If you’re a fan of cycling then I imagine you're fairly sick of hearing about all the boring performance enhancing drugs that cyclists (and plenty of other athletes) use to help boost their natural abilities. Things like EPO (to improve the blood’s ability to carry oxygen), anabolic steroids including Testosterone (to increase strength and aid in muscle recovery) and Human Growth Hormone (to improve muscle regeneration).
There are also other forms of doping that don’t involve taking drugs but rather transfusing a rider’s own blood (which has been previously removed and stored on ice) prior to a difficult race – this is a slightly more natural way of boosting the red blood cell count and, until recently, more difficult to detect than artificial forms of doping.
But there are plenty of other drugs out there that are a lot more fun than these. The Private Cyclist talked to some experts in this field and is now proud to present this handy guide to (some of the other) drugs in cycling.
MDMA is the active ingredient in Ecstasy, and it has exhibited the typical life-cycle of many recreational drugs. Initially discovered by accident in 1912, the military experimented with it as an interrogation tool in the 1950s before its therapeutic benefits were discovered and a number of psychotherapists began to use it, among other things, as a marital aid. The term Marital aids describes tools (drugs or otherwise) that are used to enhance or promote intimacy between sexual partners and should not be confused with Marital AIDS, which is a sexually-transmitted disease passed on to a partner after marriage which, if you are a supporter of this proposed U.S. Senate bill, is the only time that two people should be having sex, unless they’re gay in which case it should be never.
I’m not sure if there is a hierarchy here but I wonder which is considered worse – sex between non-married heterosexuals or sex between married homosexuals?
Anyway, enough about abstinence, back to the drugs…
After MDMA was used clinically to enhance pleasure between married couples, by the 1970s people realised that it could be used to enhance pleasure in other areas of life such as dance-parties, house-parties and Tupperware-parties.
LSD is a hallucinogen that was first produced by Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann in 1938. It wasn’t until five years later that Hofmann unintentionally ingested the drug while synthesising it and discovered the powerful psychedelic effects that it brought on. Three days after this experience, Hofmann took part in a famous self-experiment by intentionally ingesting a dose of LSD (or acid) and taking the first acid trip riding home on his bicycle. Since then it has been used therapeutically, tested by the military and hit the height of its popularity as a recreational drug in the 1960s.
It has been used by many notable people including Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, which is both interesting (as the drug is usually associated with artists and musicians) and lucky (as it allows me to link back to a previous article about Quantum Mechanics that references the significant contribution Feynman made to this important scientific field).
LSD was eventually prohibited for personal use but, like most other things that authorities have ever tried to ban, it has continued to be used to great effect by artists, musicians and even cyclists to enhance their creativity and ability in their chosen field.
A cyclist who I spoke to described an intense experience riding home at night on acid that was reminiscent of the famous scene from Hunter S. Thompson’s book-turned-film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas where a flock of hallucinogen-induced bats begin swooping the author’s car as he drives through the desert (with his faithful attorney) on the way to the Mint 400 motorcycle race.
If you want to see any permanent skill improvements then it would be necessary to make a proper commitment to mushrooms, which might be difficult, unless you can convince your local café to offer a (mind)-altered breakfast menu.
Cocaine is a recreational drug whose effects include an overwhelming feeling of wellbeing, euphoria and heightened alertness. It is often associated with the professional crowd, owing to its relatively high price (in its pure form – although Crack Cocaine is a cheaper crystalised concoction of cocaine and baking soda if you’re after something a little more ghetto). And while it might be more common to find lines of cocaine being snorted in bathrooms at trendy inner-urban bars in the legal precinct, a few professional cyclists have also been known to indulge.
While Marco Pantani lost his life to cocaine in 2004, Tom Boonen’s has so far been spared, along with that of a cat he swerved to avoid while driving his Lamborghini.
Boonen is well known for his multiple Paris-Roubaix wins and a Road World Championship, but is most famous for testing positive for cocaine on three occasions, driving an expensive sports car (badly)…and having a 16-year-old girlfriend. But apparently that’s legal in Belgium – the 16-year-old girlfriend, not the cocaine.
Filled with euphoria and a sense of invincibility, one cyclist related a story about buckling a road bike wheel while riding home on cocaine…after attempting to jump a stair gap. If you are going to ride on cocaine, then it’s important to keep in mind that while you may feel invincible, it will NOT transform your road bike in to an 8-inch travel downhill bike.
Although less spectacular, the correct method for navigating stairs on a road bike is depicted above-right.Cannabis
There aren’t many sports where marijuana would provide you any benefit. This drug is much more likely to enhance activities that involve lying on a couch, watching TV and eating snacks…such as viewing live TV coverage of the Tour de France. Obviously it’s important to be aware that too much marijuana can end up robbing you of your ambition, although “not if your ambition is to get high and watch TV” – a profoundly honest and refreshing response from Bridget Fonda’s character in the film Jackie Brown.