Archive for July, 2009

Chamiponship Lifestlye/Stable Resources

Posted in Championship Lifestyle on July 15, 2009 by bethleasure

Off to the Mines

45“Elite amateur riders must have a part-time job. You can’t race with money as a motivation to make it as a pro.” Brian Walton, Olympian, Team Director  – his riders having at least part-time jobs – one of his requirements


Money helps the wheels go round

Money helps the wheels go round

Rumor had it that one young pro with a national-level team risked all he had to showcase his abilities – going for the big time with well-chosen wins at home to market himself abroad. He chose the best possible time when his emerging abilities surpassed his peers and when no other domestic doors represented a promotion. He’d learned all he could and knew that only Europe remained. He gave himself a specific time-frame with a specific line of credit. It was all or nothing, and he succeeded in securing a contract that paid off all costs within the first months. He eventually rode himself on to the highest ranking team in the world and atop the most prestigious podiums. His financial investment was wise because he’d set a boundary around it: once the line of credit was exhausted, it was off to the mines if euro-teams passed him over.

Lines of credit and debt-financing aren’t my first choice for advising young pros about how to fund the interim between potential and profit. But this rider was commendable because he set a limit on excess. Too often, irresponsibility rules in generating provision to race. This makes an elite-to-pro lifestyle unstable and detracts from focused performance.

Lack of resources eventually leads to lack of self-respect if one continues to sacrifice without renewed provision. Exploitation is rampant since resources are so limited. Some make poor choices in enlisting sugar-mamas or daddys that compromise integrity and often goals.

We are meant to be rewarded for hard work and it’s important that we choose work that brings income to live. Maintaining a part-time job may limit race choices but with an improved strategy for race selection, it may also show strengths at the right time. An off-season position is also an option, and not a few winter construction sites benefit from a cyclist’s strength and endurance.


Prayer for Stable Resources
“…look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two.
…All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions.”
46Proverbs 6:6-8


We pray for the resources to race and flexible jobs that support it if needed.                                         

Ponder Do I have a periodized plan for generating income to support racing? Affirm I support myself in cycling or I will find a different job. Watch that your ambition is counted against your bank account.




45Conversations with Brian Walton. Practical Canadian! Brian is a 3-time Olympian including the 1996 Olympic Silver Medalist. He is the current VP of Performance at Cadence Cycling and Multisport Centers whose primary location is near the infamous Manayunk Wall in Philadelphia.

The Bible has more to say about work, money and finances than it does about sin. There are many fine resources to study on the smart uses of money and investment. Start with Dave Ramsey or Crown Financial Ministries.

46The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Championship Lifestyle/Supportive Relationships

Posted in Championship Lifestyle on July 14, 2009 by bethleasure

Short Accounts

38“This is something I never expected but it really touched my heart because of the presence of my parents and some close friends who mean a lot to me.” Sir Marc Madiot, Champion Cyclist, on being knighted by France


Who is there for you after the racing?

Who is there for you after the racing?

One of our purposes is implemented in relationships. Part of professional development includes a supportive network. We can’t make those we care about care for us, but we can choose who we let in and for how long. Having sensible boundaries regarding family and friends is part of championship lifestyle.

Some athletes have the uber-parent who takes a second job to support junior’s equipment needs every season. One pro’s wife set up a family business to support his racing. Some are persuaded into support when they witness the happiness and success of their cyclist-loved one. Some never quite get it but tolerate it. Others actively oppose it. The latter requires well-thought out responses that are in one another’s best interest.

Champion lifestyle minimizes unresolved tensions with others and keeps short accounts – as quick to resolve conflict either through reconciliation or reevaluation as they are to reach the finish line. Rather than being selfish as serious cyclists are often accused, instead be responsible by being upfront about levels of engagement. Often energies limit the network a champion can maintain and hard choices ensue: this is where knowing one’s purpose helps guide. Sometimes, concessions can be made to maintain healthy interactions with others outside the tiny winner’s circle. Sometimes it’s better to pursue the relationship than serious cycling.

Supporters need to be cultivated. Winners keep it simple. This can be tricky with a demanding schedule, travel, and lack of face time. Therefore, direct communication is the best tactic. Certain relationships tolerate insulating oneself from drama for the sake of race focus and some do not. Family and friends that are flourishing help nurture championship potential.

Prayer for Supportive Relationships
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” 39Deuteronomy 31:8

We are grateful for God’s omnipresence – someone supportive always with us. We pray for happy relationships in a well-ordered life and for the important family and friends who also endure our cycling.

Ponder How much time and energy must I give to maintain a certain relationship? Affirm I enjoy and thank faithful supporters. Watch for energizing ways to interact with and bless loved ones.



38“Madiot knighted by French president,” by Jean-François Quénet First Edition Cycling News, January 25, 2008 Edited by Laura Weislo  Mark joins Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault among the road cyclists who have received the award.

39The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Championship Lifestyle/Purpose in Cycling

Posted in Championship Lifestyle on July 13, 2009 by bethleasure

Know Thyself

36“Why do I ride my bike everywhere? I gave this some thought. I know why I started initially, but do I still have the same reason now? Those things are still important to me now, but…When I ride my bike every day, my body feels better, and my mind feels better. I never would have guessed it, but it’s true. I ride a bike because I need to ride a bike. Riding my bike makes me feel good.” Purpose-driven Bike Commuter


What is your reason for taking to the roads?

What is your reason for taking to the roads?

Understanding one’s purpose and discovering one’s destiny makes any hardship associated with fulfillment endurable. A purpose for riding may be as simple as it feels good. For a bike commuter to endure splashing motorists, subzero mornings, and regular road rage, a reason other than a way to get to work acts as incentive. The more committed one becomes, the more sacrifices that are made, and the more rewards anticipated – it pays to ask the deep questions.

Even a seasoned pro whose body is one with bicycle and whose palmarès reveal providence needs to reacquaint with purpose in cycling. For work has a purpose beyond income; and cycling for a living is not merely work. It’s a lifestyle choice that sets apart from the majority; a subculture that sometimes counters society. Pro cycling requires us not to mirror our world but to reflect a brighter light. Against those who take a pill for anything, we are not to dope. For those who eat, sleep, and sit as little and as much as they want, we are to count, monitor, and move. For those who live randomly, we exhibit a culture of discipline. For those with little ambition, we strive for excellence.

If you know you’re purpose is GC leader then it’s easy to be generous in a sprint. If you know you’re purpose is team support, then you can be generous away from limelight. A winner isn’t more valuable in spiritual terms than the one who finishes last. Yet consistently last must reconsider purpose – some other pursuit brings tangible value – and this affirms purpose. Some riders are so gifted, racing is an act of worship to a God who created them for it. We all have meaningful gifts and purposes to seek.


Prayer for Purpose in Cycling

“The Spirit also makes us sure that we will be given what God has stored up for his people. Then we will be set free, and God will be honored and praised.” 37Ephesians 1:14


We are glad for our unique contribution to the world. We confess we try to be what we’re not at times. Guide us to our highest and best purposes.             

Ponder Are my reasons for riding in tandem with my calling and place in cycling? Affirm I am in the center of God’s purpose for me when the bike is —. Watch amazing and prosperous doors open when desire and destiny match.



36“Why Do I Ride My Bike?” posted on Riin’s Rants Copyright © 2004 Riin Gill January 7, 2004 This website has expired

See Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren as a reference for discovering purpose and one’s purposes.

37The Bible, Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Championship Strategy/Solo Strategy

Posted in Championship Strategy on July 11, 2009 by bethleasure

Sole Survivor

30“I like to win alone.” Eve Stephenson, World Champion 


Jeannie wins a lot and often alone

Jeannie wins a lot and often alone

Breathlessly the wheels of a solo winner slink away with a whisper as if spoken by 31Garbo from Hollywood’s Golden Age, “Ihh vant to bhe alooonn.” This is a strategy worth employing for a stage, a Classic or a one-day championship. Solo breakaways are the most spectacular of champion strategies. They are the most winsome to work and the most expensive to claim. A champion plays this Ace like high stakes poker held close to the chest and revealed as a final hand.

The mentality of sole survivorship must accompany every champion in every race. Even with the strongest team in the world, a GC leader must still position wisely and ride their best personal performances on key stages. Further, a winner outnumbered in a breakaway must revert to self-preservation. Those amateur days of individual focus for results to secure a pro contract must be utilized occasionally.

It is possible for an unsupported individual to defeat teammates working against one alone. Two are stronger than one but don’t always ride like it. A clever soloist can sometimes capitalize on confusion. Solo strategies forced with the help of team can succeed, but a soloist is often pegged. Often other developing soloists win by outwitting the watched soloist.

In certain events like national championships or Olympic qualifiers or races, riders may not have teammates or behave like teammates even if in the same jersey. Everyone may be riding for the win and tactics used for these races vary greatly from team racing and even from negative local racing where the stakes are not so high. Having a teammate to work with may be a rare blessing, and this is where certain national teams have dominated international events selflessly riding for country. Even then the mentality for one-day championships shifts between team tactics and the awesome responsibility of the solitary winner.


Prayer for Solo Situations
“And so, each of us must give an account to God for what we do.”  32Romans 14:12


We are thankful that we each ultimately stand alone for our deeds and misdeeds. We ask to be strong individual thinkers capable of switching between interdependence and self-reliance.


Ponder What if I’m without help in a target race? Affirm I do what I need to do with or without help if need be. Watch and think as you encounter situations sequestered from team or support.


30Conversation with Dorrie Bowley Martel, who was a rare racer able to defeat Eve Stephenson using similar solo tactics.

31Greta Garbo is known as a reclusive star of the screen during the Golden Era of Hollywood. Her reasons for isolation are mysterious. Mystery mixes well with solitude.

32The Bible, Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Championship Strategy/Roster Selection

Posted in Championship Strategy on July 10, 2009 by bethleasure


23“The hardest part of coaching collegiate cycling is selecting the team that goes to nationals. It’s so hard to leave behind that kid that doesn’t make the cut.” Jim Young, Coach-Penn State University Cycling, multi-time National Champions


Coach Young is perhaps the most beloved coach in collegiate cycling

Coach Young is perhaps the most beloved coach in collegiate cycling

One of the most important strategies formulated by a team director is roster selection. Winning programs are created by champion riders. Champions associate with winning programs. Occasionally, a winner signs with a team as the lone star to upgrade a team culture. In general, this doesn’t last. A winning rider still needs winning structures as a launching pad to race wins. A winning rider needs other winners as teammates. Great teams don’t require as much motivation because its great riders are already motivated. Great teams instead need leadership capable of making tough choices – facing brutal facts – and having exceptional faith – possessing vision.

Rosters evaluated per season and per goal must fit with team mission; but another 24commonality in great organizations, ones that outperform competitors, is that mission is formulated with personnel in place, not prior. In other words, great organizations get the right people on the bus before they figure out where to drive it.

In cycling terms, this means that great teams decide goal events based on rider capability. Too often in cycling, we see team goals formulated before riders are chosen. Frequently, the goals are never met because the wrong people were on the bus for that destination or more kindly, the wrong destination was chosen to serve those riders. Once rider capabilities are realistically assessed, choosing which riders go where then becomes another series of critical decisions. Striving for excellence then involves coordination of individual goals and training programs with team targets and team periodization. More scheduling flexibility characterizes the great teams because a roster has more depth and breadth of talent – and everyone understands the destination.


Prayer for Roster Selection
“… no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 251 Corinthians 12:25-26


We recognize that choices, which are exclusive, leave someone out. We pray for those left behind and ask for wisdom in selecting who goes.


Ponder Am I so focused on goals that I’m ignoring who is with me to accomplish them? Affirm I am selected for a unique mission. Watch as teams accomplish goals based on who is involved. 



23Conversations with Coach Young. What’s remarkable about this streak of success is that this program is student-run and accomplished with little funding from the school. It competes with other schools whose cycling programs have budgets and resources with varsity status, recruiting, and paid management. Coach Young is a volunteer. Typically he’s “invisible” at races not drawing attention to himself but huddling in a stadium coat with a group of riders around him. He’s created a legacy of national and international stars who were grounded under his mentorship. He is the definition of Good-to-Great leadership, as defined by Jim Collins, as well as what was accomplished based on amount of resources.

24This concept is from Good to Great by Jim Collins published by HarperCollins Publishers Inc., NY Copyright © 2001 by Jim Collins.

25The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Championship Strategy/Coping with Pressure

Posted in Championship Strategy on July 9, 2009 by bethleasure

Steam Engines

21“The pressure makes me focus.” Sammy Sanchez, Olympic Champion 


Golden focus in Beijing

Golden focus in Beijing

Clutch players are the pressure-meisters of sport. These are the great ones who rise to the occasion when all odds are against and nearly every second of play is gone. When the pressure is greatest, this is the player who gets passed the ball when down points and nearly out of time; this is the one judged second place in semi’s who starts the final round with the hardest feat; or the come-from behind speedster who moves to the front when the big fight begins. Champions cope with pressure by utilizing its vapor not to steam like a cooker but to cook like a steam engine. Forward positive force propels in self-controlled momentum. Fear is turned into focus.

A culture of discipline is essential for cultivating this strategic capability. Mastering strategic fundamentals before engaging in forays of high-risk or complicated tactics produces not just skills but confidence utilized in high pressure situations. Big events create tension that makes simplicity a premium. Back to the basics often works for podium performance. It may be a fancy, well-funded, high profile event, but fundamentals are enough to win because pressure causes most to make subtle errors of judgment. Pressure riders focus on simple strategy, skills, and self-awareness to pull out the win. At lower level events where pressure is lowest, these same athletes master primary skills that require focus and self-control instead of the easiest way to get results.

For instance, lead-outs are a more advanced skill that builds on podium performance through sprint wins. Being 2nd wheel in a final corner to clinch a mass sprint win puts more pressure on a novice than hanging out and figuring somewhere in a final surge. Championship strategy starts early where pressures are applied to skills formation, strategic experimentation, and realistic but challenging goal-setting. Ego and anxiety miss the mark.


Prayer for Coping with Pressure

“While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!” 222 Corinthians 4:12


We are grateful for opportunities to turn up the heat little by little to teach us coping skills necessary to succeed. We pray, not for troubles, but that we ride facing challenges with aplomb under pressure.


Ponder Can I execute when under pressure? Affirm I cope with pressure or I find ways to relieve it for achievement. Watch how pressure performances occur and see the translation into triumph.



21Sammy Sanchez 2008 Olympic Men’s Road Race Interview by NBC Sports Television, August, 2008

22The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Championship Strategy/Winning Skills

Posted in Championship Strategy on July 8, 2009 by bethleasure

The Victory Continuum

19“I’m less concerned about the availability and temptation to use performance-enhancing drugs in sports than I am about the dangers faced every day by teens who aren’t involved in sports at all.” Chris Carmichael, Cycling Coach


Truth is performance drug users are vulnerable to street drug use also

Truth is performance drug users are vulnerable to street drug use also

It may be true that some are born winners. This means that all the elements of winning come easily to those people. An infant isn’t going to win a KOM – but a child with natural abilities given the right mix of experiences, motivations, tools and opportunities could become a champion climber. He could also stand on street corners smoking crack.

There’s a package that comes with being a winner that born losers could practice to learn to win. Who’s to say who is either? Just attempting it raises your level from street to podium. After these weeks of preparation of champion character, psyche, presence, and emotions, working on winning strategy will seem like being in the slipstream. But even in the slipstream, one must pedal. To win requires an effort. It is not magic. It doesn’t suddenly happen or come about due to luck. A rider doesn’t go from 67th to 1st just like that. It’s true a rider low on GC may win a stage or a great performance can follow a poor performance. It’s also true that breakthrough can occur, but usually as a result of continued incremental momentum. It’s finally put together by the winner and isn’t by everyone else on the day.

Inviting spirituality into the package of skills is critical – for the awareness to see cycling through eyes of faith into hidden systems and secret strategies. I was often puzzled at how the race went – what I’d missed or what worked, until I prayed for strategic insight. I remember that gestalt moment when strategic insight was granted. It was a bit like slow motion. In the victory continuum, what I could imagine I could finally execute. What I could sense, I could now see and anticipate and capitalize upon to move from consistent seconds to victory. More importantly, I could now multiply this from me to we and teach others what, when, where, who, and how to see and sense. This week isn’t about mastering the fundamental skills of bike racing. It’s about mastering the fundamental skills of championship strategy.


Prayer for Winning Skills
“Strength and success belong to God; both deceived and deceiver must answer to him.” 20Job 12:16


Teach us to win O Lord.    


Ponder Do I know what it takes to win? Affirm I can learn to win. Watch practice make perfect for first place.


19“Cycling’s Hope: The Sport Has Hit Bottom,” by Mason Kelley posted July 1, 2008

20The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Championship Physiology/Peaking & Tapering

Posted in Championship Physiology on July 7, 2009 by bethleasure

Peaks & Valleys

16“Your training graph should have lots of peaks and valleys.” Ned Overend, Mountain Bike Hall of Famer


TaperingBreakthroughs to winning performances are the result of constant pressure, little by little, with a restoration phase unique to each champion and championship. Much is said of peaking but the substance of it is in the tapering.

One fact of tapering is that a refreshing period to stimulate the peak must include some intensity; however, volume can vary so long as it provides relaxation and makes one hungry for the goal event. There are various types of tapers just as there are types of periodization programs. Linear types are often used – progressive load followed by progressive declines in volume or intensity. Current 17research is inconclusive in discovering an optimal type. As is the case for much of physiology, champions learn what form of rest precedes personal peak performance. Some respond best if a taper allows rest first and then a re-ramping of intensity with volume. Some respond better with an incremental decrease of effort leading to the event or with exponential decreases- a big drop in load followed by a smaller drop or a small ease followed by a bigger drop.

Taper duration can also vary from days to several weeks and is specific to individual as well as type of event; for instance, anaerobic peaks occur after a longer lay-off but compromise LT power. As part of type or duration, the period leading up to the event must be designed to reduce training-induced fatigue without reversing specific training adaptations. So a rest before a Classic has different characteristics than rest before a Grand Tour. A champion journey takes its strength from each place while using measured rests to reach the top.


Prayer for Peaking & Tapering
“As they pass through the dry lonesome valleys, they make it a place of good water…They go from strength to strength. God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and at the last turn—Zion! God in full view!” 18Psalm 84:6-7


We confess we think of breakthrough as an overnight miracle when really it’s made available by constant momentum of varying paces that finally reaches a destination point. We ask for strength to strength.


Ponder Is finding my best taper a part of my training? Affirm I can try various ways to lay-off to come back even stronger. Watch for those “feed zones” into the climb of peak performance.


16“Ned Overend Keeps Going and Going,” by Peggy McKay Shinn for as posted on

17“Peaking & Tapering,” presented by Inigo Mujika, Department of Research & Development, Bilboa Athletic Club, in a USA Cycling webinar April, 2008.

18New Life Version Copyright © 1969 by Christian Literature International and The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Championship Physiology/Periodization

Posted in Championship Physiology on July 6, 2009 by bethleasure

Cycles & Sabbaths

14“100% of the time you get what you train for.” Clay Worthington, Track Sprint Coach


What goes where is up to a scientific but artful programmer

What goes where is up to a scientific but artful programmer

Specificity is a foundational principle of exercise physiology. Champions base training on this simple truth and demarcate it in carefully planned periods. The very universe works and rests and its periods are segments known as days, seasons, and ages. This illustrates the stress-rest principle or progressive overload that’s foundational in exercise physiology.

What this looks like in a cycling time-line can be mapped in periods, each with a purpose and a rhythm. Periodization for championship cycling divides training time into segments that work the differing energy systems required for road race success in ways that allow a peak period for championship events.

Not every pro cyclist has this luxury: some are required to maintain consistency throughout a competitive season. Yet even these must use periodization to build recovery into a busy race calendar. More and more, even domestiques must periodize training to be at top form useful to a GC contender or Classics specialist during the targeted event. Team periodization is a consideration of the Directeur Sportif’s selections for roster and races. 

There are differing schools of thought about which fitness to work when: for instance, working VO2max as a base or as a topper for a TT goal. Sometimes this difference is used by the same coach applied among athletes whose profiles indicate emphasizing a particular energy system or whose unique adaptation mandate an original mix of preparation.

The key is monitoring the training load and its effects. Champion physiology submits itself to frequent testing. Race fitness is the ultimate test, and timing its zenith is the universal quest of champions.


Prayer for Periodization
“Sow your fields, prune your vineyards, and take in your harvests for six years. But the seventh year the land will take a Sabbath of complete and total rest…The land will yield its fruit; you will have all you can eat and will live safe and secure. Do I hear you ask, ‘What are we going to eat in the seventh year if we don’t plant or harvest?’ I assure you, I will send such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough.” 15Leviticus 25

We passionately embrace periods of over-reaching. We confess we silence the raspy inner voice that whispers, “Enough!” at times. We pray for knowledgeable periodization.            

Ponder Do I have a well-planned program for achievement? Affirm I outline segments for long-term gains while tweaking for daily realities. Watch a personal flow-chart of goals and events in the context of demands and results.


14“Periodization: Sprint Track Cycling,” presented by Clay Worthington, 2006 USA Coaching Summit, Colorado Springs, CO

15The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Championship Strategy/GC Tactics

Posted in Championship Strategy on July 4, 2009 by bethleasure

True Disciples

28“There must be one leader and eight men ready to die for him.”  Jens Voigt, Champion Domestique, converted Soloist, on Tour de France team-of-nine strategy


Jens Voigt willing to suffer

Jens Voigt willing to suffer

What we would accomplish in life if we had 8 people ready to die for us! Even one or a few dedicated to our success is empowering, particularly if one of those is one of the world’s best winners. Even with this knowledge, the rarity of total team commitment to this principle distinguishes great performances. Riding for oneself is an incredible urge to fight and valid temptation for the best pros capable of individual glory. Yet a complete team totally sold out to one winner creates a greater glory.

Protecting the leader is the first rule of team strategy for individual GC contention, with various tactics applied from keeping the jersey to helping others take it…for a while. A team committed to GC may also practice the ole “bait and switch.” This tactic is riding for one whose strengths play in certain stages while planning to ride for another in later stages to take the overall win. Sometimes this is planned and sometimes it turns out that way. Dominating GC teams tend to not worry about other jerseys or prize categories, although occasionally a team is so dominating it can sweep a lot of booty while pirating the peloton.

Often the championship quality for GC tactics is being willing to lose to win and its companion attribute of knowing when to work and when not. Egos that helped achieve a position in the peloton and win a spot in the event are bridled to then rightly estimate competitors and energies and work for the leader. If you want to experience real race suffering, do the work of champion domestiques: shield wind, keep the leader in the sweet spot, keep pace high, chase and block. These are tactics that play well with love motivation: the force behind true discipleship – martyrdom if necessary.


Prayer for GC Tactics
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 291 John 3:16 


We are thankful for an example in Christ of willingness to lay down life for another – even adversaries! We confess it’s difficult even to sacrifice for friends. We pray for championship tactics for stage racing.


Ponder Am I willing to be dropped for a team win? Affirm I can go to the front even if I go off the back to save my leader. Watch your leader and serve however is necessary.



28Stage 21 CSC Feature on Versus Channel: Tour de France coverage July 27, 2008

29The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society