Archive for February, 2010

Warm Climbs

Posted in Warming Up on February 26, 2010 by bethleasure

Who is waiting at your mountaintop?

21“My mother was there on the last kilometre today. She was with me during the bad times and I dedicate this day to her.” Marco Pantani, Il Pirata, celebrating his last mountain victory in the Tour de France, July 2000

How would you climb a mountain if you knew your favorite person, one who loves you unconditionally, awaited your arrival? That’s a double whammy of warmth. Of course if you’ve headed to warm climes, you’re all set for loads of uphill time, but I know from making it through tough Colorado winters that it’s possible to train in the mountains all year. The descents are wicked cold of course, so it’s best to plan either a rendezvous point with a driver or do a series of short climbs with quick downhills. Either way, climbing is an essential part of winter base training.

Adding the extra resistance of uphill work is the next fitness progression. Mountains may not be available but over-gearing into headwinds or on hills adequate for repeats heat up your pace from 22piano andante to sostenuto adagio. Sustained muscular endurance is the goal of this period and can be coupled with low rep/multiple set weight training in the gym.

Some climbers steer clear of weight training favoring resistance on the bike only. Certainly, climbing on the bike is the most specific adaptation: gaining muscular strength for climbing is best gained by climbing. Resistance training off the bike may benefit cardiorespiratory endurance by improving cardiac output through stronger heart contractility. An argument can be made in either case with consideration to an athlete’s strengths, goals and time available. Ultimately, one must climb a lot!

This is only one phase of climbing prowess, but it lays some important ground work. Winter climbing is a bit of a fairytale experience and the wintry environment is energizing, from icy mists to silent solitude. I remember facing a familiar scene one chilly morning when all the world was frosted in bluish cubes Picasso-like. Still, I was plenty warm up that Purple mountains majesty. Maestoso!

Prayer for Strength Endurance/Climbing Fitness
“I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.” 23Psalm 121:1-2

We are grateful for enjoyable ways to build strength. We ask for opportunities to ride uphill, scout important climbs, become more powerful.

Ponder Am I factoring in strength as an advanced element of endurance? Affirm I am a better climber as a result of climbing. Watch for that uphill mojo with more vertical miles.

21quoted in “Biography for Marco Pantani,” by Internet Movie Data Base on http://www.imdb.com. He was nicknamed “The Pirate” because of his shaved head, bandana, and gold earring, and I submit, his swashbuckling climbing abilities that caused many others to walk the plank off-the-back. Part of a small group of cyclists to win the Tour de France and the Giro D’Italia in the same year.

22piano andante is long, slow riding to sostenuto adagio, sustained work generally characterized by overgeared, low cadence, tempo. Maestoso means Majestic in Italian.

23The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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Les Sept Chemins The Seven Routes

Posted in New Year's Resolve on February 23, 2010 by bethleasure

8“Today I maybe did 100 points? So for me it’s worth it [to race in Belgium]; I’d have to do about five races in the US to get that many.” Lyne Bessette, Pro Cyclist, on event selection for a starting spot at Cyclo Cross Worlds 

Opportunities of the Round-About

 

Today we focus on an aspect of planning pondered in pre-season: event selection as an inducement and measurement of progress. From local to international, many of the year’s events are being announced. Teams are choosing where to race based on resources, sponsor strategy, abilities of its members, and other considerations within short and long range plans.

These times mark an unprecedented abundance of choices. Cycling’s growth is seen in the elevation of the Grand Tours from the Pro Tour, multi-continental series tours, and diversion in American pro racing between National Calendar and US PRO events. Never before has there been so much opportunity to race and at a competitively comparable level. This may make the gaps between levels somewhat easier to bridge with more small steps, but complicates goal-setting. Event selection should align short and long term goals, as well as benefit from experienced up-to-date analysis of a dynamic competitive offering.

One of my favorite training routes in France arrives at a magical crossroads. From this intersection, one had seven choices for routes. Each road gave a different training opportunity: long and mountainous, a rolling shortcut and five more of equal appeal. Deciding which way to ride was based on what I wanted to achieve both on the day and for my overall plan. I couldn’t control the weather or if I got a flat, but I could enjoy sensible effort harmonized with my unique plan. A rider’s schedule, accounting for goals, dreams, and realistic achievements, sets up a year of success.

Prayer for Event Selection
“How long will your journey take, and when will you get back? …so I set a time.” 9Numbers 2:6

We are thankful for cycling’s vibrancy! We confess we sometimes choose events superficially. We ask to scrutinize our selections, and for increasing race opportunities worldwide. 

Ponder Which events are best for the plan(s) in my circle(s)? Affirm I can use the calendar to both establish and grow me (us).  Watch intelligent arrangements bring stability and improvement.

 

8“After USGP, it’s Christmas in Belgium for Canada’s top ‘crosser,” By Gerard Knapp in Belgium, First Edition Cycling News for December 3, 2007 Edited by Steve Medcroft www.cyclingnews.com

9The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Logistics & Licensing

Posted in New Year's Resolve on February 16, 2010 by bethleasure

Modernization

10“Now we must reorganise everything in a hurry. I had not expected this. The finances were in order and all the contracts had already been signed.” Eric Vanderaerden, Team Manager of Pedaltech-Cyclingnews Pro Team, on Logistics & Licensing

Pulling a mound of paperwork?

11The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry. No plan is fool-proof and no one can be completely prepared for the future. Still one has to try, then regroup if necessary. Team licenses are applied for in the early post-season but the decisions, in some cases, aren’t finalized until now. Today we ascend our mound of administrative paperwork.

Cycling requires licensing of many kinds: racing, teams, clubs, officials, entities for event promotion to name a few. Plus there are insurances: liability, auto for team cars, bike coverage. Then there are certifications: for trainers, doctors, CPR; permissions from governments and law enforcement for road closure and marshaling; sponsorship requests; charitable and grant applications. Then there’s continuing education and evaluating programs available to become better at your role in our cycling community. Registrations for events, associated logistics such as travel and housing ensue.

This is a great time for your secretarial duties – either completing, or scheduling well ahead of pertinent due dates. On top of the heap leave some room for error: human and computer, misjudgment and mislabeling. Anyone who thinks it doesn’t take a “driver’s permit” to ride a bike is mistaken. Chances are there’s some paperwork lying around that needs your attention this time of year, and it’s not just your taxes. Only a few happily administrative types enjoy filling out forms, mostly we’d rather be on our bikes. Take the lousiest weather day this week, and make sure your t’s are crossed and your i’s are dotted. Every jot and tittle checked off is that much more quality cycling time when the season starts to warm.

 

Prayer for Logistics & Licensing

“…old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 122 Corinthians 5:17

We are thankful for permission to ride! We confess a disdain for more office time. We ask to painlessly and seamlessly sew up our details so we can get back on our sew-ups on the road!

Ponder Am I current with all my required permits? Affirm I can race up this paperwork hill and with measured pace crest into a blank to-do list.  Watch the KOM line come closer with each filled-in form.

10“No Professional Continental licence for Pedaltech-Cyclingnews,” as reported to www.sporza.be in First Edition Cycling News, January 10, 2008 Edited by Ben Abrahams, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer www.cyclingnews.com

 

11reference is to Robert Burns’ poem, To a Mouse, which outlines his regret over destroying the earthbound winter home of a field mouse after plowing on his farm. The poem illustrates that things can and do go wrong and often have impacts we cannot guess. Still we must try.

 

12Holy Bible, King James Version, public domain

Warm Thoughts

Posted in Warming Up on February 12, 2010 by bethleasure

28“While there are certainly born champions – people who possess great physical advantages – there are also many cyclists who have become winners because of their mental prowess.” Dean Woods, Australian Cyclist, Olympic and World Champion

Protect your mind as well as your face

The golden mind of a conqueror is molded by fiery thoughts of overcoming all adversity while undergoing cold hardship. Winter’s high volume weeks may wear down one’s enthusiasm but provide a great opportunity to imagine possibilities. With increasing fatigue and duress acting as strength training for the mind, think of your mentality as a muscle to train where increased stress, then rest yields prowess. Enduring long training in cold, lots of climbing, travel, or comparisons in riding with others are perfect conditions to practice the mental fundamental of positive thinking. Periodically, an epic ride or adventurous experience can test fortitude and spark survival instincts.

Coming to the end of oneself and digging deep, stretching oneself mentally is ignition for future exploits. Sometimes life brings this to you unwanted – well outside your realm of comfort. Seize it as an opportunity to capture the stuff of winning by rising to it and then storing it for confident distribution against your next challenge. Even if it levels you and you “fail,” this is another tool in your winning package that gives clues as to how to surmount your limits, providing refinement in goal setting.

Part of these limits may come from within when self-talk is negative. Check your internal chatter and utilize its information. “I’m going to get dropped,” unchecked may cause you to give up too soon, but the same statement can school you as an empowering direction to change position. Even off the back, you have value and must trust that the worst finish can be fuel toward many firsts. You must win in your head to become a winner on the road.

 

Prayer for Positive Thinking

…With human beings this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”   29Matthew 19:26

We are grateful to participate in a process of prosperity in partnership with greater powers from within and without. We confess our doubts in ourselves and a loving God which sees us through all difficulty. We pray to believe that all things work together for good.

 

Ponder Have I learned to lose by being defeated from the start? Affirm I can do all things with God to help me. Watch for miracles, but work toward those chances.

28Dean Woods Manual of Cycling, by Dean Woods with Rupert Guiness. Copyright © Dean Woods 1995 www.deanwoods.com.au

29Today’s New International Version, © Copyright 2001, 2005 by International Bible Society

Warm Companions: Training Partners

Posted in Warming Up on February 9, 2010 by bethleasure

26“…find a group of friendly local racers to train with and learn from. I emphasize the word ‘friendly’. Of course, all of us in the cycling community really are friendly, but there seems to be a scale of friendly. Some racers willingly embrace new riders and some, well, let’s just say they stay more to themselves.” Kim Morrow, Masters World Champion

Kim Morrow, center, one of the friendliest riders in the peloton

I came to bike racing as an adult. Someone told me to exercise for my mental health in order to manage the stress from a young marriage wrecked by my husband’s cocaine addiction. I started riding the old Schwinn that hung in the barn and felt accomplished with my daily three miles. Next I read about group rides and decided to try one. It was a blast! Someone from that ride invited me to a club ride. I was mystified by the idea of people in association who liked riding bikes in groups. The club suggested I bump up to B then the A ride from the gentler C ride, especially after one of them loaned me an updated bicycle. I’d graduated from a tank to a touring ton of steel but it felt like a feather to me.

During those summer weeks of discovering the entirely novel experience of riding fast, club members cajoled and encouraged me. Without quite knowing it, my trauma was being processed and my confusion about the past was dissipating in the slipstreams of new friends. Out of gratitude for the attention and affection, I entered the club time trial. I won it and beat most of the men. The club took me to the big city bike shop where I met a mechanic who ran development clinics. In a bitter cold January, I learned how to pace line, corner, and discover the joys of bumping drills and grass criteriums. The sponsoring bike shop invited me to race for them, providing me another equipment upgrade. Now I was on a sleek Italian racing frame. It had been wrecked and I couldn’t take my hands off the bars because it was so bent but it felt like a Ferrari to me.

Thus began decades of racing, and I haven’t stopped riding with others since. Kim Morrow was one of the ones who encouraged me. During the dreariest of days, faithful companions not only brighten your ride but show you roads you’ve never traveled.

Prayer for Training Partners
“By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.” 27Ecclesiastes 4:12

We are thankful for the social benefits of cycling. We recognize a time to ride with others and when to train alone. We ask blessing on those who make what seems impossible simply a smooth and speedy draft.

Ponder Who are my favorite wheels? Affirm I can shield another from frigid winds. Watch your friendly paceline grow.

26“Thinking About Racing?” by Kim Morrow on EFC Coaching Tips http://www.elitefitcoach.com. Kim Morrow is one of the friendliest riders in the peloton. Sometimes I think comfortability with one’s abilities comes across in a generous spirit. What you have a lot of overflows to others. From Kim’s website, “Kim Morrow has competed as a Professional Cyclist and Triathlete, is a certified USA Cycling Elite Coach, a 4-time U.S. Masters National Road Race Champion, a Masters World Road Race Champion, and a Fitness Professional. BUT, in her very first official bike race she got dropped right from the start.” Her friendly nature sought out training companions, who encouraged her and in turn were encouraged.

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

Tranquilo…Relax!

Posted in Foreign Tourin' on February 5, 2010 by bethleasure

59“Dont worry is ok… just let me know what u need and when, I glad to know people like you, please keep in touch!” Santiago Lopez, Mexican Team Director

Bike racing and Mexican food are a match

The transition of the aging professional from paid athlete to retirement and a new place in the world can be an anxious time of searching: one’s soul, for a job, and a new identity. My decisions were 60tranquilo, pretty relaxed. I knew I’d never leave cycling, but I was ready to retire from racing as a participant. I was more interested in developing talents in others.

So my first gig was as a Team Director in an international stage race that traveled deep into Mexico. Just me, over a hundred Latino correros, and my team of wholesome Midwestern boys. Even though my vehicle had a position number on it, there was no strict assignment in the caravan. I had to fight like an aggressive classics rider with my rented cargo van against compact Central American cars to hold my spot at the front! I thought to myself what kind of initiation is this? Yet we were well treated by the organization, and I made friends there. We also brought home the U23 jersey despite the cooperative efforts of favored teams of the region.

The culture of the race was as chaotic and despotic as perhaps the governments in Central America. Not exactly precise, a lot of unplanned last minute, we-weren’t-told stuff happened. For example, the race bible said we finished after a sharp right on the main boulevard. So our team led-out right, and the entire peloton kept straight. True this fiasco could’ve been a result of my neo-director amateurism. But I could find no printed change on any document and it wasn’t mentioned on race radio. A little band of los directores worked this out in some dark corner and neglected to tell us. Would I go back for the tours that ride all over this region? ¡Si hermanos! But with prayers to be tranquilo in all circumstances. Vaya con Dios.

Prayer for Central American Cycling
“But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.” 61Psalm 37:11

We are thankful that the discipline of quiet strength brings an inheritance. We confess we find safety in structure and at times complain about spontaneity. We pray for dignity under pressure and ask blessing upon Central American cycling.

Ponder Do I take matters in stride in appropriate situations? Affirm I can be dignified at all times. Watch for respect when behaving honorably, even in chaos.

59Conversations with Santiago Lopez, whose translation, good will, and brotherhood saved me a few scrapes in Mexico.

60Tranquilo- Peaceful, Quiet is used as a gentle command to relax, don’t worry
Correros – racers
¡Si hermanos! Yes brothers!
Vaya con Dios – Go with God, God bless you.

61The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

International Associations

Posted in United Spokes on February 2, 2010 by bethleasure

Links in the Chain

40“I’ve had enough.” Patrick Lefevere on resigning from AIGCP due to constant quarreling between the UCI and Grand Tour organizers

Nelson Mandela in yellow!

There are cycling associations with distinctive missions, activities, and concerns.The chain works best with well-oiled cooperation. These groups are links in a chain of multinational communication among special interest groups, the UCI and Grand Tour organize:

IPTC International Professional Cycling Teams,
AIGCP International Association of Professional Cycling Teams,
CPA Association of Professional Cyclists,
ADISPRO International Association of Directeur Sportifs,
MPCC Movement for Credible Cycling,
AIOCC International Association of Cycling Race Organizers, and
CAS Court of Arbitration for Sport called in to make rulings.

There may be other important organizations or powerful individuals not mentioned here that may contribute to a working dialogue.

The chain can get a bit squeaky during hard pushes. Conflicts arise over doping scandals and how to treat the alleged perpetrators: to exclude or not to exclude and who has the right to team selection in major events – UCI, the promoters, or the reps?

We do need leadership who can mediate and reunite factions in conflict. Perhaps cycling should look outside cycling for a neutral negotiator that understands how to bring a variety of perspectives, on the verge of breakdown, into a compatible cause.

Perhaps cycling needs a 41Nelson Mandela – a consummate diplomat whose appeal transcends provincial interest and outmoded regimes and who represents positive change and willingness to patiently endure for it. Pro cycling needs to oil its chain. Some literature refers to oil as a symbol of grace. Less finger pointing, more merciful discussions please.

Prayer for International Associations
“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head… running down…down upon the collar of his robes.[the links of his chain] …” 42Psalm 133:1-2

Cover our shame and help the people and issues in these causes and organizations. Restore talks, reveal solutions, raise up cooperative leadership to improve cycling at the top. Let this be cleansing balm that trickles down to the common cyclist. Amen.

Ponder Whom do I blame for cycling’s recent disgraces? Aren’t we all in some ways to blame? Affirm I am as much to blame. Intolerance for cheating starts with me. Watch and pray for continued talks.

40“Lefevere stops as head of AIGCP,” Latest Cycling News for December 5, 2007 Edited by Gregor Brown, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer www.cyclingnews.com

41Nelson Mandela was pardoned and released from prison by President F.W. de Klerk after serving twenty-seven years in prison for activities related to ending apartheid, a policy of racial separation. Afterwards, Mandela became the first Black president of South Africa, and he chose de Klerk as his first deputy. “However, the relationship was sometimes strained, particularly so in a sharp exchange in 1991 when he furiously referred to De Klerk as the head of ‘an illegitimate, discredited, minority regime.’” (www.wikipedia.org) Even so, Mandela and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Mandela’s presidency and involvement in the U.N. was characterized by a Policy of Reconciliation, and he won respect for his advocacy of national and international cooperation. Mandela’s urging for Black South Africans to support previously hated white South African national rugby team and his presentation of the World Champion trophy to the captain, an Afrikaner, was “widely seen as a major step in the reconciliation” process. He is a great statesman, able to endure long negotiations among highly conflicted parties.

42The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society