Riding With Steroids

You read that subject correctly. I have shamelessly taken the wheel on the influence of performance enhancing substances. After a few months of annoying setbacks, I decided to turn to chemicals in order to get back to speed. Rather than continue under a cloud of suspicion, I have decided to take the path of honesty, and come clean now. I will not waste your time with regretless confessions later on Oprah’s couch.

Flashback to a couple days ago: the cold that never ends continued it’s cursed streak of not ending. This weekend is the event I’ve been looking forward to more than anything else in the fall, and I didn’t want some sniffles and a sore throat to get in the way. On the other hand, I didn’t want to punish my body and delve further into the sick, making the cold that never ends continue even longer.

I was fortunate to get a doctor appointment yesterday morning. “I’m still sick, Doc!” I said as he looked puzzled to see me again. And then I coughed. I’ve been doing a lot of that.

He did all those doctor things, and determined that the infection was gone. Even though I still felt like a mess, my condition had actually improved. That was a relief.

Could I ride this weekend? Yes, he said, but I might hate it. This was a pretty rough cold, and I could be dealing with the coughing aftermath for quite awhile. I appreciate every last bit of lung capacity when climbing a mountain, and there’s lots of training to be done to eventually complete the Parkway. Could we do anything to speed it up?

Yes, we could. The answer was drugs. He prescribed me a steroid, prednisone, which would alleviate inflammation in my airwaves. It would help with that nasty cough, and allow me to train at somewhere close to normal capacity.

My ears perked up. Steroids? Were these of the performance enhancing variety? Would I notice a difference?

Not really, he said. In fact, if taken long enough, these would have the opposite effect. I would get fat and never want to leave the couch.

Fortunately I had a cycling community to give me the real scoop. Some others had taken the same thing, and they felt that it did make a difference on the bike. They also warned me of insane appetites, water retention, bloating, and some increased energy. The good news is that after my first dosage, the cold symptoms were greatly minimized. I actually felt up to saddling up. My energy level was definitely up. I felt euphoric, which was probably a combination of the drug and finally getting out of the house. It was back to Tri-Cities for the Tuesday group ride.

As we rolled out on the 12th street extension, some of the phlegm came back. I let out a few coughs, careful not to be ‘that guy’ and overflow into the paceline. So far so good, but as I told a friend, the true test would come on the first hill. I would either tear away from the pack, or completely blow up.

Feeling good after making the turn onto Old Wire Rd, I eagerly awaited the hills. The first one was not so bad. I hung on with the pack and felt fine. On the next climb, I somehow ended up in front and kept going. I looked at my heart rate, and noticed it was about 10 beats faster than usual. The speed was faster too. What in the world? It wasn’t killing me like it normally would, so I went with it. Might as well see what these drugs can do.

I kept on maintaining the same heart rate. I looked back, and to my surprise, the pack was behind me. For real? It was then that I realized that along with my speed, lactic acid was also accumulating faster. My pace slowed, and I could feel my legs burning. Ugh. The remainder of the pack caught me, and I fell off to the side, easing up before regaining my composure.

I stayed within the pack for the rest of the way, playing it smart and not trying to show off. It was when we hit the final fast 10-miles when another symptom kicked in. All of a sudden I felt like I had a rock in my stomach, and ballooned up to 300 lbs. I was able to hang on during the entirety of the speeding downhill. It was at the next big hill that I ran out of steam. I could feel my stomach muscles punching each other. I dropped like a bad habit.

Lesson learned. Drugs are bad, m’kay. This prescription will last me until next week, after which I’ll hopefully be cold free and back on the path towards my parkway goal. I may not be totally comfortable, but I’ll be able to ride this weekend. Now that’s some news I can handle.

Edit: Apparently a couple people took this post a little seriously and accused me of being a doper. This was meant to be tongue in cheek. Prednisone is not a banned substance according to WADA.

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6 responses to “Riding With Steroids

  • exmaschine

    Good job Aaron, sounds like you did the right thing. Hopefully the prednisone does the trick!


    • aaronwest

      Thanks, Geo. After being sick for a month and a half, I would take just about anything for some relief. So far it has worked great. Day 2 and I’m feeling a ton better.

  • Noah

    Well admitted, Aaron. Drugs have their place when you have a TUE – I’m not ashamed to say I was on a long-term dose of DHEA for a while, but it was on the doc’s orders and I didn’t race or do any real “events” during that time. Sometimes you just have to do what’s medically necessary to get back to where you wanna be. Just don’t graduate to the horse tranqs or Tom Boonen’s happy white nose candy!

    • aaronwest

      I hope the DHEA worked for you. In the anti-substance trend of the last several years, we tend to forget that a lot of these drugs were created for a healing purpose. The scientists didn’t labor at in their labs just so a guy can go faster on a bicycle. And they help a lot of people with real conditions.

      I hope most people could tell that this post was halfway satirical. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking something like this to recover from a cold. There will be no syringes in my future.

  • Jim Brennan

    Honest and interesting. I learned something.

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