Archive for August, 2009

Ride Buddies/Peer Support

Posted in Seasonal Transitions on August 28, 2009 by bethleasure

Buddy System

58“Wendy gave me a challenge all the way. We did it together, we filled the top two spots. Two years ago, we said it would be us two.” Rebecca Romero, Olympic Pursuit Gold Medalist, on teammate Wendy Houvenaghel, Silver Medalist

 

Schleck Brothers: The Power of Two

Schleck Brothers: The Power of Two

Two with mutual interests is a powerful combination toward prosperity. Two-by-two little children take hands and keep track of each other’s journey in the buddy system. This kindergarten line-up procedure for safety outside the classroom works well in life also. Really good teams have a bigger more complex buddy system, and some riders have their own versions.

Family pairs like fathers-sons or brothers challenging and cheering each other’s achievements are common in sport. Both the rivalry and rapport give a competitive advantage against lone competitors. Not all of us have cyclists in the family, but we can all develop peer support. A group or even a training partner can commiserate, build teamwork, have fun during fierce moments of intense effort, share the passion, and push each other. Likewise during hard times, peer relationships can exchange ups and downs.

Certain long-term consistent coaching relationships, such as coach as a surrogate in the absence of an interested parent – can provide this kind of emotional infrastructure. Sometimes these unions are so vital that in the disruption of the partnership, an athlete decides to terminate competition. This happened to Xavier Brisseaud, French Espoir National Champion. Xav and his best friend came up through the ranks together as best buddies, earnest rivals, and young stars of cycling. Both enjoyed conscription as military cyclists as a launching pad for professional development. Then Xavier’s friend was killed. Xav lost interest in racing. But he became a fine performance manager for a grassroots development club with a powerful impact on riders in development. Perhaps the kind of incentive his rival-friend produced in him was passed on to others.

There’s power in having competitor companions. Sometimes it has something to do with performance on the bike also.

 

Prayer for Peer Support
“Carry each other’s heavy loads. If you do, you will give the law of Christ its full meaning.” 59Galatians 6:2

 

We are grateful for special training partnerships. We ask for peers to exchange encouragement and support. Bless our ride buddies!

Ponder Is the power of love included in my training? Affirm I care about friends who put the hurt on me! Watch dude, as I go up the road!

 

 
58“Event 21 – August 17: Women’s 3000m Individual Pursuit Final: Romero continues British stranglehold on track Games,” by Rob Jones in Beijing posted www.cyclingnews.com

59New International Reader’s Version Copyright © 1996, 1998 by International Bible Society

Team Politics

Posted in Seasonal Transitions on August 25, 2009 by bethleasure

Wheeling & Dealing

56“Van Gilder deflected her success, and credited her teammates. ‘This is a team sport and I wouldn’t be here without their support.’” Laura van Gilder, Pro Cyclist

 

Cross the street and say hello

Cross the street and say hello

Van Gilder has survived nearly two decades of ever-changing sponsorship typical of an under-resourced women’s peloton to ride for well-stocked successful squads. She has a wicked sprint but her warmth toward peers and rivals makes her perhaps a perfect example of race politician. Beyond her sought-after winning ways, for years she had an uncanny ability to appear on next year’s best roster.

Riders who are wooed and pursued play politics as much as riders pursuing and wishing for team spots. Tact and diplomacy go a long way; little digs and derogatory remarks are remembered. One never knows when a sure-thing team will sink in this sport. It pays to work the teams as much it pays to learn team work. Not to be confused with dishonesty or manipulation, working the teams means really learning who people are and perhaps going so far as to find out what they care about and what they need.

Simple conversations and short encounters may be enough to be remembered during this season when directors are looking at who’s who like a reference biographer. In a community this tight, networking has many advantages from employment opportunities to training and travel-sharing. The simple act of introductions and greetings goes a long way toward gathering and giving competitive intelligence.

It’s a myth to wait for a perceptive director to notice your potential and cull you out of the pack to make your career. It’s true this does sometimes occur, but why not increase the odds? If looking for a job in engineering for example, one wouldn’t just enter exhibitions and expect work to be seen. An engineer would apply for jobs, send resumes, utilize headhunters, answer ads, make calls, and interview. Racing well is only half of wheeling and dealing, the other half involves a little campaigning, namely camaraderie.

 

Prayer for Team Politics
“Step out of the traffic!

Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” 57Psalm 46:7

 

We acknowledge good politics is nothing more than good will that steps across an aisle seeking consensus. We pray for strong interpersonal interactions in cycling.

Ponder Do the decision-makers know me? Affirm I want to know everyone in my sphere. Watch who’s new and say hello.

 

 
56“Top cyclists excited for Tour de Leelanau,” by Chris Olson for Leelanau Enterprise posted September 14, 2007 on www.leelanaunews.com

57The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Seasonal Transitions/Realistic Assessment

Posted in Seasonal Transitions on August 21, 2009 by bethleasure

Bridge the Gap          

42“We just missed a few tactics yesterday and today we played the game exactly how we said it, we did how we said we were going to do it, that’s results and that’s how we want to play it… we really wanted to wait for half race to do it, and that’s pretty much what happened. I saw the opportunity, there’s no star on this team, we’re all here to take opportunities, that’s what happened.” Jeff Louder, Pro Cyclist on stage win

 

What are your closest friends saying about your situation?

What are your closest friends saying about your situation?

Chase back to catch your next break. That break may be in cycling or it may mean radical changes. This is an opportunity to determine new expectations and execute new prosperous strategies.

Just as a team meets to discuss ways to overcome setbacks, it helps to get feedback of others’ perceptions of you and fresh approaches. Reality is not based on how we feel. I’ve worked with frustrated riders who felt they were ready for a team spot who may never overcome obstacles of impatience, inflexibility outside of comfort zone, and poor communication skills – all qualities necessary for effective team work. I’ve also worked with riders who lacked knowledge, skill and confidence whose big engines and robust personalities landed them quickly in the scouting talent pool.

Somewhere among self-evaluation, the perception of others who know and respect us, and spiritual life – is the truth. Today we make a plan to bridge the gap between reality and hopes.

 

Prayer for Realistic Assessment
“…be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” 43Romans 12:3-24

 

We pray for open hearts to search and receive the best possible way into a prosperous future.

 

Ponder What are my current circumstances revealing about future?

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What are wise friends and close associates advising me about cycling?

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Is there provision in place for the plans I’ve formed? If not, what’s my proposal for funding/income/resources?

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What is my passion revealing about my assignment? What makes me angry, sad, pumped, excited?

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What can I offer that no one else can?

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What inspires a deep sense of peace about my future: using verses of the Bible, words of inspiration, “signs” or unexpected spiritual senses? What is revealed to me in prayer?

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Affirm I consider all these things to change course. Watch within, without, with God.

 
42“Jeff Louder wins break sprint in Redlands crit and Santiago Botero protects his yellow jersey – Report and Photos,” posted April 6th, 2008 by Lyne Lamoureux on www.reviews.roadbikereview.com
 
43The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Dreams Dashed/Renew Expectations

Posted in Seasonal Transitions on August 18, 2009 by bethleasure

Dreams Dashed        

44“My dreams to be a professional cyclist are dead,” and a few weeks later…“Life is beautiful.” Saul Raisin, Former Pro Cyclist

 

Cycling brings tears of despair and joy

Cycling brings tears of despair and joy

Stories of overcoming odds to become a professional, setbacks then comebacks, and dashed dreams are common in cycling. What sets Saul Raisin apart is the extremity of his duress, the totality of his defeats, the reawakening of his dreams, and his incredible readjustment abilities on all sides of his situation. The same brass balls Saul used to climb Tour of Georgia’s formidable Brasstown Bald were employed to return to pro cycling after a near-death accident. These balls, rusty from the tears of a doctor-recommended dead-end regarding Saul’s safety in returning, were polished to gleam again toward new dreams and a foundation about brain injury. Appropriately called Raisin Hope, the foundation informs, supports, and links like-minded victims of head trauma. In this season of realization, uncertainty and waning energies, take a lesson from Saul Raisin regarding new expectations and hopes. Use your head to determine what happens on the other side of this season’s transitions.

 

Prayer for New Expectations

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” 45I Timothy 6:17 

 

We pray that today’s priority check yields fresh insights and that our dreams include the dreams and needs of others.

 

Ponder What is the focus of my hopes and dreams?

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Who has benefited from this focus? Am I helping others realize their dreams with my dreams?

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What dreams were realized this year?

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What dreams need more time and pursuit and what’s your evidence the pursuit is worth it?

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What new directions can a dream-in-the-works take?

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The best management for disappointment is using its information to redirect your hope. What will be the cost of redirecting a realizable dream in time, resources, and energies prioritized toward it?

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What dreams weren’t realized this year and may never be? What’s the evidence for this dead dream?

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Despite a dead dream, what gives you hope for your future?

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In this new vision for your future, are you trusting that God is a dream-giver?

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Affirm I ask God for my dreams. Watch God-given dreams increase love for God, self and others.

 

44Quotes are from www.saulraisin.com now refers to www.raisinhope.ning.com

45The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Blame Game: Taking Responsibility

Posted in Seasonal Transitions on August 14, 2009 by bethleasure

Blame Game

38I didn’t have the legs for the distance today…The team did everything I asked of them and raced really aggressively – they were a little too good for my form.”  Cadel Evans, Pro Cyclist

 

Even in a loss, this sort of self-effacing stewardship of one’s circumstances is memorable and respectable. A good test of character is behavior when wrong or not a winner. This character forms the basis of confidence and demonstrates a realism that propels the tough work of achievement.

It’s true that stuff happens in bike racing that can be blamed on the weather, another rider, and countless external variables beyond control.  A rider in peril who missed the podium but doesn’t blame team or a flat and simply takes responsibility is classy. Further, that rider sets up success by focusing on the root causes of results. If poor fitness is the real issue but a rider blames “that hack” who took the inside line, progress will never be made. Instead, train to overcome the hacks prior to the critical corners or learn to navigate through them by becoming more skilled.

Study a dominant winner and note that circumstances rarely hinder. In the same race on the same day, this rider avoided the crash that “caused” your result to be blown. This winning rider seemed unaffected by the hail or the dog on the course or the repeated attacks or the lack of adequate hydration. The winner nailed the details, prepared for the event, and created opportunities for safety and strategic success.  

Probably this same champ didn’t take credit for the win but “blamed” the team’s support, or a good venue, or outstanding conditions that favored strengths, or mentioned the noteworthy competitive efforts of peers.

Nearing season’s end, the blame game becomes more of a focus than the racing for some. These are the n’er do wells who are just shy of a result worth reporting and therefore go unnoticed. These are the naysayers who are unable to realistically assess reasons for failure.

We’ve all been there, we’ve all done this. On the season’s back stretch, this is the Time to Repent. There’s a straight-away before we finish, where all can be redeemed and rewards await.

 

Prayer to Take Responsibility
“Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’” 39II Samuel 12:13

 

We confess our fears, failures, laziness, and screw-ups. Have mercy.

Ponder How many excuses have I proffered for poor performance? Affirm I blew it, and I can bear the consequences. Watch what happens next time when you do better if you confess the real cause!

 

 

38“Cadel Evans of Silence-Lotto Loses His Legs in Liege, But His Tour de France Goals Remain Intact,” by Justin David posted April 27, 2008 on http://www.bicycle.net

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

Seasonal Transitions: Reverie & Realism

Posted in Seasonal Transitions on August 11, 2009 by bethleasure

Reverie & Realism

36The contract season seems to start earlier and earlier, and guys were getting snatched up already in June this year! That left guys that started to shine in July and August this year, that left them out.” Mike Tamayo, Team Director

 

Two Separate Futures

Two Separate Futures

Sometimes the mirage on the road isn’t from a heat wave but is an illusion of your future in cycling. Dreams and images are important guidance for planning, goal-setting, and motivation. Expectations are necessary to reach an anticipated end. By now, last year’s expectations have undergone the test of realistic experience. Dreams are being dashed or dreams are being fulfilled.

Late summer increases the heat on next season’s cycling, and contracts are being negotiated earlier than ever. Certain stars are wooed during the Tour de France and by August, announcements of new roster additions or ending sponsorships dominate cycling’s headlines. These transitions increase into September and put the squeeze on the sport and its participants.

What looked like an oasis of opportunity has dried up and new sources or fresh rescues are sought for continued provision to make the long perilous journey into next year. The shadows grow long and so do the faces of anxious riders without new contracts and whole teams whose endorsers exit the sport after the remaining events and weeks.

Things can get really weird in the races. Riders go lone ranger again trying to prove themselves to get picked up by a new team. Tight teams start to unravel and strange tactics partition a team’s comeback units from the kicked out divisions. Unexpected alliances form and campaigns for a contract increase race politics. More smack and criticism and back-biting and flattering and brown-nosing begin to mar the jostling unity of the peloton.

Worried team staff appear in the respected restricted space of other teams searching for next year’s position. The community is abuzz and people talk who never acknowledged one another before. It’s an ugly time and a beautiful time – this dreaming and this realizing.

 

Prayer for the Future
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” 37Jeremiah 29:11 

We are glad that God promises plans and a future that we can seek and enter. We ask to know those prosperous plans and to realize that hopeful future!    

Ponder Am I completely committed to my Plan A? Affirm I may realize dreams with several plans and unexpected opportunities. Watch, talk, wait, pray and act expecting the best to look differently than imagined.

 

 

36“O’Bee signs last-minute deal,” by Mark Zalewski, North American Editor First Edition Cycling News, December 20, 2007 Edited by Hedwig Kröner and Sue George www.cyclingnews.com

37The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Sex Drive & Racing

Posted in Heat Wave on August 7, 2009 by bethleasure

Hot & Bothered
22“You don’t bring your wife to work at a factory or office, no girls at races.” Pro-Team Policy

Cyclists are a passionate group

Cyclists are a passionate group

In this month, the weather can be extreme and it has an effect on behavior. Mortality rates and city crime waves rise with temperature. Really hot humid conditions stimulate sleeplessness, irritability, and poorer reaction time. Conditions like SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder that depresses and slows some down in the winter heats up hypomania, including greater involvement in pleasurable activities with 23high potential for painful consequences, such as unrestrained buying sprees, foolish business investments and sexual indiscretions.

Even in healthy individuals, 24moods and energy levels are connected with the seasons. Birds fly higher and animals are more active. Reproductive 25proteins connected to environmental change bring on breeding season. Bright days with full sun are stimulating and affect physical functions, such as activity, mood, and sex drive. Add testosterone production from hard training and racing, and summer cycling can grow a family.

During heightened stimulation, studies show no 26negative physiological effects of sex prior to performance, but eyes wide open -there may be social, psychological and emotional consequences. A policy of abstinence prior to important competitions is practiced in most sports, and some scientists suggest this improves concentration. The physical act of sex may in fact relax an anxious athlete; other implications may distract and distress. Team dynamics can be affected by the presence of spouses or other outsiders.

Emotional complications arise from noncommittal sexual activity. Biblical suggestions are to keep sex sacred as it is a spiritual act meant in the committed context of marital fidelity. Not just a physical unity, sex is quite complicated and encompasses body, mind, and soul. You wouldn’t give away portions of your mitochondria or blood plasma before a race, why give away portions of the deep stuff of your soul that also has an impact upon athletic drive? Remember, when there’s fire down below, smoke gets in your eyes.

 

Prayer re: Sex Drive & Racing
“None of us has touched a woman. I always do it this way when I’m on a mission: My men abstain from sex. Even when it is an ordinary mission we do that—how much more on this holy mission.”27    1 Samuel 21:5

We ask for discretion and for the peloton to consider sexual morality.

Ponder Are my sexual practices helping my spouse or creating problems? Affirm I control my sex drive. Be careful what you Watch!

 

 

22This was the policy of a major pro tour team that was very successful; source quote is confidential. Sometimes, it may be appropriate to allow married athletes to couple with spouses – during extended tours for example. The no girls at races policy depends on the consistent behavior of the athlete and spouse and their awareness of how sex could affect performance. For example, the comfort of it may decrease anxiety but it may also cause it depending on the relationship. It may also decrease marital conflict by allowing contact during frequent travel, and I know of one team whose spouses accompanied during long periods of travel and racing. It may also be distracting to have a spouse around when trying to focus on racing. Do what strengthens both the marriage and race performance.

Biblical policies for marital abstinence suggest only for a time, then come back together. Biblical sex is defined as a sacred activity and not merely a physical act. Sex drives are treated the same way as any form of control, such as controlling anger or what one says. However, single athletes may consider abstinence as a policy in general. Not participating in sex is a willpower that can be built over time. These energies can be mounted for other testosterone-stimulating activities, such as hard training and racing. The body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, with athletics a form of worship released to the God who created you, the athlete; and as such, should be kept with great care.

23“Hypomanic Episode,” posted on BehaveNet® Clinical Capsule™ on http://www.behavenet.com

24“Weather and Behavior,” posted on http://www.bbc.co.uk

25″Environmental Control of Kisspeptin: Implications for Seasonal Reproduction,” Endocrinology, v. 148, iss. 3 David Bricker. IUB biologist Ellen Ketterson and graduate student Melissa-Ann Scotti, and UC Berkeley graduate student Alex Mason and undergraduate student Jacob Levine also contributed to the research. It was funded by grants from Indiana University and UC Berkeley. http://www.eurekalert.org

26“Sex and Sports: Should Athletes Abstain Before Big Events?” by Stefan Lovgren posted February 22, 2006 on http://www.news.nationalgeographic.com

27The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson