The story is very probably apocryphal, but it goes something like this. Back in the dark, bad days of peak blood doping, Bjarne Riis, as manager of a professional bicycle racing team, would advise his riders on how to get to “race weight” thusly:
- Train all day.
- When you arrive home from training, famished, first take three sleeping pills, and then before they take hold, drink a liter of seltzer, so you feel full.
- Sleep all night.
- When you wake up in the morning, go out and train all day.
Now, before I say anything else, it is very possible that this story is false, that this particular diet plan was someone else’s brainchild, or that no one ever actually did this…but let’s be honest. They did blood transfusions in hotel rooms. They ate vampire placenta. They bathed in the blood of a thousand virgins.
OK. OK. That last one isn’t true.
Alls I’m saying is that the truth in pro cycling is more or less always stranger than fiction, AND a guy whose nickname was Mr. 60% because he shot so much blood dope that his hematocrit level set off the metal detector at the airport, is capable of anything.
Quod erat demonstrandum:
But let’s set all that aside. I mean, does it work?
You’ve got your Weight Watchers and your Jenny Craig, your South Beach and your Paleo, your intermittent fasting and your Whole 30, vegetarianism, raw food, veganism, ovo-lacto-vegetarianism, the Gulag Archipelago, Force 10 from Navaronne, the Brothers Karamazov, and Betty White. People swear by these things, and probably most of them work if you try real hard, are very disciplined, and stick to them over long periods of time. HOWEVER, if you were capable of those things, you might not be an overweight mess to begin with.
Shit. Let’s step back again for a moment. You look great to me, not that I’m looking. I love you just the way you are. Truly. But you know this isn’t about me. It’s about you, about how you feel about yourself. Can you love you as you are? I know you can. You don’t need this nonsense. Live your life. Ride your bike. Dance like no one’s watching. It’s gonna be ok.
Alright, back to business. What I like about the Bjarne Riis diet plan is that it is undeniably effective (at putting you in the hospital), and it features seltzer. I love seltzer. It’s basically old man soda. Another thing I like about it is that it takes a dumb guy, credits him with a dumb idea, and the sum of those two things are somehow greater than the parts, like a middling pro racer jacked to the gills on EPO and sat atop a carbon fiber pedal sled.
If anything captures the beautiful stupidity of pro bike racing, it’s this. 10/10. Accept no substitutes.