Archive for May, 2010

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

Recovery from Injury

Posted in May-Day on May 4, 2010 by bethleasure

Not if, when

Psyched to Return

11“Things that help you return: understanding recovery process, good relationships, realistic but positive attitude, being prepared for setbacks, connection to other athletes, learning/being proactive.” Kristen Dieffenbach, Cycling Coach and Sports Psychologist

There are two kinds of riders: those who have injury and those who will. Besides impact in racing, causes of injury are many including muscle imbalances and horseplay. Cycling culture celebrates toughing out pain but as stressed throughout these contemplations, it’s important to decide which pain is a part of improving fitness and which contributes to more problems.

The mind is as important as the body in sorting out pain and its solutions. Injury has many practical implications that contribute to mental distress wrought by its immediate imbalance of lifestyle. Financial obligations may suffer as well as self-esteem and profound sense of purpose. The cumulative injury cycle aggravated by scar tissue and inflammation has as much to do with a wounded soul as with inflamed emotions. Anger and anxiety are considered risk factors that predispose an athlete to injury as are the way one views stress, ongoing frustration, previous injury and poor coping techniques.

Serious injury takes away one of a cyclist’s greatest coping skills – the ability to ride with pleasure and let the wind blow off the hassles stuck to your spirit. If not possible to enjoy gentle rides, create a sanctuary of contemplation, a prayer chair, a quiet place where you can remember good times and dream of new things to come. As part of a grief process eventually accept your predicament as a benefit to body and soul.

Delayed gratification builds desire and discipline. You can come back with fire but let it heat back up slowly. Listen to your team of experts: doctor, coach, rehab therapist, loved ones, and adhere to your program of recovery. Be realistic about time to return and set new goals. Life is beautiful and full of other wonderful things – think on these things.

Prayer for Injury Recovery

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” 12Philippians 4:8

We are glad even for forced times to remember what’s important. We pray for complete healing to injury so we can ride again soon.

Ponder What hidden benefits can come from this catastrophe? Affirm I am going to come through this a greater person. Watch cycling appreciation refine and come forth in a blaze when it’s your time again!

11“Psychology of Injury Management,” by Kristen Dieffenbach, PhD, CC, AASP, West Virginia University, a webinar by USA Cycling on 3/08. Quotes and some practical information in this daily are from Kristen’s presentation; others from experience.

Another great resource is:

“Toolbox: Recovering from Injury,” by Marvin Zauderer, Monday, August 27, 2007 posted on

 12The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society