Archive for March, 2010

Hung Out To Dry

Posted in Out Like a Lion on March 30, 2010 by bethleasure

59“It was such crappy conditions, and it felt good even if I was shivering the entire race, it felt good. After seven hours on the bike, I saw that everyone in the break was pretty exhausted, I knew I had it all good.”   Dominique Rollin after winning an epic cold wet windy stage of Tour of California

Because it's so fast

While others suffer in harsh weather, excitement runs through the hard men. You hear excuses pre-race of being too lean to endure such conditions, yet winners don’t appear to have more body fat. Perhaps it’s attention to replace extra energy lost due to thermal stress but for sure it’s tenacious psychology. Where fear is sensed, the fearless come to the fore since fighting for the front needs fitness but also mental activation.

But if caught in the screaming single file gutter dead last and on the rivet, you mustn’t focus on your placement. Instead race only for the wheel ahead trusting that a lull will come or anything in fact which relieves your lungs from being north of your throat. However, if caught in the screaming single file gutter dead last and not on the rivet, then you must seek ways to move beyond this death chair or you’ll be hung out to dry. Unless caught in the screaming single file gutter dead last not on the rivet with better steady state than surge fitness and you know how to shoot the gaps. Then you could actually enjoy this tunnel vision tongue on the top tube speed of the front who are obviously fitter than you. And your mood may be brightened because you prefer that it’s above freezing with horizontal rain instead of single digit wind chills faced with only mounds of clothing for company. Certainly if caught in the screaming single file gutter dead last enjoying steady pace, change of weather, fewer clothes and more riders, you are in the best spot for worry-free spitting, considerate not to add to the conditions of those near. Now if caught in the screaming single file gutter dead last steady state pace, change of weather, spitting happily with fewer clothes and about to hit cobbles, then the skill of shooting gaps will come in handy as you careen around the carnage of your competitors. This additional debris along with small animals out of hibernation and into your roadway are another part of the season’s conditions.60

Otherwise, stay on the front. Remember no matter how hard it is, when it’s over, the experience will never come back again quite like that.

Prayer for Spring Conditions

“We need to be energetically at work…while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over…He said this and then spit in the dust…” 61John 9:5-6 

We are thankful for how seasonal conditions add yet another dimension to cycling’s variables. We pray for safety, a little toughness and tenacity to endure the gutter. We ask for a blessed and Happy Spring!

Ponder Do I have a relentless will for the front? Affirm I fight my way back again and again. Watch for spring’s blessings through its special hardships and savor the hard moments as opportunities to shine. 

59“Interview with Dom Rollin after winning Stage 4 of ToC,” video interview courtesy of youtube and on February 21, 2008

60“Mirror Incident,” by Beth Leasure from Spok’n Word, race report from Europe, 1995-1996

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

Ways of the Windblown

Posted in Out Like a Lion on March 26, 2010 by bethleasure

57“On a really windy day it is very difficult indeed to move up from echelon to echelon, and so your finishing position may already be decided by the echelon you’re in.”  Rebecca Bishop, Pro Cyclist

If the lion is a tailwind,  no worries

If the lion is a tailwind, no worries


Matter-of-factly, my Dutch director gave only one strategy for my first European classic, “Ven ja leaf da citi center, ja moostbe en da front. De vind vill sort it out an de ras vill be over der.” (When you leave town, be on the front or the race is over.) Sure ya well, I’ll be ready.

So we started as he said, and did our round about the city. Passing through downtown, we headed into narrow straat toward tulip fields racing 5k so far. One more block of perfectly manicured village, I sat 15th in the sweet spot, thinks I.

Past the sheltering row, we rode into a wall of wind. The first echelon formed in seconds. It went across the road with dexterous velocity and put a gap of impassible space between the next line. Fifteen riders couldn’t fit across that path so I was in the second echelon. The race for first was over for all but the front dozen.

Afterwards, my director and I looked at each other and I said, “Ya well, now I know what you mean en da front.” In the howl of Holland’s winds as if I’d never raced before, the roar of any March lion previously known seemed like a house cat. It wasn’t enough to know it was coming, you had to learn its ways.

It’s wicked hard in an echelon. Even in sheltered crosswind, the riding is resisted. If wind gusts laterally, there’s still air ahead to slice with no slipstream to protect. Of course, the road is always turning so the echelon is like covering yourself with a sweater in a gale – inadequate shelter.

Usually guttered, the final position in the echelon is the worst – providing less side and no drag protection. So a trick to rest can be to take more pulls nosing in front before the last wheel rotating or to sit mid-way behind, constantly nosing your front wheel in and out of the moving middle. No one seems to mind if you do this for a rotation – the Dutch are winsome even if their winds are not, but still this is a time when doing the lion’s share of the work is definitely rewarded.

Prayer for Echelon Skills

“We made slow headway…and had difficulty arriving…when the wind did not allow us to hold our course.” 58Acts 27:7

We are thankful for a way to sail on bikes. We ask for skill to slice air in the boomerang of windy pacelines.  

Ponder Do I train in winds with others to learn its ways? Affirm If I must take the path of most resistance, rest and rewards can still be discovered. Watch the wind’s direction for clues to find a semblance of the sweet spot.

57“Peloton Riding,” skills by Rebecca Bishop, Scottish pro, posted on

58The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Baahd Manners

Posted in In Like A Lamb on March 23, 2010 by bethleasure

14″At the level of…Thévenet, the sport is exclusively about honor. And no matter how Kuiper had advanced his chances of winning the Tour by hanging on Thévenet’s wheel, he had destroyed every chance of winning the Tour grandly. Thévenet won it grandly.” Tim Krabbé, Cyclist, Author

Thevenet, A Grand Champion

Even while aggressively going for a win, choosing how to do it distinguishes the grand from the good: the higher up in cycling civilization, the more distinguishing its mores of honor. Gentleness means not forcing one’s way in life – showing respect for self and others.

I was more satisfied with placings where I did my share rather than wins being a wheelsucker. It’s important as a wily hunter to wait and know when to work, and equally important to practice etiquette efficiently. The more someone cursed me or cut me off, the calmer and more tactical I became. Instead of intimidating me, I saw it as scare tactics from a threatened competitor. Not that I didn’t lose temper and mouth off occasionally, but I remember these incidents with regret. The injured parties have long since forgiven me, but others who observed frame these incidents centrally in their impressions of me.

Bad manners pour precious energy out of your mouth and mind instead of into your legs and heart, dividing focus between conscience and courage. You and I are so much more than isolated incidents of ugly etiquette. The world is shrinking and a bad reputation becomes a rap sheet in our subculture. No one wants an angry, belligerent teammate or a nagging, critical coach for instance.

Racing’s environ is designed to break us down to yield a champion. 15Prisoners of war know that repeated bouts of torture intended to humiliate are tolerable if a structured set of adhered values center on basic self-respect. Regardless of result, to come out of a performance with head held high, strike balance between bold confidence and gentle manners.

Prayer for Gentleness/Competitive Etiquette
“Not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” 16Galatians 5:23

We are intrigued by cycling’s honor code and its intricate tactics. We confess patience and hard work are sometimes replaced with self-promotion. Help us be competitors who want to win when the best are at their best and when we know the rules and the privileges of the road.

Ponder Do I know the code of honor? Affirm I am swift and sweet practicing cycling’s best etiquette. Watch words, take the wind at times, give and get respect.

14The Rider by Tim Krabbe, published by Bloomsbury USA, NY, English translation copyright © Sam Garrett 2002. This book is a fantastic race report written by a thoughtful and perceptive amateur racer during one of cycling’s golden eras. The tactical descriptions are astute and no wonder, the writer was a grand chess master as well as successful author. It is not a professional cyclist’s perspective, but it is a refreshing read.

15A Vietnam Experience: 10 Years of Reflection by Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale published by Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace copyright © 1984 by Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford University. Stockdale was a prisoner of war for 10 years. He was badly injured in the crash that led to his capture and endured not only sets of crushed bones untreated, but repeated torture. He and his ten men were released with self-respect intact; they were all readily reintegrated into military positions.

16The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Cycling’s Goodness: Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing

Posted in In Like A Lamb on March 19, 2010 by bethleasure

The pack approaches the herd

Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing

12“Cycling is a tremendous sports discipline that needs unity, purity and honesty. All initiatives that contribute to these values will be supported by the cycling team.”   Omega Pharma, Cycling Sponsor 

A basic holiness permeates your riding life: cycling is good. If actively committed to cycling, you’ve been sanctified. Cleaned up and set apart is the basic meaning of sanctification, a word which implies useful service. We who ride are not afraid of service: hard work with others in mind – others for whom we work as a team, others whose market share is increased or who benefit from our health, lifestyle or entertainment.

We are meant to be clear beacons: lights on hilltops – symbols of purposeful life and healthy living. Light attracts – it guides and warms. Your greatest cycling accomplishment is in aiding someone else. This may be a behind-the-scenes role with little public adoration or even gratitude from the one whose destiny it is to be glorified because of your quiet sacrifices. It may also mean a very public image that is purposefully pure. This takes a different kind of strength – integrity.

Cultivate a burning desire for honor, to represent cycling in honor, and to save others who are vulnerable. The most sustainable purpose and motivational fuel comes from a reservoir of selflessness, looking to the interests of others. Love IS the most powerful motivator.

The impure leave cycling like whimpering whelps – seat tubes tucked between their legs in disgraced dishonesty. Instead, stay pure. The impure talk smack, spread rumor, put down competitors – instead, teach by honest actions. The impure have an excessively high opinion of themselves – instead, build up those around you. By this means you will profit and also profit others. We are fierce like wolves in the pack, but we need both the fangs of the wolf and the fleece of the sheep to be complete cyclists.


Prayer for Purity, Goodness
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel…it giveth light unto all that are in the house.”  13Matthew 5:14-15


We are glad for competitive rivalry which can bring out the best in us and others. We recognize that goodness, purity and honesty are the highest ideals.  We ask for strength to adhere to moral principles.

Ponder Like a mirror dimmed by grime, have I diminished my ability to reflect glory? Affirm I am honorable in truth, purity, and community. Watch your sphere of influence grow in parallel with an integrity demonstrated clearly and consistently.

sup>12“Omega Pharma extends with Lotto team,” by Susan Westemeyer. First Edition Cycling News, December 15, 2007 Edited by Sue George Omega Pharma makes anti-snoring devices and sponsors the professional cycling team, Predictor-Lotto or Silence-Lotto.<

13Holy Bible, King James Version public domain

Bad Blow

Posted in March Madness on March 16, 2010 by bethleasure

17Ninety-nine percent of racing is just not being sick.”Andy Hampsten, Pro Cyclist

Time off the bike blows this time of year

It blows in like March winds with its familiar, but unwelcome fatigue, thick throat and beyond-normal farmer blow. Maddening! Cold season is winter, flu season November–February, but a 18cyclist is susceptible during special and a lot of times: after every hard training or race; off-season; cold/wet weather; increases in volume or intensity; around injury or crashes; and stage racing.

So are you sidelined? The old school cycling rule is above the neck, ride easy; below, rest. Is it a cold or is it flu? Flu usually comes on suddenly with high fever and cough, chills, aches, and exhaustion. Colds affect upper respiratory and come on gradually often with a sore throat, milder in fever, headache, fatigue.  Since colds and flu are viruses that can’t be treated by antibiotics, they must run their course (antibiotics can treat infections that result from these viruses.)

Relieve the symptoms. 19The cold virus lives best at 98.6 degrees, so raising the temperature in the throat and nose can help: through hot showers or breathing in steam, camphor-menthol rubs, chicken broth and warm fluids with salt (minimizes replication of virus) and freshly squeezed lemon – a natural expectorant. If necessary, over-the-counter meds bring relief for sore throat, cough, sinus and ear pain, but won’t kill the virus and must be checked against the banned substance list because some of these remedies may contain illicit ingredients.

Consult your doctor if fever persists beyond a few days, or any time you’re concerned about your congestion. Rest is the biggest thing: with the flu, no riding; with a cold, a short ride lightly sweating may ease congestive symptoms, but do not ride hard enough to pull mucous deep into lungs through heavy breathing. Get more sleep. Most importantly, vitamin, mineral and caloric deficiency contribute to compromised immunity. This is not the time to skip your daily multivitamin, have a negative caloric intake, or skimp on fresh foods. 20Most adults endure two to four viral illnesses per year, be encouraged as you await recovery!

Prayer for Treatment for Colds/Flu
“Woe to me because of my injury! My wound is incurable! Yet I said to myself, ‘This is my sickness, and I must endure it.’” 21Jeremiah 10:19 

We are glad that a cure for the common cold is time itself! We are discouraged when the first fresh signs of Spring fitness are rained on by illness. We ask for encouragement as we await recovery.

Ponder Will riding lightly be best? Affirm I make best use of this time through more sleep, heat, and fluid. Watch that as your energy improves, you ramp slowly and carefully back into riding.

17“Sick,” March, 2008 blog posting

18This is my opinion:

Time Frame       My Theories/Research                                                                             

Beginning of Off-Season        Either lacquered from a long, hard season OR Body rested enough to process dormant viruses. Inactivity suppresses immunity, but I think a cold is a small price to pay for muscle/mental rest.

Exposure to Cold                       Cold or Rain do not cause colds! (This is a fact.) Immune suppression due to glycogen depletion by not increasing calories to match energy to stay warm.

Volume/Intensity starts        Immune suppression due to glycogen depletion, inadequate rest.

Injury/Crashes/Stage Racing  Body needs more rest/more calories to recover/heal

19“FAQ Cold Treatment” Dr. Greene Content Alan Greene MD FAAP January 14, 2003 20“Cold & Flu Self Care Station,” Cal Poly Pomona

21The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

100 Years of TdF: Tour de France Tourism

Posted in Today's Topic on March 12, 2010 by bethleasure

Here is a rare opportunity to see the Tour de France from an Insider point of view! Brought to you by my friend, Ronan Pensec – a fomer pro rider – who is the official Tour Guide of the Tour de France.

There are only few spots left in these tours so if you are interested, hurry up to reserve your place!

Ronan is are confident that this 2010 Tour de France will be exceptionally exciting with four American teams, Lance Armstrong back again with the new Radio Shack team, and Cadel Evans newly crowned World Champion with the BMC!

Ronan Pensec Travel has created Tour de France packages that cover the most interesting parts of the race such as the Alps, the Pyrenees and the final arrival in Paris. Their status as an Official Tour Operator enables them to provide you with a very close and personal experience, and to ride the “route du Tour” – besides traveling the most beautiful and scenic regions in France.

The company is led by Ronan Pensec – himself an ex-pro rider with the Peugeot team as well as Greg Lemond Z team. Ronan also proudly wore the yellow jersey in 1990. He is now a cycling consultant for the French TV, besides running RPT. As you can imagine, the Ronan Pensec Travel agency knows perfectly the French cycling routes. The experience and connections they have made over the years are a very important asset that enable an authentic and personal experience of the Tour de France.

Here are two exciting packages that will enable you to live an unbelievable experience INSIDE the TdF:


Last 11 Days (€2375 – July 16th to 26th)

Covers the Pyrenees mountain stages, the time trial in the Bordeaux region and the arrival in Paris (2 nights in Paris near the Champs Elysees); Daily rides in the Pyrenees with climbs of the Col du Tourmalet, Ax 3 Domaines, Col d’Aubisque and others; non-cycling excursions (Pic du Midi, the medieval fortified city Carcassonne and visit of a Bordeaux vineyard); Tour de France viewing: 9; 11 days / 10 nights


Alps Stages and Mont Ventoux: (€1850 – July 9th to 16th)
Performance trip; Covers the Alps mountain stages + a journey to Provence to climb the Mont Ventoux; Daily rides in the Alps and in Provence with choice of two rides each day including one average route and one highly challenging route; 8 days / 7 nights


FRANCE is the place to be this July!!!

Blowing Up

Posted in March Madness on March 12, 2010 by bethleasure

24” I like to call it the ‘Jimplosion’…I start drilling it…‘Pop’ that is the sound of me blowing up…I am in oxygen debt…” Jim Allen, Category 5 Amateur Racer

A Man's Got to Know His Limitations


25Blowing up is not just an amateur mistake, elite riders pop also. Especially in early season when your mind remembers what you can do but your body isn’t quite ready for it, one can go on the rivet and then blow. Catching on after a blow requires a skill-set: learn to pace, modulate effort, tactical temperance, and in some cases, correctly interpret data from a pacing tool or 26powermeter.

In most race situations that require sudden decision-making, it’s best to understand one’s limits intuitively by feel. It’s good to test these limits periodically and try to get dropped as a result of a gutsy super-attack. In a planned peak, it’s effective to choose an unimportant event or training race and ride to just blow by either making repeated overreaching efforts or one earth-shaking maximum exertion. In weight training, this is referred to as max rep: a session of maxing out, so the system can 27progress. Physiologically, it’s not like a max rep because it’s an event of cardiorespiratory endurance but this tactical rationalization also mollifies a bruised ego if blown and dropped when it’s not your intention.

Catching on after overreaching, a wheel-change or any reason involves fitness, focus, finesse, and sometimes fear of being fined. The funniest chase story I ever heard was of 28two sleepy friends from different pro teams, fortunately both roleurs, happily sipping espresso several blocks away from the start line in the fresh air of a piazza prior to what was supposed to be one of the chill stages of the Giro. Instead, the two missed their start and were forced to chase for many kilometers before catching the gruppo. How’d you like to see the face of your director as you pass him in the caravan on that excuse – speaking of blowing up?

Whatever the cause, the chase is about managing emotions as much as it is ensuring aerobic energy in constant supply – we’re all constantly learning about limits and going beyond them.

Prayer for Catching On

“…he became a young lion, and learned to catch the prey, and devoured men…” 29Ezekiel 19:6


We are glad for opportunities to test our limits. We confess we don’t always appreciate the bounds which confine. We ask for energy to catch back after blowing it and to learn from the experience.

Ponder Have I tested my limits recently? Affirm I balance risk with pacing. Watch the clock for a start time, and your breath in the gap.

24“My First Race,” by Jim Allen from The Tao of Jim: Thoughts and Stuff blog posted on Monday, February 18, 2008

25Sometimes blowing up is used as a term interchangeably with bonking from glycogen depletion. Blowing up is used here to describe a maximum effort from which you cannot or can barely recover. 

26Effort indicators, such as rate of perceived exertion and heart rate aren’t nearly as effective for pacing as a powermeter, but even the objective data takes subjective interpretation to be useful in race situations. Further, training figures often vary from racing wattage due to hormonal and motivational factors.

27I was unable to find any cycling studies to substantiate this, so perhaps it’s one of cycling’s urban legends or more of a psychological benefit.

28I can’t remember which retired racing friend told me this story. I do remember thinking this kind of “planning” happens to the best of us. It was particularly funny because the directors weren’t aware that either rider was missing until the point they passed the caravan, and this stage was supposed to be a “restful” one for all but the final sprint.

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

Off the Baccalaureate

Posted in March Madness on March 9, 2010 by bethleasure

34“Collegiate cycling looks like the future of cycling.” Scott Coady, Cycling Filmmaker

From collegiate to pro


Finally, we arrive at the real March Madness – an exciting Spring phenomenon of conference play. College basketball is a fair comparison to collegiate bike racing: a few exceptional teams, enthusiastic fans, well-known coaches, a possible route of passage to the pros. Wish collegiate cycling had that varsity financing and media attention!

College students racing bikes is all about eagerness, self-discovery, lessons, and opportunity for honors. It is madness of the best kind as fervent young intellects are schooled in cycling’s lecture halls on the roads near university campuses. The courses are abridged versions of interesting venues – some rivaling elite parcours in petite sizes. The effect is a spring calendar in parallel with amateur and professional schedules.

American pro teams are drafting star juniors as they break into the national scene and allowing them the pick of the collegiate calendar to get legs and skills incognito away from pro-type pressure. On the women’s side, many of America’s elite riders are coming from collegiate racing – typically composed of female athletes from other sports with developed cardiovascular systems. This makes their time to elite development a somewhat shorter cycle and a better investment than women’s junior development, where typically girls grow up and decide for other pursuits.

The social aspect of collegiate racing coupled with its emphasis on team points and team events make it a fantastic training ground for teamwork and competitive consensus. Race-side at a dual-conference event is like a frat party for bike geeks. Whether collegiate racing leads to a bachelor’s degree in a cycling career or a better lifestyle, it makes a competitive curriculum for life-long fitness.


Prayer for Collegiate Cycling
“Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.  35Proverbs 24:14

We are thankful that another school of talent exists. We ask for blessing on collegiate cycling and a solid foundation for university riders.

Ponder What topics do I need to study to ace my exams as a rider? Affirm I can raise my GPA and earn a diploma in more cycling knowledge by studying the sport. Watch your collegiate conference events and cheer.

34Scott Coady is cyclist, pro-cycling fan, filmmaker and fundraiser. He made his first film – The Tour Baby! – to raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation in response to his best friend’s daughter being diagnosed with brain and spinal cancer and has raised over $250,000 for non profit causes. and

35The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society