Un Caffè

Legal Doping: Musings from the V-Bunker

Legal Doping: Musings from the V-Bunker

by / / 93 posts

I’m not even talking about all the pseudo-asthmatics out there, vaping their way to better breathing. My breathing is just fine. It’s my little citron sized heart that is slowing me down. Is there a street-legal injection or vacuum pump for heart enlargement, or a trip to a doctor in the Congo that would transplant a badass Mandrill heart for me? That would have to improve my uphill sprint. The transplant shouldn’t be illegal; possibly unwise- but not illegal. I digress.

We can’t all do up a block of training on Tenerife so I rely on un caffè, an espresso. This is legal doping at its finest. One can do it in public. There is no shame attached to drinking an espresso with your teammates before a ride. Faema, a company that Eddy Merckx rode for is still in business, in the espresso business. It’s sort of like Amgen, a producer of EPO sponsoring the Tour of California. The UCI limit is 12 micrograms per ml in urine which is a lot of espresso, like ten of them. That much espresso would just make one a wild slavering beast (a mandrill for instance) who would burn very brightly and then be found trembling in a ditch when the lights went out. I’m sure there are some kermis racers who get all jacked on coffee and burn up the course. That might be the only way to actually dope with caffeine; a race that only lasts an hour and never slows down.

If I enjoy a pre-ride espresso, am I doping or am I just feeding my caffeine monkey (or mandrill) that rides on my back and needs to be serviced? It’s not effective doping if you dope every day of the year,  just to get to nine AM, is it? My dose is just to get me back up to baseline functionality. I can’t even tolerate much caffeine in the middle of a long hot ride. After dosing mid-ride, I get a very uncomfortable hypo-glycemic out-of-body experience and my brain detaches. My brain and eyeballs floats above and I can see that poor suffering bastard down below, with the pre-adolescent sized heart, barely in control of his bike. 

I will, on occasion, do a morning ride sans caffè. Some rides start too early in the morning for me to even think about brewing up and sometimes the ride’s terminus is a café so I hold off. It is never good. A long climb without coffee is much less fun than a long climb with a little caffeine pumping around the nervous system. That small does of caffeine makes the sweating, front wheel staring, and bartape chewing so much more fun and interesting. A jour sans (coffee) is no fun unless one is into a ride so exciting and exhausting (and that started before sunrise) that the lack of buzz is completely unnoticed. Espresso and climbing go well together. Is that why the Colombians are excellent climbers? Espresso and cycling are a good match, like cycling and beer. I’m not saying one needs to develop a coffee or drinking habit to be a cyclist. If you already have them, chapeau, here is a sport that embraces both, completely. 

// Etiquette // Musings from the V-Bunker

  1. @Ron

    I find it charming how many dopey people now walk around with Sippy Cups for Adults so they can have coffee on hand while driving, pushing the little fuck in a stroller, walking the dog, cruising around town in Crocs/finger shoes.

    The only thing more idiotic than a regular Sippy Cup is a Sippy Cup that has been made to look like a cardboard Sippy Cup to Go. I can’t figure out who the fuck would buy one of those. “For the coffee drinker who just wants to look like they hate Mother Earth and despite an entire cabinet of mugs, and those 18 reusable, insulated mugs they’ve gotten from the boss for doing a good job each year, but actually wants to drink from a newly purchased reusable Sippy Cup.”

    Maybe nut jobs who don’t want to look like environmentally conscious pussies, but actually do care enough to use a reusable cup. Goddamn, talk about a beautiful target audience.

    Nice wee rant there Ron. I used to go to spin classes on a Saturday morning (during the winter, naturally) at the Y. When  ladies started coming with travel mugs of coffee I knew it was time for a home trainer. Oh, and they also brought their gobs – blah, blah,, blah. “Oh, I went to the gym this morning” I can hear them proudly proclaim upon returning home. “I can now eat an entire bag of chips and a large soda because I deserve it.” No, you went to the gym, went through the motions of exercising, and have given yourself an erroneous sense of accomplishment.

    Oh and how do people function when they have their coffee sippy cup in one hand and their i-pacifier in the other?

  2. @PeakInTwoYears

    There is a lot of good sense being talked here about espresso. Let me add a thing about “coffee”-the kind one can and should drink in a porcelain “coffee cup.”

    It doesn’t have to suck.

    Especially not at home, where you have control over the process. I will pass over the absolute requirement for a decent burr grinder. Everyone knows about that. I want to correct a potential misconception, that roasting one’s own beans is a fussy, inconvenient, unnecessary hobbyist approach to making coffee.

    With a simple, relatively inexpensive roasting device (there are several) and a bit of experimentation with beans and roast times, you can make better coffee than you can get almost anywhere in public (outside Portland, I mean). I spend roughly twenty minutes every three days or so roasting, and I fill our home with a delicious aroma of roasting coffee beans. And I save us 40USD per month on beans. And we drink fabulous coffee.

    +1 on the coffee bean roasting, me too, for my espresso machine. I can make better espresso than most of the places on the island for much less money. Green beans are only $5-$6 a pound. I am too lazy to brew beer anymore though, I’ll pay for that. And I work on my own bike so one has to pick their battles.

  3. Thank you wiscot, I do my best!

    Hey…as our resident knower of all cycling info I was wondering about ages of Grand Tour winners. I watched a recent interview with LeMan and he pointed out the fact that the podium at the Giro was made up of racers all under 24. He said this confirms true talent and good genes, that you don’t suddenly get good at 30.

    I know the thinking goes racers need to mature and get the mileage into their bodies over a few years.

    But, what is the average age of Grand Tour winners over time like? Seems like Hinault, LeMan, Merckx, Fignon, Coppi all won when pretty young. Wonder if the age is moving up/down/at all?

  4. @Gianni

    @Buck Rogers

     I keep ‘em short and no big words, just for you.

    Ahhh, fuck, that must be the secret! 

    But you need more expletives.  You seem weak on that part of your work.

  5. @Ron

    Thank you wiscot, I do my best!

    Hey…as our resident knower of all cycling info I was wondering about ages of Grand Tour winners. I watched a recent interview with LeMan and he pointed out the fact that the podium at the Giro was made up of racers all under 24. He said this confirms true talent and good genes, that you don’t suddenly get good at 30.

    I know the thinking goes racers need to mature and get the mileage into their bodies over a few years.

    But, what is the average age of Grand Tour winners over time like? Seems like Hinault, LeMan, Merckx, Fignon, Coppi all won when pretty young. Wonder if the age is moving up/down/at all?

    Ok, here goes:

    Coppi: born 1919, turned pro 1939, first tour win 1949, age 30, first participation

    Anquetil: born 1934, first tour win 1957, age 23, first participation

    Gimondi: born 1942, turned pro 1965, first tour win 1965, age 23, first participation

    Merckx, born 1945, turned pro 1965, first tour win 1969, age 24, first participation

    Thevenet: born 1948, turned pro 1970, first tour win 1975, age 27, 5th participation

    Hinault: born 1954, turned pro 1974, first Tour win 1978, age 24, first participation

    Fignon: born 1960, turned pro 1982, first Tour win 1983, age 23, first participation

    LeMond: born 1961, turned pro 1981, first tour win 1986, age 25, 3rd participation

    Indurain: born 1964, turned pro 1984, first tour win 1991, age 27, 8th participation

    I just picked multiple Tour winners here. All won at their first attempt save three: Thevenet, LeMond and Indurain. LeMond was 3rd, then 2nd then 1st in his first three participations – in the first two he was not team leader. Indurain? The jury’s not answering at this time. I think the only real outlier here is Coppi and I think we can safely assume that had it not been for WWII, he would have won the tour in his mid 20s.

    So, mid 20s seems to be the sweet spot, but usually with a few years of being professional first. I think the age is creeping up.

  6. I get it, basically espresso is the way to . We all know that, dont we? I agree that it needs to be repeated on a regular basis. Thank Merckx I love the stuff!

  7. In french, but you should get it…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGtKGX8B9hU&feature=kp

  8. Pre – ride coffee…

  9. Post Ride Beer…

  10. @Tobin YES !

  11. @Fausto Crapiz

    @Owen No, just the bike. He’d shave his head to be more aero, stop drinking mountain dew because the 1 pound will make him 3 seconds slower, and stop the video gaming because his wrists hurt like hell from spending 10 hrs on the bike every weekend.

    Just saying. …….

    you sir are more of a prophet and less of an internet commentor

  12. @Tobin YES! Exactly ! Perfect. Precise. Cheers

  13. @Tobin

    Post Ride Beer…

    Beer????? What beer??????

  14. @Gianni

    @PeakInTwoYears

    There is a lot of good sense being talked here about espresso. Let me add a thing about “coffee”-the kind one can and should drink in a porcelain “coffee cup.”

    It doesn’t have to suck.

    Especially not at home, where you have control over the process. I will pass over the absolute requirement for a decent burr grinder. Everyone knows about that. I want to correct a potential misconception, that roasting one’s own beans is a fussy, inconvenient, unnecessary hobbyist approach to making coffee.

    With a simple, relatively inexpensive roasting device (there are several) and a bit of experimentation with beans and roast times, you can make better coffee than you can get almost anywhere in public (outside Portland, I mean). I spend roughly twenty minutes every three days or so roasting, and I fill our home with a delicious aroma of roasting coffee beans. And I save us 40USD per month on beans. And we drink fabulous coffee.

    +1 on the coffee bean roasting, me too, for my espresso machine. I can make better espresso than most of the places on the island for much less money. Green beans are only $5-$6 a pound. I am too lazy to brew beer anymore though, I’ll pay for that. And I work on my own bike so one has to pick their battles.

    ‘I will pass over the absolute requirement for a decent burr grinder. Everyone knows about that’ I’m not sure they do, this is by far the most vital part of home coffee, Hario- do a hand grinder for $60, the best investment you can make, once ground coffee will stay fresh for around, say, 2 minutes, max.

    I have sold over 15 tonne of coffee at my store, just sayin’.

  15. @piwakawaka

    I couldn’t agree more about burr grinders and freshness, amateur that I am. I was hoping that my use of the rhetorical trope of preterition would be recognized as such. A good burr grinder and the knowledge of exactly when to use it are critical.

  16. I hate to be the one that brings some science & fact to the discussion, but Cyclingtips published a pretty good article on the effects of caffeine last year.

    http://cyclingtips.com.au/2013/11/caffeine-and-cycling-social-accessory-or-performance-enhancer/

    The paragraph below could be why it’s so popular within cycling circles

    But more recent research disputes the role of caffeine in boosting fat utilisation during a race. Instead scientific consensus has swung towards a role for caffeine in the way that the brain regulates pace during exercise. It’s not clear exactly how this works (the science of the brain and exercise performance has barely scratched the surface so far) but it does seem to lower an athlete’s perception of effort for the same amount of actual physical output.

  17. I drink coffee before I ride for only one reason. It stops the caffeine withdrawal headache halfway through the ride. I’m not an addict, well maybe I am, but as someone drinks only the equivalent of 4 espressos a day, it’s easier to prevent than cure the brain clamping that goes on without caffeine.

  18. @PeakInTwoYears don’t make me google that shit! I try to never infer anything about anything I read…

  19. I used to fire up the Gaggia for an espresso before I went out on my early morning starts but the grinding and the pumping (!) used to wake the kids up which would delay my departure. Now look forward to a good, long pour over with my eggs when I get back. Along with the Sunday papers, perfect.

  20. @wiscot

    @Ron

    I find it charming how many dopey people now walk around with Sippy Cups for Adults so they can have coffee on hand while driving, pushing the little fuck in a stroller, walking the dog, cruising around town in Crocs/finger shoes.

    The only thing more idiotic than a regular Sippy Cup is a Sippy Cup that has been made to look like a cardboard Sippy Cup to Go. I can’t figure out who the fuck would buy one of those. “For the coffee drinker who just wants to look like they hate Mother Earth and despite an entire cabinet of mugs, and those 18 reusable, insulated mugs they’ve gotten from the boss for doing a good job each year, but actually wants to drink from a newly purchased reusable Sippy Cup.”

    Maybe nut jobs who don’t want to look like environmentally conscious pussies, but actually do care enough to use a reusable cup. Goddamn, talk about a beautiful target audience.

    Nice wee rant there Ron. I used to go to spin classes on a Saturday morning (during the winter, naturally) at the Y. When ladies started coming with travel mugs of coffee I knew it was time for a home trainer. Oh, and they also brought their gobs – blah, blah,, blah. “Oh, I went to the gym this morning” I can hear them proudly proclaim upon returning home. “I can now eat an entire bag of chips and a large soda because I deserve it.” No, you went to the gym, went through the motions of exercising, and have given yourself an erroneous sense of accomplishment.

    Oh and how do people function when they have their coffee sippy cup in one hand and their i-pacifier in the other?

    I had penned a gently satiric post about how I’m guilty of several of the infractions singled out in these rants, but the system ate my comments. So, here’s the tl/dr version: don’t be such grumpy gusses, and maybe turn down the judgement-o-meter a bit!

  21. Thank you, wiscot! Something to ponder. I thought Coppi won a GT before the war, then more after? Guess not.

  22. @Ron

    Thank you, wiscot! Something to ponder. I thought Coppi won a GT before the war, then more after? Guess not.

    He won the Giro in 40, 47, 49, 52 and 53. The Tour in 49 and 52. The double in 49 and 53. Who knows how many more he would have won had it not been for the war. A lot, that’s my guess. Bartali would likely have won more too.

  23. Great story – and great picture –  Gianni.

    There is a growing amount of data on caffeine’s ability to reduce the sensation of pain along with its well known property of causing the bronchi to open up.

    During my time at Cannondale, I was always disappointed that there wasn’t a spot-lit, red enameled Saeco machine under a life-sized photo of a Briko-ed Cipollini, arms raised, at the victorious end of a Giro stage.  It was gone. The engineers had tossed it at some point – evidently tired of running into NYC for parts to keep it operating.

    Probably better for my heart in the medium-run. I could never have consumed enough to keep up with my 20 and 30-something  year-old colleagues anyway.

    When they moved, last year, they tossed the Cipollini poster too.  Word is, he’s still in working order, though.

    Such is life.

  24. @PeakInTwoYears

    There is a lot of good sense being talked here about espresso. Let me add a thing about “coffee”-the kind one can and should drink in a porcelain “coffee cup.”

    It doesn’t have to suck.

    Especially not at home, where you have control over the process. I will pass over the absolute requirement for a decent burr grinder. Everyone knows about that. I want to correct a potential misconception, that roasting one’s own beans is a fussy, inconvenient, unnecessary hobbyist approach to making coffee.

    With a simple, relatively inexpensive roasting device (there are several) and a bit of experimentation with beans and roast times, you can make better coffee than you can get almost anywhere in public (outside Portland, I mean). I spend roughly twenty minutes every three days or so roasting, and I fill our home with a delicious aroma of roasting coffee beans. And I save us 40USD per month on beans. And we drink fabulous coffee.

    I’ve just finished roasting my second ever batch, and I’m sipping the last of my first as a type.  Sensational.  Thanks for the push in the right direction.  Did them on the stove top in a skillet.

  25. Just found something that reminded me of this article””a coffee supplier in Bristol with a sense of humour: http://paniagua.myshopify.com/collections/epo/products/perfect-shot-bundle

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