134 Panache, teenagers amok, the tapered valley, the Big Guy

Bicyclists still at large gathered around the finish line for the Tour de Corte Madera. The civic elders wanted to put their town on the map with a race to eclipse shameful memories of an officially approved teenage dance concert gone berserk. A bicycle race, proclaimed the city manager et al, had panache. Few others knew the word, no one outside city hall could spell it, although some who saw it on posters guessed it meant a type of banana; but to the residents of this town where Ross Valley petered out, it sounded competitive with anything Kentfield, Ross, San Anselmo, or Fairfax was known for. The winner broke the tape just as Regis and Kelly boomed on high. Normally the loose lot of bicycle riders would be supportive, especially with dire rumors spreading from San Anselmo about events at the Plip Plop Coffe Shop, but the sight of a vast plasma television screen hovering over central Marin County was too stupendous. They bent backwards, transfixed by the special broadcast of Live! With Regis and Kelly. The Tour de Corte Madera champion was insulted and abashed and tossed in his lot with scoundrels to get attention he believed was hard won. He took refuge by making a speedy sign of the cross and lifting his index finger heavenward, though pointedly away from vastly larger than life Reeg and Kelly. He was, it appeared, giving props to God. Quite suddenly on this clear day he was struck by a bolt of lightning and reduced to a damp, diminutive pile of ash, faintly steaming. God, too, disdained bicyclists, and when they blasphemed, watch out!

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