Meatloaf sings I Would Do Anything for Love, and in that song, he says he won’t do “that.” In the days before the interwebz, I had no idea what “that” was. Now, you can get the full details. But in the days of yesteryear, when I heard this song, I would wonder what “that” was. If he would do anything for love, then what wouldn’t he do? What would be outside of ‘anything’? I figured it was something pretty prophetic.
I’m at a point where I feel a bit like I’ve found my “Meatloaf’s that”, in the realm of cycling. I would do anything to be a better cyclist. I will sacrifice sleep. I will train incessantly. I will suffer. I will make the power meter hit my targets. I will not get dropped on a group ride. I will dig deeper and try harder. But there are some “thats” which I will not do. I won’t cheat, I won’t dope, I won’t take advantage of another rider’s misfortune.
I’m incredibly frustrated at the moment, as I’m at an intersection of my list of “Meatloaf’s thats” and my life. I’ve been in a slump of late. I’m coming into the spring relatively strong, but just feeling like crap. Blood tests show the predictable truths. My red blood cell count and volume are low. My protein levels and albumin are low. My Vitamin D is low. And yes, while I’m a guy and I hate to talk about it, my testosterone is low. I’m taking supplement upon supplement upon vitamin upon supplement. I’m eating a diet that is devoid of gluten, dairy, oats, and for the most part, artificial sweeteners and corn. I’m at the point where naturopathic medicine is running out of alternatives.
If you ever read any of the books by confessed dopers, you’ll hear them talk about the incredible benefits of EPO, steroids and testosterone. Tyler Hamilton talks about the incredible impact that taking the ‘egg’ of testosterone had upon him. He talks about how taking EPO meant that you just didn’t hit a wall…you would hit what you thought was your limit and ride through it. I don’t know what those feelings are like, as I haven’t taken any of those substances. But what I imagine is that I’m at the inverse side of the equation. I’m deficient, below normal levels, in the things that they were enhancing beyond normal levels. To me, it seems like getting my blood levels to within normal standards would be the same kind of liberating, empowering, emboldening feeling that Tyler had from doping above normal levels. In my mind, however, it’s binary. Doping is doping, whether you’re doping to get to normal levels, or whether you’re doping to have an advantage.
I’m back at the point where a doctor will prescribe for me drugs that are banned substances, that are performance enhancing, that would make me feel better–and would undoubtedly make me ride better. And I find myself staring down the barrel of one of my Meatloaf’s thats…something that I will not do. Even if it could be justified under the rules of cycling (and please excuse the pro-Lance content there. I’m still Lance-conflicted), I can’t justify it in my head.
I’m either destined for a future of mediocrity (both on the bike and in how I feel), or for a future where I feel as though I’ve cheated–and violated a categorical imperative.
Neither option looks particularly appealing.
No, I won’t do that.