My IV Usage

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Yesterday, I wrote a post that questioned Bradley Wiggins “occasional” use of IV’s.  An IV is a abbreviation of the word “intravenous” as a noun refers to an intravenous fluid drip, a solution administered directly into the venous circulation. Also called a drip.

In athletics, an IV can either be a saline IV or dextrose (sugar) IV.  The saline IV can be administered super quick.  A sugar IV is really a drip.  It takes a while to get in because you can overload your blood with too much sugar too quickly.

Anyway, that is all I really know about IV’s.  I do know they work amazingly, by personal experience.

I wrote yesterday that I’d done two IV’s in my lifetime.  In a comment, Mike Crum wrote- “Steve, if wiggins read ur blog, he probably question u , at ur highest level of racing , of only taking two iv’s. I’m not questioning you, I’m just saying Nobody tells the truth anymore, espically with the $$$$$$$ on the table.”

I know it is hard to read, I’m no one to judge here, but Mike says he’s not, but I really think he is questioning the truthfulness of my statement.  And by going back reading the post, it wasn’t exactly right.

The statement should have been, I’ve done IV’s at two races.  One race I did it for 3 or 4 days straight.  The 2nd race, just one night.

The first time was at the Tour of Guatemala.  I was riding for the US National Team and was riding pretty great.  The stage race was just short of two weeks long, with a rest day after the first week.  I was leading nearly all the categories going into the rest day.  I had the mountains jersey, points jersey, combined points jersey, plus I was winning overall.

But on the rest day, it all went downhill.  I got the Central/South American stomach bug.  I spend the whole night on the toilet.  I was horrible.

I pretty much had most of the points categories wrapped up, I was so far ahead.  All I had to do was ride to the finish.  I was going to win a couple thousand dollars, which even splitting it with my team,  I could live on  for 1/2 a year.

So, I started the next day, without eating the night before.  I barely got to the finish.  I was riding in the last group, with a guy that was wearing tennis shoes and a couple guys that had wingnuts holding their rear wheels on.

That next day, after the race, the race doctor came and hooked up a sugar IV.  Plus he gave me an antibiotic injection.  I didn’t eat anything, just the IV.  I started the next stage, still riding with “my group”.

A funny side note, I was carrying toilet paper and stopping every so often while racing.  My guys, the groupetto, would say something and all the guys would stop and wait when I stopped.

This one time, I stopped, took a couple steps off the side of the road to relieve myself.  They all waited.  I got back on my bike, rode less than 200 meters, and then had to stop again.  They all stopped and waited again.  But this time they were all talking really animated.  At the time, it was mildly embarrassing, but looking upon it, it is really humorous.

Each night I wouldn’t eat, just do IV’s.  Plus, I got another antibiotic injection.

Anyway, the last day, the Costa Rican team said they would help me win a point sprint, which would secure the points jersey, if we tempoed the next 50 miles, to the bottom of the climb up to Guatemala City.  I won the point sprint and went to the front to set tempo with David Mayer-Oaks.

When we got to the bottom of the climb, which was pretty substantial, a Costa Rica guys came up, tapped me on the butt and thanked me.  Then their whole team went to the front and started racing up the climb.  Riders started getting shelled and pretty soon it was just a small group of us left, maybe 8 or so.  4 Costa RIcan riders, one was winning, the Guatemalan guy that was in 2nd, and maybe a Colombian.

I was still there, which surprised the shit out of me.  Anyway, the Costa RIcan guys helped me at the finish, which was in a soccer stadium and I won.  I won the final stage without really eating anything for 3 days.  Only IV’s.

The 2nd time was two years later.  It was during the Coor’s Classic.  I’d crashed in the British Milk Race and destroyed myself.  I broke my leg, collarbone, and hand after running into a car at over 100 kph.  I had two months until the Coor’s race started, so I went out to Boulder and hung at Roy Knickman’s house.  I didn’t ride for the first month at all, obviously, but went out to California and started a stage race in Mammouth Lakes.

I was pitiful.  I couldn’t stay in the field for any time at all.  There was a stage from Bishop to the ski resort in Mammouth which is close to 50 miles or so.   I made it maybe 5 miles with the field and rode the next 3 hours solo.

Afterward, I called my sponsor, Michael Fatka and told him that I couldn’t start the Coor’s Rce the next week.  He told me I was going to race.

The Coor’s race started in San Francisco.  The prologue went up Telegraph Hill. I did alright since it was short.  I think I might have finished 7th, but I’m not sure.  I remember Michael Aisner doing a little announcing and saying that I had came back from the dead.  He was in England when I was hurt.

Anyway, I made it a couple days alright, then there was a stage from Nevada City to Truckee.  I hung with the front group way too long.  Long enough to be a long way ahead of the groupetto.  I got dropped after a couple hours and was done.

I couldn’t drink, was throwing up, and was done.  The groupetto came by and I stayed on maybe 3 miles.  Then I was riding alone again.  Forever.

I was doing these rollers and a couple fans were riding behind me.  After a long time, after listening to them tell each other about their whole vacations and plans for the fall, I turned around and asked them if they could drop back a bit.  I told them it was demoralizing trying to race when they were having a casual conversation.  They answered back, “No problem, Steve.”  I couldn’t believe they knew who I was.  It was so embarrassing.  I was crawling.

Anyway, finally the last group came up.  I think it was 4 guys.  I’m not sure everyone, I know a Russian rider and also Raul Alcala.  He was riding for the Mexican National Team then.

I was done and we had maybe 10 kms to go.  Raul pushed me up every hill to the finish.  There was no way I could have made it myself.  It was super nice.  Raul when on to greatness in the sport.

When I got to Truckee, my whole team, Thurlow, Roy, Andy, etc. was waiting.  Like for over an hour.  It was hot and I was destroyed.  We got in the van and had to drive to Reno to stay the night.  I remember getting stopped by a train just a few blocks from the hotel.  I opened the van door and sat on a curb because I thought I was going to vomit.

Walking through the hotel was a nightmare.  The smoke and noise were overwhelming.  When I got to my room, the race doctor came.  The doctor said I needed some IV’s.  He left and came back.  They put in a couple bags of Saline.  Andy Hampsten came by and said that I needed a dexrose IV, not saline.  The doctor agreed, but he didn’t have any and said he was licensed in California, not Nevada, so that was a problem getting them.

So I just sat there not eating, just laying.  Late that night, the doctor came by with a couple dextrose IV bags.  He hooked one up and hung the bag by the picture above my bed.  He told me to change the bag when it was close to empty.  It was slow.  Probably around 2 am, I changed the bag.  I was just watching gambling on the tv.

About 4 or 5, I started feeling better.  I got hungry, so since I was staying in a casino, I could order room service.  I ordered a double stack of strawberry pancakes with whipped cream.  I finished those and got tired.

I might have slept 15 minutes, when it was time to get up.  We were racing from Tahoe to Reno that morning, around Lake Tahoe and up through Virginia City.  When the race started, I felt amazingly good.  I climbed with the front group and finished in the top ten.

I went from dead to amazing, with no sleep, just IV’s, pancakes and whipped cream.  We raced a criterium in downtown Reno that evening and I stayed in.

The next day was a rest day, we flew to Colorado.  I was good the rest of the race, they whole Colorado portion.

So, my experiences with IV’s were amazing.  I always thought that they would be great for MTB racing.  We all hung out at the venue the whole week and got super exhausted.  I think a IV the night before a long MTB race would have worked out great.

IV became commonplace in professional racing.  Nearly like eating.  I’m not sure how common it is nowadays, but I’d bet it is pretty common still.

But, hat is my whole IV experience.  That was a long time ago and I haven’t had the need to get one since.  It’s not that I have a personal no needles policy.  It is just that I haven’t had any reason to get jabbed by one, other than lidocaine for sutures over the years.

So Mike, if Bradley Wiggins happens to be reading this, which I very much doubt, I hope that helped convince him of my honesty.



The car I ran into during the British Mild race.  I didn't do all this damage.  Andy Paulin, a US team mate, ran into the car too.

The car I ran into during the British Mild race. I didn’t do all this damage. Andy Paulin, a US team mate, ran into the car too.

Tucker is feeling way better.  We went swimming yesterday a couple times.  He swims just about the same speed as me.

Tucker is feeling way better. We went swimming yesterday a couple times. He swims just about the same speed as me.

33 thoughts on “My IV Usage

  1. Joe C

    I used to have a doctor buddy I raced sailboats with, and he’d always bring a few bags. Fantastic for a hangover.

  2. KrakatoaEastofJava

    Lol, I remember that Mammoth stage race. I was a junior and broke away from the Cat3 race on the Bishop – Mammoth stage. I was riding all alone (in agony) up the final climb and Hampsten passed me-in his big ring-as if it were no effort for him at all. That would have been a crappy race to be sick in.

    That’s also the first time I ever saw (or heard of) Bob Roll. He won the criterium by lapping the field. Tough guy.

  3. sillypuddy

    No one can really judge unless they’re in those shoes. It all sounds reasonable 2me.. ST u don’t have 2 justify some of these comments. And definitely not ALS’s. Thats shit is wacko.
    Sillypuddy OUT
    Roger that 10-4

  4. Wildcat

    Your memory amazes me. Hard to believe, but it seems better than my wife’s ability to recall memories with impressive description. Especially in the middle of an argument! It’s as if you have notes jotted down in a journal that you refer to when writing these posts. Yes/no? Just curious.

  5. channel_zero

    I was going to win a couple thousand dollars, which even splitting it with my team, I could live on for 1/2 a year.

    How far the sport has fallen.

  6. Dan Lind

    IV Therapy is all the rage here in MN I guess, targeting weekend party go’ers and country club wives it looks like. Starting at $79 for one saline bag…prices go up from there.

    Here is a snippet from the Hydrate MN website: “A discrete and completely mobile luxury service. Our I.V. hydration therapy will provide swift recovery from hangovers, exhaustion, cold-flu and fatigue as well as enhance athletic performance. Our professional and licensed staff will provide therapy in the comfort of your home, hotel or office.”

  7. Kevin Burnett

    I remember that stage race as well. Raced it as a cat 3 the first year so we may have been in the same race. I remember the second day racing around the Mammoth Scenic Loop and getting hailed on. I was riding with Mauricio Prado (we were both from Livermore) and our arms were getting beat.

    I also remember that for the crit on the last day they put in some pavement the night before to link up two roads. A few of us cat 3’s were warming up and as we rode by Alexi Grewal he yelled out, “you’re all gonna die” and all his teammates laughed their heads off.

  8. Tripod Ron

    What kept you from using it more? I would think that if 99% of people found something that helped them that much and was 100% safe they would use it all the time. If it brought you from crap to great, imagine if you already felt good or great… (obviously diminishing returns, but still)

  9. KrakatoaEastofJava

    On that “scenic loop” road race the next day, it’s the one (and only) time I ever quit a race over concerns for my own safety. Out on highway 395, they separated us from the oncoming traffic by placing hay bales every hundred yards or so. There was a steady downhill, and I remember we were ‘cookin pretty good. I remember looking over towards the rider on my left, and seeing him suddenly disappear (WHACK!), just like that. It happened a few more times as unsuspecting riders would “take a quick peek” up ahead and then suddenly meet their doom with a hay bale at 35MPH. I kept thinking “how many more of you assholes are going to allow yourselves to get taken out by these things?”

    Myself? I said “fuck THIS shit!” and I pulled over as we came back into town. I liked bike racing, but I wasn’t going to let a bike race kill me. Not at age 17!

    I was also the “brilliant genius” that gave Ralph Elliott (the announcer) the idea of trying a “last-place prime”. What a bad idea THAT was! Two riders decided they wanted it (it was for like a couple hundred bucks), and it was a nightmare, as they both did track stands 100M from the line. We couldn’t et them moving again. We finally had to call them in and do a 1-lap race-off for the prime. Worst thinking I ever did. I blame the altitutde!

  10. Shitty stories are the best

    Commenting on the end of the stage you said “I was still there, which surprised the shit out of me.”

    I bet you didn’t have any shit left at that point……

  11. Bruce Gilbert


    After Interbike each year, Beverly and I usually take a couple of extra days in Vegas to unwind before the drive back to Houston. Last year, we were walking around the shopping complex at Caesars. There was a store front that did IV’s. If I remember right, they cost about $100 and would deal with a hangover. I believe they also had a place in New York.

    By the way, with Beverly’s injuries from last December, we decided not to exhibit this year at Vegas. If you need product, just call us at the office.

  12. Russell

    I noticed someone commented on Steve recalling details about a doping reference as though he was obsessed with a doping article. My experience with Steve is that he has almost perfect recall. He can recall almost anything if he thinks hard enough. I’m just a dude and Steve can recall all of our interactions together as if they are significant. It may be my favorite trait of Steve’s personality.

  13. Dude Ron

    Steveo you n Andy totaled dat Old Detroit Machine that was in the way on those little British Roads! Ouch! Was that the Milk Race Matt Eaton Won?! We need IV Bags here in Las Cruces maybe at convenience stores to pick up in The Endless Summers!!

  14. Erik Gruenwedel

    I remember that Coors Classic stage to Truckee, Calif., well. I was in the Killian support vehicle along with the rest of the caravan following you at a snails pace. It was still the dark days of stage racing and law enforcement made the caravan follow the last rider. Never got to see Bernard Hinault win the stage. You did indeed bounce back nicely in the Denver criterium stage.

  15. Lee King Richard

    I have no idea what is right anymore.

    I support IVs, but there must be some limits. Or not? how to police?

    I support vitamin injections. Limits?

    I support OTC cold medication, sinus, allergy medication, red bull, 5 hour energy, creatine, aspirin, tylenol, advil, motrin. What else?? Limits?

    I don’t care about cupping, nicotine, marijuana, prescription anti-depressants/anxiety drugs, caffeine,

    I do not support EPO, hgh, testo, anabolics, cortisone, transfusions, amphetamines, alcohol, pot-belge!, cocaine, codeine.

    I do not support prescription asthma, allergy drugs unless there is a medical history.

    Transparency, including TUEs. Not a medical privacy issue. A cheating issue!

  16. Lee King Richard

    If you live in The Crosses, New Mexico, then you need nothing. You can live like a gila!

    Gila monsters don’t need dat IV satchel!!

  17. Lee King Richard


    I’m with you, as long as Everyone Else Was Doing It. But than again in 1984, the whole US team was doing it for the olympic games. Transfusions, because everyone was doing it!? I dont know anymore and I wonder about everything now. Are past results right?

  18. Matt M

    First off, Paulin was a big boy!

    Second, I remember the sense of satisfaction when Stacy Sims got the Slipstream boys thru a whole TDF without any IV’s via good hydration strategies..which says that they were pretty novel at top level pro racing even that late!

  19. als

    You’re exactly right! Nobody has the responsibility of justifying any of those comments, including those, whom themselves, wrote a “whacko” comment. Case-in-point, I’ve yet to read a comment from you, feelypud, or from Scrum, or… well… from anybody for that matter, that justifies your and Scrum’s “whacko” comments. However, it seams to me that you’re butthurt about my recent replies to your buddy, Scrumy, by the way, where is Scrum today? Is he out rammin’ and jammin’ his BIG-RIG TRUCKIN’ buddy? Well anyway, ya might wanna try taking your hand that your using to feel-your-pud, feelypud, and rotate it 180 degrees, around your hip, and then rub. That might relive the butthurt you’re currently experiencing.

  20. KrakatoaEastofJava

    Paulin once wanted to be on the same wheel I was on in a stage race. All the guy had to say to me was “may I?”, but instead he chose to extend his arm and shove me into the shoulder of the road. He could have had the damn wheel (Gogulski’s?). Yeah, I get it, they were teammates. Gotta protect the team’s interests. He was an ass.

  21. Dude Ron

    Gila Monsters are native to Sonora Desert maybe you get to see one in Tucson or Gila Bend Az. Of course we aint far from The Gila Monster climb near Silver City. You gots ta be a Monster to win dat stage! But your right bout rehydration I should buck up n ride a century like I used to on one of those Little Bottles of water. Landis ruined me when I watched him use like 40 bottles on That Miracle Comeback stage in 06 TDF bahaha!

  22. EH

    Ok I have followed this blog for awhile this is first. Krakatoa your cracking on Andy is BS. New him up in N Cali coming up through the ranks in the 80’s and he always had something complementary and open questions to a “fred” learning the ropes, One point in time does not define a person.

  23. sillypuddy

    ALS, u sure do make alot of references 2 my genitalia. Hey….if thats what your n2, who am I to judge. And about the wacko comments,…well they are
    That mumbo jumbo incoherent gibberish, is just that. I’m sorry u put some much time n2 it just come up alittle short. Well a whole lot short if we’re being honest. Now the Brats r just thawed enough 2 get going. While I’m doing this why don’t u write us another book. But leave my ding-a-ling out of it. Cya all

    Sillypuddy OUT!

  24. KrakatoaEastofJava

    EH, when a 6’4″ guy in his mid-20’s decides to pick on a kid who is just 18 years old, stands 6 inches shorter, and weighs AT LEAST 40 pounds less… OK, I’ll retract the “ass” comment and just call him a bully (that day). No, I didn’t confront him. That guy was so intimidating on a bike, all he’d have had to do was stick an elbow out and I’d have moved. But I knew what he wanted. The right side of the peloton was hugging the right side of the road, and the road was about to get wider in 200 feet or so. He was stuck, and he needed my position. So he took it. Had he been patient, half of those guys would have chosen to keep hugging the right side, thus creating plenty of opportunity on the left.

    We’re talking 30 years ago. I’ll stop. I’m sure he’s probably a very nice guy now.


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