Tuesday, October 21

Blood Drive

Cyclists are the one of the most blood-obsessed demographics--just behind hematologists and vampires. For years, cyclists have known that maximizing your blood's ability to deliver oxygen to the muscles was important. Sprinter Della Casa tries to get his hematocrit over 50% (whatever that means) simply for his own amusement. Personally I think that it's easy to get blinded looking at numbers and statistics instead of actual race results--call it junk mileage for your whole body--but that's neither here nor there. I myself am not bothered by the sight of blood at all, in fact I find a nice bleeder exciting. Maybe it is because when I was a kid, a massive bleeding head wound was one of the best (most effective) ways to get attention.

As cyclists, we have high-performance blood. We've been loading it up, maybe boosting our iron, who knows. Iron it always in the back of my mind. But the essential thing is that there's a trade-off to high-performance blood. Blood dopers who use EPO and similar blood-thickening products will have a huge performance improvement while on the bike, but athletes in the top echelons of the peleton have very low resting heart rates, and thick blood can be fatal.

Even for non-dopers, higher-performance blood has its drawbacks. Blood uses iron to bind the oxygen that it moves from the lungs to the muscles, but when your blood cells eventually break down, they leave the free iron in your blood stream, where viruses and bacteria are free to use it for their own nefarious purposes, or it just oxidizes your body cells as free radicals. You can green a gallon of anti-oxidant green tea a day, but the quickest way to reduce excess iron is to reduce excess blood.

Another thing is that here in the low-lands of the New Hampshire seacoast area, it's like impossible to find any decent hills or altitude. Professional athletes head to the Alps, or maybe even the Andes to train in the rarified air. Major travel isn't a luxury that is available to me so I have to find another way of gimping my oxygen supply while training in the off-season.

In order to emulate high-altitude training, I tried putting a bag over my head but I could only do one interval before I passed out. Relax; I'm joking. To get that coveted high-altitude training feel and also to clear out some of the free radicals from summer's iron-boosting, I decided to donate blood. You can file this as another seemingly altruistic act that is mostly based in personal interest, but whatever. People need blood, and I need to get rid of blood, so it works out. If you're in the area and can spare an hour of time and a pint of blood today, here's your key information:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Portsmouth
Redhook Brewery
35 Corporate Place
9:30A- 2:30P
Tuesday, December 16, 2008

If you're interested in donating blood another time, check out www.givelife.org--they have a thing where you can look up blood drive times.

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