Victimless cheating? Or Dick Doper redux?

May 15, 2017 § 30 Comments

Last year I rode with a guy who was, uh, fast. He was in his mid-50s and when we hooked up he had already been going crazy hard for a month, thirty days of back-to-back riding that included unbelievable mileage and intensity.

We only rode together a couple of times. He was unbelievable. A big dude who climbed like George Hincapie when he was in his “mountain climbing” doper phase. You’d be sitting on this giant dude’s wheel and thinking, “Physics.” And then he’d toss the physics book into the ditch and climb like Quintana.

At the time I didn’t think he was doping. Don’t laugh when I say this, but it never occurred to me because I’m not really that suspicious or cynical when it comes to cycling and drugs.

Instead of chalking up his performance to drugs, I chalked it up to the fact that he was getting back on the bike after a long winter, he had stayed fit in the gym and on the trainer, and after all of the big miles and intensity he’d crash and crumple like any other normal old dude who pushed too much, too far, too hard, for too long.

This year our paths crossed again, and although I didn’t ride with him, I did see him briefly. His upper body was unbelievable. According to one of the guys who did ride with him, he claimed to have put on fifteen pounds of muscle over the last year. And he looked it.

That’s when my eyes rolled so far back in my head that if they’d had numbers they would have looked like a slot machine. There are a lot of things you don’t gain when you get old and creaky, and one of them is lean muscle mass. Maybe you firm up what you’ve got, and maybe if you eat perfectly and diet perfectly and do all the other hard things that no one in their 50s can possibly do, you gain a couple of pounds of muscle. But fifteen-plus pounds of lean upper body muscle in twelve months?

That, my friends, only happens with a lot of time in the gym and a shit-ton of steroids.

I was discussing this with a friend who is very young. He seemed to think that if you were young and doing steroids to get buff, you were not very smart because the risk of side effects is so huge. But, according to him, if you’re in your 50s and juicing, the risks are much smaller. You’re already old and bald and sexless anyway, and the side effects take way longer to kick in. Plus, in Dick Doper’s case, there was no crime other than the illegal possession of the drugs.

“Look at it like this,” my friend said. “He’s not racing so it’s not like he’s cheating. He’s not ever going to get tested so he won’t ‘ruin’ his reputation. He does it to feel good about himself, maintain the delusion that he’s exempt from the grinding passage of time, and he’s not hurting anyone else. What’s wrong with that? Do you hold it against people for standing in the mirror and counting their new veins?”

“Yeah, but that asshole crushes you on the bike. Thanks to the drugs, on informal, competitive rides he always wins. He’s practically unbeatable.”

“So? Don’t ride with him.”

“I don’t. Not after last year.”

“Then what’s your complaint? He’s taking your Strava KOMs?”

“I don’t play Strava.”

“So you’re simply jealous that another old bald impotent guy is faster than you are? You want to be the fastest old bald impotent guy?”

“Pretty much.”

“Didn’t the Rolling Stones have a song about that? Something about not always getting what you want?”

I resisted the urge to smack him, which urge was made easier by the fact that he was 6’4″, a martial arts specialist, and a cop. “It seems lame for some reason.”

“Is there a law or some kind of ethical rule against being lame?”

“No, but …”

“How is it different from buying faster equipment? You can buy mechanical speed just like you can buy the chemical kind. Is it lame when you can afford electronic shifting and light wheels, and some young kid is pedaling on a heavier, slower bike?”

“That’s different.”

“Of course it is. The difference is that you buy mechanical speed so it’s okay, but Dick Doper buys chemical speed on top of the mechanical kind. And that pisses you off because it makes him faster than you.”

“There’s a huge difference. I’d think he was lame no matter how fast he rode.”

“What is the difference, then?”

“Mechanical advantages are obvious. You can’t lie about them. And except in a few circumstances, the advantage they give is small and can often be compensated for by smart riding, drafting, or even by playing head games with your opponent. It’s a lot harder to hide your disk wheel. But chemical speed is secret, and its effects are different for every rider. For some guys, it turns donkeys into racehorses. For others, its effects are much less pronounced. Any given aero wheel will reduce drag the same amount no matter who’s riding it.”

“Piffle paffle,” he laughed. “You’re butthurt. That’s all.”



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§ 30 Responses to Victimless cheating? Or Dick Doper redux?

  • Waldo says:

    There’s always group ostracism. After the community tells him he’s not welcome, all he he’ll have for friends, competitors are Thorfinn Sasquatches. That would be a win from your perspective, no?

  • Michelle landes says:

    He will be bald fat and disfunctional ! You have hair, skinny and ummm (can’t speak on that 😂

  • Joe C. says:

    I don’t know about an old guy gaining 15# of lean muscle mass, but I broke my back in an MTB race in March, and it took about 3 weeks on my back to lose over 15#. Those chemicals are looking pretty good right now.

  • dan martin says:

    Ive had more than one leaky creaky non cycling friend extol the virtues of being on testo and how its changed their lives from the bed to the mirror. “Add in a few weights and you’ll look like Charles Atlas”, they say. “The missus will think you are 25 in the sack”, they say. They cant figure out why Im not on it and dont understand testing positive in some ambiguous bicycle race that I probably wont enter would ruin my reputation. They think Im an idiot. I kind of do too.

    • fsethd says:

      They can keep the dope. You can keep riding!

    • channel_zero says:

      Anti-aging clinics take care of everything for you. A little HGH, a little T, a little …. Go see Dr. Brown, Nike’s favorite endocrinologist, COUGH doping doctor! COUGH. Ask for the Al Salazar package.

      The downsides are not obvious and don’t come all at once which makes it SO EASY to ignore. Also, it’s quite easy to never test positive. Just lay off the “therapy” for a week or so before your glorious industrial park crit.

      At this point, we’ve moved way beyond primitive steroids. Peptides is where the action is. 90% of the effects of roids without many of the side effects. It’s revolutionary. And carcinogenic.

  • Midland says:

    Good post Wanky. I’ve had the same thoughts as your friend, but the same feelings as you. Bit torn, I think as long as he doesn’t talk shit and is honest if asked it’s kinda, kinda OK.

    • fsethd says:

      Never talks shit, doesn’t try to hide it. Is actually pretty humble. I think I like “kinda okay.” Still weird … but didn’t the Dead have a song about a long strange trip?

  • RGT says:

    ” He does it to feel good about himself, maintain the delusion that he’s exempt from the grinding passage of time”

    I miss the old times when being over 50 and delusional meant buying a Porsche and hitting on younger women.

    • fsethd says:

      I think that’s still a thing, judging by the Maserati/Ferrari/Porsche dealerships nearby …

  • dangerstu says:

    He’s still a F#ck!ng Doper

  • number1bikermonkey says:

    Doping is a shitty thing to do, period. I wouldn’t want to ride with this guy either. Maybe a “victimless crime” if he rode by himself all the time. If he’s doing group rides he’s still he’s still having an impact on people who enjoy pushing themselves without using banned drugs to do so. He may not be stealing prize money and results from pro cyclists, but he’s still an asshole, IMHO.

  • Allan says:

    I’ll let you know how I feel about this in 10 or 15 years when I hit that magical time in a man’s life…

  • senna65 says:

    Strange and pathetic that any (as you say) profamateur would go through the trouble of doing that shit – stranger still one that doesn’t even race or do group “rides”. Your hincap comment is classic and takes me back to the part of the latest armstrong doc where Betsy Andreu called bullshit watching her husband riding “tempo” at the front of the TDF on some ballbreaker climb. If they really want to clean up the sport they should make that gal head of doping control for the actual “professionals”.

  • AB says:

    Okay, so he doesn’t race, doesn’t shit talk, is kinda humble and feels great about himself…? Is he single?! Kidding, I’m kidding. But in all seriousness, outside of Strava and competition and pro athlete status, does ‘doping’ really matter? Man, the guy is living his life and feeling great after 50. Hell to the fucking yeah. How many Americans can say that? How many humble, active, non-competitive riders are over 50 and crushing it, but who go home and suffer at night? I mean, I just turned 30 and I hurt all over from years of racing on dirt and hitting rocks. If this guy is rocking it at 50, still buying into the sport and spreading the stoke, good on him.

    • fsethd says:

      I guess this is the other part of it. Why would anyone care if he’s doping? As my buddy pointed out, maybe it’s me with the problem! Still, it’s weird to take strong drugs to ride a bike faster, but is it any weirder than buying a full carbon bike made of 100% carbon that is also pure carbon? Hmmmm.

  • senna65 says:

    Yes, it is weirder. That said, never let your equipment get too far in front of your talent and commitment…

  • senna65 says:


    Not much of it these days. The kids don’t want to be “disrespected” –
    despite the fact they’ve done nothing to deserve respect. Us old guys (relatively speaking) want to pretend we’re still in Little League. They we’re far from perfect, but we’ve kind’ve lost something in this country with all the Depression and WWII era folks almost all gone…

  • senna65 says:

    Written as I watch this great doc on a great American. Wanky, aren’t you from Texas? You must know this guy – Captain America?

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