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  1. #1
    Senior Member pgjackson's Avatar
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    Is Pro Cycling simply too arduous?

    ***Please don't move this to the "Pro" forum. I don't know those guys over there and I'd like to have a civil discussion with the folks here about pro cycling.***

    I honestly don't care that Armstrong used PEDs. They ALL do. It has been part of cycling since the early 1900's. Human beings aren't designed to ride bicycles at top speed over mountains, 120+ miles per day for weeks on end. A single day event lasts longer than any other sporting event. A football game lasts about 3 hours with all kinds of breaks. A marathon is done in about 2 hours. Maybe an Ironman Triathlon comes close...but those guys don't do those 10 days in a row.

    I think professional cycling is entirely too arduous. No other sport even comes close. I mean, 5 hours a day of constant racing for two to three weeks? Imagine the NFL scheduling three or four games a week. What if the NBA schedule had series that lasted 15 consecutive days? It wouldn't take much more than a few days before players started dropping like flies. You would practically require PEDs just to keep up.

    What if cycling races were shorter? Maybe 40-50 miles a day with days off in between for rest.

    Cycling has a huge PR problem right now and I think LA is going to blow the roof off of it. The Olympics are even talking about dropping the sport entirely due to widespread doping. I think it's a bit ridiculous for cyclists to race in these grand events and expect them to do it naturally. Humans aren't designed to do that. Would shorter events with more rest reduce the use of PEDs?

    Thoughts?
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    No, it's not. They did it before PEDs, and they'll do it after. They're brutal yes, but that's what makes them legendary. And for the pros, it's not like they're getting killed just by doing one per season - quite a few pros use one pro multiday event to prepare/peak for the TdF. So no, it's not 'too hard' for the pros.

    Yes, it's wayyyyy too hard for us amateurs, but that's why we're also not famous.

    I do agree with some of the pro complaints in the past that some prior courses were too dangerous/technical, and that made it too risky to ride aggressively due to the risk of death (not just crashing, but death from falls of a cliff etc.) Technical courses are fine, but shouldn't result in death if you make a mistake.

  3. #3
    Flying Under the Radar X-LinkedRider's Avatar
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    I think you are singling out one aspect of professional racing. Road Race Championships like TdF and toC are definitely some of the longest sporting events in history. Including much of the olympics in their days. However, there is all sorts of racing like TT, Tri's, Mtb, Trials, Downhill, Dirt, BMX, Cross, etc.. None of which the events last longer than a couple of hours.
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    Super Moderator Allen's Avatar
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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persistence_hunting


    Humans do have the biology for endurance. More so than any other land animal, actually.
    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen
    I believe that in this case "solid meh" means "so 'meh' that it could never be anything more than 'meh', and yet also no less than 'meh' -- in a word, exactly 'meh'"

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    Throw the stick!!!! LowCel's Avatar
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    Sorry but it doesn't get much more "pro cycling" than this. I will leave a redirect so people can get to it from the road forum.
    I may be fat but I'm slow enough to make up for it.

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    Flying Under the Radar X-LinkedRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllenG View Post
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persistence_hunting


    Humans do have the biology for endurance. More so than any other land animal, actually.
    Spike used to have a cool show that dealt with the science of bodies on Pro Athletes. I forget what it was called, but I do recall an episode of them explaining how long a human can last at 75% speed compared to other land mammals. The results were pretty amazing. The human body can do incredible things.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member pgjackson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hhnngg1 View Post
    No, it's not. They did it before PEDs, and they'll do it after. They're brutal yes, but that's what makes them legendary. And for the pros, it's not like they're getting killed just by doing one per season - quite a few pros use one pro multiday event to prepare/peak for the TdF. So no, it's not 'too hard' for the pros.

    Yes, it's wayyyyy too hard for us amateurs, but that's why we're also not famous.

    I do agree with some of the pro complaints in the past that some prior courses were too dangerous/technical, and that made it too risky to ride aggressively due to the risk of death (not just crashing, but death from falls of a cliff etc.) Technical courses are fine, but shouldn't result in death if you make a mistake.
    That's kind of my point. Doping goes back 100 years. These huge events have always been insanely difficult. Even guys back then had to rely on PEDs to compete. The sport is absolutely rife with PEDs...something is going to have to change. I don't think stricter rules is going to fix it. I just don't think you can expect a person to do what they do...and do it naturally.
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  8. #8
    RidingLikeCrazy! rangerdavid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alleng View Post
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/persistence_hunting

    humans do have the biology for endurance. More so than any other land animal, actually.


    wtf?
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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    No, pro cycling isn't "too hard."

    1) While doping hasn't been eliminated, it's virtually certain that at least some top riders today are clean (Hesjedal comes to mind).

    2) PED's give you a bit of an advantage, but that's it. If you aren't good enough to compete in and finish a grand tour, taking EPO won't change that.

    3) Last but certainly not least: There are cheaters in every sport. Every. Single. Sport. No matter how easy or hard it seems.

    A 100 meter sprint isn't such an insanely demanding event that people need to dope to complete it. Doping is rampant in track & field because they want to win, and they believe that ingesting a drug will help them win.

    Little kids can play an entire baseball game without keeling over from exhaustion. It's not so hard that it demands doping.

    There is no PED that I'm aware of that helps grown men bash each other repeatedly, in 10 F weather, and catch an oval ball. Football is a brutal sport, but it's not so hard that it requires PED's.

    The Badwater Ultramarathon is a 135 mile footrace through Death Valley in July. It's "too hard" for almost every human on the planet. It's not so hard that it requires PED's.

  10. #10
    Senior Member pgjackson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllenG View Post
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persistence_hunting


    Humans do have the biology for endurance. More so than any other land animal, actually.
    I've studied this a bit in college. Those guys didn't do 5 hours a day for three weeks at a time.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member WhyFi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rangerdavid View Post
    wtf?
    Yup, we move much, much more efficiently than quadrupeds. There's videos showing dudes in Africa that still practice persistence hunting. In one video that I saw, they doggedly stalked a gazelle until the thing just overheated and stopped. They walked up and killed it without it putting up any fight.
    Quote Originally Posted by RollCNY View Post
    I would wager that not riding in Minnesota is just as fatiguing as not riding in New York.

  12. #12
    powered by Racer Ex gsteinb's Avatar
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    It can be done clean. It just needs to be done slower.

  13. #13
    Senior Member pgjackson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    No, pro cycling isn't "too hard."

    1) While doping hasn't been eliminated, it's virtually certain that at least some top riders today are clean (Hesjedal comes to mind).

    2) PED's give you a bit of an advantage, but that's it. If you aren't good enough to compete in and finish a grand tour, taking EPO won't change that.

    3) Last but certainly not least: There are cheaters in every sport. Every. Single. Sport. No matter how easy or hard it seems.

    A 100 meter sprint isn't such an insanely demanding event that people need to dope to complete it. Doping is rampant in track & field because they want to win, and they believe that ingesting a drug will help them win.

    Little kids can play an entire baseball game without keeling over from exhaustion. It's not so hard that it demands doping.

    There is no PED that I'm aware of that helps grown men bash each other repeatedly, in 10 F weather, and catch an oval ball. Football is a brutal sport, but it's not so hard that it requires PED's.

    The Badwater Ultramarathon is a 135 mile footrace through Death Valley in July. It's "too hard" for almost every human on the planet. It's not so hard that it requires PED's.
    You don't see a lot of endurance doping in football and baseball, but you do see wide-spread steroids and HGH that greatly improve strength and explosivbe speed. MANY, MANY athletes leave these sports not because they aren't talented, they can't keep up with the physical demands of strength and speed enhanced by PEDs. Steroids didn't help Barry Bonds hit a baseball, but they did help him hit them over the fence.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member pgjackson's Avatar
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    Crap. Got moved.
    "These are questions for wise men with skinny arms." - Khal Drogo
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    I was a spectator at the Tour of Utah last year. The first stage was about 125 miles, with >95 degrees heat and 9,000 feet elevation gain. It was hard just to wait by the finish line to watch. And it was just the first day!

    PEDs have been part of the sport for a very long time (1903, at the beginning of The Tour de France) among other reasons, because it's so ridiculously hard.

  16. #16
    Super Moderator Allen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgjackson View Post
    I've studied this a bit in college. Those guys didn't do 5 hours a day for three weeks at a time.
    The length of the hunt shows the prey's endurance, not the hunters.
    Cheating has nothing to do with the difficulty of the task, it is the weakness of character of the cheaters.
    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen
    I believe that in this case "solid meh" means "so 'meh' that it could never be anything more than 'meh', and yet also no less than 'meh' -- in a word, exactly 'meh'"

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllenG View Post
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persistence_hunting


    Humans do have the biology for endurance. More so than any other land animal, actually.
    Quote Originally Posted by rangerdavid View Post
    wtf?
    is that why i was seeing all those thirsty animals dying by the side of the MUP?

  18. #18
    Senior Member pgjackson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllenG View Post
    The length of the hunt shows the prey's endurance, not the hunters.
    Cheating has nothing to do with the difficulty of the task, it is the weakness of character of the cheaters.
    The level of competition has a lot to do with cheating. If your competition is using PEDs and wins, you better get with the program or you will be out of a job.
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  19. #19
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgjackson View Post
    You don't see a lot of endurance doping in football and baseball
    Did you miss the Ravens-Broncos game this weekend?

    Pro baseball teams will play almost every day from March to September.

    Football players don't compete every day, but they do train almost every day.

    Granted these aren't endurance sports, but there's no doubt that they are extremely demanding.


    Quote Originally Posted by pgjackson
    but you do see wide-spread steroids and HGH that greatly improve strength and explosivbe speed
    ...and none of those guys do it because the game is "too hard." They do it to gain an advantage.

    And again, there's plenty of insane endurance events that don't require PED's. Badwater Marathon, RAAM, Ironman tri's, running stage races come to mind.

    These guys aren't doping to finish. They're doping because they believe it gives them an edge.

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    I think the OP brings up an interesting question. I had never thought about it from the perspective of the Tour being so extremely physically demanding that it encourages athletes to rely on PED to complete in a competitive manner.

    Gsteinb mentions that it can be done clean, just slower. This is obviously true, but would take out some of the excitement. I remember reading in a thread somewhere in the past that some people found the climbs/attacks on this year's tours less exciting than in the past. If doping was completely eliminated, it would surely be that much more less exciting.

    I remember hearing Howard Stern talk about the TDF many years ago (maybe 10 years ago), saying how he couldn't understand how a bunch of guys going on a bike ride together for a couple weeks could be considered a sport. He didn't understand why anyone would want to watch it.

    I think that the TDF is amazing and making it less hard would take away from it in a way, but making some stages shorter may help to reduce the amount of doping and may make some stages more exciting/appealing to the general public.

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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgjackson View Post
    The level of competition has a lot to do with cheating. If your competition is using PEDs and wins, you better get with the program or you will be out of a job.
    Which means, they're doping because they believe/know that "the other guy" is doping.

    This undercuts your initial theory, that they're doping because "cycling is too hard."

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    Quote Originally Posted by pgjackson View Post
    You don't see a lot of endurance doping in football and baseball, but you do see wide-spread steroids and HGH that greatly improve strength and explosivbe speed. MANY, MANY athletes leave these sports not because they aren't talented, they can't keep up with the physical demands of strength and speed enhanced by PEDs. Steroids didn't help Barry Bonds hit a baseball, but they did help him hit them over the fence.
    Argh, I hate that assertion. There's no EVIDENCE to support it.

    Provide some clinical evidence, please, that supports your assertion that steroid use helps baseball players hit HRs.

    No handwaving, no "it's obvious". Because it's NOT obvious.

    Bonds hit 46 HRs in 1993 - well before steroid accusations. He routinely hit mid-40 HRs per season both before and after the steroid accusations started. He only exceeded that number once - when he hit 73. Did Roger Maris use steroids to hit 61? He exceeded 30 HRs in a season only two other times in his entire career. Did George Foster use steroids to hit 52 HRs in 1977? He also hit over 30 only two other times and never hit over 40 in any other season.

    Go look through baseball history - there are a crapload of players who, given an established level of HR hitting ability, had a fluke season where they hit about 25 HRs more than their established max.

    You wouldn't be surprised if Maris hit 36 HRs. But he hit 61.

    You wouldn't have been surprised that Davey Johnson hit 18 HRs, but he hit 43.

    You wouldn't have been surprised if George Foster hit 27 HRs, but he hit 52.

    You wouldn't have been surprised to see Brady Anderson hit 25 HRs but he hit 50.

    You wouldn't have been surprised to see Barry Bonds hit 48 HRs, but he hit 73.

    The only damn reason Bonds has the single-season HR record is he had a fluke year from the highest base level, while hitters like Ruth, Aaron, Mays, and Mantle never had a fluke HR hitting season.

    And fluke HR hitting seasons happened long before steroids were available.

    You also need to take some time to look at HR rates per season for EVERYONE.

    They all went up.

    In one year - 1994.

    Just like they went up in 1987. But in 1988 HR rates went back down.

    1987 was the year of the "rabbit ball". MLB changed the ball in 1987. They changed it back in 1988.

    They changed it again in 1994 and they haven't changed it back.

    HR rates jumped up in 1994 and haven't gone back down. Steroids caused that? My ass. What? Did the entire MLBPA get together and decide en masse to start using steroids in a single offseason? And that coincided with the season MLB decided to change the ball? Oh yeah, and after that 1994 strike, I seem to remember MLB running entire ad campaigns based on "Chicks dig the long ball"

    And if steroid use is the cause of increased HRs, why didn't HR rates decline after steroid use was banned?

    The only damn reason Bonds holds the MLB record for career HRs is that he played the majority of his career in the rabbit BALL era. If Aaron, Ruth, Mays, Mantle had been able to hit today's golf-ball-centered superball being thrown to postage-stamp-sized strike zones from a lowered mound, they almost certainly would have hit a LOT more HRs than they did.

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    As pointed out by Gsteinb, it can be done clean, slower, with a higher attrition rate and subsequent reduction in income. It's been getting harder of recent, with the riders even objecting to some of the moves towards more drama. I believe that 2013 will be the first year that we see the TDF climb the Alpe D'Huez twice in one day.

    But, can it be policed? The realative lack of recent positive tests gives me reason to doubt that it can. Certainly the world organizing body is more concerned with stability and maximization of revenue for all involved than they are with the elimination of performance and recovery drug use. And, I see the lack of positive test not as an indicator that their aren't any users remaining the peleton, but, that their is greater control being exhibited over the use.

    Really scary to me is what I've learned about genetic engineering as a consequence of my wife managing the establishment of a diagnostic molecular genetics department within her lab. I do not have a link, but, I recall reading a letter that came out of a symposium of geneticists suggesting to the WADA that they needed to invest heavily in pursuing such. These guys are apparently a reasonably small group, know who studied what where and were suggesting that at the very least their is a growing knowledge base in places like China that is going largely unregulated.

    As long as cycling is a profession you can count on their being riders who will do whatever it takes to 'have' if not 'earn' a spot in the peleton. If that 'whatever' can't be effectively policed there is little chance of eliminating it. If affective policing comes at the expense of dollars to the organizers, world governing body, the riders themselves and the rest involved in the sport you can expect that it will ever succeed.

    Making Road Races, easier isn't going to change any of this.

    And, as much as I would like to think that splitting Olympic sport from Professional might provide a path towards a better resolution. All that would really do is allow the Pro's to more openly 'manage' their health, extend their careers and increase their earning potential, without doing anything to ensure that the then amateur olympics were clean. If fact it would to a degree devalue the olympics, as they would no longer neccessarily have the 'best' athletes and there would be less financial wherewithal with which to fight doping.

    How do some of the other Olympic sports manage to keep their athletes off the front pages? FIFA certainly comes to mind. There is commonly known wide spread usage there and yet we don't hear about it.
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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Parson View Post
    Gsteinb mentions that it can be done clean, just slower. This is obviously true, but would take out some of the excitement.
    Not really. PED's shave off minutes, not hours.


    Quote Originally Posted by Parson
    I remember reading in a thread somewhere in the past that some people found the climbs/attacks on this year's tours less exciting than in the past. If doping was completely eliminated, it would surely be that much more less exciting.
    Some of the hoi polloi didn't like 2012 because Sky actually worked as a team, controlled the race, and resoundingly beat the snot out of everyone else. I.e. some people don't like conservative tactics -- as in, exactly the kind of tactics at which Armstrong excelled. While doping to the gills.

    Doping doesn't make cycling more exciting.


    Quote Originally Posted by Parson
    I think that the TDF is amazing and making it less hard would take away from it in a way, but making some stages shorter may help to reduce the amount of doping and may make some stages more exciting/appealing to the general public.
    Good news! The Tour de France has been getting shorter for decades.

    In the early 1980s, the average length was 3900km, maxing out at 4200km in 1987. In the 90s, it was down to 3800km. In the 00's, it dropped to 3500km. 2011 and 2012 averaged 3400km.

    It's also getting easier. For example, they no longer do split stages, and almost never do hilly time trials.

    None of this had any effect on doping. What's curtailed it, to whatever extent it actually has been curtailed, is because anti-doping efforts are forcing a cultural shift.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Parson View Post
    I think the OP brings up an interesting question. I had never thought about it from the perspective of the Tour being so extremely physically demanding that it encourages athletes to rely on PED to complete in a competitive manner.

    Gsteinb mentions that it can be done clean, just slower. This is obviously true, but would take out some of the excitement. I remember reading in a thread somewhere in the past that some people found the climbs/attacks on this year's tours less exciting than in the past. If doping was completely eliminated, it would surely be that much more less exciting.

    I remember hearing Howard Stern talk about the TDF many years ago (maybe 10 years ago), saying how he couldn't understand how a bunch of guys going on a bike ride together for a couple weeks could be considered a sport. He didn't understand why anyone would want to watch it.

    I think that the TDF is amazing and making it less hard would take away from it in a way, but making some stages shorter may help to reduce the amount of doping and may make some stages more exciting/appealing to the general public.
    Actually I think you might see clean/slower cycling as more dramatic and exciting. There would be a greater desparity between riders, more opportunity for attacks to succeed, more likelihood that a guy that went hard today for a time advantage wouldn't be able to repeat or defend tomorrow, a higher drop out rate due to injury and illness and fewer teams able to field a squad of so closely matched riders capable of riding high tempo in such a manner as to make stages boring.

    The downside, you further weaken the ability to gurantee investors/sponsors of their return on investment. So, don't expect as much coin for a less certain sport, where viewship is likely to fluctuate to a greater extent. Fewer people are going to tune in if their favorites have exited the race or if a competitor has an unassailable lead. And multi-year contracts will become more rare. Sponsors won't committ as many dollars for long periods when they're not assured of who may be able to be on the roster from year to year.
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

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