Our friends over at Dirt Magazine posted a story today asking if “Roadies really are the biggest cheating bastards ever?”.
Our resident roady expert Jon Rollason offered to pen a response.
Words by Mr Jon Rollason.
Dirt Magazine asked today if “ROADIES REALLY ARE THE BIGGEST CHEATING BASTARDS EVER?”. What could suggest such a dramatic conclusion?, you ask.
Well, Dirt has jumped on the rapidly accelerating idiot bandwagon surrounding Ryder Hejedal and a bizarre allegation of so-called “mechanical doping” in road racing. Hejedal goes wide on a corner on a steep hill. He goes down. The bike slides away from him, and then its engine starts and it commits suicide by driving under the TV moto under its own power. This proves that, after medical doping was conclusively banished from road racing, the cheats started putting motors on their bikes, such is their cheating bastardry.
It’s not the first time this possibility has been wittered about on the internet. A couple of years ago, Spartacus was seen to make a jump while also touching his handlebars. Also some spectators heard a whirring sound coming from his bike. It was an open and shut case. Let’s put aside Occam’s razor. Let’s ignore any flywheel effects, the steepness of the road, the momentum of the sliding bike, its lack of contacts with the road as it’s moving and everything else about the very short video of Hejedal’s crash that looks like a pretty regular kind of crash with no special features. Let’s just think about the practicalities of cheating in a bike race by riding a motorbike.
“Let’s just think about the practicalities of cheating in a bike race by riding a motorbike.”
First, it would be ridiculously easy to get caught. Medical doping uses products and techniques that enhance what the body naturally does. Dopers either rely on a substance or process being undetectable, or they aim to train hard using the banned product so they can race easy when they’ve pissed it out. When caught, they claim they ate a dodgy steak, that too much booze naturally raised their testosterone levels or dehydrated them, that they naturally have abnormal red bloodcell counts, that they must have had a phantom twin who melded with them in the womb, that their coach fed them steroids without them knowing, or that their special toothpaste had performance-enhancing capabilities but they didn’t read the label before eating it. So a combination of invisibility and plausible deniability.
The UCI inspects racing bikes, and sometimes x-rays them. It’s fairly easy to tell whether a bike has a motor. You can see it. Or its buttons, or its batteries or something. Certainly if you x-ray the bike. They weigh them too. Most pro racebikes come in on the minimum limit.
Imagine a commissaire weighing a normal looking racebike with the weight of a battery and an engine in it.
“your bike has an engine in it” he says
“It must have been some over the counter hay fever medication that I bought in a Spanish pharmacy” the rider replies “I didn’t realise the bike had an engine.”
You see how insane that would be..?
That’s for the riders and teams. Let’s talk about the inventor of this electric bike, who is clearly an idiot. You’ve all seen that ebikes are taking over mountainbiking, right? Every euro-brand has a surprisingly expensive high end mountain bike with a motor on it this year. They weigh about 50lbs. They have a thing that looks like a washing machine bolted to the bb shell, and a battery the size of a milk bottle fixed to the frame so that they can travel a flat 25miles at 16mph. Well, if the mechanical doping theory is to be believed, someone has invented a non-speed-limited ebike with a motor and battery that can be concealed in an ordinary looking racing bike and which has a useful range of well over 100 miles. It also appears to be able to turn the back wheel without moving the cranks. Having invented this miracle product right at the time that the ebike market has exploded in size and everyone is buying vastly inferior ebikes for massive prices, the inventor decided to keep his machine secret, and only gave it to a mid-ranking pro road racer.
Hejedal must have paid pretty well out of his meagre race-win bonuses, frankly, otherwise I’d certainly have patented the technology and sold it to Cube, Scott, Haibike and everyone else to make dorky ebikes slightly less dorky.
Road racing has had serious problems with doping. It may well still have. What is does not have is an epidemic of miraculous invisible electric motors.
Tell us what you think guys …
//Update: We just wanted to add that the original Dirtmag post was posed as a question, rather than a statement by the author. Dirt weren’t of course saying that roadies are “cheating bastards”, they were asking if the video was evidence of cheating and mechanical assistance.