Archive for April, 2011

Cycling & Contentment

Posted in Seasonal Transitions on April 29, 2011 by bethleasure

Harvest Work

53“My strength was that I am more balanced and calmer than most other riders. I inherited that calm from my father, who was a farmer. You sow, you wait for good or bad weather, you harvest, but working is something you always need to do. The sense for responsibility I have got from my mother.” Miguel Induráin

In all seasons, be content.


Big Mig understood that the responsibility for the work was his but that the result for that work lay in the reliability of Providence.  Sometimes the most productive harvest work is to be content in the waiting for divine blessing and multiplication of our efforts. The growing cycle is considered and harvest time set by quality of the yield and likelihood of weather – an uncontrollable factor. Big Mig modeled a refreshing bravery and daresay, contentment, during competitive uncertainties.

Contentment doesn’t mean we don’t seek. 54If you can dream-and not make dreams your master. We can dream but allow Providential presence to replace despair or discontent in the seeking and in the yield.

Contentment doesn’t mean we don’t need. God shows up in time of need. When a farmer plants the crops, he contends with pestilence that tries to destroy, drought or flood, hard ground. He uses the plow and scythe, and God gives increase or not with rain and sun.

Contentment doesn’t mean inactivity. It means calmness in the work regardless of opposition and unfavorable conditions.

Contentment doesn’t mean settling for second-best. It strives for the first fruits but rejoices over a little cash crop. There is plenty to harvest in cycling: the issue is not enough to be done but not enough to do it.

Contentment with who we are and what we have to offer and with what God brings us uniquely are the keys to harvesting all that’s prosperous in our sport. Work for the harvest in your particular field, seeking the Lord of the harvest to provide fruitful conditions and faithful workers.

Prayer for Contentment

The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him.” Leviticus 3:25

The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” 55Luke 10:2


We confess our doubts in God and in religion. We ask for spiritual eyes to see the spirit of Christ at work in a real way in our lives, our sport, our cycling.          

Ponder the goodness of a faithful God who brings seedtime and harvest. Affirm I expect the best not because I deserve it but because God loves me and rewards belief. Watch for God when you seek Him and for other seekers to come alongside you.

53“Personal Quotes” under “Biography for Miguel Indurain” posted on

54“If” by Rudyard Kipling, published in a collection of poems, Rewards and Fairies in 1909.

55Amplified Bible Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation and The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Women’s Cycling

Posted in What Would Cyclists Do? on April 26, 2011 by bethleasure

Annie Londonderry rode around the world in 1894.

Cyclists Equalize

5“The American woman had many difficult obstacles to overcome in order to cycle, but she was determined to enjoy the benefits men were already achieving. She too, yearned for independence… delights of Nature, and fresh physical activity…Those were adventuresome women!”  Karen Knudsen, Cycling Historian

This statement about the origins of bike riding by women in 19th centuryAmerica may still apply to some aspects of women’s cycling today. Difficult obstacles still exist. When I first began riding, I was made to feel welcome and wanted…mostly. There was exuberant support from some male quarters and excruciating criticism from others.

The biggest source of conflict was my very quick competitiveness in the group rides, and perhaps my satisfied attitude about that. Abilities tend to equalize gender in a group ride. Mostly I was clueless and welcomed advice from big, strong men…well, really skinny bike racers. It was at a women’s clinic run by women where I learned the fundamentals of racing. But it was men who sponsored, supported, coached and equipped me. As a minority in a male-dominated sport this is the reality.

Current 6data shows female participation rates at a mere 12%. Men in the sport have got to support us, just as they must support men. Women in the sport have got to work with men, just as men must work with men. Like a parking lot criterium, you get around this fact quickly developing tough skin as you go to survive. Fortunately, more women in leadership are now working and supporting men and women.

Many are fighting a battle against chauvinism and expressing the issues better than I. For example, a sound 7argument is gaining ground for parity in prize money for top-placed female riders whose full-time race focus is on par with elite male counterparts. We are no less passionate, no less sacrificial, no less dedicated, no less ambitious about cycling. Our lungs and hearts may be smaller but our spirits soar equally on wheels.


Prayer for Women’s Cycling

In Christ’s family there can be no division into…male and female. Among us you are all equal.” 8Galatians 3:27-28


We acknowledge equality doesn’t mean we’re the same. We celebrate our differences! We ask for equal opportunity and blessing on women’s cycling and on the men who love us – even when we out-ride them. We ask blessing on women’s cycling and also on female supporters of cycling men.

Ponder Do I treat female cyclists and female cycling enthusiasts respectfully? Affirm I encourage women in cycling by —. Watch that equality doesn’t mean deleting appropriate distinctions of gender.

5 “American Women Awheel,” by Karen Knudsen The Wheelmen Vol 1, Number 1, Summer 1970 

6American data for female racing licenses as of January, 2008 Women In Cycling Coaches Conferences by USA Cycling, Colorado Springs, CO

7The argument’s logic doesn’t ignore the fact of less female participation rates and therefore a smaller registration fee income for a promoter to draw prize money for elite women. Instead, it advocates parity for the top-placed females on par with male counterparts inferring that those winning and placing are full-time riders also. There would be a cut-off after the top five or so places where prizes would reflect realities of female participation rates. 

8The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Emergency Preparedness

Posted in May-Day on April 22, 2011 by bethleasure

Justin Williams - alive and well

5“I don’t want to stay awake, and my name is Justin not Dustin!”   Justin Williams, Junior National Champion, feisty even while losing consciousness and blood

 As cyclists, chances are high for our involvement in a crisis. We must know basic first aid as its use could save a life. Even my squeamish self had to come through when the situation called for it. As the first responder to a high-speed crash, I leaped over a guardrail to be with Justin Williams. I could see from the cliff above him that blood was gushing out of his leg, and my first thought wasn’t so much in saving his life but in not leaving him alone to suffer. So many riders were down in this crash and Justin’s position so precarious, someone had to get down there and support him.

I called quickly for a towel from the gathering crowd and was handed a white hooded jacket instead. Trembling and faint myself, I wrapped Justin’s thigh and held pressure around it with my hands while calling up the cliff for the emergency people. Instead I became an emergency responder. The bank was wet and so steep I threw off my sandals and dug toes into dirt to keep from sliding. The white hoodie became red, his blood streaming steadily. I was nearly falling and fainting but keeping Justin awake was my focus.

Finally I was joined by real medics, and Justin was airlifted to a hospital. I later learned that his hamstring had detached from the bone and an artery was punctured by the guardrail he’d hit to avoid downed riders in front of him. Time was of the essence, they said, for his blood loss was great and my primitive compression reduced its flow, sparing his life.

I keep those crimson-stained clothes as a reminder that life is in the blood, precious, spilling easily. Blood-soaked hands shook but squeezed to guard a life prolonged through swift actions. Don’t delay to find First Aid classes or to help a person in need.

Prayer for Emergency Preparedness

“I cried like a swift or thrush, I moaned like a mourning dove. My eyes grew weak as I looked to the heavens. I am troubled; O Lord, come to my aid!” 6Isaiah 38:14


We are glad for quick techniques of response in emergencies. We ask foremost for safety in cycling. If circumstances arise, we pray for knowledge of first aid and swift knowledgeable responders.     

Ponder Have I faith enough to cope with any situation? Affirm I am ready for an emergency. Watch for the help of experts and the hand of God in meeting any crisis.

5Conversations with Justin Williams. This incident occurred at the Junior National Championships at Seven Springs Resort,Pennsylvania in 2007. A high-speed crash on a mountainside led to dozens of fallen riders. Thankfully, everyone lived to tell about it.

6The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Cycling & Radio Communication

Posted in May-Day on April 19, 2011 by bethleasure

Give Us A Break

22Radios add an extra tactical layer to what you can do in a race, but I don’t think they profoundly change the excitement of an event…[while they] add a little bit of insurance to your strategies…help to form more cohesive and timely team efforts.”  Kirk Willett, Pro, Team Director

NASCAR spotters influence strategy, safety and sponsorship


When there is an immediate threat to life or property, radio operators use ▪ ▪ ▪ – – – ▪ ▪ ▪ SOS or MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY. BREAK is the term used to interrupt any messages on any frequency for this purpose and all other radio uses cease. Priority is given to the emergency.

Bike racing uses radios to handle emergencies. Most events are run with the use of two-way communication technology. Since big money pays for bandwidth and resells it to the consumer, we are fortunate to have free air space set aside. This is expensive airwave real estate carved up by international treaty for various uses.

Competitive cycling uses either basic citizen band frequencies or mode restricted sub-bands on high frequencies, dual-band amateur radio for marshalling and operations, police and emergency bands, and general mobile bands propagated by small antennas so shorter waves can bounce while moving along at high-speed. Some frequencies require special licensing.

The use of team radios among riders and staff in competition gives intelligence that influences results and potentially alters strategy. This point is what has been brought under scrutiny. A Directeur Sportif who is a brilliant strategist can assist a rider to capitalize on the thinking part of cycling. However, in order to capitalize that rider cannot be a donkey – or lack racehorse ability to act upon the information. Neither can a racehorse with a lobotomy win races. Even WITH a strategy in your ear from a brilliant strategist, a talented rider must also THINK and WATCH and ACT with appropriate timing. Without this strategy in one’s ear, a talented rider must THINK, WATCH, and ACT to win races. Do the radio detractors think that riders, teams and organizations who are less radio-savvy are suddenly going to “be competitive?” Not likely since savoir faire – knowing how – is what makes bike racing so elegantly challenging and beautiful.

Then there’s the issue of safety. Providing information to riders about upcoming course features and directions makes safer racing. That more races are finishing in bigger packs is a reflection of more parity not communication technology. Information about training is wide-spread and no longer held by the elite, for example. Bigger packs may make it more tactical not less. With radio directions, there’s a better chance for a safer ride.

These communication technologies educate everyone, including the spectator. Imagine football without several coaches calling plays from a press box and you have a great retro game, but is that more exciting than now? Television coverage of this has expanded to hearing what players and coaches are saying and provide a richer spectator experience. These technologies make the strategy more available and perhaps more interesting to our audience. Without the audience, no one is going to be talking about or within sponsored cycling; it will be retro.

Prayer for Radio Communications

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.” 23Proverbs 19:20


We are glad that part of the excitement of sport is in appreciating its key grooves by its successful movers and shakers. We ask for continual discretion and developments in the use of communication devices. We ask for more dialogue about radio talk between governing authorities and end-users.

Ponder What are the insights I’ve learned from radio transmissions? Affirm I use instinct and information to act decisively. Watch and listen to the races to gain strategic insight and clarity about teamwork.

22“Kirk Willett Weighs in on the Use of Radios in Cycling,” Toyota Life. Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team. Pro News. July, 2007

23The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Dutch Cycling

Posted in Spring Classics on April 15, 2011 by bethleasure

Gezwind Straat           Fleet Street

31“You must be at the front and attend, attend, attend!!!”                Harry van der Horst, Dutch Coach

Dutch women are among the fastest in the world


Amazing Dutch 32facts:

  • Bikes are the main means of transport in The Netherlands.
  • Cars yield to bicycles – it’s the law!
  • A first-time visiting cyclist could without any instrumentation and with precision log daily mileage. Distance signs dot every route.
  • Races start fast, stay fast, end fast.
  • Pro races can go single file into a headwind at 65kph…sustained!!
  • Possible to be dropped in the first lap in a Dutch Kriterium.
  • Probable to be dropped if not near the front when a race starts sheltered in town and heads to open country in a Dutch Klassik.
  • Everything you heard about Dutch echelon superiority in wind – true.
  • Six-hour ride likely: 4 hours heading west and 2 hours returning east.
  • Possible to be safely motorpaced by a random stranger on a scooter.
  • Training rides with upwards of 100 sprinting for signs, marshaled by coaches on bikes with whistles.
  • Training, racing over time with no elevation change except “speed bumps” (called dijks) produce speed endurance never before imagined.
  • After 6 months of Dutch racing, one’s climbing improves (ponder it.)
  • Riders corner through a <90° turn seven abreast on wet cobblestones at 50kph without crashing.
  • Laatste Ronde, translation – Final Lap- my favorite Dutch words.
  • Today’s read is like a Dutch race – quick! See ya…tot ziens!


Prayer for Dutch Cycling

“Hasten, O God, to save me; O LORD, come quickly to help me!” 33Psalm 70:1


We are thankful for excellence in the skills and types of fitness specific to bike racing; and for skilled and able examples. We confess we sometimes envy others for their strengths, especially if ours lack. We pray for perseverance necessary to do the work which brings top end speed and ask blessing upon Dutch cycling.

Ponder Is there anyone I envy and why? Affirm I find a way to emulate and attain, rather than covet. Watch for an excellent way to get to the point, achieve the bottom line.

31As a holder of a Dutch racing license, I was assigned to a coaching area in 1995. Fortunately, I resided on the Belgian border inRoosendaal,Brabant, theterritory of Harry van der Horst, who worked with Dutch National women’s teams various years. For six patient months, he tried to explain to me, as best he could, how important it was that I not miss the winning move. It took that long to get the speed, the timing, and the awareness to be in the winning break! These breaks usually went right from the gun but knowing this didn’t make it much easier.

32Some of these facts can be substantiated. Others are deducted from personal suffering, and therefore are more like fun-facts according to my wonderful experiences racing in this extraordinary land. Competition was high-quality: Ingrid Haringa, called the Fastest Woman in the World at the time, and Leontien Van Moorsel to name a few. Dutch women’s technical ability at speed was impressive; many started racing as children. It IS possible to improve climbing ability on the flats – speed endurance is gained through effort to pedal against wind on flats, and not getting relief from downhills or breaks in speed caused by undulation. Top that with a block of uphill work during a mountain camp and see how well you climb with speed!

33The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Rain Skills

Posted in Spring Classics on April 12, 2011 by bethleasure

April Showers

29“It’s a crash. That’s part of bike racing. It doesn’t make me lose morale or become upset.” Frank Schleck, Pro Cyclist, on sliding out on wet roads

Now that's aerodynamic!


With legs polished on the flint of the cobbles, it’s on to the other classics to power climb and position aggressively through the next phase of challenging one-days. The possibility of rain, sleet or snow may still characterize these races.

For some, rain offers showers of blessing. In the amateur ranks, often an early breakaway succeeds due to precipitation, since the pack may be unwilling to risk corners en masse. Often there’s a few who enjoy an advantage as fearless in any weather and capitalize on timidity or self-preservation of tentative competitors.

In an experienced field, there’s little difference in speed from dry days. Hesitancy seems to cause crashes more than slippery surfaces. In one wet memorable criterium championship, so many free laps were given for crashes, every rider on the podium had skipped multiple laps, and the entire peloton had gone down at one time or another. It became a game to slide into the wheel pit.

Some equipment precautions can ensure more comfortable rain riding, such as tire type and pressure, special brake pads, and fenders for commuters. Clothing choice is critical to staying warm even if soaked to the bone. A bigger challenge may be lack of visibility from rain above and splash, road debris, even grit from wheels ahead. Some prefer glasses treated with water repellant; others choose a cycling cap as the brim acts like a fender. Often it’s a matter of feel when temporarily unable to see ahead.

Successful rain riding is a mindset as well as a skill set. Textbook cornering in rain is to counter-steer on the inside with the widest line possible cutting a broad arc across the apex. In this way, no one slides you out because you take the inside line. For confidence on race day, utilize skill gained from ‘cross or slippery grass work and stay positive – turning what is just another challenging factor into a performance blessing.

Prayer for Rain Skills

“I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.” 30Ezekiel 34:26 

We are thankful for rain that makes things grow. We confess our spiritual drought from seeking eternal blessings. In this season, we wish the blessings of the rain and knowledge about how to enjoy it on a bike.                              

Ponder Have I practiced and refined those situations that make me uncomfortable? Affirm I learn to navigate gravity with less traction but more resistance. Watch and foster good morale in rainy and wet conditions.

29“Schleck OK after Crash,” Team CSC Highlights April 8, 2008 Team CSC Blog

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

Safety in the Caravan

Posted in March Madness on April 8, 2011 by bethleasure

Road Rage

30“He ended up chasing through the 40+ car caravan and was careened into a ditch by one of the follow cars!” Mike Barton, Cyclist, describing a teammate’s chase in the race caravan

Draft yes but also Danger

Chasing back through the caravan can be like a respite with a motorpaced escort or like the worst road rage clash: cars on impact with riders, between caravan drivers, with a moto, and on and on. The screech and shatter of these incidents can be terrifying. There are some precautions but there are also uncontrollable variables so it ultimately becomes an exercise of faith as well as following rules.

The biggest warning is too often riders chase back opposite of the driver’s side in the caravan. The driver is concerned about safety but also strategy and is juggling more than a soccer mom on a cell phone with a van full of kids. A caravan driver usually has at least two radio systems, time pieces/technology/results/rosters/route to study and other tasks like feeding. Add press coverage to this mix, and it’s a multi-tasking nightmare driving in the caravan.

Make it easier for the drivers to see you by riding on their side – as is often the rule. You don’t get both sides of the caravan for a bike lane! As a rider, chase back on defensively. Allow yourself an out that escapes cliffs, ditches, guardrails, other cars. As a driver, flash headlights or beep the horn if that’s the appropriate signaling etiquette in the caravan. The average speed of the peloton is often lower than a some of the driving in the race caravan. The cars snake through switchbacks downhill at speeds that would make F1 drivers envious. They catch air chasing back after fixing a rider’s flat or nature breaks.

Most drivers are cautious as well as quick, but like an efficient racer, try to keep a tight caravan so that a chasing rider doesn’t have to bridge gaps between vehicles. My impression is that it’s more dangerous in the caravan than the peloton and it is often sheer madness. Many dangerous accidents have occurred between riders and cars as a result. Beware!

Prayer for Caravan Safety

“Caravans turn aside from their routes…”31Job 6:18


We are grateful for intra-race support, knowing that a willing helper follows behind our race. We confess we take safety for granted when focused on catching back. We pray for riders and drivers to have eyes to see and ears to hear, for all to stay on course, and for safety in the caravan.

Ponder Can I practice awareness under pressure? Affirm I can make safety as much of a priority as performance. Watch the road and ALL its occupants: riders, drivers, cars, motos, fans.


30“FBD Insurance Ras – Stage 2 – Emyvale to Tubbercurry,” by Mike Barton from Mike Barton’s Race Diary—53rd FBD Insurance RÁS—Tour of Ireland, News 2005

31The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Jet Setter Cyclists

Posted in In Like A Lamb on April 5, 2011 by bethleasure

Counting Sheep

9“Twelve hours mate? That’s nothing.”  Stuart O’Grady on jet lag, after great rides at Tour of California then Het Volk in the same week, followed up by a Classics win

More than one way to dodge sheep


Our Australian brethren know a bit about long hours of travel and adjusting to a new time zone in order to race around the global village. After all there are a lot of sheep on ranches down under – plenty to count as one drifts off to sleep on a transcontinental flight.

Any jet setter knows that racing upon arrival in faraway destinations presents a performance challenge. The body clock must shift sleep management and digestion. Conventional wisdom is to take one day of adjustment for every time zone, but this and other myths are busted. So let’s break the sheep out of the corral to roam to and fro with some 10new information.

Transitions can occur smoothly to be race ready within 48 hours. The most important consideration is the sun at the destination point. Research shows that the reason is it’s easier to fly west than east is because upon arrival in the west, the day ends; while upon arriving east, the day begins, depending on flight schedules. Create a sleep adjustment schedule so you can track the sun where you’re going. Base your in-flight sleep on local destination times remembering that where you end your flight is the new rhythm, so sleep or wake accordingly. If traveling to the West, stay awake during the flight to sleep upon arrival. Plan some activities for the trip and include an occasional walk/stretch down the aisles. If heading east, sleep for duration after the first meal upon take-off and stay awake for the day upon arrival. Use ergogenic aids free of banned substances to aid staying awake, such as coffee or tea per your comfort level. To aid sleeping on a plane, use a night-time over-the- counter pain reliever as a sleep aid but make sure it does not contain any banned substances. Sleeping pills and melatonin are not recommended.

There are other musts for productive plane time. All that sitting slows digestion so eat small snacks and roughage to aid digestion. Compression hose reduces leg swelling that causes sluggishness or peripheral edema, fluid build-up from a pressurized flight.

As discussed, the sun is the most important consideration in reducing jet lag. Bright light exposure is the most potent force to re-set your body clock. Upon arrival heading east, choose the brightest part of the day to exercise with a vigorous stroll. Notice the local breed of sheep – but no need to count!

Prayer for Time Adjustment/Jet Lag

“Preserve sound judgment and discernment…when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”  11Proverbs 3:21, 24

We give thanks that the sun overcomes darkness every day like a champion crossing the finish line. We pray for readjusted sleep patterns when traveling abroad.

Ponder Flight sleep/wake schedules to track with the arrival time zone. Affirm I look at plane time as training time either for sleep or for staying awake. Watch the sun’s pattern in the new time zone and act accordingly upon arrival.

9“Will Jet-Lag Tempt Boonen to Skip Het Volk?” Monday 25th February 2008 – Lionel Birnie 

10“Jet Lag: What To Do Before, During and After Your Flight,” a webinar by Randall L. Wilber, PhD, FACSM, Human Performance Lab, US Olympic Committee as presented on April 24, 2008 by USA Cycling Science & Education. Randy’s favorite in-flight foods are dark chocolate, warm milk, and apples.

11The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Anyone Can Race a Grand Tour

Posted in April Fool's on April 1, 2011 by bethleasure

Anyone Can Race a Grand Tour

1“…anything that undermines the image of cycling or the Vuelta…”  Victor Cordero, Unipublic, Organizer of Vuelta a España, on team exclusion if caught doing “anything stupid”

Live true every day

April Fools! If it weren’t a prank of the day and anyone could race any event just from desire, cycling’s standard of excellence would have little value. So the Grand Tours have exclusive entry. Basing these decisions not just on objective ranking or competitiveness by class raises criticism and alarm by others who wish to decide who races what. Governing bodies are in dispute over jurisdiction to determine race entry. Teams have been excluded based on arbitrary factors, such as the probability of wrong doing and public image.

The argument is that a leopard doesn’t change its spots and neither does a team change its culture if it hires a new squad but retains staff with a similar mode of operation. Calling something new doesn’t mean methods changed. The same ol’, same ol’ is an offender caught but without admission of wrong-doing who then affiliates with others who display seemingly no sorrow for guilt by association. The affiliations and actions of a fool give away a cheating heart. These hardened tend not to admit guilt publicly preferring to spin a slick, but dishonest public relations message, and avoid being vocal about reparations and cleaner operations. They certainly never enter the fight against bad behavior.

There’s a difference between hardmen who win hard races and the hard-hearted who try to win at all costs. Redemption is nigh for someone caught who confesses and repents. The truly strong have soft hearts that confess mistakes and renewed determination to do right.

The peloton is a bit more sophisticated than to be fooled by the same product in different packaging. Look beyond the jersey into the heart to see a little deeper. There’s a reason not anyone can race a Grand Tour.

Prayer for Public Relations

“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” 2Proverbs 13:20

We are glad that wisdom rubs off and that foolishness can be unlearned. We confess we are so foolish for public admiration we ignore the true means for getting it. We pray for genuinely positive relations with the public not from spinning half-wheeled truths but because of wise living.

Ponder Do I know what’s really going on? Do I notice what is not going on? Affirm I practice good PR in pace with the wise. Watch how others do what they do before deciding to join forces with them.

1“Cordero warns Astana not to do anything stupid,” First Edition Cycling News, March 28, 2008 Edited by Laura Weislo with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

2The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society