excuse my naiveity here - is this sean yates we're playing silly buggers over??!
i think we need to be realistic about "the past" and to assume that "most" riders in the peloton were doing drugs of one type or the next back then (and probably now, too). there were a few exceptions to the rule - superhumans who didn't feel pain like the rest of us. their achievements are well documented.
however, put yourself
in the picture - you've been a tremendous young amateur at your level, you win all
the races that are thrown at you, you move abroad to try your hand at the next level only to find that you're getting slaughtered
as if you were riding with only one leg
, time after time!!
an old friend of mine did just that and came back home with his tail between his legs after trying his luck in belgium in the 80s. he said that these guys were injecting something called "belgian mix" which apparently contained speed, heroine and cocaine. it's use was rife in the top amateur races. he said that these guys were literally foaming at the mouth and "chomping at the bit" to get going on the start line.
after the race was over, the same guys would have to go and ride their legs into the ground to get the junk out of their systems, as if the race itself wasn't enough!
anyway, he was proud enough to say, "f**k that!" and came home without joining the party.
however, imagine that you're one of the many
who decided to "join the party" - something of a normality back then. and you get invited to join big bad lance's team and are told to take the "meds" and "join the party" or else you're out.
unless you were a physical freak like hinault or lemond (and i mean that in the nicest way possible), who's to say that you wouldn't have done the same as yates, simpson, riis, hincapie, hamilton et all?
i think that all this hysteria stinks
of hypocrisy. let's be totally honest - surely we suspected that these "racehorses" were taking illegal substances and if we genuinely didn't
then were we naive enough to think that bike riders could really ride those hellish races day after day after day on pasta and bananas alone??!
we all loved to watch them torturing themselves and their competitors and secretly we knew that no normal human being could possibly perform to these levels without some kind of assistance from the doctor!
my friends and i went to the south of france when we were in our early 20s and were flying fit and racing every race we could. on the big day we managed to get halfway
up alpe d'huez in the scorching sun and had to stop
for a rest
, such was the severity of this effort!
and to think that the tour de france does a couple of weeks hard racing beforehand and then on the day itself covers more hideous mountains in 100 miles of racing and then these guys start hammering up the last and most difficult climb as if they just got on their bikes at the bottom!!!
i think that we need to waken up here - we are only human beings and i think that we need to accept that what happened in the past was acceptable
in the past, however unacceptable
it may be today. i for one do not watch modern cycling on tv - it's boring in the extreme in a similar way that formula one is boring in the extreme and certainly boring in comparison to the dangerous but thrilling racing of yesteryear.
personally, i prefer to live in the past when it comes to armchair cycling and watch those "drug-fuelled" superhumans on vhs killing themselves and one another over mountain after mountain, mile after mile, time and time again! spectacular crashes in formula one? weren't they thrilling to watch? you won't see that these days.
my point is, the romans didn't have gladiators in the amphetheatres for nothing - we all have it in ourselves to be thrilled by extremes of behaviour and by superhuman effort, no matter how it's achieved. it's the danger that excites us! i think that life these days is far too controlled by do-gooder puppets and their litigation masters. we cannot move
without signs telling us "dont do this" and "don't do that" - why don't they just have big signs everywhere saying "LIFE CAN BE DANGEROUS!"
let's be a little kinder to those "heroes" of cycling who are "tainted" in these "perfectly clean" times - these were the guys that inspired thousands of us to get our backsides out on the bike to try and "be like them", however unlikely that was going to be.
tour de france? i can't wait until i read about hinault throwing some idiot off of his podium - it's about as exciting as that race gets these days!!
anyway, thank goodness for those old tapes...as one of my life long cycling buddies said recently - it was the drugs
that made it great to watch!!!
1989 TvT Carbon Fibre, Oakley Factory Pilots & painkillers . ..
..what else could you possibly need?!!