It was standard practice on these sites to close messages with a quote or a quip like "I may die, but they'll need a big coffin." The Great One signed his with a thought from Nietzsche. "Everything that elevates an individual above the herd and intimidates the neighbor," it read, "is henceforth called evil."
ONCE I STARTED THE DECA, I didn't even think about lifting weights. I wanted to get stronger, not bigger. Within two weeks, the pain I felt in my left knee after 100 miles or so—100 was now just a standard ride—went away, coming back only on the most brutal hills. My shoulder felt much better. And then one morning I stepped on the scale.
Two hundred and nine pounds.
I was stunned. I'd never weighed this much. When I first saw Dr. Jones, I weighed 195, which was high for me.
Immediately I hopped on the bike and rode like hell for a few hours. When I got back, I stepped on the scales: 201. I'd lost eight pounds on a not very hot day when I was drinking plenty of fluids?
"What's the problem?" Dr. Jones demanded when I told him I was freaking out over the weight gain. He had me stand on a machine that measured body weight and fat. I weighed 207, but my body fat had dropped to 6.5 percent, down from 10 percent.
"Don't give me this you're-getting-fat crap," he said in an exasperated tone. "You sound like some teenage girl. You've lost six pounds of fat and gained 12 of muscle. That's why you're heavier. And like I told you, the Deca supersaturates the muscle cells with fluid. That's one of the reasons your joints feel better."
At this point my little adventure started to feel pretty creepy, as if there were something inside my body taking over. Which, in a way, there was. I was getting big without trying. When I went for ocean swims, I had trouble getting into my wetsuit. I didn't look cut, though—it was more of a puffy, rounded bigness, making me look like a shorter version of Shaq. Without a jump shot. I did my final 600K qualifying ride for Paris-Brest-Paris on June 15, out of Princeton, New Jersey. This was 200 kilometers farther than I'd ever ridden. By now my HGH levels were 20 percent higher than when I'd started. My testosterone was 300 percent higher. My hematocrit level hovered around 50 percent. I weighed 205—a ten-pound gain—but my body fat was the lowest it had ever been.