Archive for May, 2010

Clean Cycling: Enforcement & Innovation

Posted in Clean Cycling on May 26, 2010 by bethleasure

Passport to Somewhere

49“The conditions are there for a new start in cycling. A disaster is becoming an opportunity for cycling to be an example for everybody.”    Patrice Clerc, President of ASO, Tour de France organizer

Let's be sure the destination leads to real reform

 Nations issue documents to ensure specific identification of its traveling citizens. Now a biological passport initiated jointly by the UCI and WADA permits entry within clean borders. A medical dossier of the composition of blood and urine unique to each rider, UCI Anti-Doping Coordinator, Anne Gripper explains 50“…the rider becomes his own reference point.”

High-profile 51teams are implementing the innovation. This scheme is the first of its kind in any sport and is meant to thwart the difficulties of detection. Team willingness to implement tracking policies independent of official procedural control marks a significant shift. It signals compliance from the top down and a moral return from win “at all costs” pressures.  Some argue that this self-monitoring enables early detection to fly under the radar or that it proves nothing about a team being clean or not.

Commercialization is named for overriding the spirit of sport. Medical and ethical considerations become secondary to fame, fortune, marketing, and the making of careers. With this change of direction, the hope is that the bon vivant of sporting life will once again reflect the ancient Greek ideal 52“None so wretched as the competitor who wins victory through cheating.”


We’re getting somewhere! But there are miles to go. Concern is raised about other doping-related issues, such as privacy fairness, warnings and enforcement for missed tests…on and on. As hard as many are working to turn the tide of this war, underworld opposition races to devise ways around rules, tests, and controls. There are a lot of careers whose sustainability depends on status quo and not reform– this is the human condition.

The governing principle that participation and process are as important as prizes is a war that is first won in the heart. External accountability acts as a second check. We want clean procedures, clean testing and clean sport, we must start with internal housecleaning deep in the recesses of our souls.

Prayer for Control: Procedures & Enforcers

“I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.” 53Proverbs 8:12


We are thankful that ethical, smart decision-makers are devising means to stay ahead of wicked developments. We are aware that bribery, deception, and pay-offs seek to elude this system. We pray for wisdom, knowledge, and vision in reform for the enforcers of clean sport, specifically WADA, the UCI, race promoters and national affiliates. We pray that we stop cheating ourselves.

Ponder Am I at risk to be tempted to dope? To whom am I accountable, and may I ask for protection? Affirm I can provide biological information about myself to protect me. Watch your performance compliance outpace those pressured to win.

49“Anti-doping summit in Paris agrees on biological passports,” By Jean-François Quénet in Paris First Edition Cycling News for October 24, 2007. Edited by Ben Abrahams with assistance from Susan Westemeyer<

50“Cyclists face rise in drugs tests,” BBC Sport Cycling Monday, 22 October 2007. 

51“Blood Passports for Plowmans,” by PCA, September 7, 2007, and see website posting for 2007 for Team CSC under “forum”; and “news” Team Slipstream 

52Greek proverb referenced in “Novel Erythropoietic Agents: A Threat to Sportsmanship,” by Wolfgang Jelkmann, Institute of Physiology, Luebeck, Germany. Copyright @ Medicina Sportiva, Vol. II (2):32-44, 2007.

53Holy Bible, King James Version, public domain

Clean Cycling: Team Doctors

Posted in Clean Cycling on May 25, 2010 by bethleasure

Racing at Two Speeds

45“You cannot race a tour on bread and water.”  Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, Operacíon Puerto, and a Rationalizer bar none.

Syringe Man makes his "point"

Usually there are two races happening in the peloton: a small percentage who think they can win and everybody else. Sports psychology recommends a variety of techniques to sustain the work and increase the will to be in that top group. This is true in every endeavor: there are always leaders and followers, haves and have-nots, achievers and wanna-be’s. Sometimes a reflection of work or will, opportunity or ability – this is perhaps a discussion for politicians, economists, and philosophers.

Why is it cycling’s doping perpetrators think the sport exempt from this human condition? Racing at two speeds is a cycling-specific phrase that differentiates corrupted medical violators from clean riders. A doctor implicated in a doping scandal justified his care of his athletes to compete at the speed of the doping group. 46He has claimed that his clients needed medication to participate because the sport is unhealthy at the professional level. It seems he thought he was doing his riders a favor. Such thinking is gross rationalization. In my family, we have an old-fashioned adage, “It’s never right to do wrong to do right.”

Every event, everywhere, in every sport has at least two classes of participants with at least two different “speeds.” No drug anywhere is going to change this. Yet the doctor raises a point, it’s time to evaluate what it takes to properly care for those who compete in today’s peloton. Seek good and caring medical practitioners in your life, but stay clean in the process.

Prayer for Team Doctors, Medical Community

“Confess your faults to one another, pray for one another so that together you may be healed.” 47James 5:16

We are thankful that medical knowledge and doctors may heal us. We confess fault if any method of healing becomes part of the problem. We ask for knowledge for new treatments and moral courage for ethical care. We pray that 48dialogue and research by this smart group help solve some of cycling’s problems.                        Prohibited List

Ponder Am I aware of what’s on the list of banned substances? Affirm I am responsible to know about effects and ethics of any supplements I use. Watch for a compromising spirit when seeking medical advice; all legal treatments available are not ethical or lawful for cyclists.

45“Fuentes: ‘I am the famous cycling criminal’,” Latest Cycling News for December 6, 2007 by Gregor Brown, Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer.

46“Eufemiano Fuentes concerned about sport’s impact on athletes,” Latest Cycling News for December 5, 2007. Edited by Gregor Brown, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer.

47Holy Bible, King James Version, public domain

48The American Association of Cycling Team Doctors (AACTD) was formed for scientists and health care professionals to collaborate on care and treatment of cyclists. Dialogue between team doctors and medical staff has begun while at the big tours. More talk and action are needed.

Clean Cycling: Confession

Posted in Clean Cycling on May 24, 2010 by bethleasure

A Lightened Burden

41“I am doing extremely well since the story came out. It really cleared my conscience and I feel great about it. I feel so relieved and my mind is great.”  Geneviève Jeanson, suspended for EPO use 

Genevieve, eventually had to talk


With all our efforts to improve our strength to weight ratio perhaps the easiest way in some cases is to lighten a burden of guilt. Geneviève Jeanson’s domination was nearly uncontestable at her premature peak. She was arguably one of the best female climbers ever to grace cycling. The sad truth is it’s likely that on her worst day completely clean, she could probably beat most on their best day, but we will never know. Her pattern for illegal performance-enhancement began early:

“It’s all about informed decisions for young people. I’ve been there and I really feel that is the way to make a difference. Kids need to know yes, you can do it without drugs so the more information, the better. We need to start [combating doping] at the junior level. We don’t talk about it, it’s like it’s a taboo.”


Time for talk has come. David Millar, Tour de France prologue winner, talked about it. Testing positive and going public about it has made him an anti-doping 42ambassador:

43“I tell other riders: ‘It’s very subtle when you first start to dope. If you think you’ll never do it, I thought that as well. You can never underestimate the power around you…I don’t want to race with monsters anymore. I want to race with good guys who are trying to make a difference. I want to be that good guy.’”

Prayer for Confession

“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” 44Proverbs 28:13

We are thankful that acknowledgment or suspension leads to confession. We repent of all wrong doing. We pray for courage to turn from wicked ways. As a result, we ask to be cleared before God, country, community and for merciful doors to open in our restoration.

Ponder have I anything to confess? Who can support me as I begin to talk about hard things? Affirm I will be rewarded for turning away from anything injurious in my life. Watch your burden lifted upon confession and renouncement, and your hope grow with new opportunities for success.

41“Geneviève Jeanson Interview,” by Matt Hansen, Canadian Cyclist, Daily News, November 15, 2007. All quotes by Jeanson in this section are from this article.

42“Millar handed role at anti-doping agency,” First Edition Cycling News, December 7, 2007 Edited by Laura Weislo.

43Disgraced Rider and New U.S. Team Take the Lead Against Doping,” By Juliet Macur. NY Times, Published: November 14, 2007

44The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Clean Cycling: Consequences

Posted in Clean Cycling on May 23, 2010 by bethleasure

Dark Places

39” Five hours after my victory, I sat alone. My entire world had collapsed. I was lucky that there was no rope in the room. If there had been, I wouldn’t be here now.” Michael Rasmussen, Climber 

Cross the bridge, don't throw yourself from it

Outrunning a conscience is like trying to outride your shadow. You can only for a moment obscure it by darkness. Deeper and deeper in you must go to escape. You cannot stay there untouched. Darkness has its price.

Here’s a list of real consequences taken from cycling’s headliners: titles taken away, jerseys stripped, fired from teams, homes lost, quarantined from event involvement, careers derailed, families affected, media coverage pulled, races cancelled, premature or forced retirement, suicide attempts and suicide successes, street drug use, and death.

Riders implicated in a major doping scandal led to: escalated response by a national federation, then restricted coverage of races in that country, public disgrace, and eventual cessation of significant sponsorship.

These are not light circumstances. These are dim crises. The domino effect is fertilized in dark soil such as this. We reap what we sow and others around us taste the bitter harvest of our rotten fruits. We cannot lie or cheat alone. Our actions affect a wide audience.

This same sensitivity to consequences brought about by the improper choices of others is also operative when right choices are made. Cycling untainted is powerfully attractive. Its superheroes are world-renowned. Our enterprise of countless solitary riding hours has the ability to yield global proportions of influence. We are meant to be like shining lights upon a hill – beacons of health and freedom to other sojourners. For a race’s time, even a lifetime, we inspire, exhilarate. That legacy can prove dim or illuminating.
Prayer for Consequences

“… It’s my observation that those who plow evil and sow trouble reap evil and trouble.” 40Job 4:8

We are grateful that a principle of consequences governs society. We ask that these repercussions become clear. We pray for the same perseverance we use for racing to meet the challenges we bring upon ourselves in other ways. We pray for discernment in our decision-making.

Ponder Do I understand that when I do wrong, even if it seems like it’s just about me, how it affects others? Affirm I can always decide to do right even after doing wrong. Watch the impact you have upon others, and count, from equipment distributor to Directeur Sportif, how many depend upon your doing right, not just racing to win at any price.

39“Rasmussen considered suicide after being pulled from Tour,” and  “Rabobank report: Rasmussen purposely lied,” By Susan Westemeyer, edited by Gregor Brown. Latest Cycling News for November 12, 2007 and December 2, 2007 edited by Steve Medcroft 

40The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Clean Cycling: A Clear Conscience

Posted in Clean Cycling on May 22, 2010 by bethleasure

A Painful Reveille  (rĕv-ĕl-lē)

37“Doping is extremely harmful to cycling. Currently, there is a climate of suspicion. It is undermining the credibility of my sport and is eroding the trust of the public, authorities, organizers and my colleagues.”  UCI Anti-Doping Declaration for Team Staff


And a clear conscience laughs at false accusation


The morning wake up call has sounded. A piercing trumpet is arousing an army to fight a war on illegal performance-enhancing drugs in cycling. This army’s intention is to strike down whole hierarchies and rise against entire enterprises that are in the business of exploitation of you, the cyclist’s legitimate desire to be the best.

A properly administered doping cyclist will race better for a time, and it’s possible that you will become the King of the Universe winning many battles along the way. Yet you will never win the war. For if you are able to outrun  detection, doping controls, suspicion, tarnished reputation, ruined resources, physical side-effects, even an informant, then you will be defeated by the one challenger that you can never outrun – your own conscience. All your laurels, trophies, jerseys, and accolades will be tainted by the knowledge that you lied and cheated. Your fond memories will always bring discord, unable to reconcile yourself fully to a confident authenticity. You were, when doping, a pretender. In pretending, you cheated the real winner, the person most capable of winning due to ability, or hard work, or savvy. Your own heart will bear witness that you undermined destiny. Everyone else may think of you as a legend. A hero doesn’t believe his own press but with humility surveys himself.

What is more honorable than mounting that top step? The knowledge that you did the best you had with what you were naturally given and could enhance through discipline and discretion. This is a warrior’s genuine beauty and legitimate strength.

Prayer for Conscience

“But if you don’t do what you say…you can be sure that your sin will track you down.” 38Numbers 32:23-24

We are grateful that we have a built-in mechanism that guides us from wrong to right. We confess ignoring that inner whisper. We ask to sensitize and stop rationalizing our decision-making, to stop silencing clamorous cheating voices so the voice of truth – our conscience- can tell a different story.

Ponder Is my conscience clear?  Affirm I can make things right immediately. Watch how wrongs add up. Watch how clearly you can contemplate solutions when facing truths about yourself.
37“Manager’s and other team staff’s commitment to a new cycling,” UCI anti-doping declaration as posted on as of December 2007

38The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Clean Cycling: Ethics

Posted in Clean Cycling on May 21, 2010 by bethleasure

Burnished Medals

35“Not all means for going  faster…are equal…Some…undermine the meaning of the sport…not all ways of improving performance are the same.” Thomas H. Murray, PhD, Biomedical Ethicist, Cyclist 

Genuine or Cheater - you pick the engraving

Several years ago, I visited one of the halls of power in the sport of cycling. Cases of trophies, jerseys, and photographs of notable winners framed shelves of notebooks full of valuable training information. Gold medals dazzled the walls. My soul was hushed in deserving reverence by the grandeur of such a place: the privilege of elite athleticism.

Alongside an imposing conference table, I prayed specifically for cycling’s prosperity in my own country and worldwide, for its governing bodies, coaches, and riders, for new sponsorship and broader media awareness. I invited the presence of holiness, goodness, and purity to stake territory within and to inspire passion, safeguard cycling’s sanctity, and drive out evil in the form of relational or organizational conflict, unfair or inadequate resource allocation, and cheating through the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Awe filled my spirit about the implications of this prayer. I had a sense in its answer of impending change that may cause short-term chaos like a refining fire that separates dross from precious metals. We are now in just such a painful process of refinement. We are suffering as a Time Trialist after the turn-around. At such a time, we must look up as we struggle through with burning legs. Just as the warmth of polishing burnishes tarnish off prized metal, we must remember that reward and virtue ride in tandem and are forged along a road of discipline.

Cycling is ready for this removal of impurities from its noble purposes. Let us be tried in the fire so we can shine for the world.

Prayer for Ethics

“Remove impurities from the silver and the silversmith can craft a fine chalice.” 36Proverbs 25:4

We are thankful for the exposure of secret sins. This protects us from further wrong and prepares us for future glory. We ask blessing for those who are clean and for those who come clean. We ask strength to keep rules, justice for offenders, and endurance through this reordering and refining.

Ponder What purpose does cycling have for me, for others? What behaviors erode that meaning? Affirm I can contribute to society by fulfilling my specific purpose in cycling at whatever level my natural abilities take me. Watch with impure motivations removed, how satisfying it is to ride to your unique potential.

35“In Search of the Spirit of Sport,” by Thomas H. Murray, PhD, as posted on website of WADA as of December 2007. The Hastings Center is the world’s first research institution devoted to bioethics.

36The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Race Announcers

Posted in May-Day on May 18, 2010 by bethleasure

Winsome, Lose Some

24“He takes the time to learn so many local racers’ names, even pack fodder like me. He spends many a weekend making us feel like stars, even if just for a moment.”  Ken Sheck, Amateur Cyclist on 25Race Announcer

Race radio is one privilege of race participants, and spectators benefit further from old-fashioned race announcement. Announcers with microphones and a public address system comment on the race as it unfolds. They can whip up fervor to draw and excite a crowd. These lively commentaries can either be clever and witty discourses that discuss rider personalities and explain the race or they can be distressingly mundane, opinionated monologues.

The most impressive announcers know and like the racers and understand the nuances of racing while bringing its participants to life for the audience. The crowd gets behind this type of commentator, anticipates and cheers, and experiences by proxy the great drama and human interest of bike racing. Sometimes announcers seem more pleased to hear themselves opine about insider gossip or demean a challenged competitor. Some clearly show disdain and perpetuate certain stereotypes of racing, such as calling a women’s race a “tea party and let’s get moving girls” to “frustrated masters riders who complain about everything.” What’s better is to focus on the reasons, such as “slower pace caused by a more tactical race with fewer dominant participants,” so the audience understands the differences from other categories, other events, and other moments in racing history.

An announcer that credits the conquering strong while giving details about challenged competitors adds dimension to the event. Everybody loves a winner but the sport needs more people to like it; so to make it winsome, discuss the value and interesting tidbits of all participants to whom the audience relates.

Prayer for Race Announcers

“But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” 26Matthew 19:30

We are glad for educated and enthusiastic live commentary. We ask for sensitive, intelligent announcement of races that broadens the base of support for cycling and encourages its participants.

Ponder If someone were shouting your praises would it influence your self-talk, outlook, and actions? Affirm I am a victor no matter what is said about me. Watch the road to victory as one opportunity after another to move from last to first, first to last, last to first…




24posted June 8, 2008 by Ken Sheck on MABRA-USCF group

25 reference deleted

26The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Active Recovery

Posted in May Flowers on May 14, 2010 by bethleasure

Smell the Roses

42“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Author-Sherlock Holmes & Cyclist

A real childhood cruiser bike. That bar wasn't for sissies!

A personal rule is never evaluating performance in a fatigued state. The days after hard racing are better left to physical recovery, spiritual renewal, practical fortification but not emotional attachment. For example, after a hard weekend of racing that leaves you spent, don’t use Monday to figure out how to change everything and plan a new campaign. Detach until energies return and thought processes reward with greater clarity.

The longer the event, such as a tour, the more such days are necessary for recuperation. Lightly active easy days are better for recovery than days completely off, although inactive days away from cycling entirely have a place also. Active recovery days can be spent in a variety of activities, including strolling and yoga, but most serious cyclists stay on the bike. This is the time for that ride that feels like a tourist pedaling along at lowest intensity, coasting encouraged. Various names describe its soothing pleasurable nature, such as sightseeing- exploring new places or coffee ride- meeting a friend at a favorite java haunt or smell the roses ride- enjoying nature.

One quintessential such ride occurred in a botanical park where I cruised serenely among garden sidewalks and literally stopped to smell various varieties of rose. Glorious restorations of the soul occur on such rides. Evoke childhood memories of the fun the bike originally gave you, such as recalling Evel Knievel-type antics on a bike with sissy-bars, streamers and a banana seat.

The bicycle is a mechanical gift to mankind, a toy for play despite its seriousness at times. Have a fun-ride. No analysis, see the world afresh!

Prayer for Active Recovery

“Has anyone planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy it?

Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else enjoy it.” 43Deuteronomy 20:6

We are thankful for life’s pauses. We confess sometimes our reaction to working hard is working harder. We pray for sweet times of ride refreshment.

Ponder What is my first or best childhood bike memory? Affirm I am a kid again on this bike toy today. Watch and see everything since you’re going slow enough to take it all in as if for the first time.

42 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle quoted in Scientific American, January 18, 1896

43The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson


Youth Cycling

Posted in May Flowers on May 11, 2010 by bethleasure

Fresh Blossoms

29“It is the first time in our history that children are not expected to live longer than their parents! Clearly, ride clubs have a role to play in addressing this social issue.” Karen Overton, Recycle-A-Bicycle, Youth Cycling Program

How I feel every time I ride


Today we address not the keen category of junior racing, but the incredible societal potential of involvement with a youth cycling movement. Every one of us should be about the business of cycling evangelism. It’s a marketable gospel of health and vigor, and nowhere is this more in crisis than with the children of developed nations.

Programs for kids focus on fostering fitness that feels less like a mandatory gym class and more like fun, handling skills, contributing and participating in group settings, safety, and building self-confidence with each mile logged. Another tenet of the faith is that riding a bike provides environmentally-sound, affordable transportation – a sermon with worldwide youth appeal.

Youth programs assist kids in work-study about mechanics, seek fresh talent for race development, and provide alternatives to delinquency. Cycling is taught as vocation, on subjects like community consciousness, business management, and recycling bikes from landfill to the playground. Our young buds blossom in the environment that is the fertile ground of cycling culture. All this is obviously top-flight activism.

In a simpler role among non-cycling friends with children, it’s assumed I can teach their kids how to ride. Indeed, a coaching joy is watching a tyke go from his trike to a bike in a few grass lessons. This is one of my favorite father-daughter memories after all – a legacy that keeps on giving. Many of the kids assisted retain cycling’s appeal and turn out to be old folks on fixed gears spinning throughout a lifetime, through every rite of passage, a consistently happy activity that recalls moments well-spent in youth. Ride forth and make disciples!

Prayer for Youth Cycling

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” 30Proverbs 22:6

We give thanks for a heritage in children. We pray for opportunity to pass on cycling’s best traditions and ask blessing on youth cycling.

Ponder Does my inner child need some retraining? Affirm I take a time-out and evaluate elementary motivations, skills, and activities. Watch for programs to donate bikes, visit a school, volunteer at a kids race, or guide a child after removing the training wheels!

29“One Revolution At a Time: A Guide to Starting and Running Youth Bike Clubs,” by Karen Overton and Audrey Warren, published by Bike New York and Recycle-A-Bicycle, 2002. and

30The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Overcoming Fear after Crashing

Posted in May-Day on May 7, 2010 by bethleasure

Follow the Leader

13“I followed Roberto to learn how to descend fast without fear.” Lynn Gaggioli, Pro Cyclist

Get back on that horse and ride!

Fear factor in cycling can be an impediment to riding enjoyment and race performance if one lacks confidence and skill. This is more poignant after a crash. Just as a gradual ramp-up in training must occur when sidelined by injury, a return to aggressive riding must begin with  mental self-compassion. Fear-based vigilance about crashing makes for tense and unsuccessful racing. You can’t watch the race and respond with winning instincts while distracted by potential dangers. You must be uninhibited and untroubled.

After being bucked off, a cowboy proverb advises to get back on the horse and ride. There are two steps to put your mind back where it needs to be. First, believe that fear is not an end-point but an opportunity to firm up willpower by overcoming a new obstacle. Secondly, devise a plan to train determination by going after the skill-set or sketchy area that alarms you.

For instance, I was having trouble being surrounded by others in the sweet spot where one most efficiently follows the action at the front. Aggressive surges come in on you because everyone wants that spot, and I was fearful of the squeeze. So I started with an easy wise-open course in an event where the fitness level was manageable and practiced being in that place. Sometimes it took my breath away to be there – not from fitness but fear – and I had to edge to the sides, but eventually I found comfort. Progressively I practiced in tougher situations until the big test. This happened in a crowded race in the rain on narrow roads where I had to fight at high speed for position. For this, I chose to follow a friend asking him to hold back and protect me in that spot for the first part of the race. By the final sprint, fear was conquered and my buddy benefited by late race freshness.

Following a skillful wheel who cares about you replaces fear with courage. Discipline leads to success. Work out a back-to-courage plan and enlist help.

Prayer for Overcoming Fear after Crashing

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” 142 Timothy 1:7

We are glad for sports psychologists who help set our minds straight. Help our lack of belief when we feel timid and show us how to restore mental power and focus. 

Ponder Any nagging doubts or trepidations to conquer? Affirm I ask for help to overcome fears. Watch to see if love or fear is motivating you and note the more powerful instigator.

13Conversations with Lynn Gaggioli, whose ex-husband Roberto Gaggioli knows how to win in tricky, fast, fearsome situations.

14New American Standard Bible, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation