Archive for May, 2011

Military Riders

Posted in In Memoriam on May 30, 2011 by bethleasure

Memorial Day

44“I hate the ego sh*t associated with cycling. To me, it’s not a hard sport-there’s guys out there fighting wars!!” Ken Young, Armed Forces Team, 1st Cyclist to win Marine Corps Athlete of the Year


Thanks for your service on and off the bike!

Some fight in bike races, some fight wars on bikes. Brigades carrying 45folding bikes that suit the sturdy portability and stealth of a paratrooper cover distances quickly and quietly during warfare. The history of bicycle use in battle began in 46Europe in the 19th Century.


In nations that require a term of conscription, some cyclists are able to race as members of pro teams if they fulfill light military duty and compete at Military Worlds. Some of the toughest 49stars in the pro peloton utilize this military representation as part of elite development.


Military riders are represented in U.S. collegiate cycling through teams from West Point-Army, Air Force Academy, and the Naval Academy. Military involvement in cycling also includes an important contribution to competition through 47Armed Forces teams. All-stars are chosen from any branch. These athletes are expected to represent their nations at 48World Military Games. While competing fiercely on their bikes, many of these future soldiers learn a little something to remember about tactical warfare.


To remember those who served any branch of the armed forces, Memorial Day is celebrated in many countries. America’s oldest continuous race, 50Tour of Somerville, is the dominant event that marks this holiday. Flags drape over porches of homes lining the course, and the race is a parade that pays tribute to traditional battle in speed and skill. It blasts near the 51Bicycle Hall of Fame where cycling’s heroes are honored. Today let’s remember to fight the good fight so we can be memorialized with honor.


Prayer for Military Riders

“Good people are remembered long after they are gone, but the wicked are soon forgotten.”  52Proverbs 10:7


We are thankful for permanent honors. We confess holding on to belief that leads to valiant acts seems too hard at times. We pray for chances to be worthy and ask blessing upon military cycling.


Ponder Who will care to read my headstone and offer a eulogy of tribute? Affirm I want to leave a praiseworthy legacy. Watch and leave fresh flowers of faithful goodness to ensure your life leaves a fragrance worth missing.



44Conversations with Ken Young. When not pedaling, part of Ken’s service is undertaken at the Pentagon. He has a wicked sprint and can be seen tearing off the legs of the “enemy” at regional races but still manages to smile and be friendly.

Thanks also to George Gannoung for input on this topic, US Coast Guard. George is a 6-time Armed Forces Team member and 3-time World Military Games participant.

45Montague is the world’s leader of full size bikes that fold. Interesting website

46“Bike Mobility: Bicycles as Alternative Modes of Transportation,” by Light Dragoon on

47Info on America’s Armed Forces team at

48Info on World Military Games

49Jens Voigt and Janez Brajkovic to name a few.

50Tour of Somerville

51Recently, new sites have been proposed for the facility historically housed inSomerville,New Jersey. By time of publication, a new home for the Bicycle Hall of Fame is likely.

52The Bible, Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

German Cycling

Posted in Spring Classics on May 27, 2011 by bethleasure

Ab und Zu      On and Off

41“I missed cycling while I was away from it. I had to put it in right order in my priorities. I returned to cycling convinced that it was God’s plan for me.” Klaus Jesse, German Cyclist, Team Director

Doping no thanks


Germany has been a country of two histories. My preferred Germany is not the notorious nation in world history; it’s the land of forces central to important issues and the spirit of total resolve in a fight. Known for emotional reserve, German unrelenting passions sometimes burst spilling over into a world pressed to respond. From the 42theses atWittenberg to the Berlin Wall, we take notice. A line is drawn and meant to be crossed.

This public pendulum – its syncopated rhythm is not unlike my best German cycling memories. All my riding time there came after Colorado winters endured by long miles at one speed on the bike. A March group ride inGermanyshocks you into geardom, its on-and-off pace marked by extremes of intensity. There are many quaint German villages announced by charming town signs – all sprint lines in the minds of German cyclists. I surged more on a Saxon ride than I did all race-long in a cowboy criterium back home.

Talk about snap, witness the decisive action of a pro like Jens Voigt who 43once bragged that he’d race like three men. I can attest it takes three pairs of legs for the uninitiated to hang with the German form of attacking. That the blitz against doping is full on in Germany fits with a cultural bent to switch gears decisively. Remember at one time there were two Germany’s whose decisive action toward unity inspired walls of division to fall in its own nation and in others. German reaction and single-mindedness about clean cycling is an inspiration, doping nein danke.

Prayer for German Cycling

“A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” 44James 1:8


We are thankful that each nation has unique strengths that can be emulated in life and sport. We confess we sometimes misuse our strengths and seek wisdom for its proper uses. We pray that German dedication to ideals bear a positive world influence and ask blessing upon our German cycling friends.

Ponder Is there any time when I speak or act inconsistently? How can I shore up unstable areas in my life? Affirm I make a decision and stick with it and if not a good one, I can switch gears. Watch well thought-out single minded resolve be a barrier to defeat.

41Conversations with Klaus Jesse, whose authentically-lived faith in God and racing abilities inspired an international movement and several new organizations to merge spiritual life with love of cycling, such as International Christian Cycling Club. This faith came with a struggle to sacrifice, if necessary, his dreams of cycling for what was best. Many are pleased about his determination to keep cycling second to his values. Klaus has worked with many athletes, clubs, and teams, including the German national team and Team Nurnberger.

42The posting of 95 Theses by Martin Luther atWittenberg catalyzed the Protestant Reformation. The tearing down by its citizens of the Berlin Wall signaled the end of The Cold War. The Iron Curtain melted by many warming trends including forces of unity between West and East Germany, gave all of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics access to one another and the west after decades of division. German contribution was significant to this occurring.

43Jens Voigt explaining his plan for that day in the 2004 Tour de France, Team CSC’s documentary directed by Tómas Gislason, “Overcoming.” Voigt’s plucky optimism and oft-successful attack style make him a favorite to watch. 

44Holy Bible, King James Version, public domain

Masters Racing

Posted in In Memoriam on May 24, 2011 by bethleasure

Mastered Lifestyle

53“I was just trying to stretch my legs.” Betty Tyrell, multiple Masters National Champion, describing her style for solo wins

Tyrell sets a tough standard to beat


Betty personifies the relaxed approach of a dominant winner in age-rated races. By the time of life that knowledge and experience should be leading to wisdom, veteran riders gain mastery in cycling. Some make it seem easy.

Hundreds of races into it, one would hope that fitness and finesse characterize performance. This isn’t always the case. The hardest racers to be around are excuse-driven masters who believe years invested make them experts but are unwilling to change to improve consistently mediocre results. Read internet boastings and you’d derive that because these weekend warriors watch a world championship on trainers in the basement, it means vet racing is like pro racing. Having raced both categories and levels, the two do not resemble each other much at all.

Notable differences exist in tactics, team work, etiquette, distance, and courses. So why do some masters racers behave like arrogant Little League parents? Compassionately, there is a legitimate transition process into accepting limits related to aging as an athlete. It’s doubtful that, unless a superstar phenomenon, after mid-20’s an amateur male cyclist is going to obtain a pro contract. This is reality. Instead of being a dour reality check for what will never be, a bout with mid-life crisis can be a transforming period. Progress can be made. A joke with truth in it concerns Brits on the dole – retirees with pensions who set personal bests in 25-mile TTs. They have time to train and money to fund it!

Another perspective is gratitude for the incredible health and energy advantage one has within one’s non-athletic generation. Play may continue throughout a life! Rather than proving one’s worth through performances, temper perspective and play hard as a lifestyle!

Prayer for Masters/Veteran Riders

“And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.” 541 Corinthians 9:25


We rejoice that cycling rewards effort over time. We confess we don’t temper insecurities especially facing hard realities. We ask for body and soul mastery and blessing on masters/veteran riders.

Ponder Which is my obstacle – lack of confidence or not facing reality? Affirm I pick the right category to be competitive. Watch a mastered attitude lead to more relaxing rides and better results.

53Conversations with Betty Tyrell. Betty is super strong and despite her years and amateur status has placed in elite women’s category races. However, she knows she is not a pro. She has won 20+ national masters titles for road, criterium, time trials, and track racing. She is also very encouraging to her peers and young racers. She is a model masters racer.

54Holy Bible, King James Version public domain

Cycling Causes & Charities

Posted in In Like A Lamb on May 20, 2011 by bethleasure

Gray Sheep

7“…give a contribution, not only economically…but also with my image…There are a lot of organizations in the world but I think it is important that if you can help some or at least one organization, that is good.” Ivan Basso, Pro suspended but giving time without appearance fees

Zero tolerance cycling cause

Often our behavior is not black or white. We can be gray like woolly sheep in need of cleansing atonement. Even a suspended, unpaid rider volunteered time and talent as treasure for a good cause. One benefit was some effective public relations all around but the motivations can be many.

Take the quality of self-sacrifice used in a team scenario and now apply it to other parts of your life: your family, relationships, team culture, sponsors, charities, governing organizations, and social causes. Even the poorest rider can offer themselves without an appearance fee to lead a charity ride, speak about safety to school kids, advocate bikes to transportation authorities, volunteer, do the right thing and help a great cause. Some give themselves pro bono as coaches, team management, or event marshals.

Opportunities for benevolence are plentiful: charity rides to raise money for – medical research, disease prevention or awareness, organizations that help the oppressed, the environment, or a memorial fund; donations toward junior, collegiate, or national team funds; trail maintenance or litter patrols; or donating equipment to others in need. Other ways to give is to help the sport in its fight for systematic fairness in anti-doping, prize money parity, or some other problem that needs solved from those within whose influence is without.

 We can all give without excuse. One way to choose a cause is to seek the object of your strong emotions. This is the clue to your giving assignment. Where are you bitter, angry, outraged, sad? Cure it by helping another who hurts like you, righting an injustice that’s wronged you, give back where you’ve most had need. Take the blackness of life, mix it with what’s purest about bicycling and as you give back, paint yourself in new shades of mission.

Prayer for Cycling Causes & Charity Rides

“We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way…He took up the cause of all the black sheep.” 8Isaiah 53:6, 12


We are glad that the world’s problems are solved through community. We confess we hold ourselves apart at times from the causes we most understand because of painful remembrances. We ask for the means to give to others less fortunate and blessing upon charity rides.

Ponder Who needs my time, talent, treasure? Affirm I donate my love of cycling to good causes. Watch what’s least fortunate about yourself become what’s most fortunate for another.

7“Basso gives back with Intervita,” posted by Tom Hodges December 26, 2007<

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

Race Favorite

Posted in Seasonal Transitions on May 18, 2011 by bethleasure

Race Favorite

50“I’ve said all week I was the favourite to win here – I haven’t been hiding that fact.” Tom Boonen, Expectant Winner

Every kid is a mother's favorite


Expectations of winning can play for and against a race favorite. Internal pressures can sometimes be overwhelming but sometimes it increases incentive. An expected winner must devise strategies to counter and overcome vigilance on the part of peers. Even being marked can work to one’s favor. It supports an essential world-class quality – Confidence.

Expecting Favor is a spiritual concept that believes God rewards faith. God may add to this by opening doors despite inexperience or past experience. Living favor-minded can help one break barriers from the past. When you believe this favor is available, confident living comes easier and bold actions and proper motives result.

51We have not because we ask not or as I like to say, “Don’t ask, don’t get.” An expectant (but not an entitled) attitude creates willingness of others to assist you. Regardless of how many people tell you what you’re attempting can’t be done, through perseverance doors open. Favor opens doors that some say are impossible, often in times of adversity.

Expecting God’s goodness causes you to see adversity as an opportunity. Favor exceeds just getting by and expects God’s goodness to chase you down. This is not a prayer for a Santa Claus version of God. God doesn’t play favorites, so don’t expect to receive something that isn’t in someone else’s best interest or that’s asked for selfishly. Praying to win isn’t selfish pandering; it’s a responsible behavior for an athlete. Sometimes your success is the best thing for others, and sometimes a defeat is the best thing for you.

We see that many winners anticipate winning or believe they can win. Even if expectations fall short, the anticipation of finishing first often improves performance. So if unselfish prayers aren’t answered as a yes, there’s still an answer for your best. Favor-finders know they can ask for favor, because any God-answer is the best answer. In this we can be confident.

Prayer for Favor

“If you hope to the end, divine favor will come.” 521 Peter 1:13


We ask for favor with God and man.

Ponder Despite circumstances, am I hoping for a favorable outcome? Affirm I anticipate help from God and others. Watch for that assistance and be open to where it leads you.

50“Boonen seals Tour of Flanders win,” BBC Sport Cycling posted 2 April 2006

51James 4:2-3

52The Living Bible Copyright © 1971 owned by assignment by KNT Charitable Trust published by Tyndale House Publishers

Cycling & Facing Mortality

Posted in In Memoriam on May 13, 2011 by bethleasure

Streets of Gold
55“There are no headwinds in heaven my friend.  We’ll ride together again someday on the streets of gold.”  Mike Munk, Ride Leader, Dedication to cycling mentor Jim Loyd (1937-1998)

Streets of Gold


What is the best way to face our mortality – aging and also death? Cycling can be dangerous and death as a result of it is a possibility. The grim reaper coming to slash our tires with cruel sickle is a fearsome specter whom every one eventually meets. Even the young have trepidation on bikes. It shouldn’t be about maintaining a façade of youth but living courageously. Working out your perspective on death can help conquer fear and lead to purposeful, prosperous living and racing.

Everyone has to struggle to find their raison d’être and place in life, as well as to satisfy needs for acceptance, happiness, success and feeling loved. There are no easy lives but there are lives at ease regardless.

Asking the big questions, going deeper and pondering one’s philosophy is the responsibility of every soul. When physical limits or death touch us, this duty is forced to the front. The cycling community deals with such limits on a regular basis. Although we are often accused of escapism into an alternative reality of riding lifestyles, perhaps we are facing the ultimate reality best by deciding to challenge our limits. Our cycling results quickly tell us where we stand on the day. We’ve worked out that suffering and success sometimes exchange roles and that without sacrifice there is no reward. This makes cycling a natural framework for spirituality or the opportunity to probe the spiritual aspects of living in a physical world.

Now the questions become where do I stand with God and what sacrifices are made for an eternal result? Who do I need to forgive or ask forgiveness of today? Who do I influence and what lasting value can I leave as a legacy? These answers determine your call-up rank on those streets of gold, as well as your peaceful parcours right here, right now.

Prayer for Facing Mortality

“No man has power over the wind to contain it; so no one has power over the day of his death.” Ecclesiastes 8:8

“I am convinced that neither death nor life…separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39

 “…and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think…be glory forever and ever. Amen.” 56Ephesians 3:19-21


We are thankful that contentment can be ours in any category during any crisis. We confess anything standing in the way of clear conscience before God…We pray for cycling to bring out our best spiritually even through its disciplines, hardships, and challenges.

Ponder How would I live if I were ready to die? Affirm I make a difference with my life. Watch faith cast fear aside because the death of body does not mean eternal end of soul or spirit or love; we cast fear aside, and live abundantly right here, right now to the fullest.

55“Cycle America ’96: My First Attempt at Cross Country Rides,” by Mike Munk. The motto on this website is, “You don’t quit playing when you get old…you get old when you quit playing.”

56The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

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

Cycling Loss & Grief

Posted in In Memoriam on May 10, 2011 by bethleasure

Maillot Noir                Mourning Jersey

60“The cycling community is my family.” Merlyn Townley, Race Mechanic & Instructor, on the death of his last living relative

Remembering Wouter Weylandt


If you’ve experienced any kind of devastating loss, then you may agree that the old custom of wearing black as a symbol of mourning was a good one. Just as the bearer of Maglia Rosa celebrates happiness in pink, a Maillot Noir invites more nurturing treatment during black times of intense sorrow. Loss of breath isn’t our only grief as cyclists. Sometimes we lose our own.

Minor sadness about loss of fitness to grieving over the death of a dream to the major loss of a loved one reaches all in the peloton. Studies indicate 61many stages of grief that overlap in unique progression toward healing and recovery depending on the nature of loss and personality of the mourner. Initially, numbed disbelief protects the mind from being overwhelmed, known as shock, denial, aimlessness, physical weakness, and bargaining. Pain and emotional upheaval manifest physically and emotionally as anger, anxiety, guilt, sadness. A sense of isolation, loneliness and depression usually hits months after the circumstance causing concerned well-wishers to push the mourner to get over it. The process is highly individual and needs to run its course apart from external pressures. Unlike a grand tour, there is a return to certain stages without a time-cut. Enlist patient supporters.

A return to lightness signals the start of recovery toward acceptance. Appreciation for all that’s precious is heightened. A complete return to the pre-grief state or replacement of what’s lost never occurs but creative ways to find new joy in life are discovered. The process is messy but miraculously designed. Ride through it with compassion upon oneself or toward others in sorrow. A fight to hold maillot noir eventually brings victory over a sorrowful but expanded heart.

Prayer for Loss & Grief

“It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.” 62Ecclesiastes 7:2-3


We are thankful for reminders of life’s limits and brevity as a signpost to prepare and prioritize. We pray for all who grieve.

Ponder When was the last time I cared enough to cry? What losses need to be mourned? Affirm I heal by seeing the past as a stepping stone to the future, even into eternity. Watch how acknowledgment of error and seeing some benefit revises some of what’s regrettable.

60Conversations with Merlyn Townley. Merlyn is a category 1 race mechanic who has wrenched worldwide. His palmarès are so numerous it would take several pages to list. He has a sister in me.

61For more information on various models that outline characteristics of the mourning process, see references under “Grief Stages” on

62The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Sprint Skills & Fitness

Posted in Going Green on May 6, 2011 by bethleasure

Maillot Vert                 Sprinter’s Jersey

36“If you brake, you don’t win.” Mario Cipollini, Sprinter Extraordinaire

Cipo the pouncing leopard


To win races as a result of a sprint should be in the skills arsenal of every amateur racer. Especially with America’s preponderance for the criterium, you can’t win races if you don’t feel comfortable negotiating and executing the sprint. Even if your clear abilities are stronger as another type of racer, to move up the ranks and be useful to a team, you have to know what goes on in the fight for the finish.

At the pro level, fighting for position at strategic portions of a course is similar to the mentality, physiology, and technicality of a sprint finish. As a “non-sprinter,” how can you perform a proper lead-out or be well-placed heading into a narrow place or into a climb unless you understand timing, distances, positioning, and can bang through corners faster than a speeding car? You must become familiar with all the sprint dynamics in the lower categories first: it just gets harder the higher your rank.

It’s true that top road sprinters tend to have a higher composition of fast twitch fibers – a faster contraction yielding quicker speeds – and emphasize speed endurance. Sprinters tap into the energy systems fueled by ATP and anaerobic glycolysis. Yet there’s no point doing sprint training if you can’t make it to the finish to use it, so a large proportion of a road sprinter’s work is aerobic.

Perhaps just as important as the genetics is the sprinter mentality. Winners of the green jersey seem to have a higher degree of geospatial awareness and comfortability in navigating narrow moving channels. They not only find the flow, good speed specialists become the flow. It’s like the clutch player that gets the pass with 1 second on the clock, down by just enough to win if he scores. The true sprinter LOVES the fight and looks forward to that moment in the final kilometers when fangs drop, eager to chomp on the flesh that opposes a perfect line to victory. Cipo said it best, ““We are taking risks every day on twisty and slippery final sections.”

Prayer for Sprint Fitness & Skills

“A nation has invaded… powerful and without number; it has…the fangs of a lioness.” 37Joel 1:6


We are thrilled by a sporting battle. We confess we brake for fear of invasion. We ask for top speed savvy and blessings on Sprinters.

Ponder Can I learn how to see green? Affirm I gain the fitness and moves to be among the 38Sprinters Seven. Watch the surges and where you put yourself; think like a hungry lion chasing prey.

36So many sources have used this quote, it’s difficult to know who first recorded it. There is no doubt, however, that this is the sort of quip that would come from Super Mario. 

37The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

38Sprinters Seven is my term for that exclusive group which trades wins via sprinting. Almost invariably, a perfect bunch of speedsters separate themselves from everyone else. You’ll see the same seven or so names all season in a sprint contest. They know how to surf the surges in such a way as to wind up in the final decisive move, as well as take advantage of their genetic dispositions.

Special Olympic Cycling

Posted in May-Day on May 3, 2011 by bethleasure

See Our Smiles

19“Did you see that? Did you see that? Oh that was great, that was great, that was great. Did you see that? I’m so happy! I’m so happy!”  Sid Lea, Cyclist/Special Olympian and 5-time Gold Medalist

Exuberance for cycling is Special!

I sought help from a sport psychologist during a period of discouraging performances. I talked about a rider I admired but also envied. This rider raced with seeming abandonment and his uninhibited risks sometimes paid off in triumph. We discussed that his emotional style was his forté; passion and enjoyment contributed to his success as much as his considerable talent and hard work.

The psychologist advised me to watch the Special Olympics to understand the simplicity of this great strength. The oath of Special Olympics is: 20Let me WIN. But if I cannot win, let me be BRAVE in the attempt.

A Special Olympics goal is to “experience joy” and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other athletes and the community. Special Olympics (SO) is the world’s largest training and athletic competition program, serving millions of children and adults in 180 countries with intellectual disability. SO cyclists compete in short road races and time trials. A unified category pairs an SO athlete with a non-impaired tandem partner.

Intellectual disability may impair tactical awareness but it doesn’t preclude the inner qualities of fierce resolve and fearless rejoicing in competition. We know highly tactical bike racing takes thought, but at some level, great performances come instinctively and are released and unleashed from the soul as much as the legs and the mind. Winners allow themselves to be vulnerable. They put all of themselves out there not so much thinking of the result but finding enjoyment in the experience even in suffering.

So when enduring hard times in your riding either as a result of injury or some other impairment, remember your attitude can still have a positive and powerful sphere of influence. Send your own SOS and smile.

Prayer for Special Olympic Cycling

“’I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression, and smile.” 21Job 9:27


We are glad for examples of simplicity in athletic attitude. We confess we are so focused on where our names list in results that we minimize our impact. We pray that when circumstances cause complaint, we can respond as winners.   

Ponder How can I be braver? Affirm I change my world and it starts with my countenance. Watch for things that bring a smile.

19Conversations with Sid Lea. Sid does get discouraged, angry, loud and even occasionally feisty. But if he does remotely well in a race, he is the happiest guy on a bike and his smile radiates to everyone. This attitude sometimes humbles his non-intellectually “disabled by dissatisfaction” competitors.

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