Archive for the Autumn Glory Category

Cycling & Altitude

Posted in Autumn Glory on November 4, 2011 by bethleasure

What Goes Up

54“…Altitude tents are about learning to live with less oxygen. So then what about training in an environment without any oxygen? Now that’s the way to really do it. The next day we…pioneered…underwater training. The oxygen deprived environment lurking below the surface of lakes and oceans may be just what is needed to condition the body to perform with less oxygen…it was tricky at first getting used [to] riding underwater…looking at the little fish is also a nice change of scenery.” Highlander Bicycles

The latest trend in training?

This was a joke, but sometimes we cyclists go to ridiculous depths to adapt to the heights of competitiveness. More accepted practices for altitude acclimatization seem just as ridiculous. In just the last several years, altitude researchers reveal puzzling and sometimes conflicting data regarding altitude’s affect on performance. Sifting through myths, we outline the latest truths about ascending the heights with success. First truth is that this field of study is still finding out new information. By the time this is published, new studies will probably be available. In the meantime, facts as we currently understand them:

*Best to arrive hours prior to an event at altitude is FALSE. It helps to arrive last minute for events above 10,000’ but it’s better even at that height to gradually adapt by sleeping a mile high (5680’) the night before.

* The idea that altitude doesn’t affect you for several days is FALSE. 55Studies show that an effect takes place upon arrival at altitude within 8 minutes of hard exertion.

* Altitude doesn’t affect everyone – mostly FALSE. 56“At moderately-high altitudes (6,000-10,000 feet), most athletes see about a 10% decrease in their sustainable power at lactate threshold…with an even greater decrease in power output…closer to VO2 max.”

* The idea that altitude riders will beat you at altitude is FALSE. Performance is affected, but a fitter athlete can still win. Much was made of competing at altitude during Collegiate Nationals but the proof was many podium performers were from sea-level.

* Time is your friend for altitude acclimatization –TRUE. There are several periods of notable adaptation but complete transfer takes 12-18 months.

* Training at altitude gives you an edge – FALSE. Training at altitude could negatively affect performance since during the acclimatization period; sea level power outputs cannot be sustained. 57Losing a year’s max training potential during adaptation isn’t recommended.

* Live High, Train Low is NOT YET PROVEN. 58Anecdotal studies point to positive results. Studies proving success with altitude tents and hypoxic devices depend on duration of daily exposure over time. There are no results yet for how long the effect can be maintained.


Weather’s counterpart, Terrain, and her friend – High Ground is another cycling personification that becomes a friend through long acquaintance.

Prayer for Altitude Acclimatization

“So please don’t, out of old habit, slip back into being or doing what everyone else tells you. Friends, stay where you were called to be. God is there. Hold the high ground with him at your side.” 591 Corinthians 7:23-24

We acknowledge praying for this may compromise lowland power. Be with us wherever we are.

Ponder What do I cling to for help when challenged? Affirm God is with me everywhere. Watch for signs of God on flat road and over mountain passes.


54“Altitude Training with a Twist,” Highlander News 1 Copyright © 2005 Highlander Bicycle

55“Performance At Altitude,” presented by Andrew W. Subudhi, PhD,University ofColorado,AltitudeResearchCenter, April, 2008 a webinar by USA Cycling Sciences & Education

56“Carmichael Sez: Hors Challenges In The Alps,” posted July 22, 2008 as “Tour de France Coverage: Full Story,” on

57If you’re going to move to altitude, do so in the Fall or a nearing off-season so you have months to start acclimatization during what is potentially an off-period or a phase of low intensity work.

58“Simulated Altitude,” by Andrew W. Subudhi, PhD, University of Colorado, Altitude Research Center, at USA Cycling Coaching Summit, October, 2006

59The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson


Cycling & Cool

Posted in Autumn Glory on October 28, 2011 by bethleasure

Must Come Down

60Wearing an ice vest before [performance] in warm, humid conditions allowed athletes to start and finish the competition with a lower Tc [core temperature] than did those who did not wear a vest.

University Research, Cooling Study

A little too cool

Class is back in session and we need to be reminded that we’re never too cool for school by using smart products. Old school helmet-less racing had a cool factor other than its justification that they were too hot to wear during hard climbs. Technological advances in helmets that don’t thwart heat dissipation were catalyzed by several race-related deaths due to head trauma. So we’re using our heads and wearing lids these days because it’s way cooler, so to speak.

Another cooling product is the ice vest as a means to promote cooler core temperatures. Reduction of thermal stress caused by prolonged exertion upon core temperature contributes to increased performance by reducing sweat rates, allowing the rider to worker harder for longer. In fact, 61studies show that optimal time trial performance occurs around 50°F. Another 62study concluded that repeated sprint exercise in hot temperatures resulted in a faster rate of fatigue but also resulted in higher peak power outputs due to increased pedal cadences. So maybe it’s not so cool to be too cool in certain events.

Finally, one of the coolest activities in cycling, leg-shaving, is associated with one of cycling’s coolest products – embrocation creams. The ritual and the oils within act as a 63thermal layer keeping you cool on hot days and protected and warmed in rain and cold.

As temperatures cool down, dress accordingly and remember that after all this year’s hard riding, your best ride may come during this season of optimal aerobic temperatures. And if you get a hot day, you may be able to post the highest sprint outputs of the year. Either way, a cool-down is a great way to end an argument, a ride, and a season.

Prayer for Cooling Off

“God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time…Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you. He gets the last word. Keep a cool head. Stay alert…The suffering won’t last forever.  64 First Peter 5:6-11

We ask blessing on times likes these when we utilize the products and methods that capture the essence of cycling’s cool factor.

Ponder Where’s my cool weather cycling gear? Affirm I’m psyched there’s never a ho-hum day as a bike rider. Watch the leaves change, enjoy these colorful autumn moments; now eyes back on the road!

60“Warming Up With an Ice Vest: Core Body Temperature Before and After Cross-Country Racing,” Hunter & Hopkins, Brigham Young University, and Casa, University of Connecticut published in Journal of Athletic Training 2006 Oct–Dec; 41(4): 371–374.

61“Mythbusters,” a webinar presented by Stephen J. McGregor, Ph.D. on3/18/08 arranged by USA Cycling. Stephen is part of USA Cycling Science & Education faculty and Applied Physiology Laboratory of Eastern Michigan University.

62“Human power output during repeated sprint cycle exercise: the influence of thermal stress,” by Ball & Sargeant- Neuromuscular Biology Group, Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Manchester Metropolitan University; and Burrows-Royal Liverpool University Hospitals. Copyright © 2008


64The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Fall Classics

Posted in Autumn Glory on September 30, 2011 by bethleasure

Golden Season

47“I have seen that my form for the coming events is good.”  David Rebellin, Pro Cyclist on end-of-season fitness

Ride on...

The golden season is here: fields of lush grains ready for harvest; crisp mornings and cozy sunny afternoons; and sunflowers reaching toward the skies for warmth. The leaves are changing roles – falling from proud arbor adornment to gorgeous ground cover.

Bike racing remains serious but releases a new aspect of its mood, invigorated into its final stretch of the season. The world turns toward the Fall Classics in all their colorful glory consisting of more one-day events. Our typical classics nations still play host but now add Spain as a stop.

Clásica de San Sebastián   Spain

Spain’s biggest one-day is usually held in August (July in 2011) in Basque country. It favors climbers who can sprint and those carrying form from TdF. Armstrong is the only American to win it. Spanish riders dominate.


Paris-Bruxelles   France/Belgium

Actually starts north in Soissons, France. Long, flattish, with hard cobbled climbs typical of northern classics. Won by tour sprinter Robbie McEwen five times, historically the victory is claimed by riders of diverse abilities. Typically scheduled during La Vuelta a España in this era. No American has ever won it, and Belgians have dominated.

Paris-Tours  France

Considered the real start of Fall, the race’s cooler conditions of morning fog and icy breezes cause mass exodus by a largely unacclimated peloton. Only classic not won by Merckx. There have been no American wins here either and Belgians dominate.

Giro di Lombardia “Race of the Falling Leaves”   Italy

This is the 5th Monument Race and the routes vary but with a feature that includes a shrine with a museum that contains both cycling and religious objects. Makes sense to me! Fausto Coppi had the last word and most wins of anyone here. Italians typically dominate, and no American has won it yet.

Prayer for Fall Classics

“Be patient, then, brothers…See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm…” 48James 5:7-8

We ask that consistent patience pay off. We ask blessing on the Fall Classics and other significant races of this time, including many national tours in diverse lands. In a spirit of globalization, we pray that other nations also be represented in winning these events.

Ponder What are my favorite fall events? Affirm I enjoy the heightened senses and scenes of the season’s finales. Watch how the earth takes a last hard breath of vibrancy in autumn, and do the same.


47“28th Clásica San Sebastián – ProT Spain, August 2, 2008: Valverde all set for Olympics,” by Bjorn Haake posted on

48The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Lifetime Cycling

Posted in Autumn Glory on October 1, 2010 by bethleasure

Golden Years

65“Some 75-year-olds like to ride rocking chairs, but Charlotte Hamlin prefers a bicycle. ‘A healthy lifestyle can set you free,’ she says. Following these simple principles literally keeps her conquering mountains, showing the world what one woman walking with God can do while riding a bike.” Article about Charlotte Hamlin, Bicyclist & Senior Citizen

Ride for life and have fun with it

In this colorful season, we emphasize riding in the golden years. Instead of becoming elderly, an active bicyclist flaunts endurance into “old” age. Our subculture embraces not just a sport but a way of life. We can pursue this way of life, Lord willin’ until our end of days.

One dream that I had to let-go-and-let-God was cycling greatness through competitiveness in the bigger tours. While participation was a reality, winning stages of these events was for me – fantasy cycling. By the numbers, I did not lack the talent or the strategic insight. I simply lacked time and resources. It took five years for me to get the legs and five more to know how to use them. I was in my early forties by then. While Longo was setting new hour records, I was floundering. I had a few good rides but was unable to gain a stable opportunity. At my age, teams were picking up superstars with experience and lots of palmarès. By comparison, I didn’t measure up.

I’m not a legendary bike racer. This conclusion was reached painfully, but its final realization didn’t devastate me. I have other contributions to make to the sport. Masters racing has categories as old as available participants, but it’s not even racing that is the appeal for a lifetime. I was enormously comforted by a moment of acceptance when I realized my passion for riding was meant to be pursued for as long as I have breath. What happened to me was an encounter with a pair of beautiful legs that passed me swiftly. Until I caught him, he was just another rider having some afternoon tempo. Turns out he was eighty years young; and while his face was a bit lined and his hair a bit silvery, his legs were like any other young cyclist’s – and so was the light in his eyes.


Prayer for Lifetime Cycling

  “They will be like trees that stay healthy and fruitful, even when they are old. And they will say about you, ‘The LORD always does right! God is our mighty rock.’” 66Psalm 92:14-15

We admire greatness. We confess only a few leave a racing legacy but we all leave some legacy. We pray to ride for life for life to ride.

Ponder What is my very long-term view of cycling? Affirm I want to ride my whole life and be that geezer who makes a younger rider breathe a little harder. Watch my body age but still my legs and lungs live strong.

65“Charlotte Hamlin – 75 year-old long-distance cyclist – Aging Gracefully,” by Pam Mellskog published in Vibrant Life  Nov-Dec-1994

66The Bible, Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society


World Championships

Posted in Autumn Glory on September 28, 2010 by bethleasure

Annual Colors

51“The Rainbow jersey is the distinctive jersey worn by the reigning world champion in a bicycle racing discipline. The jersey is predominantly white with five horizontal bands in the UCI colours around the chest. From the bottom up the colours are: green, yellow, black, red and blue, the same colours that appear in the rings on the olympic flag.” Description of Rainbow Jersey


Just as the colors of the season change, so cycling’s way of doing things alters a bit. The highest racing of the land turns from pro teams to national teams at World’s. It creates a colorful dynamic of former rivals forced to work together for the most prestigious one-day jersey in cycling and an annual chance for a gold medal in both road and time trial disciplines. It also gives an opportunity to discover the world’s up and coming international stars through junior and espoir categories.

The elite men’s version began in 1927. Winning world’s plus 2 of 3 Grand Tours is called the 52Triple Crown of Cycling. Only Merckx and Stephen Roche have done this so far. No one has won 3 Grand Tours in the same year so far which some believe is the true Triple Crown.

While governed by UCI, Italy has hosted the venue most often with nearly two decades of experience. Many other nations claim the privilege also. Even North America has hosted this event twice: once in Colorado Springs in an American up-down style course at U.S. Air Force Academy and once in Hamilton, Ontario on a quality climber’s type course.

Challenging parcours make the season’s grand finale the last opportunity for speculation about potential winners. A win on any of its courses bring the prestigious honor of wearing the rainbow all year within the discipline won. Americans have had this honor three times: Lemond was twice winner and twice 2nd, and a win by Armstrong. American women have faired better with 10 podium appearances in the road race and 6 podiums in the TT. Longo has won more than any other rider, and her 9 victories include both disciplines. No matter whose flag is flying, it’s the colorful rainbow that radiates upon the world’s best.

Prayer for World Championships

“Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.  53Ezekiel 1:28

We ask blessing on the World Championships.

Ponder What is it about me that appears glorious and radiates blessing on others? Affirm I wear a rainbow in my attitude every day, even as a colorful character. Watch the best to see how it’s really done. and see UCI regulations 9.0

52No one has won 3 Grand Tours in the same year so far which some believe is the true Triple Crown. For more on Triple Crown statistics, see “Triple Crown of Cycling.” 

53The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

La Vuelta España

Posted in Autumn Glory on September 11, 2010 by bethleasure

Golden Asset

49“The big news of the day again is the healthy turn-out of the public, this time to send the racers on their way.” Web Oficial de la Vuelta a España

Viva La Vuelta!

Harvest time’s number one cycling asset is a healthy turn-out by its fans. The third in the trio of pro cycling’s Grand Tours, La Vuelta gloriously tours through the remains of the season. As the motto of the Spanish flag declares in golden letters, the racers reach plus ultra, further beyond to complete the tour of its five kingdoms – Castile, León, Aragon, Navarre, and Granada and a golden number of provinces. Although Spain has flown its flag over Texas, no American has ever conquered this nation’s tour through an overall win, and stage wins have been few.

Spain on the other hand boasts victors to finish in Jersey de Oro three times more than any other cycling nation. Mucho más than a ride around a plain and homogenous state, the race visits a variety of Spanish subcultures on its sea-level to stratospheric routes. Inaugurated in 1935, the race is noted for its steepest grades and Spanish greatness.

Lasting three weeks, the event has held its autumn position on the calendar since 1995. Prior to this it was held in the spring but hopes to expand participation caused its date to move to a September start.

No matter when one rides in Spain, the nation boasts fabulous countryside and conditions to play gracious host. The race promoter – Unipublic – has done its part to promote a quality and epic event. From the Mediterranean to Madrid, the race sets a gold standard for its hospitable interested public.

Prayer for La Vuelta a España

“…when I go to Spain…I hope to visit you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.” 50Romans 15:24


We are glad that a Spanish Grand Tour exists and succeeds. We recognize its place in great cycling, even while lesser but important tours happen concurrently. We ask blessing on La Vuelta.

Ponder What are the various ways that I resolve conflicts in scheduling? Affirm I prioritize and plan so that each important event can be included on my calendar. Watch the public reward a prioritized and planned agenda for cycling’s greatest spectacles.

49“Healthy turn-out at the finish line,” Route Summary 21st Stage S. Sebastian de los Reyes – Madrid posted September 21st on

50The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society