Saturday, August 12, 2006

going fast, how it happens

I had one of those unexpectedly good rides this week. Lately the muscles and joints have been feeling aged, the wind has been constantly adverse, and traffic has conspired against me. Wednesday the whole tenor flip-flopped, mostly because the breeze shifted and those (few) stoplights whose timing I can't predict were cooperative. Outcome: my morale jumped, discomfort faded, and I got home -- first time ever I think -- without having to plant my foot once.

While this pleasant event was unfolding, I thought about exceptional achievement in sports and the temptation to use performance-enhancing drugs. I've no knowledge about the effects of the drugs beyond what I've read and what I've seen the drugged athletes do. But I imagined them to be analogous to the good luck I experienced (favorable wind and traffic), a boost that -- both psychologically and physiologically -- leads to exceptional performance.

Floyd Landis's mom was quoted as saying she didn't know whether he took drugs or not, but she did know that the temptation to take them was greater than ordinary people (like she and her husband) could understand.

I'm still hoping for his exoneration. Opinion seems to be 50-50 among those who have any expertise.

1 comment:

GobberGo said...

I love it when rides like that happen. I don't personally expect to have one like that for a while to come. I just got my bike in working order, and while using it for some errands, I was shocked to note how far out of shape I'd fallen in the few weeks of non-riding during my move. Hills that I expected would not provide a problem sent my calves to barking and put me out of breath. It was doubly disturbing because the move has brought me down about four thousand feet in elevation, supposedly giving me more oxygen.

Thinking about performance-enhancing drugs makes me think: sports are not the only competative field to experience this problem. Academics experiences what seems a parallel plague, with the wide availability of ADD medication such as Ritalin, Adderall and Dexedrine on college campuses, not to mention Speed and other illegal stimulants, the temptation to put off studying until the day (or night) before and then to blitz with drugs, theoretically receiving the same grade as one would have gotten with a regimine of studying, is quite powerful.