Not too long ago, I posted a blog about doping and cycling. It is a shame on the sport, and I will not recant my opinion. But allow me to show a different angle, based on a conversation I had with a recreational fitness dude. We all agree that doping has given the whole sport, from the pro to the club rider, a black eye. Finger pointing and “blind eye” issues have been brought up and swirled around to the point where it is aggravating to hear one more comment, but I kind of digress.
Cycling is a demanding sport. Speed is partnered with suffering. Reaching the top of a difficult climb, powering over the hill, and pushing into the down slope are things that have agony and elation bundled into large and small packages on each ride. The ridiculous comment that I hear often is “who couldn’t do that with steroids and junk.” Most people who do not ride have no clue how good a GC rider is. The top teams in pro cycling have phenomenal athletes on their bikes. The level of riding is mind-blowing. The mid-member cyclist on one of these teams is not some Joe off of his couch that decided to pump some EPO and ride on a pro team. The amount of training, diet, and God-given ability is incredible. To be clear, without a single drug, these cyclist are very, very good. I equate the reaction of doping in cycling to Barry Bonds breaking the single-season home run record. No doubt (in my mind and possibly the courts) that he used steroids to achieve a certain level, but I could take the exact same thing he took and not hit a 96 mph fastball that dances away to the outer half of the plate. The talent and skill must still be present.
It is my belief, after I entered the world of riding, that a GC rider is the best athlete in the world. If you haven’t attempted a back-to-back century yet, give it a go and then imagine t riding like that for days with lung-exploding climbs, blistering sprints, and/or pulling the pack for 25-30 miles. The amount of mental discipline is as staggering: our mind is designed to protect us and tell you to pull out of something that is pushing the limits of physical endurance. Drugs or not, when these athletes complete a stage, they are exhausted beyond comprehension (i.e. Froome attacking and winning Mont Ventoux in this year’s Tour de France). Cheaters will be cheaters. Cheating will never be eliminated. Someone is always going to look for that edge. Let’s focus on the wonder of cycling and promote the good, and when someone is caught doing something, HAMMER him.