Archive for April, 2010

Cycling & Sex

Posted in Private Cycling on April 30, 2010 by bethleasure

Sacred Places

55” What do I think about while riding…sex, of course.” Lance Armstrong, Pro Cyclist

You want your bike in bed or winning races?

We go everywhere this week from nose to nuts. In fact, the more private the subject, the greater is the need for prayer and contemplation. So here we thrust into an enjoyable private pursuit in the context of cycling performance. KISS is my best advice. Keep It Simple Stupid.

This is not so much a sermon on biblical morality, as it is on practicality. There are consequences for sexual intimacy. Romantic relationships don’t last outside of caring, commitment, and communication. Sex complicates the process of forming commitment and building relational skills which will sustain every peak and valley of attraction. Emotional consequences cloud judgment.

For men trying to succeed in cycling, the energy drain pursuing sex can derail a training plan. Pursuing the heart of a woman is complicated enough. You won’t exit her bedroom without a price, even if the sex is free. For women, using sex to attain lasting intimacy is futile. Intimacy is based on trust not touch. For both genders, there is an emotional and physical toll when non-marital sexual experiences become a focus. Where differing intentions and expectations exist, sex is entangling in a negative way. Men and women can feel used and worn out in its pursuit. With staggering statistics on sexually transmitted diseases, protecting one’s health is a big case for abstinence and marital fidelity. There are 56costly consequences like unwanted pregnancies or relational entanglements held hostage by sexual history.

Note that happily married cyclists probably have a competitive advantage. A whole aspect of life is settled, presumably satisfied; committed support is dedicated toward other pursuits, like cycling, another great passion. What to do with all that training or racing-induced testosterone? Put it into the bike hopeful the right lover who cares about you (and therefore your cycling) will come at the right time.

Prayer for Sexuality
“Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex.” 57Hebrews 13:4

We are thankful for life’s pleasures. We confess we misuse sex for selfish release or manipulate it for relationship. We pray for sacred choices.

Ponder Do I believe sex is purely pleasurable, free of consequences? Affirm I am responsible with my body and another’s emotions. Watch your urges and think through actions.

55“Talking Cycling: Today Bill Talks With Lance,” December 15, 1997 www.cyclingnews.com

Copyright ©1995-2002 Knapp Communications Pty Ltd.

Thanks to Jeff Williams of Grace & Truth Relationship Education for editorial help with this section. www.graceandtruthrelationship.com

56U.S. Government funds abstinence education because of its financial benefits due to tremendous outlays from the welfare system. A recent study showed $112 billion/year cost to U.S. taxpayers related to divorce and unwed childbearing. “The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing: First-Ever Estimates for the Nation and All Fifty States,” by Benjamin Scafidi, Principal Investigator for Institute of American Values www.americanvalues.org

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

Saddle Comfort

Posted in Private Cycling on April 27, 2010 by bethleasure

Personal Points

47“There are only three points of contact between you and your bike. Your feet press on the pedals, your hands rest on the handlebars and your bum perches on your saddle! The choice of saddle is an extremely personal one.”  Why Cycle? advice forum

After a lot of miles, it doesn't have to feel like this

In the spirit of Easter, sometimes it’s one’s own body that needs to be resurrected. We turn to touchy subjects this week as a focus for pondering and for perhaps palpable affirmations. The most private point of contact with the bike demands a most personal responsibility to find the right combination for health and well-being. Saddle friction and private hygiene account for saddle soreness. While the bike is no easy chair, saddle discomfort is not inevitable. There are measures to take for correcting an uncomfortable underside. Experiment with saddle position checking height, fore-aft, and whether level or tilted. Keep records of changes. There have never been more choices for saddle types – width, length, materials, and cut-outs. Ask a reputable bike shop to test-ride saddles so you can mount your unique match. There is something out there for everyone and while it may not be as sleek as a marketed “top of the line” model; it doesn’t have to be a tractor seat to give you the undergirding necessary for comfortable carriage.

Persnickety and cautious pros sometimes mount unusual favorites – out of sight of sponsor photographs, they hope. Pros also know that cycling shorts are meant for cycling and quickly change into clean street clothing soon after rides. Friction can be reduced further with chamois creams and lubricants. Favoring one of those is also a point of personal choice.

Don’t expect that riding comes with a complete lack of seated comfort. You don’t have to take up knitting to avoid misery from posterior agony leaving you to focus on the good suffering. The point is, don’t neglect this most important area of your private riding life.

Prayer for Saddle Comfort
“‘Comfort, oh comfort my people,’ says your God.” 48Isaiah 40:31

We are glad for a variety of seating arrangements. We confess we neglect our softer sides at times. We pray for expert assistance and experimental options in a quest for saddle comfort.

Ponder Do I justify a chafed rear-end? Have I found my comfortable choice? Affirm I pick a frictionless touch point where flesh meets frame. Watch soreness increase if neglected and make some new choices.

47“Increasing cycling comfort: Bike Saddles,” www.whycycle.co.uk

48The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Cycling & Discretion

Posted in April Fool's on April 23, 2010 by bethleasure

Fool’s Paradise
5“I am the anti-hero. Listen to what I say; and do not do what I did in my career. I made foolish choices. I am the anti-example, the anti-hero: do what I didn’t to succeed.” Matthew Koschara, Coach and former Pro

Matt has become a pretty good fella

Matt describes wasted opportunity and his penchant in the past for choosing what felt or seemed good over what was best. His self-confessed volatile judgment led to team conflict, firings, foolish behavior, and ultimately lack of focus. Long after racing stopped, he struggles with these memories. Matt doesn’t want to lead riders in his care into a fool’s paradise of false hope that any choice, even one that makes you happy at the time, leads to a positive outcome. 6There is a way that seems right but the end leads to destruction. Every choice that leads to regret can undergo a course correction, but there may be consequences to pay. So how do you learn how to choose wisely?

1. Base a decision on integrity and morality using a spiritual standard.
2. Read circumstances. Be honest about what’s before you and what’s not. Is reality bearing evidence to guide a sound choice?
3. Acknowledge that you may not know what you don’t know. Seek wise counsel in a trusted and discreet advisor. Process the advantages and disadvantages of critical decisions. Enlist the support of a caring listener to privately process emotion.
4. Provision is a reality check. Are there resources for implementation?
5. Seek the peaceful solution. Sometimes the choice which brings you the most peace may involve a longer-term view, a sacrifice in hopes of future rewards, delayed gratification, resolving a difficult problem or conflict, swallowing pride. So using peace as a means to know a right way may involve hard things in its pursuit. If in doubt, wait for more information until peace comes.

Every once in a while a seventh element to guide occurs miraculously, unexpected and beyond imagination. Discerning right from wrong involves trial and error and eyes-wide-open faith.

Prayer for Discretion & Discernment
“…abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,
so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless.”
7Philippians 1:9-10

We are thankful for standards of excellence. We confess our perception is sometimes blinded by unholy drives. We ask for guidance and good sense for right and wrong.

Ponder Is it even possible to see every nuance of every possibility to know for certain that it’s the right way? Affirm I think through my choices. Watch for information, pursue peace, wait if necessary, pray.

5Conversations with Matt Koschara and my observations watching him work with riders in a team setting. Matt learned better judgment the hard way – by reaping the consequences of bad choices. He expressed regret not staying focused on the Best versus the Good and sometimes even choosing the Bad. 

6Proverbs 14:12, Holy Bible, King James Version public domain

7The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Cycling & Public Disclosure

Posted in April Fool's on April 20, 2010 by bethleasure

Court Jester

14″If you guys spent half as much time and energy training and racing as you do on your cyber adventures, you’d be much better cyclists and have better results.” Ramon Benitez, U.S. Masters National Champion on hearing that smack-talk about him was written on the web

One wheel short, one word too many

 

Ramon’s response to inappropriate public criticism was to smack it down in races, not use idle words in an internet forum. There is a place for frank discussion of controversial issues, but choosing what to say and where to say it is the difference between prudence and foolishness.

A king’s Court Jester was no fool. His role was to speak frankly about interests of the kingdom of which anyone else was severely punished to offer. A jester used playful and witty tactics to communicate but with keen awareness of survival and how far he might go. Today, etiquette isn’t keeping pace with advances in communication technology. Cyber journalism en masse is an underdeveloped discipline. Concerns and controversies meant to be discussed privately, preferably among relevant parties, are now sent through the air waves. Some of this public content is mean-spirited and ill-informed.

Enjoying race reports, rider blogs, and trading pace in cycling e-groups has merit, but exercise caution about disclosure. One of my riders went too far in spamming his angst and anger about a team conflict, another tried to blog out his insecurity during recovery from injury exposing weakness to competitors. Both were admonished for inappropriate disclosure through circumstances which made them look foolish. These types of indulgences can be used against you draining precious energy and time away from loftier, faster cycling pursuits. Be a fool or be fast?

Prayer for Public Disclosure
“Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” Proverbs 17:28
“Every prudent man acts out of knowledge, but a fool exposes his folly.” Proverbs 13:16
“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” Proverbs 29:11
“A chattering fool comes to ruin…and whoever spreads slander is a fool.” Proverbs 10
“A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly.” Proverbs 12:23
“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” 15Proverbs 18:2

We are thankful for an increasing ability to communicate. We confess to poor quality, impolite, and irrelevant information-sharing. We pray for appropriate public disclosure, effective use of worldwide communication technology, and redemption for when we speak awry.

Ponder What is the proper forum for discussing my thoughts? Affirm I am authentic and prudent. Watch your words carefully, process emotions in a private diary, and send a carefully-pondered message.

14Conversations with Ramon Benitez. Ramon’s designation for those who use chat rooms, email groups, and blogs in excess or for criticism is “the fastest fingers in the peloton.” Fast fingers don’t win races but Ramon does.

15All references here are from The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Teachability

Posted in April Fool's on April 16, 2010 by bethleasure

Be as teachable as a kid for success

Tomfoolery

8″Your emphasis on the most fundamental aspects of sprint mechanics and valuable insight in diagnosing technical weaknesses has given me greater understanding and confidence in my sprint.” Faris Schlueter, Cat 2 Racer, on his coach’s teaching skills

My first criteria for choosing to privately work with a rider is teachability – not talent but if a rider can be taught, take advice, and ask for and give feedback. Any rider can improve if taught what to do with limited abilities, receiving direction for how best to use what they possess. With feedback, the coach can constantly improve rider adherence to programming or change the program to match rider needs.

Bike racing is information-intensive. Experienced advice in all things cycling is necessary to not only be competitive but to reach full potential. I’ve trained riders with incredible physiological self-knowledge who needed tactical advice; and tacticians who didn’t understand sprint training from tempo rides. Fostering communication sets up objective analysis for an athlete unable to objectify when training and goals are mismatched.

A multi-disciplinary approach includes technical knowledge of equipment, positioning, aerodynamics, etc. It takes a village – a team of cycling expertise and resources behind one great professional racer. Every rider should have a similar network of advisors if improvement is a goal. So should every coach. Seek a teachable coach – one who will be flexible in applying rider input to training and performance. This is especially important during athletic transitions, such as: extending performance beyond a usual time-frame, periods where you lack confidence, injury recovery, and career choices that call for stressful changes. 9“This gives athletes the opportunity to take greater responsibility for their careers, and to gain more understanding of their sport.” If you’re the strong silent type riding for enjoyment, just ride. For excellence, put your team of experts together, listen but be ready to talk and give feedback!

Prayer for Teachability
“The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” 10Proverbs 12:15
“A rebuke impresses a man of discernment more than a hundred lashes a fool.” Proverbs 17:10

We are thankful for knowledgeable teachers. We confess we are too independent sometimes. We pray for the ability to listen, learn, and take advice – even if it’s hard to hear or requires extra effort to implement. We pray for the discipline to give an account.

Ponder Am I surrounded by yes men or do I have someone who will provide kind but objective feedback? Affirm I am always learning. Watch how good advice saves trial and error.

8“Road Testimonials,” posted by Coach David Brinton http://www.ridingtowin.com

9“Coaching Conversations – A Way of Fostering Athletes to Peak Performance,” By Rune Høigaard, University of Agder and Arild Jørgensen, USOC Olympic Coach e-magazine, 2007

10The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Prayer for Belgian Cycling

Posted in Spring Classics on April 14, 2010 by bethleasure

Grand’Place    de Grote Markt   Market Square

16Holidays are over now, but they were sheer joy! A fantastic break, very relaxed, together with some friends from the peloton.Tom Boonen, one of scores of Belgian cycling sensations

One of Belgium's best loved landmarks

Belgium is at the crossroads of European life. Its capital city is headquarters to the highest councils of common market and democratic defense – Economic Union and NATO – and many multinational corporations. Nestled near the sophisticated old centre, Grand Place or Market Square, is a bronze statue of a boy urinating into a fountain: Mannekin-Pis is the city’s beloved attraction that represents the tongue-in-cheek unassuming air of Belgian culture.

One modest nation with two distinctive cycling regions – Belgium is both the flat to rolling of Flemish Flanders in the north and and the famous French Wallonian climbing of the Ardennes. Many Belgians embrace multilingualism to welcome all. Friends are easily found here as are knowledgeable cycling fans.

From race inscription held in a pub to the post-race party, enjoyment with others from, about, and around the peloton is the ordinary way. I never felt isolated in Belgium. Frequently at race side, I was surrounded by scores of interested supporters asking questions, offering encouragement, and curious about me.

Belgium is cycling’s shire with its modest yet grand spirit. As in the epic trilogy, Lord of the Rings, its best known citizen, Eddy Merckx captured the golden ring with 436 career wins. In fact, 17four in the top five of most cycling wins ever are Belgians! Host to international hopefuls and many great races, Belgium is trial by fire for European race entry. Whether one races into the pro ranks or not, friends guaranteed.

Prayer for Belgian Cycling
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up.” 18Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

We are thankful for hospitable people. We confess our oft complaint with unfamiliar conditions, inclement environs, and pavé. We pray modesty and adventure as sure wheels to draft and ask blessing upon Belgian cycling.

Ponder Have I noticed how cultural propensities influence racing styles? Why do specific areas have a unique approach to the sport? Affirm I learn the ways of a place. Watch how incorporating a new approach refreshes your strategic arsenal.

1611/27/07 diary of Belgian Cyclist of the Year 2007, Tom Boonen. www.tomboonen.com

17Source unknown- from scraps of information that I tuck away without a source:

Most Victories Ever:
1. Eddy Merckx BEL 436
2. Rik van Looy BEL 379
3. Francesco Moser ITA 275
4. Rik van Steenbergen BEL 273 
5. Roger de Vlaeminck BEL 256

18The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Light Enough for the Pavé: Cobblestone Skills

Posted in Spring Classics on April 9, 2010 by bethleasure

19“I feel totally ready and I look forward to hitting the cobblestones.”   Fabian Cancellara, Classics Winner, TT World Champion, Olympic Champion

 

A Hard Man with a Light Heart

Fabian isn’t famous just for his victories in cobbled classics but for his fabulous attitude. He knows that hard conditions select the classic hardmen of Spring. Dark, sometimes cold, often wet are par for the course in Belgian racing.

The light in a Belgian Spring casts short shadows over its cobbled streets. When preparing to study abroad in Brussels, our wise professor gave us a thundering overview of the country and its features. He said that it rains there more days than not, and that we could either accept this as part of our educational experience and adapt or spend a miserable term complaining and depressed. He emphasized that light in our attitude would yield a sunny disposition on dark days. So I bought a fashionable raincoat and enjoyed European studies in Belgium as my favorite semester in college.

Later when I returned to race there, I was ready again to love the schooling the region gave in its cycling environment. Like a bike made for Roubaix, absorbing the shock of the situation separates the best from the battle-weary bunch. Perhaps this is one reason Belgians do so well in the Spring Classics. Homefield advantage is about emotional support but also about recognizing local conditions and not being fazed by them.

So how do you approach dozens of 1-2k sections of hard road? Lightly: a light attitude of determination that looks forward to the challenge; a lightweight that indicates early season form for anaerobic efforts followed by sustained high aerobic states; a laser-like focus that finds the good line at the front; a light bike especially fashioned for handling heavy resistance. The best line can be the ditch or gutter or inches of worn path on the outsides that avoids the rougher sections; or carrying speed over the dinosaur-ridge in the midst of pavé. With a justified emphasis on the right equipment for cobblestones, just as important is the lightness of mind – eager and ready!

Prayer for Cobblestone Skills

“Their road is dark and rough, but I will give light to keep them from stumbling.” 20Isaiah 42:16

We are thankful for ways to elicit a lightness of being. We ask for uncomplaining and eager minds and skills to transcend rough road.

Ponder Does my attitude hinder me more than real obstacles? Affirm I am light facing any heavy difficulty. Watch your attitude.

 

19“Team CSC Racing on Three Fronts,” News Articles posted March 24, 2006 www.csc.com

20The Bible, Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Easter Race: Paris-Roubaix

Posted in Spring Classics on April 7, 2010 by bethleasure

26La Pascale    The Easter Race

27“Paris-Roubaix being a major asset in the development of our regional heritage…this race, which remains the greatest of the cycling classics, is also the core of what we are.” René Vandierendonck, Mayor of Roubaix

Like Lambs to the Slaughter

 

Hard work is at the core of this region, host of Paris-Roubaix. La Reine or the Queen of the Classics finds her royal throne by heading northeast in France and finishing near the Belgian border in the modest city of Roubaix. An unusual route for royalty through industrial areas, still the plain of Flanders is one of the most important manufacturing centers in France. Mining took place until recently below the cobbled section of the Arenberg Forest, but the region continues to thrive through its textile and chemical factories.

Similarly, a competitor must be steely-minded like a dominant sovereign atop one’s iron horse, ijzeren paard, and manufacture great industry to weave a win here. The right chemistry of good luck sans punctures or caught behind characteristic chutes, mass pile-ups, helps also. The race’s legendary conditions leave riders caked with mud and sometimes blood. 

Its third fitting nickname, L’Enfer du Nord – Hell of the North, was earned because of passing through the ruins of battlefields after the Great War. The organizers maintain this tradition of ruinous sections of road and work with the community to guard these crumbling infrastructures from modern resurfacing to protect the race’s character. Likewise, the foremost consideration of racers is guarding position going into these sections. While the course lacks the little pavé hills of the Ronde, it makes up for it with over two dozen worn sectors of cobblestones from 300-3000m long all rated and named.

Trench of Arenberg is where the critical separation occurs to determine final finishers. Like a miner whose face is set like flint, victorious hardmen enter these shafts expecting to emerge with a roughly hewn trophy. They ride like one possessed as expected when descending shortly into hell, then rise again as royal sons, as is fitting for Easter.

 

Prayer for Paris-Roubaix

“… I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone…” 28Isaiah 50:7

We are glad for protected landmarks. We ask for fiendish determination to conquer our agonies and torments, and ask blessing upon Paris-Roubaix.              

Ponder What hardships must be guarded in order to surpass old standards? Affirm I set my face like flint. Watch the face for an indication of your heart’s focus for overcoming.

26Pascale means the Passover Lamb or Lamb of God – symbolic of Christ going to the cross as a sacrifice for mankind, the Easter event. 

27“A.S.O. and the town of Roubaix extend their collaboration,” Paris Roubaix 2005, Issy-les-Moulineaux, the 18th of March 2005 posted on www.letour.fr/stf/roubaix

28Holy Bible, New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust

Fools Rush In

Posted in April Fool's on April 2, 2010 by bethleasure

12He only attacks early. It’s his one strategy and you can’t tell him any different. Elite Amateur Racer speaking of a teammate 

A Fool who thinks he's rushing

Every village has an idiot, so in our cycling community, we have a few who are regularly foolish. That rider who always attacks into the downhill and then barks at everyone for racing negatively when caught. Or that one crash expert who seems to enjoy bragging about road rash. The reckless attempt what the wise avoid, rushing in…where angels fear to tread. Or that one who always makes the same mistake.

There are some riders that trial and error does not seem to teach. They just grow older but not wiser. They ride in the same way and expect different results. They cling to the same techniques and strategies. They never seek outside help and resent it when it’s given. They refuse to believe that how they ride is stupid.

Every sport has its armchair expert: the couch potato who criticizes the professional coach from his living room. Our armchair experts may be svelte since cycling’s participation and endurance favor age, but they are just as vocal and annoying. These are the riders who spend hours justifying why their race didn’t go as planned and have their list of excuses – all external of course involving flats, terrain, road debris, weather, other riders and all the other variables champions also confront and overcome.

It’s usually not a fitness issue but a blatant refusal to change up techniques, seek advice instead of indulging in narration of unsuccessful race reports, or admit they may not know everything or even very much. Group rides are full of these prognosticators who watch a few taped euro races and suddenly become experts but can’t seem to win a local championship. Don’t be mistaken, the pro peloton has a joker or two in it as well – a big talent who launches the same caper again and again, proudly justifies it but doesn’t change anything. What does change is the jersey – during late season contract negotiations.

Prayer for Strategic Insight

“Fools never do get it.” 13Psalm 92:6

We are thankful for strategic insight. We confess we are sometimes too proud to admit that our situations are our own fault. We pray for insight to perceive and understand what’s really going on in a race.

Ponder Am I stuck in a rut? Affirm I admit I need advice. Watch a world of possibilities open up as insight is gained.

11Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, a quote by Alexander Pope in “An Essay On Criticism.” Pope’s contention was that erroneous judgment was caused by pride.

12Identities are protected so as not to foster animosity. Conversations with an anonymous racer frustrated about a very strong teammate. The guy beats very good pros in prologue time trials, but in mass start races, he rarely places. He is not coachable and impossible to direct. He has never reached his potential as a professional. It is very frustrating to watch a diamond in the rough refusing polish.

13The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson