I’ve often thought that this is the hardest part of the riding season. We’ve just finished a great summer, felt the exhilaration of finishing one or more gran fondos (hopefully with PB’s!) and now the fall weather has hit. On top of that, our sport is going through one of the most difficult periods it has ever seen with LA & Co being implicated in one of the most publicized doping scandals in sport. I think that I can speak for most of us in saying that we want to believe that cycling can come out of this with new perspectives and positives outlooks for the future.
So, what to do? Firstly, from a personal perspective, now is the time that you need to continue your aerobic training on or off the bike. It’s been noted that many amateur cyclists will lose up to 20% of their VO2 leading up to the holidays and then start the new year with a void to dig out of. I would suggest going into a ‘maintenance mode’ where you are working your aerobic system at least 2x/week – it really doesn’t matter what it is you do, just get out there and be active – be it an intense cyclo-cross event or a fun coffee ride or run with a few friends. Go out and mix it up and enjoy. For me, this also reminds me why I love to ride – the camaraderie of the sport, the wind in my face and feeling of accomplishment when I get home. It can also act as a bit of a catharsis, helping understand why we are in this sport in the first place.
It’s important to note that the doping scandal that we are hearing about is really the tip of the iceberg. There have been many doping controversies in the history of cycling and Lance and the teams he rode for simply took it to a new level. In my years as a professional in the 80s I also saw doping taking place, albeit at a more unstructured and casual basis. Watching a rider insert a suppository while in a race was amusing to us neophytes and at the same time shocking. “Is that what it took to win?”, we’d ask ourselves.
During that time, I also heard many rumours of what guys were taking but I resisted getting close to the ‘inner circle’ to find out. It wasn’t in my nature to do anything and everything in order to win. I can honestly state that I raced clean for my whole career and I was fortunate to have a team that supported us in that way.
For a deeper understanding on this topic, I would encourage everyone to read David Millar’s (@millarmind) open letter to the Rabobank Corporation after they recently announced that they were ending their sponsorship of cycling. The riders of today shouldn’t pay for the mistakes of the past. Times have changed and the riders of today can and are, racing and winning clean.
Click here for David Millar’s open letter to Rabobank.