-corpse and managed to revive him by amputating his left leg. The one-armed, one-legged war horse then returned to the upper echelons of the Graycoat Army where he helped his side sacrifice more rebel fodder in a valiant but losing effort.

The deformed General would have died of old age but got sick of waiting around. He lit up a cigarette after guzzling a quart of gasoline and blew himself to bits. Some say the blood splatter pattern on the walls of his log cabin formed the letters: "I -D- I -O -T - S". But that hasn't been confirmed. On the hunch that The General was special, MKA had his body exhumed and sent out for DNA testing. The results confirmed what we all suspected: The Hipps were born without any pain receptors, making them impervious to wounds, gashes, cuts, scrapes, end-o's, high-sides, low-sides and facial obliterations of any sort. As an interesting corollary, the boys at the lab also suspected that the part of the brain which registers compassion and sympathy had been replaced with the genes that switch on the amusement response, which explains why Hippster enjoys watching those Japanese TV game shows so much where everybody laughs when the generic doofus lets go of the rope and is bisected by a spinning sawmill blade.

What becomes clear after inspecting Hipptler's face closely is that he just cannot be killed. The scars, the bluish-white splotches, the reconstructed proboscis, the out-of-plumb jawbones serve as a fair warning that this Bad Mo Fo will not yield when the proverbial crap hits the fan. It's not that he likes it hot, or has no regard for life, or is some kind of sado-masochist. No, it's much simpler than that. The fact is that Der Hipptler spends most of his time in a quasi-vegetative state, resting somewhere between a prickly pear and a monitor lizard. To wake up the senses, to get his heart rate pumping, he needs to be stuck with the neural equivalent of a cattle prod. This is why you'll never see him off the front, and only rarely in a masters race, where more often than not to win one has to elevate high above the turbulent pel where the sailing is smoother but more taxing on the engine.

So you can imagine MKA's elation when the King of Gnarl relented and deigned to race with his Labor brethren in the Redlands Masters 35 plus hackfest. He probably would've won, too, but didn't have his heart in it, what with three nimbos drilling it off the front, and finding little point in sprinting for fourth.

It went like this: Vampire, Ricky Sqweeker and Slover had a nice gap with several laps to go. Not surprisingly, Vampire, with the hollowed out braincase, was driving the break, in exchange for which Sqweeker was kind enough to offer cans of beans and burlap sacks of dried rice. Labor's big guns were effectively on ice. Do we chase? Intellectually, of course Labor should chase, since the idea was to win, but the reality looking more like a guaranteed third. And yet in practice, maybe due to some latent taboo against cannibalism, or in Vampire's case, the taboo against stealing food from a starving man, Labor didn't commit to a full on reel-back. Which didn't make any sense since, if you crunch the numbers, had Labor won, there would've been bonus grease for all, which means Vampy still would've been able to afford gas money home.

On the other hand, Vampy could properly be viewed as a perfectly rational capitalist, when you fold in the reality that it's an unwritten rule that nobody asks Vampy to share splits, and of course he would never volunteer, on account times are tough what with the rent on the hole in the tool shed going up and his housecleaning work hours being reduced to half-days on Monday and the wages for watching TV all day barely keeping up with minimum wage.

In any event, MKA was torn and in a moment of foolish indecision ramped to the front to block when it was later made clear that reformed dreamer JB was actually chasing. So in his own way MKA helped Labor lose, which may also be interpreted as a rational business decision since Labor Power Inc got to keep its grease.

We came down to the last lap. By that time, over in the VIP tent, Sqweeker had already moved up from kissing babies to shaving the belly buttons on the deliciously hot Toyota/United Pro girls. We came into the chicane where MKA was engulfed in a swarm of blade wielding butchers, forcing self to declare Uncle and retreat to higher ground, from which to observe the carnage. Into the final turn, Labor's Psycho Wiko shot off the front like pink bile from a dyspeptic pig, gaining at least three bike lengths. Hipp, still bored, still indifferent, still fully immersed in why-bother mode, casually scooted onto to G-Spot's wheel and would've come around but, decided to save his quota of one adrenaline burst per blue moon for the dream race later on that day. Teske tractor pulled in for 7th.

All of which makes me sleepy.

The usual sour snorts and retorts could be heard in the dejected Labor Camp. ..yawn… Walsh Out cheerfully offered that there was no problem we couldn't fix. "Fixable" became the operative word, and we clung to it like a wino and his bottle. But MKA wasn't so sure. At this late stage, teaching Vampire the virtues of teamwork is like trying to teach a duck to talk Japanese. Waste of time. You can't expect a near homeless urchin to feed his growling, shrinking stomach with team rhetoric. And you can't blame a whippet for being a vampire, or vice versa. The solution going forward is simply to be with him and if you can't be with the one you love, then chase his skinny ass down.

The Dream Race: Kan he or Kan't He?

Karl Mounts the Rear, where he can monitor his flock of rabbits. Karl soon gets bored.

Karl decides to stretch out the legs. He pulls away and hovers off the front comfortably, while the pel narrows.

King Karl the Viking stretches his lead. Only 60 minutes to go, so this should be easy, what with Hipp Starr firmly latched to the rear. All Viking has to do is lap the field and Hipp will then escort The Big Hurt to the front for the easy Vee.

Despite Hipp's struggle to bottle up the front from the back, Karl gets caught. Blessed with an inverse proportion of Guts to Phitness, Psycho Wiko counters by attacking mightily into the hairpin, sending an unmistakable message to the pel: "These legs may be pink, this belly may be soft, and these cheeks may harbor a set of Cheez-Wiz flavored jawbreakers, but nobody can leave skin on the curb like Labor!"

Blood Offerings to the Asphalt Gods

Naturally, the Polocks in the pel decided to accept the Tuna Canyon Bomber's challenge. On the very next lap, a Polish team numbnutt attempted to emulate Wiko's aggressive body English. He leaned over, and kept on leaning, until his knee caught an edge of the snowfencing. He flipped over and landed hard on the lap of a large lady in a lawnchair who was sipping on a Big Gulp, the straw from which impaled the flying Polock's groin area, nicking his femoral artery. Fortunately, MKA swooped in immediately with camera in hand to record the blood offering. It was tough, but thanks to his training as a serious journalist, MKA was able to overcome the urge to render first aid, which would've compromised his duty to report the news objectively.

Meanwhile, back in the peanut gallery, Hipp Star and O'Nasty put their game faces on, preparing to gird up for inevitable blood-spattered field sprint. Still 45 minutes to go, but never too early for the EMS to move their base camp down to the final turn.

Diary of a Melt Down

As the pace quickened, casualties began to mount. Clevie, our favorite 12k Dreamer poster child, decided that he'd get more press for abandoning than finishing with the pack. He adroitly timed his withdrawal to coincide with MKA's vantage point , thus ensuring his place in history.

MKA: Clevie, what's wrong?

Clevie (shaking head forlornly). I'm done. I'm done. It's no good.

MKA: What do you mean "I'm done?"

Clevie: I mean I'm done. I mean it's over. I'm through with this [pointing to his rig]. It's Game over.

MKA: Come now, Clevie, you'll be back. You had a bad day. Shake it off.. What do you expect, you're just coming back from Clevestein-Barr. Besides which you're irreplaceable.

Clevie (softly): "No, I'm done. I'm giving it up: my helmet. My Oaklies. My bike. Everything."

Spectator (see left), intercedes: "You're giving it up? Hey, that's rough, bad news, but listen I'll take your bike. And those gloves, 'A M D': isn't that Lance's team? Cool. You know him? Cool. So, about my bike, can you get off of it now? You said you were done. I've been watching you idiots for awhile now and I'm bored. Give me the bike so I can go. I'll even throw in a beer. Looks like you could use one, or two."

Clevie: No, I said I would sell it. I'm not giving it away.

MKA: Yes. I mean, no, you did not say you would "sell" it. You suggested you were ready to rid yourself of the bike, like an obsolete refrigerator, the kind you see on the curb with a sign that sez: Free.

Clevie [Shakes head, raises the one finger salute, thrusts same into MKA's face]

MKA: You keep flipping me off. What did I do?

Clevie [with pinkish eyes reminiscent of a fluffy white show rabbit]: You're just going to make fun of me again. I'm serious. I'm done.

[Sidenote: Two hours later, MKA overheard Clevie talking to another racer: "Didjaseemee? I was on fire the first three laps, right at the front, feeling good. Then I just gassed out. MKA says don't worry about it, with the Clevestein Barr and all, that I'll be back. He's right of course. He says there's still a chance I'll be wearing Labor before Barrio Logan.."]

Meanwhile, back at the races, JB is killing brain cells in a two man break with a skinny kid who's got plenty of giddyup but negative ballast . They hover out there for about 10 laps with a scant 7 second margin. This is JB's big moment to put all the bad luck and bad mojo behind him and b-slap the dreamers he once so revered. Despite orders to Wiko to lay it down on the final corner and take out the top half of the field, Wiko puts safety first and merely sweeps the poop into the gutter. All this does is delay the inevitable. As you can see here, the pel began to fan out curb to curb in anticipation of snatching the two tasty morsels.

With three laps to go, the languid Pel swallowed JB and cohort whole [see above], and spat out a tattooed young turk [see below], known affectionately by the locals as "Sleeves," on account his arms are so thickly decorated with ghastly perma-ink they either look like garmentry or should be covered up with same. Unfortunately, the move failed to flush out a companion, and the point of the pel flattened out. None of that mattered, of course, for the fired up Sleevie had finally gotten what he paid for: a sufficient chunk of glory he could chew on for the rest of his days.

"Nobody would work with me," Sleeves complained afterward. "All I needed was one guy and we were gone." Guaranteed!

And so it is with young guns and their dreams of glory. Young Sleeves was unwilling to entertain the unthinkable notion that perhaps his move was suicidal, and the packs' failure to respond was a rationale extension of the herd instinct. On the other hand, Sleeve's own survival instinct may have been dominant, as the huge expenditure of precious resources before the final blast provided a safe excuse for avoiding the melee altogether. This, by the way, is a favorite life-sustaning strategm often employed by MKA.

Bell Lap! MKA's camera ran out of juice on the bell lap but the photo to the right is a close re-enactment. King Karl launched his sprint with one to go. The ageless and soon to be toothless Gassyhola smartly burrowed up the Viking's butt, followed by Fung Che. A billion dead brain cells and 3 quarts of lactic acid later, Gassy Ho came around the not quite completely petrified Viking into the final sprint. Fung Che made his move, the Viking located 38 untapped muscle cells and used the fresh juice to propel him towards the line.

Fung Che survived the final push. Karl, with the dead legs, spent rods, empty cans, sodden eyes and ragged claws, took second. Gassyho third. More importantly, going into the final turn, about midpack, a nimrod came in too hot, swung wide and smacked into the fencing. The bike skipped across the blacktop directly into the path of a schmoe who went airborne, his bike exploding into a spray of shards of carbon fiber and low ductile, high tensile scandium. At this moment, the hibernating Der Hiptler's heart rate actually spiked to a point which would be considered normal for most humans in a state of deep relaxation.

The great grand son of Robert E. Lee recounted the story with glee: "It was beautiful! You could see the shards shimmering in the air and hear the metal fragments tinkling on the ground. The bike justexploded in a rainbow of colors. And the sonic boom, the sounds, it was like the symphony of bombs exploding all around you at Gettysburg. Bodies were flying, I was dodging and ducking the human shrapnel, winding myself through the maze of shattered frames, pretzled wheels and convulsingidiots…"




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