Archive for April, 2009

Second Wind/Eschborn-Frankfurt City Loop

Posted in Spring Classics on April 30, 2009 by bethleasure

45“Bike racing can again sort itself out…I hope that we still find a company as title sponsor for the future edition of this beautiful sporting event that currently offers: a broad media of 300 journalists, well over one million spectators, tradition and exciting sport. The future sponsor can determine the goal and the new name.”

Bernd Moss Achenback, Director of semi-classic, Rund um den Henninger Turm


May Day racing

May Day racing

Hope springs eternal this time of year. No matter how bitter the winter, the gentler season brings confidence and newness of life. Resurrected hopes are the Easter theme as late spring racing continues into May. With options for one-day racing and several small tours, attention upon pro cycling divides until all eyes focus upon the Giro in late May.

During this transition, some classics specialists export considerable fitness to Germany’s semi-classic, Rund um den Henninger Turm now called Eschborn-Frankfurt City Loop. This Frankfurt Grand Prix is one of the most important races in Germany. The race around the tower has been won most frequently by Erik Zabel and features steep climbs. The Mammolshain’s 26% gradient gives riders a second chance to conquer it before the finish circuits in Frankfurt.

Some see the race as the last of the last of the spring classics and others as preparation for major stage racing to come. Both motivations depend on a second wind since the event is run mid-week after the final monument classic L-B-L. The sport’s proud traditions, contemporary parity and eternal passions easily elicit a second wind. We’ve seen this before with resurrected teams changing countries and called a new name under a new sponsorship. The media too have shown resiliency in its renewed coverage of cycling. Second chances to maintain cycling’s transition resurrect its hopes.


Prayer for Eschborn-Frankfurt City Loop

“He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.” 46Matthew 28:6


We are glad for second chances. We confess we lose hope when we don’t see tangible evidence at first. We pray for new resources and ask blessing upon the risen Rund.


Ponder Have I reached a sort of dead end in my cycling? Affirm I resurrect it with glorious new form. Watch for ways to refashion and update the traditional for the contemporary.


45Translation by and paraphrased loosely by myself from “Veranstalter Bernd Moos-Achenbach im Wechselbad der Gefühle: ‘Rund um den Henninger-Turm kommt mir vor wie eine Kneippkur’” Zehn Fragen zum Jahresende 2008

 46Holy Bible, King James Version, public domain

Game On/Race Readiness

Posted in May-Day on April 28, 2009 by bethleasure

1“It wouldn’t have been very professional to give in to that temptation. I prefer to regret not lining him up than doing so.”             Eric Boyer, Pro Team Manager on not taking risks with an unprepared rider


clippinginMay Day celebrates the start of pastoral summer season when livestock were driven out to mountain grazing land. It’s a holiday that celebrates labor. Likewise, cycling’s beasts trot eagerly into new places to foray for competitive experiences and hard-fought victory.  They who show good form now dance around the Maypole in celebration during Giro d’Italia. The month’s pleasant mountain places foreshadow the key races of summer in pro tour season. Some choose to use this month as preparation for other big races desiring to be ready later. Some are forced to decline sidelined by injury or illness after a hard Spring Classics emphasis.


It’s better to sit it out responsibly and professionally if you can’t line up knowing you’re prepared to meet every challenge. Champions come to the line with confidence and calm. Readiness to meet a challenge is a champion quality. Race readiness combines physical preparation with technical proficiency including equipment and skills, as well as mental and provisional planning. The race is carefully crafted as a part of the framework of annual race selection. Training has been periodized to specifically conquer all the demands of the goal event. Provisions are allocated and every need surrounding the event is arranged. Details and contingencies are cognizantly completed. Psychological arousal is at its height. While there are many things outside the control of rider or team, those within are contained to near perfection. With this sort of momentum, minor setbacks are easily overcome. An option to use key events as preparation for other events must come with lower expectations upon yourself. When the starter announces, “Riders Ready,” line up with game on realistic about how it fits into your preparations!



Prayer for Race Readiness

“They were brave warriors, ready for battle and able to handle the shield and spear. Their faces were the faces of lions, and they were as swift as gazelles in the mountains.” 2Chronicles 12:8


We celebrate the warm heights of May cycling! We confess we get greedy for success when we haven’t properly prepared for it. We pray for readiness for key events.             



Ponder Am I realistic about performance as it relates to preparation? Affirm I will ride my best with expectations equal to readiness. Watch for times to be ready and include times to prepare.



1“No Roubaix for Chavanel,” Latest Cycling News, April 10, 2008 Edited by Hedwig Kröner


2The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society



La Doyenne Grandma Ardennes/Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Posted in Spring Classics on April 24, 2009 by bethleasure

39 La Doyenne always ensures the Spring Classics finish in style…one last, brilliant farewell to the [spring] racing until next year.” 



A Place for Good Timing

A Place for Good Timing

Cloaked in her misty Spring shawl of evergreen wood, Liège-Bastogne- Liège shoulders her age with dignified class right up to the finish of her engrossing season. What this elderly classic lacks in lithe freshness, she makes up for in clever experience forcing young heirs to respect her sense of timing. Spring’s final monument visits a fancy parlor of pain where in lieu of afternoon tea and crumpets one is served piping hot aggression and côtes specially flavored.  The second of the Ardennes Classics serves up an indigenous menu borrowed from Flemish, French, Celtic and German sources. Many villages and narrow roads retain distinct heritage where independent spirits continue to thrive perhaps wizened but unravaged by past conquest. Style and timing determines the victor and strategic moves are made resolutely on Côte de la Redoute, with less than a quarter distance to go. The following climbs present opportunities to soften competitors and force separation if perfectly timed.


Long life seems to teach the timing about which battles to fight and when best to apply one’s strength for victorious living. In bike racing, it’s critical to develop both an external perception that sees, hears, pays attention to course features and competitor behavior but also intuitively senses like a sharp grandmother aware of all within her care. Too soon old, too late smart won’t work to be successful in a race such as this one. And in this one, its speed and length, continual brawl for positioning, and power climber’s supplesse all combine to exhaust and age its participants prematurely if not wise to its wear and tear. It’s good to be an old soul with a young heart when calling upon Grandma Ardennes.



Prayer for Liège-Bastogne-Liège

“…given the two wings of a great eagle… to fly to the place…for a time, times and half a time, out of…reach.” 40Revelation 12:14


We are thankful that life can change on a dime. We confess we need to be humble and aware of these moments. We ask to understand our times and pray blessing upon La Doyenne.


Ponder How can I improve my awareness of the time, times and half a time that characterize racing? Affirm I act and react; timing varies according to race segments. Watch to note race dispensations.




39This quote is from an email announcing 2008 coverage of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. – provides live streaming video of certain major bicycle races


40The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. This is my paraphrase from this version.




Heart Power/Forgiveness

Posted in The Spiritual Cyclist on April 22, 2009 by bethleasure

77“Over time we realize we’ve made a lot of messes…faith comes down to forgiveness…all people need second chances. God gives…second chances—more than that, He gives us as many as we take.” Tom Ritchey, Bicycle Designer & Manufacturer


Tom Ritchey in Rwanda

Tom Ritchey in Rwanda

Lack of forgiveness is usually about anger, often justifiable. Holding on to anger doesn’t bring vengeance on another; when you refuse to forgive, you damage yourself. How we respond to difficult experiences directly affects our spiritual and physical well-being. 78Empirical research on the connection between both seeking and granting forgiveness and its relation to mental and physical health is burgeoning. Forgiveness is linked with both the emotional heart and the cardiovascular one: unforgiveness has a physiological impact! Best to be rid of it and release the violator to their own consequences.


To forgive someone else is to be free of the past.  Forgiving is not dependent on another; it is a matter of will. This will is the reward of processing emotions and their lessons, coming to a place of compassion for the inflictor even if only one tiny positive can be extracted from the violation.


Reconciliation, however, IS dependent on another’s amendment; but forgiveness is all your work.  Since your heart works to hold on to an infraction, energy can be shifted to instead work through it.


Cycling’s present has incredible challenges; devising solutions will bring future contention. We need to forgive to keep the pace-line working steadily. Forgiveness is the first rotation, the second round brings healing, and a third can bring unified movement to this 79billion-rider peloton. Let’s all keep pedaling with powerful hearts.






Prayer for Forgiveness

“Peter…asked, ‘How many times should I forgive someone who does something wrong to me? Is seven times enough?’ Jesus answered: ‘Not just seven times, but seventy times seven times!’”

80Matthew 18:21-22


We are thankful that we can stop further damage of another’s past wrong by cancelling it within us. We confess resentment and holding grudges weaken us and make us captive victims. We ask for power to see how another’s misdeeds lead to something for our good, if only a desire for righteousness and the ability to release forgiveness.


Ponder Am I holding on to anything against anyone? Affirm I can be vibrant in the forgiving life, just as others have forgiven me. Watch the incredible power of a healing forgiveness infuse body, soul and community with new life.



77“Tom Ritchey – Pedaling Home,” by Chris Ahrens © Risen Magazine 2004 – 2007 as posted December 12, 2007 on


78“Forgiveness and Health: Review and Reflections on a Matter of Faith, Feelings, and Physiology,” Journal article by Charlotte Vanoyen Witvliet; Journal of Psychology and Theology, Vol. 29, 2001 and “Forgiveness: the Power that Heals”  By Richard Innes listed as of December 15, 2007


79“The UCI represents the interests of more than 170 National Federations, 5 Continental Confederations, 1200 professional riders, 600,000 licensed riders, millions of cycle sport enthusiasts who train on a regular basis, and more than a billion bicycle users.” stated under FAQ on as of December, 2007.


80The Bible, Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society




Arrow on Target/Flèche Wallonne

Posted in Spring Classics on April 21, 2009 by bethleasure

36“The focus is on entering the village, on concentrating hard on the last bend, to the right, the landmark that pinpoints the onset of the suffering.”        

Christian Prudhomme, Tour de France Director on The Walloon Arrow


fleche1This landmark is a modest church spire that marks the uphill finish of La Flèche Wallonne. This first of the Ardennes classics is in Wallonia, Belgium’s southern racing region. The glory of the place is in its undulation – lovely short continual montagne russe, roller coaster hills, some quite steep. These mini-mountains of the Ardennes have been fought over numerous times in history causing the greater area to be called “the battlefield of Europe.” Controlled by city-states and external powers, each brought their influences upon the culture and language. Now the world’s best riders embark on the last foray here in the heartland or pays des vallees. La Flèche courses through its low country again and again to create a sawtooth race profile of exemplary difficulty from start to finish. Features of northern classics, such as cobbles and bergs are left behind to new challenges in unrelenting pace up côte and mur. Like the northern classics, these Ardennes classics share a critical need for awareness, technique and fitness in the fight for positioning. Every rider gets a quiver of arrows, flames of strength to fire upon the course. The key to utilizing one’s weapons is to be on target. The most targeted arrow strikes on Mur de Huy, the fortress wall to scale for one of cycling’s most painful final kilometers. One’s approach here is as strategic as the slopes which hid troops and armaments from enemy lines in historical wars. On Napoloeon’s unexpected defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, Duke of Wellington said, 37“The nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life.” The terrain retains this timeless ability to separate would-be kings of the hills from munitions of arrows shot as near misses, and history repeats itself.


Prayer for Flèche Wallonne

“I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I were shooting at a target.” 381 Samuel 20:20


We are amazed at the disciplined use of positioning power displayed by conquerors of all-time. We confess we overestimate our defense arsenal. We ask blessing upon La Flèche Wallonne. Diè wade, God Keep You.     Ponder Am I sure where to place myself in the peloton’s leading arrowhead? Affirm I know the target of each ride. Watch for the features of course or competitor to hit a bull’s eye for the win.


36Flèche Wallonne Editorial, “A Climbing Contest,” by Christian Prudhomme ASO promotes the Tour de France as well as Flèche Wallonne.


37Wikiquote:Wellington citing Creevey Papers, ch. x, p. 236


38The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society



Tyler, This is How I REALLY Feel

Posted in Today's Topic on April 17, 2009 by bethleasure

There is a verbal tool used in conflict mediation called Emptying Your Emotional Jug. The exercise is simple. The speaker answers 4 questions without interruption – not stopping until all emotion on that point is completely exhausted. This breaks the tensions of silence and brings relief to the speaker. It also gives the listeners insight. From this place, conflict resolution is easier to attain.


Through words and deeds I’ve “listened” to Tyler. Now I want an audience as I empty my emotional jug:


Question 1: What makes me MAD?


I am so pissed at you. You’ve taken your position and abilities and abused us again. Despite your US Road Race win, you never won back my respect. Not because of your riding abilities, but because of your lack of character in acknowledging wrong-doing. Do you think the public is so superficial that we categorically adore our race winners without looking at who they are and how they go about things? For me, that win was empty – further, it was a frustrating demonstration of a lack of repentance – and we all need to change our ways sometimes- as well as a poor example to the young clean riders in that peloton who may have believed at that time that it’s possible to get away with anything. I would respect you more if you confessed to all. Despite doping, you did so many things right. I remember the Boulder days of sacrifice as an elite amateur developing into a neopro talent. I still own a pair of your used Speedplays from those days – worn thin like pennies smashed by a train. So I’m mad that the glory that would have come your way anyway now cannot because you cheated your own destiny. Not to mention everyone else, the sport and its supporters. I’m mad mostly because you will not take this as a person of character and admit wrong-doing so it can be corrected for your sake and for the sake of others who hold you as an example.


Question 2: What makes me feel BAD?


You have never given me the opportunity to respect you again. By confession and trying a new way, I think you still could have won. These wins may not have been as grand, they may not have been as dramatic and as public but they would have given others the opportunity to forgive you and admire you again. Further, they may have offered those within your sphere of influence an example of hard work, determination, clean living, justice and mercy. What makes me feel really bad is that if you don’t learn this lesson which keeps cycling around over and over in your life, you are going to apply this same short-cut-your-way-to-the-top mode of operation in other endeavors. You are going to wind up disqualified and suspended from life. Because real life requires the giving of ourselves so deeply that we cannot avoid the pain on the way to achievement – that pain feels like patience, that pain feels like hard work, that pain feels like disappointment, but that pain leads to glory. Because even the second place finisher can be glorious.


Question 3: What makes me feel SAD?


I’m sad for American cycling. We look like fools to the world because of this. I feel sad for young riders who think that several moments of podium time may be worth acts of disrepute. I feel sad for outsiders to the sport who don’t understand our challenges and will judge us because of this. I feel sad for me – having to look around for examples that I can use with neopros. I feel sad for you because I doubt you understand how cleansing it is to confess and how freeing it is to admit. I feel sad because I wonder how you can recoup any losses in this current state. How can you feel good about your past, your present and your future if nothing changes?


Question 4: What makes me feel GLAD?


That you were caught makes me glad. Justice is seen despite your lack of taking responsibility about it. I feel glad about the idea that this could bring you to your knees, not because I want you to suffer. But because we all need to be brought to our knees at times and realize that our heroes are imperfect and our fallen are redeemable. If you change your ways, these setbacks can be a set-up for a comeback in life. You could become an inspiration to others who are tempted, others who fail, others who need to change and rebuild.


– – –


What has this exercise accomplished? My part toward forgiving Tyler is done. It’s up to him now to acknowledge his actions and take responsibility for them. Forgiveness is dependent upon me, reconciliation is dependent upon him. I hope he reconciles himself to his own conscience so his troubled soul can find peace, a new way and a bridge back – to the sport he’s spent a lifetime pursuing as a renewed contributor rather than a failed perpetrator. So Tyler, this is how I really feel. I’m keeping your penny-thin Speedplays as a reminder to fess up when I screw up. If you will not, at least I can. I’m at peace, and I am going to win. May God have mercy on us all.

Dutch Masters/Amstel Gold

Posted in Spring Classics on April 17, 2009 by bethleasure


34“My broken rib is tedious but there is good in life.”  Koos Moerenhout, Dutch National Champion on missing the Spring Classics in prior years


The Dutch are masterful at optimistic perspective. Dutch painters became masters in treatment of light. Early works were often stiff but developed to become a legacy of intimate portraiture.

Koos Moerenhout


From the golden age of painting to a golden race, this classic didn’t begin masterfully but with typical Dutch optimism. Two inexperienced promoters, Vissers and Krott had little cycling experience but wanted an international race with a bigger course than around the village kirk. Volunteering as a first-time director, Vissers did a U-turn during a race and headed into the oncoNederland’s biggest event and a Spring Classic.


ming peloton after hearing a rider had punctured. He was banished by officials but paired with beer salesman Krott to promote races. So much amateurism occurred in planning the first race, it nearly never happened. Eventually Vissers & Krott learned. Amstel Gold became


Limburg’s Dutch “mountains” so called from this typically optimistic viewpoint – is one ridge that riders cross again and again. Part of the challenge in the race is in meandering through many small towns densely populated. Riders encounter a lot of road furniture, such as speed bumps, chicanes, roundabouts, and traffic islands as well as parked cars on course. Hijinx with autos occurs.


While racing a Dutch Dames classic, I was thrown into a car waiting for the race to pass and sheared its side mirror with my hip. The driver didn’t flinch. Worried after the race that I’d be fined, I approached the room of commissaires cautiously but was told, “Ya well, he had two mirrors didn’t he?” Any situation it seems can be viewed positively.


Long retired, I first saw The Dutchman who won Amstel Gold the most, Jan Raas with five wins, racing at the front in an event for former professionals and was astounded by the speed of these optimistic Dutch masters.


Prayer for Amstel Gold

“Look up, and be alert to what is going on…where the action is. See things [with] perspective.” 35Colossians 3:2



We are thankful for ways to see afresh. We confess we expect the worst too often. We ask for optimism. Bless Amstel Gold.


Ponder Am I an expert at mining for what’s golden even in dim situations? Affirm I consider fresh perspective and keep working for mastery. Watch and keep looking up.









34“Short Web Interview with Koos,” April 22, 2008


Kirk is the Dutch word for church, race around the church or kriterium. Dames is the women’s category.


35The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson