Archive for July, 2009

European Cycling

Posted in Summer Carnival on July 31, 2009 by bethleasure

Rainbow Tour

7“EuroVelo 6 is an ideal route for those who would like to complete a long-distance bicycle journey one stage at a time… the whole route from the Atlantic to the Black Sea!” European Cycling Federation

 

European Cycling carries the world of cycling

European Cycling carries the world of cycling

Europe is the center of our cycling world. Time spent there quickly teaches you why cycling is so popular. The concept of village as part of entertainment is central to European life. Cycling brings the community together to participate and watch bike races. The mature cultures of Europe are not too old – despite sophisticated media outlets – to gather in the street to play. We have pondered already some specific European nations dominant in cycling, as well as some of their events. We pray now for all of Europe’s cycling nations and governing bodies. We take a Rainbow Tour that visits everyone and brings good news – a blessing through today’s prayer.

 

From a nation whose national team was besieged with difficulties to demonstrating 8Olympic dominance, Switzerland is far from neutral in cycling’s united nations. Tiny Luxembourg triumphs over giants with its trio of 9Tour competitors. Kazakhstan put itself on the 10map with solo attacks and Protour sponsorship. Each nation has unique challenges and champions and from one end of the spectrum to the other, we mention them by name:       11Albania  Andorra Armenia  Austria  Azerbaijan  Belgium  Belarus  Bulgaria  Croatia  Cyprus  Czech Republic  Denmark  Estonia  Finland  Great Britain  Georgia  Germany  Greece  Hungary  Ireland Israel Italy  Latvia  Liechtenstein   Lithuania  Luxembourg  Moldova  Macedonia  Malta  Montenegro  Monaco  Netherlands  Norway  Poland   Portugal   Romania  Russia  San Marino  Serbia  Slovenia  Switzerland   Slovakia  Spain   Sweden  Turkey  Ukraine

 

Prayer for European Cycling
“We knew now for sure that God had called us to preach the good news to the Europeans.” 12Acts 16:10

 

We are glad that cycling’s heart beats in the bosom of this continent where so many different nations enjoy and promote it. We ask blessing on European cycling.               

Ponder Who is my favorite Europro and from which country? Affirm I want European cycling to increase and improve as a model to the world. Watch and seek ways we can support European leadership in pro road racing.

 

7European Cycling Federation www.ecf.com has members from 38 nations and is a cyclo-touring network that includes Eurovelo6 a transcontinental bike route. www.eurovelo6.org

 

8Fabian Cancellara – Swiss won bronze in the road race and gold in the time trial of the 2008 Olympics

9Luxembourg’s Franck and Andy Schleck and Kim Kirchen were all on the GC leader board of the 2008 Tour de France

10Kazakhstan cyclist, Vinokourov was a delight to watch for well-timed aggressive attacks. Saddened by his doping. Team Astana is registered in this nation.

11See the list on Union Européenne de Cyclisme www.uec.ch

 12The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Criterium Season

Posted in Summer Carnival on July 28, 2009 by bethleasure

1“You can’t always win…The last few weeks have been really exhausting.” Jan Ullrich, on appearing in races and exhibitions all over since the Tour

 

Kriterium or Race around the Kirk

Kriterium or Race around the Kirk

After the Tour, a psyched public enjoys its newest cycling heroes in exhibition races throughout Europe. The height of speed season offers so many racing options, a pro could pull two-a-days within a small driving radius. These races take the form of criteriums, small circuits around towns suited to spectators for watching favorite riders lap after lap for a few hours. Generally, these events are held during a fête that celebrates the town’s origins. Even small cities see huge crowds that pack spectators in deep rows ringing bells and tooting horns and screaming in many languages behind barriers.

In this way, these races differ from their American cousins whose courses are more compact yet less crowded with fans. Another difference is in the strategies employed in these events which are sometimes decided pre-race by committee to ensure that the hero always wins and the crowd convinced this year’s yellow jersey wearer is truly worthy of it. Race fans are aware of this policy and seem to accept it readily. Meanwhile, riders’ tactics are programmed for this exhibition but still the racing is full-on, and sure enough, toward race end, the featured champion manages to slip to the front to properly outpower all peers.

While the truth is that a serious criterium would probably not be won by a GC leader nor a Grand Tour by a criterium specialist, the events are still exciting and offer a living display of pro cycling as breathable art. They can be exhausting for riders however. Towns known as much for master painters and superlative sculpture play host to this ritual that kicks off a season of carnival for pro cycling – a little post Tour fun for the fans, crowd-pleasers by fatigued racers, or a fine tune-up for fresh legs that sat out the Tour as preparation for some of the month’s spectacles.

 

Prayer for Criterium Season
“…it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.” 21 Peter 1:6

 

We are glad to see our pros up close and personal. We pray for them in times of fatigue, vulnerability, and expectation. We ask blessing on criterium season.

 

Ponder What am I really seeing when I watch a race? Affirm I display golden qualities to inspire others. Watch that the expectations of others don’t force negative compromises in your character or capacities.

 

1“Race Report: Telekom GP Karlsruhe/GP Breitling, Cat 1.2 Germany,” September 14, 1997 http://www.cyclingnews.com

2The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Finishing Strong

Posted in Summer Sunshine on July 25, 2009 by bethleasure

Superb Sunsets


60“…the Team…to reach Paris as a whole (with all nine riders)…is something no one can guarantee – not during the Tour.”  Hans-Michael Holczer, General Manager, Tour Team

FINISH STRONG!

FINISH STRONG!

Finishing stages races like the Tour de France is such an accomplishment in itself that even the very last rider classified upon race completion claims distinction through the title of Lanterne Rouge. A red light signals to a train conductor that the caboose is still there with train intact just as losing even one rider can affect the trek of the team during a tour.

Leader or worker, sprinter or climber, each rider is important for the execution of team strategy and tactics. Likewise morale is influenced by the movements and moods of all team participants. Riders are selected carefully based on many factors with this in mind. Each rider lightens the load and signals a complete unit for achievement.

A race like the Tour de France demands every one’s best game. Completing the task by withstanding all challengers and overcoming all its uncertainties is sometimes a better team accomplishment than an individual win in a lesser event.

Sometimes life’s storms make quitting a smarter choice than continuing, such as in the case of broken bones forcing race abandonment. But more often, we in the storm must resolve to finish through the darkness of defeat and the rains of risked reputation. After all, what’s more brilliant than a superb sunset characterized by resplendent colors and patterns bursting through clouds on a stormy day? It seems to proclaim another day’s hard won accomplishments.

Even as the sun is now following a lower path along the earth as it accomplishes another season, already contract negotiations are underway to harness the bright lights of summer for next season. As we complete this season’s tasks and start to think about next year, let’s finish strong – completing well down to the detail what remains of these days.

 

Prayer for Completion
“I glorified you on earth by completing down to the last detail what you assigned me to do.” 61John 17:4

We are glad that life’s events are so challenging that sometimes, just finishing, signals victory. Give us strength to complete what’s before us; give us enlightening and encouraging glimpses of what’s ahead to keep us going to the end.

Ponder What must I finish? Affirm I fulfill what’s been started even if the pace seems slow. Watch for bright endings that offer fresh starts.

 

60“Tour de France 2008 – Team Gerolsteiner: A ‘highly motivated’ Team Gerolsteiner heads into the 95th Tour,” July 4, 2008 posted on www.dailypeloton.com

61The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Speed Endurance

Posted in Summer Sunshine on July 24, 2009 by bethleasure

Long Shadows

50“I don’t ride that much but very specific, high quality.” Jeannie Longo, One of the Heroes

 

Long Shadows of Summer

Long Shadows of Summer

The myth of season-long, low intensity 6-hour training rides is busted this time of year when a rider doesn’t place in a 200k race or perform well over multiple days in hard tours. Long bike races are less of an aerobic endurance activity and more about speed endurance since intensity is often above what’s sustainable all-day. Little hard efforts over and over decide classification.

Mid-summer’s necessity is to endure long hard races as well as a long season. Optimal preparation consists of multiple sets of hard efforts of varying intensities and lengths to endure repeated-speed fatigue, as well as racing as best preparation for racing!

Such races used by champions of summer may or may not target performance as much as preparation, such as Paris-Nice to tune-up for Tour de France or Tour de France to overreach toward the Olympics.

For example, Longo consistently shines at race selection for the purposes of ramping up speed endurance. She used small Colorado stage races prior to an international tour in America as preparation for gold and silver medal rides in Atlanta. She targeted a win in some form, not necessarily first place, to build confidence and keep freshness while gradually overloading fitness. She chose events that shielded her from the pressures of a relentless French press and venues that simulated if not the humidity at least the heat of a southern Olympic city. Longo’s longevity overshadows anyone in top level cycling. With precision and preparation suited to someone who knows herself well, she outlasted all with a sunny smile while winning one of the most important of her many races solo.

Lengthening summer light casts long shadows in rolling silhouettes on the ground as we ride this time of year. A long shadow can be cast upon performance if speed endurance and rejuvenating races are missing from a training program.

 

Prayer for Speed Endurance
“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever.” 51Hebrews 12:2

We are thankful for examples of winning a “war” with many hard battles before it. We ask for speed endurance.           

Ponder Can I repeat efforts of varying intensity for as long as my targeted races demand? Affirm I select events that require hard efforts but keep me fresh for bigger events. Watch and work repeatability for speed endurance.

 

 

50Conversations with Jeannie Longo, One of the Heroes.

51The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Best Young Rider & Espoirs

Posted in Summer Sunshine on July 23, 2009 by bethleasure

Sons Rising

56“…the trainee champions were able to taste the sensation… [it’s] clear to us that the values of cycling had here acquired new meaning.” Christian Prudhomme on Tour de l’Avenir

 

Strength, Kindness & Youth

Strength, Kindness & Youth

There seems to be a 57bigger pool of younger talent capable of competing with more senior riders in recent years. Perhaps kids during the Armstrong era – inspired to race by increasing media coverage and financial opportunities – are coming of age as wizened, saddle-worn warriors. There’s a trend toward greater competitiveness with more senior counterparts and sometimes the Best Young Rider category offered in big stage races is a GC contender as well – like Andy Schleck in the Tour for example. These sons rising toward a golden day of professional leadership provide a race within the race in parallel with what’s necessary to do well as a GC leader.

Often the jersey is won by a rider who is already very experienced even if younger. Certainly some nations excel with a highly developed pipeline toward pro racing via grass roots networks that send through well-taught trainees. Similar to American Little League baseball, where best young pitchers can toss at speeds nearing professional players and coaches have more players than positions, the countries producing young stars encourage both depth and breadth. By the time these espoirs flick the teens, they’re already strong and smart enough to jump past inexperienced and under-trained peers into professional teams that have squads to develop and utilize them.

Only 58one American team so far uses such a program, and successfully! Talented riders and team efforts by the domestic-based young B squad can sometimes beat well-funded pro squads at home. The sport seems to have shifted so that Best Young Riders are among the best of riders, and average age seems a bit younger than ever before. The Espoirs burst out like an eager sun on a new era of cycling!

 

Prayer for Best Young Rider & Espoirs

“Father, it’s time. Display the bright splendor of your Son.

So the Son in turn may show your bright splendor.” 59John 17:1-2

 

We are grateful for programs that encourage and advance emerging young cyclists. We ask to take care regarding the responsibility and privilege of instilling ethics and values into this amenable age-group.  We ask blessing on our best young riders and upon espoir racing.

 

Ponder What values are relevant for this age? Affirm I want young riders to be spiritually and emotionally ready too! Watch and wear a “white” jersey of good values as a clean slate for cycling’s future.

 

 

56“Editorial: More Verve & Spirit,” on Tour de l’Avenir 2008 by Christian Prudhomme, Director of Tour de France posted on www.letour.fr. Tour de l’Avenir is the biggest event of the year for espoir riders and consists of Under-23 national teams.

57I can find no study to support this, so this is my opinion based on observation of trends. More juniors are coming out of the amateur ranks and getting pro contracts because of the average age restrictions for pro teams set by the UCI and because there is more young and capable talent available now than ever before.

58Garmin-sponsored Slipstream is the only team in America that is also focused on espoir and junior development from within its system for the purposes of Europro competitiveness. I know of no other American team, also competitive in Europe that had such a system. This system is common for Europro squads.

59The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson 

Most Aggressive Rider

Posted in Summer Sunshine on July 22, 2009 by bethleasure

Hot Pick

54Prize of combativeness…the most aggressive rider…Awarded for being feisty, irritating, unpopular with your peers and, frankly, not likely ever to win anything else.”         Barney Ronay, Sports Editor 

 

Seeing Red is a good outlet for Aggression

Seeing Red is a good outlet for Aggression

Decidedly, Most Aggressive is not the same as Most Valuable Player, who is usually selected from the winning side. The Most Aggressive Rider, while combative, is not necessarily disliked by peers or unable to win anything else. Competitors sometimes pick this rider as deserving of this distinction. An aggressive ride may be grudgingly admired at times and may spectacularly display a determined hot desire to win.

In a long season, desire can be worn down by disappointment or disaster. An aggressive ride is an inspiring way to turn around a bad trend or take an all-or-nothing set of risks to reap some return on an investment likely to fail due to bad legs. One racing strategy is to attack when one feels poorly because what’s lost may be the effort and what’s gained may be a result on a day when finishing seems impossible – let alone finishing well.

An aggressive rider may also be someone whose fitness or capabilities aren’t suited for the type of racing in a particular event. Or most combative may be someone who refuses to race in ignominy when instigation brings camera time for a sponsor: better notoriously off the front than unnoticeable in the bunch. Most Aggressive can sometimes lack tactical awareness, timing sense, or even top talent for a win but still gain an award  – the E for effort rather than an F for failed to be first.

Cycling admires courage regardless of result. Cycling also rewards riding that focuses less on result and more on the ride. Further, champion cycling puts together courage AND situational awareness. Most aggressive has at least the courageous part of it conquered but may need to redistribute focus for mastering awareness to win. And sometimes, Most Aggressive is a rider capable of ripping off everyone’s legs anyway who decides to smack down dramatically and decisively anytime he wants. 

 

Prayer for Most Aggressive Rider

“He did it so that all of the nations on earth would know that he is powerful. He did it so that you would always have respect for the Lord your God.”  55Joshua 4:24

 

We ask blessing upon appropriately-used aggressiveness in competition and winners of this category. We ask for displays of power that lead to respect.  

Ponder When do I respect aggression in myself or others? Affirm I use my aggression wisely. Watch well-worked power and assertive actions work well as a worthy result and esteem-builder.

 

54“Essential French in five minutes,” by Barney Ronay defines Prix de combativité (n) in The Guardian, posted July 2, 2007 on www.guardian.co.uk

55New International Reader’s Version Copyright © 1996, 1998 by International Bible Society

Fans & Spectators

Posted in Summer Sunshine on July 21, 2009 by bethleasure

Warm Crowd

52“Since 1993, I follow the races as ‘The Devil’ as I felt that there was something missing among the fans. Someone who cheers them up, fans as well as riders, and who gives the races a certain, special surrounding…the riders are passing by, I never afflict them. It’s a question of respect for them. I chase them for the media, only from behind and never too close.”     Didi Senft, The Devil, #1 Cycling Fan               

 

Roaring Fans

Roaring Fans

The fans of cycling are a warm cheering crowd prodded by the piping pitchfork of cycling’s most recognizable booster, The Devil. Far from devil’s advocate, Didi’s antics may sometimes worry a rider too close on his shoulder but mostly he’s a good angel of the Alpes and audience mascot.

Our spectators set us apart from most other sports. Our open-air arena brings them shoulder to shoulder with us but separated from one another. Ticketed stadium viewers can do the wave and chant a song but exclude every one wanting to watch. Cycling’s crowd is linear, all-encompassing, and allows a worker to pause for a watch. While we don’t benefit from gate proceeds except in VIP refreshment tents at grand venues, we appeal across socioeconomic lines as a spectator sport. We do have body painting, banners, tailgating, and souvenirs. And we also have alien groupie activity like crop circles with messages and symbols in the languages of the peloton, strange statues and street performers, rows of rowdy schoolchildren and clanging cow-bell ringers.

The din is so great in certain narrow uphill routes, a rider cannot hear a radio, one another, or much else. Throngs of cheering enthusiasts become our guardrails. Sometimes this is more intrusive and dangerous than guardian angel-like. So fans beware! We like our devil but his demons can flee because we prefer our angels to be around watching out for us – but not too close.

 

Prayer for Cycling Fans & Spectators
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” 53Hebrew 12:1

 

We are thankful for each supporter and admirer of cycling. We ask blessing upon each one and for more to come near but not into our rolling fold. We ask that fan interest, insight, and safety increase.

 

Ponder What would racing be like without fans? Affirm I love a crowd. Watch and make our passage safe ye admirers; watch ye riders, not the crowd but the road and the race to ensure it flows through our fans and not into them.

 

 

52“The DEVIL: PEZ-Clusive Interview!” by Florian Wenk posted on June 30, 2004 www.pezcyclingnews.com

53Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004 Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189