Archive for August, 2010

Cycling to Completion

Posted in Seasonal Transitions on August 27, 2010 by bethleasure

Sweet fruits of cycling goals achieved!

Bittersweet Fruit

62“There is a bitter aftertaste about the way I had to stop.” Michael Boogerd on his comeback

The racing may stop but the passions sometimes continue. Racing provides constant feedback and gratification. Plugging along in the regular world can be dull by comparison.

My passion for racing was so great, I could not imagine it coming to an end. I never thought that a sense of completion would come for me but there did come a day when desire to race as a full-time rider ceased. Even though I didn’t leave on a high note but with an injury that required extended rest and rehab, still my racing time felt full – not fantastic, but with memories of many fruitful seasons. I concluded that my greatest contribution in cycling would not be as a racer and subsequent seasons didn’t feel like famine but rather like farming in new fields. My passion is alive for the cycling community. I’m a lifer on the bike and occasionally compete but with good health and sharpness a priority over performance.

Yet focus for professional cycling requires an inscrutable discipline excluding most other activities. Those with great racing abilities must have a sense of completion of competitive purposes, and a satisfied stewardship of talent totally explored. Personal missions may vary, such as becoming a responsible citizen through the conduct required for pro cycling or publicizing a cause. Character may be rounded since pursuing tasks to the finish with integrity brings a form of wholeness. Further, our professionals as public figures ought not to be reacting to contemporary social issues related to sport, but leading honorable policies. This takes vision, community-mindedness, and courage.

Coming back? Welcome back! Show us what you can do whether to rectify past wrongs, prove yourself again, or perhaps set new standards. Whether you succeed or fail we’ll respect the attempt to bring to completion any unfinished business or newly formulated benevolence.

Prayer for Comebacks

“…after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received…I will go…” 63Romans 15:28

We feel sweet sadness at summer’s end. Like the close of beloved seasons in life, we ask for complete, not bitter endings.

Ponder Are tasks completed in my current role? If not, will continuing be better than coming back? Affirm I finished another season, and its unfulfilled remnants are fueling new desire to achieve. Watch how time away may cause loss of momentum, but it may also grow toward an even riper more bountiful harvest.

 

 

 
62“Boogerd next on comeback trail?” Latest Cycling News, September 11, 2008 Edited by Hedwig Kröner www.cyclingnews.com

63The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

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Cycling Goals & Realistic Assessment

Posted in Seasonal Transitions on August 24, 2010 by bethleasure

Missing Breaks

40“We wanted to make the race aggressive and get in a break today. TIBCO missed the break yesterday, so we knew they were hungry today.”  Lisa Hunt, Team Director

Knowing you missed the winning break feels like this

The best way to redeem a bad period or mistake is to start with an assessment of the situation. Once assessed, search for your mistakes and you can usually find a few. Mistakes acknowledge with a hope to improve is called Repentance in spiritual terms. Repentance forces assessment because you can’t go before God without really looking at root causes. Repentance means turning away from, changing a course.

In a cycling context, you may miss a break that’s sure to win, now what – stay in the pack or bridge the gap? After assessing the challenge, champs respond with maneuvers to overcome it.  Part of champion maneuvering is mental focus that doesn’t question whether a win is deserved or not. Strong beliefs support this winning psychology. Often these beliefs come from a belief in the hard work to prepare for that win. Both the work and the justification contribute to the winning move or the move that overcomes a mistake to win.

Justification as a Christian principle says success isn’t earned but an undeserved gift because Christ’s work on the cross paid all debts. The only work is acknowledging mistakes – repentance. Jesus redeemed humankind from mistakes. Bike success must be earned through hard work, but the opportunity to succeed spiritually isn’t based on our goodness but on God’s grace. Our errors and mistakes don’t hinder us from future success. Instead we acknowledge them, confess them, turn from them, and with renewed faith, work toward victory!

Prayer for Realistic Assessment

“If you’re a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don’t call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust him to do it—you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked—well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift.”

41Romans 4:4-5

We are amazed that rewards can be ours from God’s sheer goodness, not on our own. We ask to take this goodness and invest it for rewards right here.

Ponder

What are the secrets to successful performance for me?

What is really hindering me that I cause and can change?

What is my goal and is it the right goal?

Is my behavior lining up with my beliefs about goals? How?

What areas require trust?

What areas require action?

If significant change is necessary, what will the transition look like?

Be honest, can you make the changes? If not, how long are you willing to continue as is?

What opportunities could be missed with status quo?

If changes were made, where are energies better spent?

Affirm I search until there’s peace about my cycling goals.

Watch think, pray and move forward.

40VAC storms into Cascade Cycling Classic with Patella 7th in Stage 2!” posted July 12th, 2008 on www.teamvalueactcapital.com

41The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Cycling & Collusion

Posted in Summer Carnival on August 17, 2010 by bethleasure

Summit on the Road

5“Levi was awesome. If he wasn’t working for George today I think he would have ridden away from everybody! He was incredible.” Chris Wherry, American Pro, describes two riders working together from separate teams (at the time)

No Gerolsteiner car needed

 

Levi rode like two men – the champion he is and the worker he can be – to assist George Hincapie for the win in his hometown at the first exclusively American U.S. Pro Championship. This version of cycling’s cooperative summits issued a treaty with stiff terms – national championship in exchange for next year’s teamwork since both riders signed with the same squad the following year. Both riders benefited by the agreement; non-signing participants got whammed. Is it foul or is it fair play in a sport that requires rolling alliances and pre-planned strategies? In this case, cooperation was blatant and no one was trying to hide it; probably either would have won on this day anyway. It was just a gracious favor with future business implications.

However, some events seem clearly scripted from the beginning with riders from opposing teams even on the same radio frequency or using the same team support. Caravan rules in fact state that a director can transmit information to riders from other teams but cannot also provide mechanical support to those riders. One way to anticipate an attack or to know if a chase will form is to notice if team cars pull beside each other in a caravan so directors can discuss tactics against other teams. Race winners of certain exhibition races are decided by committee pre-race. Other forms of collusion exist in cycling that are perhaps not as harmless. Examples include: scripted events that deceive the public as spontaneous acts; and payoffs as in the case of a sponsor’s bonus offered to a series winner being distributed to all cooperative teams. Fortunately, riders’ egos and sense of honor don’t allow this as a constant practice. Winners cannot be bought in the long-run and eventually cheaters turn on one another.

Prayer re: Collusion

“For God can’t stand evil scheming, but he puts words of grace and beauty on display.”  6Proverbs 15:26

We like the alliances that form on the road and celebrate this as part of cycling’s esprit d’corps. We pray for blameless racing and fair strategic practices.              

Ponder What’s my stance on unethical cooperation? Affirm I don’t scheme against the rules. Watch wicked plans bring disgrace on perpetrators and grace overcome all.

5“USPRO’06 RR: Easy As Pie For Hincapie,” by Jered Gruber posted September 03, 2006 www.pezcyclingnews.com

6The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Cycling & Road Infrastructure

Posted in Heat Wave on August 13, 2010 by bethleasure

Cycling Mirage

33“It is a grueling day in the sun so what does a rider get besides sore muscles, tired posterior, sense of accomplishment and several hours of pure cycling madness? There is no answer that fits all. Riders pit themselves against the road and elements for different reasons.” Hotter ‘n Hell Hundred annual August event in Texas

Road good enough to eat...on

Every road rider enjoys long stretches of beautifully paved road. The road provides a way toward many destinations. The uses of the road are many. Environmentalists rejoice, new 34uses from hot roads include siphoning solar energy! As the heat waves from pavement and melting tarmac increase our rolling resistance, we are glad for a healthy network of asphalt.

Great roads contribute to great riding. Some of the most successful promoters have ties to transportation authorities that connect race sponsorship with government budgets for new roads and maintenance. One race promoter sat on his state’s highway transportation committee and each year, new venues and newly paved roads would magically appear. Like some of our favorite quiet training routes, these practices have the potential to be crooked, but not always. There’s nothing quite like new racing pavement for speed and safe cornering.

But ancient paths and old roads provide interest and challenge, such as epic stages that go gravel, with steeper sections than most cars can handle. These provide beloved memories of conquered terrain that makes us all feel like superheroes in rain capes. Even on the flats, we all encounter potholes the size of Texas that can swallow downed riders especially if drenched and filled by a summer downpour. Roads take a beating from extremes in weather and hard use and then take their vengeance on the soft skin of the peloton.

For example, those seams that don’t quite match may be large enough for a tire to hit at an angle for truly technical riding. Crazy endo’s, superman style occur in such cases. Then there’s the uneven, off-camber railroad tracks with a diagonal approach that invariably some rider dead heads and dead-ends a shortened day. Looking ahead to avoid the obstacles isn’t always possible with curving roads or a packed field or a frenzied crowd blocking the view. Far sighted stares can also be obscured by the mirage-like effect of salty eyes, or winded perspective, or cross-eyed effort. All we see ahead is more pain but the hope toward the finish line drives us on, no matter what the road is like.

Prayer for Road Infrastructure

“I will make each of My mountains a road, And My highways shall be elevated.  Surely these shall come from afar; Look! Those from the north and the west…” 35Isaiah 49:11

We are thankful for existing networks of roads and we pray for more roads opened for events, maintenance and safe passage.

Ponder Am I paying attention to road conditions? Affirm I use vertical techniques like the bunny-hop! Watch the surface and pick a safe line if possible, otherwise pray for safety.

33About Hotter ‘n Hell Hundred posted on www.hh100.org

34“News Releases: Alternative Energy Hits the Road. Research at WPI Explores Turning Highways and Parking Lots into Solar Collectors,” posted August 11, 2008 by Worcester Polytechnic Institute, MA www.wpi.edu

35Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Cycling: What’s Hot, What’s Not

Posted in Heat Wave on August 10, 2010 by bethleasure

What’s Hot, What’s Not

28“Two related trends bode well for our sport: More and more races are providing online pre-registration, and more and more races are reaching capacity…”  Chicagobikeracing.com

Hot: Yoga for Cyclists Not: tight, weak muscles

Today consider contemporary cycling crazes.

HOT: Internet information and interaction for rides and races

NOT: Electronics replacing face-time, used for delicate personal discussion or conflict-resolution, and further isolation depite more ways to communicate

HOT: Less elite amateur teams and more low-budget pro teams

NOT: Amateur skills and habits in a pro peloton; not enough mid- to high-level professional teams and programs

HOT: Powermeters, positioning systems, accurate analyses of energy expended for nutritional replenishment

NOT: Replacing pacing strategies by feel or human spirit for robotical prognostication or by targeted data only, and this from me, a power-based training coach

HOT: High intensity work, less long slow distance

NOT: Six hour rides for weekend warriors; likewise neopro advancement with not enough volume

HOT: Criterium series and UCI Tours (U.S.)

NOT: Disappearing stage races/quality events for mid level pros (U.S.)

HOT: Ethics for winning; sense of purpose from participation

NOT: Questionable accountability or testing; winning at all costs

HOT: Strong teams with a number of capable but selfless winners

NOT: Arrogant team leaders who can’t get the job done

HOT: Facts plus faith

NOT: Optimism without realism, discipline, data, or deft counsel

Prayer for Trends & Fads

“An intelligent person is always eager to take in more truth; fools feed on fast-food fads and fancies.” Proverbs 15:14

 

“Young people are prone to foolishness and fads; the cure comes through tough-minded discipline.” 29Proverbs 22:15

We pray for truth in our trends, firepower instead of quick fixes.

Ponder Is my belief system current? Affirm I spot truth in tradition and trends. Watch new ways and remember worthy old ways.

28“Is it necessary to pre-register?” Apr 15, 2008 posted under “Reader Questions” on www.chicagobikeracing.com

29The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Cycling Animals

Posted in Heat Wave on August 6, 2010 by bethleasure

Dog Days

30“It’s great how stealthy bikes are. Animals are often surprised by our sudden appearance…And the stuff of legends this has become…a Nannup Tiger (supposedly extinct… people who claim to have seen one are branded nuts.) It was a very isolated part of the south of Western Australia. We stared at each other until he realised that people were not supposed to see him and trotted off.” Adrian, an Australian, on animal encounters of the bicycle kind

I don't make this stuff up...really.

With all our miles on isolated roads, it will be a bicyclist that discovers 31Bigfoot. Here’s just a North American list of animals encountered while racing or training thus far – other than road-kill of every kind: deer running across, beside, toward me; wild horses and escaped cattle; moose, elk, and antelope; bears yikes!; giant turtles crossing the road together (a flock of turtles?); geese, duck and chicken families; ground hogs, prairie dogs, porcupine (imagine quills in a tire); moles, squirrels and chipmunks escaping spoke entanglement (since squirrels can be so wily, we have to come up with another pejorative for a wobbly cyclist); birds swooping and pooping (Audubon-types would envy this list); bats, bees, moths and other pollinators; mice, rats, minks and raccoons; foxes and coyotes; pissed peacocks and wild turkeys; frogs, toads, tarantulas; snakes, lizards, and armadillos; wildcats and bobcats, mountain lions heard but not seen thankfully!

Housecats seem to get killed by cars but have sense enough to run or duck for bicyclists. Dogs are the most common problem. Not that I dislike dogs, but dogs are unpredictable with bicyclists. There are the yipping, barking, protecting dogs; but there are also chasing, herding, biting dogs, and the worst – crossing dogs. The latter can be deadly for rider and dog. Trouble with these types of deadly dogs is the unpleasant encounters with these types of deadly dog owners, who sometimes delight at their canine quirks. Jerks! In fairness to dog lovers, regularly I hear an owner yell, “Rocky, come” or some other moniker for Fido on the loose toward the female on two wheels. Keep leashing and lowing. We need a clear road even when we like the company.

Prayer re: Animal Interaction

“…bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.” 32Genesis 6:19

We thank You for making creatures of the non-cycling kind. We ask that the procession toward the ark be cancelled when we ride close and for safety of all species and cyclists.

Ponder What is my first response to unsafe animal scenarios? Affirm I realize roads are artificial intersections for animal routes.  Watch – it’s amazing what’s out there!

30“Animal Encounters of the Bicycle Kind,” posted on January 17, 2007 – a response by Adrian www.bikehugger.com. This posting has a few great animal encounter anecdotes on it!

31This is a joke. Just because I believe in God doesn’t mean I believe in everything. Although, I do think that some form of wild ape could exist in North America, and I’m waiting to see it at road-side in the dark woods of Appalachia near my homestead.

32The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Cycling & Heat

Posted in Heat Wave on August 3, 2010 by bethleasure

Some Like it Hot

19“It was a sauna out there.”  Raivis Belohvosciks, Latvian Olympian on Beijing Road Race DNF

It's just a mirage, that's really a bicycle

 

Late summer Latin dominance in hot and humid races is nearly predictable. Northerners take notice, some like it hot. We perform best when our body is not under stress from our surroundings. As an outdoor activity, cycling relies on the good graces of Weather and Terrain. These graces growl during these dog days of summer. The more time spent with under heat stress, and the body adapts. This happens fairly quickly and within 2 weeks, one can expect big changes in blood volume while sweat rates and the efficiency of sweating begin to improve also.

Spending time at altitude or in heat and humidity begins a process of physiological adaptation to those conditions. Pro cyclists travel to training camps or make choices about where to live that simulate these conditions so the power of the graces can be wielded for the initiated and against the unfamiliar. Even a few days of heat exposure prior to an event helps acclimatization, and racing a few events in the heat before a key race tops off intensity. Saunas, heat chambers and other artificial environments assist adaptation.

Before a national event in a humid southern climate, the bike on a trainer in a greenhouse at the hottest part of the day became my training laboratory. Simulating conditions improves 20heat tolerance – coping with dehydration while lowering resting body temperature, perceived exertion, cardio strain and salt losses in sweat. The body sends a message for mineral depletion by increasing the salty residue after hard exercise sessions. This is a chalky white whisper that more salt is needed! Depletion of salt and water and increased core temperature can lead to several heat-related illnesses – from fainting to heat cramps, heatstroke, and potentially life-threatening and brain-searing heat exhaustion. Hydration and salt replacement in hot or humid conditions becomes life-saving not just performance-enhancing. Yet the best enhancement is gradual exertion over time in the targeted environment.

Prayer for Heat Acclimatization

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter,  day and night will never cease.” 21Genesis 8:22

We are glad for promised seasons and aware of unpredictable weather. We ask to acclimatize in predicted hot conditions.

Ponder Am I matching preparation with expectations as it relates to hot and humid events? Affirm I heat up my preparation according to the expected climate of a venue. Watch the thermometer and barometer.

19“Olympics-Cyclists wilt as Beijing competitors feel the heat,” by Francois Thomazeau posted Aug 9, 2008 on www.reuters.com

20High Performance Cycling, by Asker E. Jeukendrup Copyright © 2002 by Human Kinetics Publishers 

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