Cycling is a ridiculously difficult sport. It encourages obsession and rewards suffering and it's because of this that the sport has been plagued by drug scandals since long before anyone cares to admit. The professional peloton is comprised exclusively of genetic freaks. Seriously, we're talking about a group of guys that God saw fit to endow with legs that do not tire and lungs the size of beer kegs. Oh yeah, and some of them have hearts that only need to beat 25 times a minute because they're SO FREAKIN' STRONG.
Falling far below this group of cyborgs is the rest of us. I speak of people for whom an extra 10 grams off their bike makes absolutely no difference because they're carrying an extra 10 ponds on their ass. The notion of blood doping amongst we relative miscreants is sort of like contemplating putting a hood scoop on a Saturn Ion. Laughable. For us - and I count myself among the 10 pound ass folks - obsession is negotiable and suffering has an off switch.
Which is why I've felt so odd recently. I am suddenly taking brutal pulls on the front of my group rides. I am attacking on hills and going over the top with gas in the tank. I am sprinting it out at the end of the rides, and not for 26th place. And I've checked, this is not a Special Olympics training ride. There is only one explanation for this sudden turn in form:
Someone is doping me in my sleep.
Seriously, I wake up and look for needle marks on my arms. Whoever is doing this has a delicate hand because I have yet to find any. I have felt like a lot of things on the bike, but Monster has not traditionally been one of them. Some of my favorites:
Microwaved Stretch Armstrong Action Figure - This one is a repeat offender and particularly popular during the summer months in Texas. If you can imagine your skin feeling light-headed, like it wants nothing more than to burst releasing your well-heated innards onto a skillet of asphalt, then you can imagine the Microwaved Stretch Armstrong feeling. This typically happens when it's hot and you did not bring enough food or water. Example: Relatively new to cycling, I went on a 54 mile training ride near Burnet, TX having only eaten 1 Cliff Bar before the ride. That's 240 calories toward a hilly 2,500 calorie effort (I know because I went home and read the back of the Cliff Bar wrapper. I had to quantify my stupidity). 1 solitary mile from the end I fell off the bike. I literally could not go one pedal stroke farther.
Circus Bear - All great cyclists have great nicknames. The Cannibal. The Lion of Flanders. The Pirate. The Circus Bear is not likely ever to be one. As a big rider - 6'2 who's been as heavy as 210 on the bike - I have definitely resembled the Grizzly in the pointy hat on the tricycle. Cute, but not going anywhere fast. In Texas this image was compounded by the fact that my training buddy was all of 5'4 and weighed 130 pounds soaking wet. We looked like a lycra-clad version of Abbott and Costello.
Tin Man/Joan Crawford - Shaky and stiff. Other riders drop their inside shoulder and carve a rail through the corners. I turn right angles and stutter my way through turns as I lose bowel control.
Marshmallow - White shorts, white jersey, early season ride with no tan. Marshmallow says a lot, but "wicked fast" is not one of those things.
Big Freakin' Sail - The kind you might find on a pirate ship. And to extend the analogy, my legs would be the pirates and they would be pissed. As in mutiny pissed. And instead of the wind catching the sail perfectly and propelling us swiftly and gracefully to treasured booty, it would be catching our sail and rapidly dropping us from among the booty (aka other riders). Throw a sea anchor in there as well and we're getting somewhere. Multiply this feeling by 10 if we're riding uphill.
For now, I'm not reporting myself to the authorities. I rather like the feeling of dropping people off the back of the group. I enjoy passing EVERY OTHER RIDER on a hill, catching their sideways glances, and reading expressions that say, "Fuck you for thinking this is easy." I am addicted to the manic spooling of energy that builds at the end of a ride and suddenly explodes in the violence of a sprint. I'm in love with the speed and power.
I guess I'm officially a cycling jerk.