There is a guy who occasionally shows up on our group rides who is clearly doped, and doped good. I get it, actually. He isn’t good enough to stay with the leaders without drugs, and it’s not from want of trying. He trains incredibly hard and probably has an expensive coaching program, etc. etc. etc., but there is a point where your age and ability index catch up with you and no matter how well you train, dropped.
Like I said, I get it.
I even get it, wankers doping on group rides. What’s a better feeling than saying to yourself, “I dropped a bunch of people 20 years younger than me!” or better yet, “30 years younger!” or best of all “40 years younger!” There may not be a fountain of youth, but dropping younger riders on a group ride is certainly a very tiny creek of it. And if you aren’t encumbered with things like a sense of fair play, heck, why not?
And there’s not really a lot to complain about. Dick Doper is faster so you’d better turn yourself inside out to not get shelled. That’s good for YOU. And group rides aren’t subject to rules or regulations, so if Dick Doper wants to put a hidden motor in his muscles or in his downtube, so what?
Ah yes, the old “So what?”
Well, here’s “what.”
I was talking to a judge the other day in a settlement conference and he mentioned that he was a cyclist. He’s an older guy, 67, and looks just like all aged, grizzled, roadie types do: lean, young for his age, and spry. We got to talking about cycling.
“I got hurt a couple of years ago and have been unable to get my power back,” he said. “I just need to get to 200 watts FTP. Then I can hang with the Saturday ride again. 216 and I’ll start dropping people.”
“Yeah?” I said. I knew what Dick Doper would do.
He was clearly bothered by the drop-off in power; who wouldn’t be? “It’s quite puzzling. I’ve done everything; gotten online coaching, worked on various aspects, but I can’t get back to 200. Any suggestions?”
It was interesting to listen to this old guy because you could tell he was honest. It never occurred to him to use drugs in order to close the gap. “Yeah, I can get you back to 200.”
His eyes lit up like only a cyclist’s eyes can when you say those magic words. “What do I have to do?” he asked.
“How many miles a week do you do now?”
“I don’t go by miles, I go by hours,” was his wrong answer, as if he were a UCI pro where time is time is time.
“That’s your first mistake. How many miles a week do you do now?”
“140,” he said immediately, cuz if there’s one things cyclists know, it’s EXACTLY HOW MANY FUGGIN’ MILES A WEEK THEY RIDE.
“You need to add in about 200 miles a week.”
His face fell. “What?”
“Yeah,” I said. “You need to add in about 200 miles. Really slow miles, often known as ‘junk miles.'”
“You’re kidding, right? That’s old school. We used to ride that way forty years ago.”
“And how’d you ride?”
“Pretty damned fast.”
“Huh. Almost like there’s a connection.”
“There’s no way I can handle 350 miles a week.”
“Of course you can. They have to be slow, though.”
“13-15 is plenty. Slow enough that you don’t even feel like you’ve ridden.”
“No. Make 80% of your miles junk, and stack 20% of full-gas intensity on top of that. You’ll get your 200 back. Guaranteed.”
He shook his head. “That’s … just so … hard.”
I looked him square in the eye, just like Fields or Tilford or Eddy Merckx would’ve. “I never said it wasn’t.”
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