Archive for November, 2010

Prayer for Bike Shops and Mechanics

Posted in Winter Homework on November 30, 2010 by bethleasure

General Store

15“I love my job…part motivational speaker…father… psychologist… Through it all, I still like bikes.”  Chris Militello, Bike Shop Manager 

Chris Militello, one of the good guys...


You may remember from Cycling Community week, that we prayed for bicycle mechanics. Race mechanics are a different breed from shop mechanics, although there are some who work both scenes. Of course, pro racers rely more heavily on the race wrench.

For most, the main velo care-giver is the shop mechanic. In this way, a race mechanic is the ambulance for the bike and the shop mechanic is its primary doctor. Sometimes a shop wrench is the racer’s home-based psychologist also; and since a great fit makes you one with your bike, two get the treatment for the price of one.

Whether pro or amateur, it is here that a cyclist’s experience and bike repair is make or break, well fix really. It’s a base of stable support, consistent service, and customer-orientation. Talking shop at the shop is part of riding culture. We walk away from the world into the store’s safe haven like children running home from school. We greet Mama, grab a snack, and gaze with wonder at the toy closet asking can Papa fix my…? And Papa usually does.

The local shop is a cyclist’s general store- goods, gab and gizmos. A few really good bike shops are enough to convince anyone to thank God for these cottage industrialists, whose exemplary service is legendary. Stories like: on-the-road bike transport gone awry and a store manager lends name-any-bike-part for the harried traveler; owners adopt aspiring racers who live in their basements and provide them work whenever in town; patient listeners as weekend warrior recounts ride details, feet propped on an un-trued wheel drinking shop joe; provisions arranged for rare equipment, housing, sponsorships, rides, relationships. As if you need a reason to hang with your village peddler, it’s time for your bike’s annual overhaul.

Prayer for Bike Maintenance, Shops

“Then you see how every student well-trained in God’s kingdom is like the owner of a general store who can put his hands on anything you need, old or new, exactly when you need it.” 16Matthew 13:52

We are thankful for cycling’s merchants and traders, and all those choices in cool cycling toys. We confess we sometimes take these folks for granted; many live on margin. We ask blessing on bike shops everywhere.


Ponder Is it time to get-give at a shop visit? Affirm I can be part of shop culture, supporting mom & pop even if fully sponsored. Watch trends throughout cycling civilization show up at your bike mart.

15quoted on shop’s website under “Meet our Staff.” Chris Militello often goes the extra mile for a rider. He’s a swell guy. Now he owns his own shop

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

Biomechanics & Positioning

Posted in Firm Foundation on November 23, 2010 by bethleasure

Body Geometry

12“Make the bike fit the body, don’t make the body fit the bike. It is not what the bike looks like leaning against the garage wall, it is how it functions under the rider!” Andy Pruitt, Positioning guru


More biomechanical research, please

Another off-season task is to test and tweak bike position. As you either re-establish your body for biomechanical functionality into next season or set up new equipment, now is a great time for a proper fit. Whether last season brought twinges or injury or the off-season aided postural corrections and rebalancing, it’s important to be mindful that dynamic physical developments require periodic bike adjustment. A new fit is best manipulated and adapted in this low intensity phase.


There are several methods for proper fit, such as taking 13measurements like the distance from saddle height to cranks, noting weight distribution fore to aft, and side-view leg angles. The best bike fitters assess a rider off the bike first, analyzing both static and dynamic posture, functional strength, and kinetic chain alignment. Next the fit moves to the bike with both static and in-motion analysis and measurements, also noting anterior view pedal stroke and aerodynamics.


It’s a privilege to have an experienced fitter’s eye evaluate you on a ride determining if variable terrain, cadence and effort affect the union of bike and body. Twice I’ve had major position changes with corresponding rehab: once from crash impact and another from improper frame size. Seeking expert advice saved me in the short-term.


Frequent fine-tuning of bike position was driven in the long-term by an acute kinesthetic awareness of changes caused by fitness gains, or muscular rebalance or better flexibility. 14This sensitivity and its ongoing adjustment “in the field” are keys for biomechanical longevity. One trip for fit is only a prologue for a bike’s seamless match with the body.


Prayer for Biomechanics

“I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line.” 15Isaiah 28:17


We are thankful for the burgeoning research in cycling-specific biomechanics, bike geometry, and orthopedics. We recognize we sometimes must reprogram neuromuscular pathways for better bike posture. We ask for kinesthetic awareness. Bless position specialists, bring funding to cycling-specific biomechanical research.


Ponder When was my last fit and has anything changed since? Affirm I can move my bike for better biomechanics. Watch how position changes affect oxygen uptake in the short and long-term.


12“Body Geometry: Bicycle Fitting Seminar,” presented at USA Cycling Summit in Colorado Springs, Colorado, October, 2006 by Andrew Pruitt, Ed.D. founder of Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. Andy is remarkable not only for the expansive scope of his influence and expertise on positioning, but for his personal experiences in winning the disabled rider World Championships.

13Many schools of thought propose one particular standard. It’s best to take all these measurements and others as well. For instance, an old school method of heels on pedals – checks saddle height for many reasons. Newer procedures include more detailed analysis of body in motion multi-dimensionally, but there needs to be more field studies specific to elite cycling.

14Field adjustments mean regularly evaluating one’s own physical metamorphosis as a season progresses, seeking regular expert advice and appraisal, and readjusting for a host of variable considerations. It’s a science that becomes an art form.

15The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Check-ups and Medical Tests

Posted in Firm Foundation on November 19, 2010 by bethleasure

Bloody Good Show

3“I noticed my cycling getting slower and slower. I thought I was tired from all the early season long rides…Well, something else was happening…I was just in for a routine checkup, with blood work, and found out that I had iron deficiency anemia.”   Bicycling Long Distance forum 

Electrodes, wires, and more information

Apart from the brouhaha regarding regular testing for anti-doping compliance, other types of testing are important for elite and recreational cyclists. Off-season is a good time for an annual medical examination to determine your physical vibrancy and establish a benchmark to monitor throughout the year.

Blood tests can: indicate cholesterol and pressure, vitamin and mineral sufficiency, hematocrit levels; determine vulnerability to infection; and assess status of many organ systems. A separate heart exam should be included in your checklist.

4While the health benefits of exercise are clear, there are risk factors for a cardiac event during and immediately post-exercise, including Sudden Death Syndrome. SDS factors may be detected even in young healthy athletes, and it’s worth budgeting for this test.

Breathing tests can be performed to evaluate lung function as a basis for determining Exercise-Induced Asthma. Special prescriptive exceptions, known as Therapeutic Use Exemptions, for certain medical-related conditions can be obtained from WADA; some must be doctor-referred and filed well in advance of possible anti-doping testing.

Give yourself time for this process and any needed treatment during this phase of volume prior to intense work. Off-season is also a good time to establish baselines in body composition: fat loss, lean mass,  bone density – best performed in a lab. From anemia to zetacrit, head into the holidays with 4bDecember’s diagnostics.


Prayer for Health Check-Ups

 “For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life.” 5Leviticus 17:14

We are thankful for wellness. We confess we sometimes over-emphasize physiology and ignore the physical condition of our bodies. We ask for guidance and provision for proper health maintenance and ask blessing on testing labs and treatments.


Ponder Do I know my specific physical condition? Am I physically ready for a new training year? Affirm I can endure the pricks and pokes and lab time necessary to be cleared for exercise stress. Watch results from medical exams to gain greater physical awareness that in turn, increases cycling-specific training & performance knowledge.

3“I’m Anemic, No Wonder I Got So Slow,” posted by kg on 10 February 2007 Bicycling Magazine Forums→Bicycling Forums→Bicycling’s Long Distance Forum

4“Sudden Death in Athletes,” webinar by USA Cycling Science & Education department as presented by Dr. John Vitarello on 11/8/07

4bCertain deadlines exist that should be planned in other months. For instance, UCI currently requires 6 months of medical testing associated with the biological passport prior to participation in a Pro Tour event. Sponsor deadlines are related to financial year decision-makings. There are many other deadlines to consider throughout the year.

5The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Prayer for Mountain Bike Community

Posted in Cross Training on November 16, 2010 by bethleasure

High Tail It

59“…interactions I had in the woods…first question, ‘You guys from around here?’ I wish the first questions would be, ‘Do you pick up trash on the trail…treat others in a respectful manner…treat the woods with respect…cause an excessive amount of noise or disruption?’ … instead of ‘are you from here.’” Gooneyriders Blog

Mountainbike Bliss

Woods beckon. Whistling trees sing welcoming tunes, and mystic trail whispers invitations. We respond with yearning to go up. Some dwell where soft-edge ambles into a forest; others must commute for off-road riding. In Boulder, there’s the 60Ned Bus – a commute for mountain bikers to a Rocky Mountain village. It shuttles the concrete front rangers with their hard-earned hard tails to almost heaven. The terrain itself can work ya, but mindful of an awaiting vista, which includes myriads of meadows wildflowered or snow-packed, drives you on.

Whether your tastes run from is-there-anything-this-steep to secret singletrack, there’s adventure in every ride. Even an urban trail provides opportunity to escape la vie quotidienne, routine daily life. The surroundings quietly speak but the bike answers vigorously: come back victorious or come back on your shield! Nature’s nobility awes you into your rightful place – master of the dominion comes but through sweat in delightfully toilsome spin. I leave adversity in this place seeking it only from myself, the elements. Hallowed ground and hard-earned heights assist in transcendent escape.

Similarly, some off-road flats evoke this sentiment. 61C&O Canal rides, winding along Potomac River paths meant for mules towing cargo, awaken a magical muse. Whitewater harmonizes in the all-terrain choir, more pianissimo, gentle background music accompanies clanging cranks. One can be carefree and above all in this calm when the bike plays its off-road tunes.

Prayer for Mountain Bike Community

“…Oh, I’ll make you ride high and soar above it all…” 62Isaiah 58:14


We are thankful that natural beauty can be enjoyed by bicycle. We confess we are too loud, too busy, too hemmed in at times. We pray for mountain biking moments: where new ideas resound and ask blessing on our friends focused mainly on the trail.

Ponder Is there any cognitive area where I need a single-track perspective? Affirm I can take ancient paths and seek roads less traveled. Watch for renewed vision, other dimensions, unexpected solutions.

 59Comments by Eszter, Gooneyriders blogspot, 12/3/2007

60Regional bus route from Boulder to Nederland at Experiencing the Boulder cycling scene is par for the course for an American bicyclist, in my opinion. Riding to Nederland by road is pretty darn exhilarating too.

61This historic trail is used by bikes, runners, dog-lovers, hikers, horses, and wild animals, yet is amazingly solitary in western sections. It runs from Georgetown in northwest Washington, DC to Cumberland, Maryland. See and for more information.

62The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Track Racing

Posted in Cross Training on November 12, 2010 by bethleasure

Beyond the Blue Line

63“I’ve been waiting for this since 1985 when the snow brought down the roof of the Vigorelli Velodrome.” Francesco Moser on track installation in Milan, 2007

Moser was famous for an effortless pedal stroke

Snow is not all that brings down the house during winter track season. The festival atmosphere of 6-Day’s is legendary. From late night affairs at indoor velodromes in Europe to 64“winter” carnival racing in warm season Down Under, the oval comes into world focus. Precious as the opportunity is in many places to engage in track racing due to inaccessibility to velodromes, today we dwell trackside.

Track racing is another area of specialization that sees cross-over in cold months by road racers, when the track world competes in premier events. Time trialists and speed specialists, able to concentrate on short work, heighten their abilities. With multiple race opportunities per event, competitive skills can be learned in compact time. Viewers can learn about the sport easily by watching action on the entire course while listening to a clearly announced event. It is a crowd pleasing way to experience the key motions of world class athletes within a Madison’s throwing distance.

Cycling’s technological advances often are innovations first used in the velodrome. Anyone can simulate some of the benefits beyond the blue line of the track by riding a fixed gear this time of year. With each fixed revolution, one enters spinning nirvana. Experience the top-end rpm’s of the track spinmeisters via a steep downhill on the fixie. Simulate that for your base period, and see how those first bites of speedy springtime buffering in the quads are minimized to feel like familiar nips.

Prayer for Track Racing

“The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.” 65Ecclesiastes 1:6


We are thankful for fixed gear fever and full view velodrome action. We confess we sometimes prefer linear coasting to roundabout repetition. We pray for determination to dig deep for improvement and for our focused friends in track cycling.

Ponder Can I improve my spin and speed? Who can help me learn about fixed gear riding or track racing? Affirm I can spin faster, think quicker, see more. Watch that winter of speed homework help you pass summer’s final exams on the road.

63“Milan Bike Show Velodrome,” Angelo Garcia quoting Francesco Moser 11/1/07 www.italiancyclingjournal.blogspot Francesco Moser was a great track rider: world pursuit champion-1976, world hour record-1984. He was also a great road racer winning the World Championships, Paris-Roubaix and Giro d’Italia among other races.

64“Night Flying,” by Arnold Devlin and Eugene Vandal/Thunder Bay Cycling Club, 2007 Gent 6 Day- Day 5,

65The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Strength & Flexibility for Cyclists

Posted in Cross Training on November 9, 2010 by bethleasure

Powerhouses, Poses, & Posture

66“I did Pilates three times a week…and started riding on the road and lifting weights. I am still riding off road on the mountain bike, as well as my new Colnago cross bike.”  Levi Leipheimer on his injury rehab by improving alignment, muscle strength, and “horrible” posture

Talk about opening up the hip flexors...


A powerhouse time trialist like Levi takes a multidisciplinary approach to total body conditioning. It’s his fulltime focus as one of the world’s best pros. Many cyclists use Pilates and other forms of functional strength training 67“to restore postural alignment, shift the spine back into position, open up the chest, ease and prevent back pain and relieve the tension caused by sitting for long periods in a mechanically unsound position.”

It’s true our noble chariots are hard on the body’s biomechanics. Cycling practitioners of the Pilates method, which emphasizes core strength from one’s “powerhouse” musculature, suggest reversing this through 68“exercises specifically for cyclists because of their emphasis on balanced overall strength and flexibility as well as their ability to help develop underused muscles.”

For functional strength to meet cycling’s sustained intensity, 69yoga is also an incredible counterbalance for core strength, flexibility and relaxation. We must work our cycling bodies in tandem with at least one of these 70functional and flexible practices; beginning in the off-season is best.

Prayer for Strength & Flexibility Conditioning

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest…for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.” 71Hebrews 12:11-12


We are thankful for conditioning experts and anatomical options. We confess the same diligence we put into our legs is sometimes lacking for our lumbar. We pray for increased body strength and flexibility.

Ponder Is there any twinge, pain or tightness I’m ignoring? Affirm I can strengthen my cycling from the core. Watch how increased strength improves climbing and/or sprinting, and how greater flexibility improves aerodynamic considerations.

66“Levi Leipheimer Interview: Living up to Potential,” by Chris Henry 2002,

67“Cycling,” section on

The Pilates Method or Contrology was formulated by Joseph Pilates. Pilates called the core all the muscles between the elbows and knees and the spine’s primary stabilizer, transversus abdominus, the “powerhouse.” Most athletes must be taught to properly use this muscle by drawing in rather than protruding the stomach during core work. Known to be 50 years ahead of his time for proclaiming the benefits of functional strength conditioning, he authored Return to Life through Contrology (published by Pilates & Miller) in 1945. Friends who practiced with pure Joe knew of his incredible health and fitness well into his 80’s.

68“Pilates for Cyclists: Core Exercises to Make You Stronger on the Bike,” by David Fiedler,

69Cycling-specific yoga or yoga for endurance athletes has developed in many studios in recent years, and a wide variety of media exists for your research. It’s my belief that all cyclists should practice key yoga poses to stretch quads, hip flexors, hamstrings, and neck and strengthen glutes, mid-back, and triceps.

70National Academy of Sports Medicine and the Egoscue Method are two other recommended methods for strength and flexibility conditioning.

 71The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


Posted in Uncategorized on November 5, 2010 by bethleasure

Bearing One’s Cross

56“I crashed when my wheel washed out, like was happening to a lot of people. I didn’t think that I would be coming back. I hit a post pretty hard, knocked my helmet off and bent my bars. I figured that was it, but I just got myself up, straightened my bars and got going.” Daniel Summerhill, Junior Medalist 2007 Ciclocross Worlds  

Not Golgotha, but still a real hill

Though completely worthy of specialization, cyclo-cross is solid training in the long months between resting and racing. Like steeplechase on a bike, it is arguably the hardest racing of all, combining maximum steady state and anaerobic systems with technical skill, timing, control, running, riding, leaping, carrying. Its unforgiving conditions and spectacularly tricky courses are reminiscent of childhood’s hard and tough outdoor play in winter after school or on snow days.

Relentless weather, uneven footing, laughing at and taking ourselves seriously all at the same time, pushing, shoving, sliding – it’s a cyclist’s toboggan outing, and hot chocolate is even served under a tent. In what other cycling discipline is the winner photographed best, completely covered in whatever encrusted the earth that day? Here’s a description pre-race from a national championship that details cold and camaraderie characteristic of this form of crucifixion:

57“Walked most of the course in 12 [F] degrees and snowing—like a small ridged glacier with ruts all over from the previous day’s mud…I watched some…go down in a corner—comforting!  I got a number 6 call-up. Then we waited around in 15-17° and snow with wind. I had hand warmers in my gloves…. We stood waiting, shivering and…tried to shield…from the wind with a rain jacket.”


Prayer for Cyclo-Cross Activity

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’” 58Matthew 16:24-25


We are thankful that a winter version of summer cycling exists. We confess we too often choose comfort and ease when sacrifice is the only way. We pray for our heroic friends in cyclo-cross and ask blessing upon them as examples of hardship endured.

Ponder Is there anything I’m avoiding because it’s outside my comfort zone? Affirm I can withstand tough circumstances. I can bear my cross with others alongside. Watch the losses of sacrifice add up to unimaginable gains.

56“Worlds Cyclocross Photos and Comments,” 1/30/07 by Staff with Andy Lee, USA Cycling credited on

57Conversations with Loren Hettinger about 2007 US National Cyclo-Cross Championships in Kansas City, Missouri. Loren is a well-liked masters roadie and crosser. He was pulled after a crash in this race, hence the sarcasm.

58The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers

Cross-Training: Building Confidence

Posted in Cross Training on November 2, 2010 by bethleasure

Confidence Builders

54“After it snowed, I just skied and the form was good…I was out for two to four hours of skiing…I rode my bike a half-hour on the rollers and skied every day.” Jason McCartney, Pro Cyclist on his preferred cross-training activity

Heiden was a daunting competitor in cycling and speed skating


Cross-country skiing and speed skating are legendary as both supplementary training and as a reservoir for cycling talent. After a suitable rest period, most serious racers engage in some form of cross-training.

Cycling has many benefits but is also limited to one plane – straight ahead, unilateral movement – mostly legs, in forward flexion. Typical cycling posture produces a profile with rounded shoulders, turtle-like forward head, and ski jumper-like posture with weight over our toes from our overdeveloped hip flexors. It’s important to train in ways that change this profile, using the total body bilaterally in multiplanar motion. Mixing up training to stretch an overly developed front body against an overstretched and underdeveloped back body is essential. Plus it’s great for one’s sense of confidence to have total body awareness and functional strength.

It’s best to choose an activity that will enhance cycling fitness and psychology. Some pro riders will choose a team ski trip or adventure activity like ice camping to build unity that requires trust in intense circumstances. Others choose to escape winter by taking a scuba diving vacation. One faced a life-long fear of water and took swimming lessons. After learning so well she could lap swim, her confidence in herself translated to ability to target cycling skills that were daunting to her before.

A California rider decided to surf in the off-season, another plays “winter” soccer.  Surfing improves balance and forces movement in extension in all directions. Soccer works anaerobic capacity, sensory perception, and emphasizes team roles. Basketball, Ultimate Frisbee leagues, fall 5k runs, squash – whatever the sport, enjoy it! You’ll be back on the bike soon enough.

Prayer for Cross-Training

“… I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” 55Psalm 139:14

We are thankful for a variety of recreational activities and the incredible bodies to pursue them. We confess we can be one-dimensional cyclists. We pray for more choice for off-season fitness variety.


Ponder Which activity should I choose and for which results? Affirm I can become proficient in another sport. Watch cycling benefit.


54“Interview: Jason McCartney, Discovery,” 16 April 2007

55Holy Bible, King James Version, public domain