Nowadays it is quite a task to make a booking with the GP. Decades ago, in the tupperware party era, before amphetamines and alcohol had been replaced in the peloton by triamcinolone and EPO, the process seemed much easier.
On this occasion, prior to the consultation, The Wattmeister was required to undergo a chest x-ray and a blood test to check for ‘abnormalities’. Hah! Due to the early hour of the appointment, he had had to forgo his normal breakfast of Kenalog’s* shredded wheat.
A few nervous edgy days passed before the test results arrived in the GP’s possession. All the while, TW trained at a very low level, under the radar, nay, practically underground. When revealed, the results were good, even good enough to load onto Strava. Kidney function, prostate PSA, red blood cell, white blood cell and cholesterol figures all proved to be ‘outstanding ‘, (TW’s description, not the doctor’s).
“Just to be sure, take this spray”, suggested the doctor, writing a prescription on brown paper packaging, “it has a steroid component which will alleviate your symptoms, help you to lose weight, gain lean muscle and will almost certainly assist you in the Regents Park sprint.”
“But is it race legal doc? I have only ever taken pan y agua….I don’t want to cheat! (Get caught).”
“That’s what they all say! It most certainly is. I will write you a therapeutic use exemption** certificate which allows you to race on drugs which are normally banned in competition”, he explained.
In less than 48 hours, TW had stopped coughing, lost 2 kgs of fat and was posting times on the Wattbike that Iron Mike could only dream of. What kind of magic was this?
Two weeks later, and after 10 weeks in the wilderness, the comeback was completed with a hard fought sprint victory over The Lion King, Long Tom, Judge, Cup-a-Soup, Iron Mike and The Man from Iceland.
Back at the coffee shop, the whispers were shriller than ever, but the language was different….lean, vascular, stoked, impassioned. How could such improvement be wrought in such a short space of time?
In his victory speech to the assembled crowd outside the Muswell Hill branch of Planet Organic, (Speakers’ Corner of the North), The Wattmeister proclaimed:
“Get real folks, there’s no such thing as a fairytale.”
- * Kenalog….trade name for an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid.
- ** Acronym TUE.