Archive for the April Fool's Category

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 www.cyclingnews.com

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

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Cycling & Public Image

Posted in April Fool's on February 22, 2011 by bethleasure

Fool For You

3“The bad boy image only works for one out of a thousand, if even, and usually does not last very long. And remember, you must speak positive about your sponsor. Nobody wants you to lie. If you can’t stand behind your sponsor or what they are offering you… then move on. You have got to be [tuff] enough to turn down a deal ahead of time, if you know it is not going to work for you.” Hans Rey, Trials Superstar on public persona

Sorry *dude, sponsors just don't like this kind of look...

 

Hans “No Way” Rey got his nickname because friends saw him riding stuff they never thought possible. Hans fools physics but is no fool when it comes to managing how he is perceived. He leaps and bounds beyond performance to balance his worldwide media exposure. He knows how important it is to sponsors to generate interest from millions of spectators in order to sell product. Even companies going for “cool” consumers learn the value of an untouchable image for market share. I’d like to hope that perhaps Hans doesn’t want to just seem good, perhaps he wants to be good from within as well as without.

Eventually to sell enough one has to tap into mainstream, and bad doesn’t play on Main Street. In cycling’s public controversies, a lesson should be noted: it’s not enough to do right, one must also appear to do right. If you do right but appear to do wrong, you will limit your opportunities; and if you do wrong, don’t stay a fool – change direction.

One sad reality in the news is when clean riders are teams are trashed because of one doper. In the past, teams prepared for events but were unable to race because of actual bad behavior or public image. So heads up – don’t be a fool! Choose to affiliate not only based on competitiveness, successful management, and program efficacy, but on how the association will be perceived. Birds of a feather flock together, and the peloton has a number of dirty birds. But there are some eagle aces out there who are genuine in their pursuit of both excellence and goodness.

Decide wisely which culture and sponsorship suits your image. But do your homework, not every team with a bad apple is rotten. So often we think any opportunity is a good opportunity. Choose the best over the good, and often the best is found by looking a little deeper while noting public opinion and past moral record. People can change. Things are not always as they seem; get your facts straight. You don’t need to be anybody’s fool.

Prayer for Public Image

“Abstain from all appearance of evil.” 41 Thessalonians 5:22

We are thankful that with increasing worldwide interest in cycling now more than ever success depends upon image. We confess our map of Main Street has some dirty alleys. We ask for swept streets to stay on Clean Boulevard.

Ponder Do I consider how my associations appear to others? Affirm I choose what is allowed and also what is advisable. Watch for scenarios that may not best present you: protect your public image.

*My apologies to David Clinger. He may be a great guy but you wouldn’t know it from this image. Still appearances can be deceptive, so I give him the benefit of the doubt now or perhaps in the future. 

3“Beyond Sport!” by Hans Rey on “How to become a Pro” posted on www.hansrey.com

Hans does indeed walk the walk of smart exposure with TV work, publicity stunts, riding clinics, photo shoots, Hans Rey Adventure Team trips, marketing consulting and providing bikes to people in third world countries in need of transportation. I suspect Hans Rey has a very good heart – but this is a public perception and my opinion.

4Holy Bible, King James Version public domain

Cycling & Discretion

Posted in April Fool's on April 23, 2010 by bethleasure

Fool’s Paradise
5“I am the anti-hero. Listen to what I say; and do not do what I did in my career. I made foolish choices. I am the anti-example, the anti-hero: do what I didn’t to succeed.” Matthew Koschara, Coach and former Pro

Matt has become a pretty good fella

Matt describes wasted opportunity and his penchant in the past for choosing what felt or seemed good over what was best. His self-confessed volatile judgment led to team conflict, firings, foolish behavior, and ultimately lack of focus. Long after racing stopped, he struggles with these memories. Matt doesn’t want to lead riders in his care into a fool’s paradise of false hope that any choice, even one that makes you happy at the time, leads to a positive outcome. 6There is a way that seems right but the end leads to destruction. Every choice that leads to regret can undergo a course correction, but there may be consequences to pay. So how do you learn how to choose wisely?

1. Base a decision on integrity and morality using a spiritual standard.
2. Read circumstances. Be honest about what’s before you and what’s not. Is reality bearing evidence to guide a sound choice?
3. Acknowledge that you may not know what you don’t know. Seek wise counsel in a trusted and discreet advisor. Process the advantages and disadvantages of critical decisions. Enlist the support of a caring listener to privately process emotion.
4. Provision is a reality check. Are there resources for implementation?
5. Seek the peaceful solution. Sometimes the choice which brings you the most peace may involve a longer-term view, a sacrifice in hopes of future rewards, delayed gratification, resolving a difficult problem or conflict, swallowing pride. So using peace as a means to know a right way may involve hard things in its pursuit. If in doubt, wait for more information until peace comes.

Every once in a while a seventh element to guide occurs miraculously, unexpected and beyond imagination. Discerning right from wrong involves trial and error and eyes-wide-open faith.

Prayer for Discretion & Discernment
“…abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,
so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless.”
7Philippians 1:9-10

We are thankful for standards of excellence. We confess our perception is sometimes blinded by unholy drives. We ask for guidance and good sense for right and wrong.

Ponder Is it even possible to see every nuance of every possibility to know for certain that it’s the right way? Affirm I think through my choices. Watch for information, pursue peace, wait if necessary, pray.

5Conversations with Matt Koschara and my observations watching him work with riders in a team setting. Matt learned better judgment the hard way – by reaping the consequences of bad choices. He expressed regret not staying focused on the Best versus the Good and sometimes even choosing the Bad. 

6Proverbs 14:12, Holy Bible, King James Version public domain

7The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Cycling & Public Disclosure

Posted in April Fool's on April 20, 2010 by bethleasure

Court Jester

14″If you guys spent half as much time and energy training and racing as you do on your cyber adventures, you’d be much better cyclists and have better results.” Ramon Benitez, U.S. Masters National Champion on hearing that smack-talk about him was written on the web

One wheel short, one word too many

 

Ramon’s response to inappropriate public criticism was to smack it down in races, not use idle words in an internet forum. There is a place for frank discussion of controversial issues, but choosing what to say and where to say it is the difference between prudence and foolishness.

A king’s Court Jester was no fool. His role was to speak frankly about interests of the kingdom of which anyone else was severely punished to offer. A jester used playful and witty tactics to communicate but with keen awareness of survival and how far he might go. Today, etiquette isn’t keeping pace with advances in communication technology. Cyber journalism en masse is an underdeveloped discipline. Concerns and controversies meant to be discussed privately, preferably among relevant parties, are now sent through the air waves. Some of this public content is mean-spirited and ill-informed.

Enjoying race reports, rider blogs, and trading pace in cycling e-groups has merit, but exercise caution about disclosure. One of my riders went too far in spamming his angst and anger about a team conflict, another tried to blog out his insecurity during recovery from injury exposing weakness to competitors. Both were admonished for inappropriate disclosure through circumstances which made them look foolish. These types of indulgences can be used against you draining precious energy and time away from loftier, faster cycling pursuits. Be a fool or be fast?

Prayer for Public Disclosure
“Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” Proverbs 17:28
“Every prudent man acts out of knowledge, but a fool exposes his folly.” Proverbs 13:16
“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” Proverbs 29:11
“A chattering fool comes to ruin…and whoever spreads slander is a fool.” Proverbs 10
“A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly.” Proverbs 12:23
“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” 15Proverbs 18:2

We are thankful for an increasing ability to communicate. We confess to poor quality, impolite, and irrelevant information-sharing. We pray for appropriate public disclosure, effective use of worldwide communication technology, and redemption for when we speak awry.

Ponder What is the proper forum for discussing my thoughts? Affirm I am authentic and prudent. Watch your words carefully, process emotions in a private diary, and send a carefully-pondered message.

14Conversations with Ramon Benitez. Ramon’s designation for those who use chat rooms, email groups, and blogs in excess or for criticism is “the fastest fingers in the peloton.” Fast fingers don’t win races but Ramon does.

15All references here are from The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Teachability

Posted in April Fool's on April 16, 2010 by bethleasure

Be as teachable as a kid for success

Tomfoolery

8″Your emphasis on the most fundamental aspects of sprint mechanics and valuable insight in diagnosing technical weaknesses has given me greater understanding and confidence in my sprint.” Faris Schlueter, Cat 2 Racer, on his coach’s teaching skills

My first criteria for choosing to privately work with a rider is teachability – not talent but if a rider can be taught, take advice, and ask for and give feedback. Any rider can improve if taught what to do with limited abilities, receiving direction for how best to use what they possess. With feedback, the coach can constantly improve rider adherence to programming or change the program to match rider needs.

Bike racing is information-intensive. Experienced advice in all things cycling is necessary to not only be competitive but to reach full potential. I’ve trained riders with incredible physiological self-knowledge who needed tactical advice; and tacticians who didn’t understand sprint training from tempo rides. Fostering communication sets up objective analysis for an athlete unable to objectify when training and goals are mismatched.

A multi-disciplinary approach includes technical knowledge of equipment, positioning, aerodynamics, etc. It takes a village – a team of cycling expertise and resources behind one great professional racer. Every rider should have a similar network of advisors if improvement is a goal. So should every coach. Seek a teachable coach – one who will be flexible in applying rider input to training and performance. This is especially important during athletic transitions, such as: extending performance beyond a usual time-frame, periods where you lack confidence, injury recovery, and career choices that call for stressful changes. 9“This gives athletes the opportunity to take greater responsibility for their careers, and to gain more understanding of their sport.” If you’re the strong silent type riding for enjoyment, just ride. For excellence, put your team of experts together, listen but be ready to talk and give feedback!

Prayer for Teachability
“The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” 10Proverbs 12:15
“A rebuke impresses a man of discernment more than a hundred lashes a fool.” Proverbs 17:10

We are thankful for knowledgeable teachers. We confess we are too independent sometimes. We pray for the ability to listen, learn, and take advice – even if it’s hard to hear or requires extra effort to implement. We pray for the discipline to give an account.

Ponder Am I surrounded by yes men or do I have someone who will provide kind but objective feedback? Affirm I am always learning. Watch how good advice saves trial and error.

8“Road Testimonials,” posted by Coach David Brinton http://www.ridingtowin.com

9“Coaching Conversations – A Way of Fostering Athletes to Peak Performance,” By Rune Høigaard, University of Agder and Arild Jørgensen, USOC Olympic Coach e-magazine, 2007

10The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Fools Rush In

Posted in April Fool's on April 2, 2010 by bethleasure

12He only attacks early. It’s his one strategy and you can’t tell him any different. Elite Amateur Racer speaking of a teammate 

A Fool who thinks he's rushing

Every village has an idiot, so in our cycling community, we have a few who are regularly foolish. That rider who always attacks into the downhill and then barks at everyone for racing negatively when caught. Or that one crash expert who seems to enjoy bragging about road rash. The reckless attempt what the wise avoid, rushing in…where angels fear to tread. Or that one who always makes the same mistake.

There are some riders that trial and error does not seem to teach. They just grow older but not wiser. They ride in the same way and expect different results. They cling to the same techniques and strategies. They never seek outside help and resent it when it’s given. They refuse to believe that how they ride is stupid.

Every sport has its armchair expert: the couch potato who criticizes the professional coach from his living room. Our armchair experts may be svelte since cycling’s participation and endurance favor age, but they are just as vocal and annoying. These are the riders who spend hours justifying why their race didn’t go as planned and have their list of excuses – all external of course involving flats, terrain, road debris, weather, other riders and all the other variables champions also confront and overcome.

It’s usually not a fitness issue but a blatant refusal to change up techniques, seek advice instead of indulging in narration of unsuccessful race reports, or admit they may not know everything or even very much. Group rides are full of these prognosticators who watch a few taped euro races and suddenly become experts but can’t seem to win a local championship. Don’t be mistaken, the pro peloton has a joker or two in it as well – a big talent who launches the same caper again and again, proudly justifies it but doesn’t change anything. What does change is the jersey – during late season contract negotiations.

Prayer for Strategic Insight

“Fools never do get it.” 13Psalm 92:6

We are thankful for strategic insight. We confess we are sometimes too proud to admit that our situations are our own fault. We pray for insight to perceive and understand what’s really going on in a race.

Ponder Am I stuck in a rut? Affirm I admit I need advice. Watch a world of possibilities open up as insight is gained.

11Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, a quote by Alexander Pope in “An Essay On Criticism.” Pope’s contention was that erroneous judgment was caused by pride.

12Identities are protected so as not to foster animosity. Conversations with an anonymous racer frustrated about a very strong teammate. The guy beats very good pros in prologue time trials, but in mass start races, he rarely places. He is not coachable and impossible to direct. He has never reached his potential as a professional. It is very frustrating to watch a diamond in the rough refusing polish.

13The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson