Legal Doping: Musings from the V-Bunker
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 caffé, 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 caffé. 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.