It’s a cert that Cycling Widows the world over will be in quite a quandary this weekend. Whyever so? you might ask. Surely they’ll simply be heaving a sigh of relief that the seemingly-unending Tour de France is finally coming to an end. Well, whilst that is true, the end of this month-long celebration of the world’s most famous race will also mean that the cyclopathic spouse will suddenly be left with a sullen void in his life. And this always has its knock-on effect on the Cycling Widow!
So here I am, posting yet another Sneak Peek to help my fellow Cycling Widow weather this difficult time. Of course, I also have a slightly ulterior motive, because I am, of course, launching my book, CYCLING WIDOWS 2 next weekend – on Saturday, 1 August, to be precise.
If you haven’t come across this blog before, the main thing you need to know about the book is that it explores the trials & tribulations of living with an obsessive cyclist in a rather tongue-in-cheek style. So, let’s get on with this week’s Sneak Peek, which deals with the hard-hitting question of whether the scandalous world of drugs could pose a threat to the bike-obsessed spouse. Here’s an excerpt of this chapter called A DOSE OF THE CRAP…
The most recent media revelations might have the man on the street believing that drug-taking in cycling is a relatively new phenomenon, one that’s only been going on for a few decades. But they’d be wrong. And, as a Cycling Widow, I believe it’s important for you to realise just how deep the insanity runs when it comes to drug-taking in cycling – well, you know, just in case your hubby ever does start going that bit faster and dreaming of cycling stardom.
So I thought I’d entertain you here with a selection of cycling history’s highlights gleaned mainly from the lazy-journalist’s friend, Wikipedia (although, no rest for the wicked with this topic, as there were over 80 printed pages to trawl through from said website!). In fact, I think you might be surprised to discover just how far back cycling’s drug-taking shenanigans go… Drug-taking was first recorded way back in the late 1880s, with the notorious Choppy Warburton credited as the chap who started the whole thing off. Essentially, he was accused of ‘massive doping’ but, although claims were unproven, he was still banned from the sport. If you think about it, a name like Choppy is a dead giveaway to a dark and dodgy personality, isn’t it? So anyone dealing with him really should have cottoned on from the start. Although, I have to say that the name does sound more like one belonging to a butcher-cum-axe-murderer than to a drug-pusher. In any case, I’m just hoping that those nice bread-making folk who share his surname aren’t related to the man and haven’t picked up any of his dubious character traits – otherwise, who knows what effects one of my favourite loaf brands could be having on me!
One drug favoured around that time was nitroglycerine. Medically used to kick-start the heart after attacks, it was taken during a race with the aim of improving a rider’s breathing. Now, perhaps this did work, but a ‘slight side effect’ was that riders would have hallucinations, and sometimes quite extreme ones like imagining that someone was running after them with a knife – and whether these came about due to the substance itself or from over-exhaustion is unclear. Another ‘slight side effect’, surely, is that, handling nitroglycerine, you could ‘blow up’ in more ways than one! In my view, the stuff’s bad news all round.
Personally, I find it hard to contemplate that doping was going on all that time ago. After all, despite all the innovation and industry that was flourishing around then, one tends to think of the late 1800s as a simpler time – at least by today’s standards. There were no ‘E’ numbers or unpronounceable additives in foods, no plastic bags made from ‘sophisticated’ petrochemicals, and medicine certainly hadn’t reached the ‘lofty heights’ of present-day pharmaceuticals.
Still, as the years rolled on, the drugs of choice did become more highly developed. By the late 1940s, amphetamines had come onto the scene. These were apparently created for use in the military, to keep air and sea crew ‘awake, alert and energetic’. So, post Second World War, the drugs were probably left twiddling their thumbs in a pharmaceutical lab somewhere. I can only hazard a guess that the manufacturer’s head honchos wanted to recoup the money they’d invested in their prized product and were brainstorming ways to get rid of all the pills they had stock-piled. Hmm… Maybe we could send out a dedicated amphetamine sales team to see what business they can rustle up.
I can just see it now. “Let’s hit the sports arena, guys!” the sales manager would cry. “Fanatical sportsmen are so desperate to win at any cost, I bet we can offload these babies in next to no time. We’ll probably have to start producing more just to keep up with the demand.” And so the fate of sportsmen – cyclists included – was (allegedly) sealed.
‘La Bomba’ was, from what I can gather, a concoction of drugs that included amphetamines, favoured by Italian cyclists. Famously, Fausto Coppi admitted to downing his fair share of the stuff, joking in a televised interview in 1952 that he only took drugs when strictly necessary. And when was that? Most of the time! As you can probably tell, back then, PEDs (that’s ‘Performance Enhancing Drugs’ to you and me) weren’t actually illegal. And it seems that, on some level, the cycling world was ‘happy’ with this state of affairs, because things didn’t change until as late as 1965! A bit ironic, really, that they made PEDs illegal just when the drug-tolerant Flower Power era was in full swing.
Although we’re talking serious drugs here, this chapter goes on to to demonstrate just how dangerous even everyday drugs like caffeine are for the cyclomaniac. So, unfortunately, he could be at serious risk even from coffee drinking! Who’d have thought it, eh?
As mentioned, there’s another Sneak Peek winging its way to you right before the launch of Cycling Widows 2 – and this one will focus on bike porn – another threat which is bound to surface even more now that the Tour de France is ending.
Remember, there are still a few other goodies you can pick up this month, so get them while they’re hot – The Survival Guide is permanently free, but the discounts will expire soon!…
- Pick up a FREE copy of The Cycling Widow’s Survival Guide.
- Get DISCOUNTS on all my cycling-related books – including Cycling Widows 2 (available to preorder). Click here for info.
- Read the latest chapter from the original CYCLING WIDOWS book on the blog each week in the weekly FREEBIE MONDAY slot.
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