Archive for December, 2009

Cycling and Peace

Posted in The Spiritual Cyclist on December 29, 2009 by bethleasure
Lean, Serene, Cycling Keen

87“Before a major bicycle race the riders are supposed to be, if not at one of the seven levels of serenity, at least calm and purposeful…”  Samuel Abt, Cycling Writer 

Peace on bicycle earth

As we reflect upon this demising year, take an overview of your cycling purpose. While you choose your favorite from the holiday goody tray, what was your specific cycling pleasure of the year? Your enjoyments show as much as your disappointments. In fact, career counselors say pay attention to any strong emotions as indicators of your particular problem to solve, your unique assignment. Cycling evokes your passion alright, or you would dread to experience these daily inspirations about it.

We get so winded in our seasons of competitions and comparisons, our calm is smothered. Countless times I’ve counseled racers in bad form, financial ruin, and relational distress who, ready to let it go, still had a conviction that something was not yet completed. Indeed there was work to do in each case: learning resourcefulness on a strict budget; patience while physiological adaptations finally take hold; reuniting separate lives through communication; taking a dream as far as reality permitted.

For others the new year may bring a downsizing or shifting of cycling’s place: learning how life is without training as your profession; transitioning to a different role or team; living out a suspension.

Resuscitate your excitement by remembering why it draws you. This may be an extrinsic reason, such as prize money or praise; but think a little harder and figure out what’s behind it all. From the same cup as joy comes peace, an inner surrender to your life on this road because… [your heart’s answer.]

It’s as if we’re called like clergyman to this sport because it demands so much of us and is more than a job or a past-time. Celebrate this calling and breathe new faith, hope, and joy into it for this coming year. The peace of knowing its meaning for you will drive you to finish strong in your destined race.

Prayer for Peace

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” 88Proverbs 14:30 

We are thankful that we’ve been called to cycling for some special purpose. We confess we entangle this within the destinies of others. We ask for peace to show us our own clear road. 

Ponder Is my cycling troubled; how can I change course? Affirm I am at peace with my direction and duties. Watch peace be a road map which gives clear signs for my designated route, even with switchbacks ahead.

87“Tale of a Cyclist in Need of Victory,” by Samuel Abt, Sports Editor, International Herald Tribune, published April 7, 1998 on

Author Samuel Abt, associate editor for the International Herald Tribune, is based in Paris and has written about bicycle racing for over two decades. His Tour de France reports are published regularly in major periodicals, and he’s produced a shelf of books about cycling.

88The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Testing & Physiologists

Posted in Firm Foundation on December 11, 2009 by bethleasure

Conconi, Wingate, Schoberer & Co.6 

7“… start you off at 100 watts and ramp you up 30 watts every 3 minutes. So really the test is easy then you are suffering and then it’s over for the most part.” Stu Cycling blog on LT testing

Me as lab rat

Yet another set of tests establish benchmarks for physiological adaptation and training efficacy. One of the measurements of talent in the lab determines amount and time to adaptation – with champions often showing a greater training effect in a shorter training cycle than average performers. These tests can measure maximum potential while also revealing the starting points for the new season’s training.

While VO2max is the be-all, end-all figure for measuring pulmonary potential, it’s important to remember that one data point does not always give a true picture since VO2max can change. 8Studies indicate even this gold standard of endurance performance can be trained for greater uptake. The new standard for performance potential is power at Lactate Threshold. Also known by other monikers such as maximum steady state, it is the hardest one can go for about an hour.

For serious competitors, 9it’s important to discover the new season’s training zones simultaneously measuring these performance indicators: power at LT, VO2 max, heart rate; along with Rate of Perceived Exertion to understand the feel within each range of intensity. Many other indicators can be useful to track all aspects of training efficacy and responsiveness. One can employ field testing protocols simply by using a watch, RPE and the same course; a stationary trainer, a friend with a clipboard, and a heart rate monitor as in the Conconi method; a Powermeter; or use lab protocols that provide specialized equipment and a physiologist.

Lab tests such as the 10Wingate measures anaerobic capacity.  In the “firm” of field and lab testing procedures, a host of name-worthy “associates” are available to measure your suffering and determine its physiological meaning!


Prayer for Performance Testing, Sports Physiologists

“In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” 11Job 12:10

We are thankful for methods to track training progress. We confess we sometimes idolize results rather than use them as strict self-comparison; or are intimidated by their realism. We ask to know our personal profile of testing standards and for blessing on cycling’s exercise scientists.


Ponder Do I know my range of numbers? Affirm I can collect data that compares where I am with where I’m going. Watch those indicators to know what smart training is for you.

9“Before participating in strenuous exercise or before beginning to exercise after a layoff from regular physical activity…it is ideal to have VO2 max and  heart rate measured simultaneously.” Quoted in Serious Training for Endurance Athletes by Rob Sleamaker, Ray Browning published by Human Kinetics 1988. To this we now add, power at LT and always Rate of Perceived Exertion. If all equipment fails and to race without distraction, one still has to know how hard to go by feel.

10There is no standard for measuring anaerobic capacity, and physiologists disagree about the proper testing method for it. In road racing situations, the real test is what one has left to reach the finish line first; however, improving anaerobic capabilities has a positive affect upon aerobic performance.

11The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers

Training Programs & Coaches

Posted in Firm Foundation on December 8, 2009 by bethleasure

Live Chat

1“…experience will tell the coach what is physically realistic and… [the coach] needs that subjectivity to balance the non-organic objectivity of science.” Erin Hartwell, Track Coach, Olympic Medalist


Teaching is a big part of Coaching


For road cyclists, now is the time to begin laying a firm foundation for future fitness and performance. After rest and focus on other aspects of life and exercise, getting back to the bike even in wintry conditions is welcomed. Now is the time to re-set in several areas: gather current data, set up new parameters, start a fresh approach to training.

Without exception, everybody needs advice in this community. We seek wise counsel for everything from blood work to bike clubs. The riding itself especially needs an experienced guide. Today’s good coach is both scientist and artist, who evaluates all currently known measures and applies them in consideration of personal experience, the myriads of variables associated with the pursuit of cycling, as well as you – its unique participant.

To produce the Training Plan is a small part of coaching. What seems like black and white in a training journal is in fact a textured, living masterpiece in an interactive coach-athlete relationship. This master plan needs to be an organic work in progress. Ultimate success for the soundest regimen is dependent in large part on mutual trust between rider and advisors. Building rapport is the first step in taking responsibility for another’s welfare, and the best relationships start with agreement about what’s to be accomplished. The twin privileges of objective correction and subjective insight can then be exchanged between rider and coach melding fact and feeling to craft beautiful works-in-progress and even winning performances.


Prayer for Training Program, Coaches
“Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.” 2Proverbs 15:22

We are thankful for the abundant resources for smart training that exist today. We confess we are sometimes either confused by what seems like conflicting methods or are stubborn in admitting that we need directions to find the best approaches to successful form. We ask for wise counsel and blessing on coaches and training programs.

Ponder Am I seeking advice from experts for fitness improvements? Affirm I can make steady gains with the right advice. Watch how straight a crooked road becomes with an expert ally to guide and affirm your accomplishments.

1Erin Hartwell is a multiple Olympic and World Champion medalist on the track. As a coach, he is quoted here on, one of many coaching associations in America. Perhaps the best known of these groups is Carmichael Training Systems due to founder Chris Carmichael’s affiliation with Lance Armstrong. Hunter Allen’s Peaks Coaching Group also is producing a stable of performers and is an innovator for applied Powermeter data, Or look me up at

2New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Race Mechanics

Posted in Cycling Community on December 4, 2009 by bethleasure

Wrenches, Wenches and Trenches

23“…Bring me your bike with an attitude of entitlement, and I’ll put my greasy fingers all over your new white bar tape.” Merlyn Townley, Race Mechanic

Mechanics ought to get Podium girls too


If the bike doesn’t work, you can’t ride it. The meaning of work becomes more highly defined the more elite you become in the racing world. Simple mechanisms that drive movement become high-tech proving grounds for aerodynamics, lightness, and safety. One of the most important persons in your world is your mechanic. If you take this for granted, you’ll number yourself with those people who think they don’t need anyone to succeed, and that is a great myth. Racers define our community, sponsors fund it, but it’s the mechanics that keep it running smoothly.

On a pro team, this is the person who works the longest hours, probably knows the most about you, and usually says the least. I’ve ridden their last minute improvisations that a rocket scientist would envy. Chances are the mechanic will be the first to reach you in a racing accident. I’ve been a fallen woman in a ditch pulled out by the caring team wrench and put on a stretcher. I’ve experienced them tending my wounds miles from any hospital, then making my bike sing again. I’ve seen them wash blood off top tubes. When a comrade took a fatal spill, the neutral support mechanic covered the bike with a blanket away from public scrutiny. I’ve watched them squirm in anxiety from the team car while watching their riders battle it out and whoop the loudest when their rider crossed the finish line first. I’ve witnessed them weeping with fatigue and stagger without praise.

This person is not the one you take for granted; on the road especially, this person IS your mama, the behind-the-scenes nurturer who puts life in your wheels.


Prayer for Race Mechanics
“Bless all his skills, O LORD, and be pleased with the work of his hands…” 24Deuteronomy 33:11

We confess we need others to keep life moving. We are thankful for the bicycle artisans who regularly sacrifice in their lifestyles on the road with us.  We pray for the provision of this unrepresented guild. We ask for timely assistance and awareness to give them praise.

Ponder What can I do to help my mechanic? Have I been appreciative for all their hard work? Affirm I say thank you when appropriate. Watch your mechanic light up when you bring them…anything clean.

23Conversations with Merlyn Townley, who has helped me out of many a diva’s conundrum with bicycle repair. This statement was made to a cyclist with an attitude of entitlement when the mechanic was doing him a favor and was in no way officially working for that rider’s team.

24The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Race Officials

Posted in Cycling Community on December 1, 2009 by bethleasure

Riders Ready…

20“If outside of rolling enclosure please obey traffic laws, do NOT run stop signs. We have enough memorial races.”  Beth Wrenn-Estes, Race Official

Happiness is Room with a View

Cycling is full of mysterious groups, and we are a clan-like people. We form little tribes in order to battle with other tribes and celebrate our peculiar subculture. It’s a “we versus them” viewpoint, and our universe may only be as large as a local group ride.

In this rebellious environ, authority is viewed with suspicion. I’d been racing a while before I noticed an official without looking through him and only then because he’d addressed me by name startling me out of my racing stupor-superiority complex. It was much later as a team director, when I realized that I was now in some kind of parallel plane with these strange figures who wore uniforms and carried clipboards and often looked grim. It was no longer we versus them; now they were necessary to help me clarify details, gather information, and guide others. Imagine, these are people who love rules, remember details, and can spot numbers faster than a speeding bullet!

With an expanding spirit, I now appreciate the value of this skill-set and its protection of my riders and their results. Suddenly, the guy in stripes barking from a motorcycle seems justified to me because he was thinking about rider safety. Appreciation turned into admiration when I started to remember their names, learn about their lives, and realize many of them are former racers. Take a ride in 21Com One and you get it: they are our biggest fans in many ways, rarely forget what we do, and are racing along with us. They have a face, and while it may look a bit dour whilst scrawling figures quickly on a notepad, at dinner after the races – they’re laughing and swapping tales just like racers do.

Prayer for Race Officials
“Respect the authorities, whatever their level…Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity.” 221 Peter 2:12-14 

We are glad for the authorities who protect our riding freedoms through order. We recognize our defensive, arrogant bent to protest/rationalize. We pray for graceful interaction if we differ, for their keen observation and fair judgment and ask blessing upon officials.

Ponder Am I knowledgeable of rules and teachable when my actions are questioned? Affirm I am strong even when silent. I am kind even when I disagree. Watch how others treat you when you treat others with respect.

20Pre-race instructions about warming up before a time trial by Beth Wrenn Estes at a race in Colorado, sometime in the 1990s. Beth Wrenn-Estes is one of the first officials granted UCI status in America. She has officiated all over the world, and was Competition Director for Cycling at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. A female in a male-dominated sport, she has been creative and resourceful in contributing to cycling’s future.

21Com 1 is the lead vehicle who transports the Chief Judge or Race Commissaire. It’s arguably the best view of the peloton and its action, short of racing in it.

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