Thursday, December 20

Stairway to the Apocalypse

This may seem like a dated topic.

Mostly because it is.

I finally got around to reading Tyler Hamilton's tell-all book, The Secret Race.

I was very anxious to read it back when it came out a few months ago.  Then I read the USADA report on my iPhone while in between jobs at work.  I felt like there was little more that the book could offer, so I sorta lost interest.  The other hindrance in my efforts to read the book was the fact that the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (my former employer for three months almost fifteen years ago) did not have it when the book was released.  It's not that I didn't want to buy a copy and line Tyler's pockets with my hard(ly) earned dollhairs, and it's not because I'm necessarily cheap.  I haven't bought a book since I was overly disappointed with my purchase of Nerves of Steel, a book by traveling messenger Rebecca "Lambchop" Reilly who traveled the country in order to prove that messengers are pretty boring everywhere.  I lost possession of that book as it made its rounds amongst our messenger community.  Now it's fetching close to $30 on the open not-so-back market.   Shit.

So the library finally got it, I put it on hold, got the book weeks later, read it in a few days, and took some things from it.

Firstly, after reading the book, I can honestly say I don't know if I woulda made the "right" decision had I been put in the same place as Tyler and what sounds like the majority of the elite pro peleton.  Assuming Tyler is telling the truth (and by other rider's accounts, it should be), it would not have been an easy decision for any of us who can be swayed into the gray areas now and then.  Most of us have consciously done some kinda wrong at one point or another.
Tangled webs were woven.

I'm not saying what he did was right nor advocating it, but it did make for some exciting bike racing.  I haven't watched much of the Tour in the last few years.  Why?  Is it because I was spoiled by the turbo charged peleton pulling miracles out of their collective asses for 21 days?  Maybe.  Am I a little jaded by the "coming clean," Hein Verbruggen, tainted meat, douchiness of it all?  More than likely.  Is it possibly the fact that I really just don't like watching 99% of all professional/collegiate sports in my valuable free time?


Something else I took from the book; the importance of weight in pro cycling.  I had a bit of knowledge before, but as Tyler would have you believe, winning the Tour was all about blood and weight.
Michael "The Chicken" Rasmussen: Cycling related eating disorder poster boy

You needed the best blood in your body, and you needed to only carry as much body with you as necessary.  Unwanted weight was just an extra load for your engine, and you don't work as hard as they do and cheat as big as they did just to carry a case of Twinkies up L'Alpe d'Huez .  Sure there was big time training and recovery involved, but the importance of being skinny was crazy paramount.

Of all the other things I learned from the book, the one thing I never thought about was stairs.  When Tyler was training, he was told to either be riding or doing nothing.  Recovering from the huge efforts of training and not wasting energy otherwise was crucial in his preparations.  Stairs were an absolute no-no.  That got me to thinking...

Stairs.  I work for a law firm that inhabits nine floors in the tallest building from Philly to Atlanta.  There's about twenty steps between each floor (if I remember correctly), and I use them a lot.  I pick up and deliver directly from admins, paralegals, and attorneys.  After a full day of running the stairs, I can feel it in my legs.

So, I started an experiment.  I stopped using the stairs, except on the shorter trips.  I took the elevator instead.  A week later, my quads and hamstrings felt way better.  I could tell the difference in my morning commute.  The downside?  The hippy in me knows I'm using electricity to replace my personal effort.  I can't stand when perfectly capable people hit the handicap button on entryway double doors letting massive amounts of heat/air conditioning out of the building.  Laziness.

Am I being lazy or being smart?  Will it pay dividends next "season"or would I be better off weighing my broccoli?  Will the world end tomorrow and I'll regret that I wasn't doing something better with my time than blogging about stair usage?

I guess we'll see.


Anonymous said...

You need to do it all, rest, weigh your veggies, and become a monk. Win at all costs.

JB said...

Take the stairs.

Those dudes did as much training as was doped-up-humanly possible. The rest of us could use a little more snuck in here and there.

dicky said...

But stairs is hard, and I don't want my thighs to be unattractively huge.

Vertigo Cycles said...

The chicken has more nipples than your average bird.

Anonymous said...

I dont want to die before i get to hammer my first custom!

Anonymous said...

I haven't read the book but I'm 100% positive I would have doped had I been in the same situation. These guys are/were aspiring professional cyclist. It's not like they were just average guys who hadn't put in the work and were doping just to crush their peers. It's just a fact that to go over to Europe and have any chance of being competitive within the peloton you were gonna "have" to dope in order to play on that level. If being a Euro pro were my dream I wouldn't let the doping dilema stop me.