Archive for the Championship Emotions Category

Championship Emotions/Respect

Posted in Championship Emotions on June 20, 2009 by bethleasure

Professional Courtesy

66“I overheard —‘s banter in the bunch.  It was unnecessarily unpleasant, even brutal…I have the impression that —‘s success/failure is the product of a frothing, conceited rage…which can’t come to a good end.” Racer prognostication about a certain rider’s prospects

Gold and silver shake hands

Gold and Silver shake hands

This rider’s end came through burn-out spent over many frustrating years in a downward spiral; but not before inflicting disrespectful abuse. This is known in psychology as projection – taking out something that creates anxiety in oneself upon others. Conversely, champions develop self-respect and give respect to others.

A contrasting story from racing 67lore illustrates quintessential professional courtesy. Six young riders escaped in a road race and put considerable time into the chasing field. While discussing dangerous features of the course, two in the breakaway overlapped wheels sending one into a deep ditch. His fall was stopped by a sawed off log that made a circular impression into his skin; its impact heard even by moto support. All assumed broken ribs. So when it was announced that he’d summoned another bike, the breakaway acknowledged this with interest but kept rotating. After a space, again the motorcycle came up to the break with a message – the fallen rider had now caught the field. Then again, the motor announced the rider had attacked the field and was now 2 minutes off the front and 6 minutes behind them. Two riders from the break turned around, picked up the fallen rider and worked to re-catch while the break sat up. After all original breakaway riders were reassembled and fueled, this lead group resumed racing. Two riders from the break attacked the break to take 1-2 while the fallen rider outsprinted what remained of the break for 3rd. Remarkable. Every rider in the break went on to pro contracts and national caliber wins.

Championship emotions and presence were already forming in a local race among developing riders who respected each other’s abilities.


Prayer for Competitive Respect
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” 68Mark 12:31 

We are grateful for the Golden Rule, a love motivation that gives the same respect we’d want. We recognize the extraordinary example above is not always appropriate strategy in a competitive situation. We ask for a spirit of respect that is always appropriate.

Ponder How would I feel if given this kind of courtesy? Affirm I receive it because I give it. Watch that honors come while being honorable.


66The identity of the racer who wrote this report is protected; as is the disrespectful rider mentioned. Typically, the disrespectful rider wound up in a team culture that fostered disrespect, which is a formula for failure. Disrespect indicates the absence of a winning mentality. Losing isn’t sustainable for sponsorship.

67Story told to me by Merlyn Townley. He was a neutral support mechanic on moto who witnessed this extraordinary example of professional courtesy.

68The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Championship Emotions/Drama

Posted in Championship Emotions on June 19, 2009 by bethleasure
Even the best movies don't capture the drama of real life

Even the best movies don't capture the drama of real life

All the Road’s a Stage

64“Bike racing is so intense, its dramatic lifestyle so difficult. I commend anyone who sustains energy and life at the top of it.” Marlen Wells, Cofounder of International Christian Cycling Club

And we are merely players in this drama. Every epic story has a Hero struggling to save the Beauty against the Antagonist in a fight of good versus evil. It’s easy to idolize cycling’s heroes and demonize our fallen. The truth is we’re all a bit of both, and any sound theology preaches that there is only One transcendent truly able to evaluate. Cycling is a Beauty caught in a spiritual struggle: a tragedy and a comedy whose ending we have free will to script.

Every rider, team, event is loaded with emotional interest. Bicycle characters, stunning backdrops and quirky directors are inspired entertainment. The other “motion picture” known as the peloton has a life: it sighs and wheezes and pounces and pauses. Sometimes the drama occurs outside the race in a struggle for resources and reputation.

The best of cycling use the theatrical nature of bike racing and its lifestyle for inspired performance. Fostering self-control and enthusiasm is part of targeting one’s optimal zone of intensity. Even if the drama of riding plucks excitement to exhaustion and thrills lead to spills, champions can marshal an onslaught of uncontrollable circumstances to produce what’s needed. Like a star actor feeding on the energy of other acclaimed actors, champions gather energy from the dramatic peloton. A theater of improvisation, the drama rolls on unwritten and the champions devise its stories spontaneously before its audience.

This degree of constant uncertainty, taking of new ground, learning on the fly, requires a special skill set. Important skills for champion emotions are listening, clarifying, confidence, and performing instinctively, spontaneously with a loose script. The impetus to endure the drama need only be because it’s road racing, beloved and beautiful – sometimes hateful and ugly – always tragedy and comedy.


Prayer re: Drama
“The main character in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives…” 65Luke 3:16

We are exhilarated by cycling’s zest. We enjoy its spontaneity and its uncertainty even while scripting our parts in it. We pray for winning skills to endure until the final act.

Ponder Is my enthusiasm for cycling consistent? Affirm I manage my zeal.  Watch the part you play in your chapter of the bigger cycling story.

64Conversations with Marlen Wells. Marlen was influenced by Klaus Jesse, a German national champion cyclist and founder of a faith-based team for Sportler ruft Sportler

65The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Championship Emotions/Envy

Posted in Championship Emotions on June 18, 2009 by bethleasure

Chasing the Wind

61It’s no secret that me and the Schleck brothers are not close and that it’s every man for himself.” Kim Kirchen, Pro Cyclist and Rival Luxembourger


Kim Kirchen's sweat equity: don't envy - do the work

Kim Kirchen's sweat equity: don't envy - do the work

A good rivalry can turn a good race into a great competition. This sort of rivalry isn’t necessarily negative and can instead inspire great performances making all rivals better in the process. Wondrous powers come to light wrote 62Krabbé: “When you see an enemy lying on the ground, what’s your reaction? To help him to his feet. In road racing, you kick him to death.” It’s true road racing is especially unfriendly at times and victorious strategies often play competitors’ weaknesses against winners’ strengths. This is part of cycling’s beautiful stress management, though we occasionally have an ugly expression on our sweaty faces.

You can still have love motivation and exhibit respect without liking a competitor. Hatred is draining and jealousy is not much use. But envy is a legitimate registration that you are meant to do something that you’ve not yet accomplished. Be warned that you are meant to do it unlike anyone else, and this is the line into covetousness that envy must not cross. So you can admire another’s accomplishments but taking their stuff is off limits. You can’t really get another’s accomplishments, you can only get your own and to do this comes at a big price. We envy what we don’t understand about the process of achievement. It’s hard. The best suffer greatly.

Next time you wish you had what another gets, review the suffering that got them there and be willing to either man up or shut up. You want to whine or win? Winners may envy a bit more and figure out how to turn from chasing the wind to using it to propel their pain toward something meaningful. What’s meaningful isn’t exclusive but complementary. Use envy to goad achievement but with compassion on other achievers.


Prayer re: Envy
“Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.”   63Ecclesiastes 4:26

We are grateful that envy is a signal that our course needs correction. We confess we are distracted by others. We pray for motivation that comes from unique purposes and passions.  

Ponder Do you remember a time when you were jealous because someone you didn’t like was prospering? Affirm I transform my envy into action that implements unique tasks. Watch for envy’s warning that your heart needs realignment with your own responsibilities and potential rewards.


61“Cadel Evans Keeps a Cool Head As Peloton Explodes,” by Justin Davis posted July 11, 2008 on

62The Rider by Tim Krabbé Copyright © 1978 Tim Krabbé. English translation Sam Garrett Copyright © 2002 published by Bloomsbury, NY and London.

63Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004 Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189

Championship Emotions/Aggressiveness

Posted in Championship Emotions on June 17, 2009 by bethleasure

Tous est Possible        Everything’s Possible

58Aggressiveness is assertive and bold riding. This is the easy part…The patiently aggressive rider unleashes the restraints at just the right moment. In contrast, the impatient rider becomes assertive at the wrong times and squanders precious energy…from the key moments in the race when the outcome is being determined.Joe Friel, Cycling Coach

Anger management catalyzes movement toward handling advanced emotions. These are 59groupings of feeling that are more complex. Aggressiveness couples Anger with Anticipation. Awe’s composition of Surprise plus Fear is the opposite of Aggressiveness. Aggressiveness can be triggered by any number of stimulating emotions, including rage, vigilance, loathing, ecstasy and others. Note that Aggressiveness defined in this way connotes an element of knowledge – thinking.

dossard du Maillot prix de la combativité

dossard du Maillot prix de la combativité

But all this probably doesn’t go through one’s head while bike racing, unless you’re a champion whose conditioned responses are sharpened swords wielded by a self-controlled conqueror. Certain tactics are aggressive in racing, such as an attack. An Attack, defined emotionally, is an action preceded by a perceived obstacle that registers as a hostile maneuver that then triggers Anger as fuel to destroy the obstacle. The difference between most and the champions is that consistent winners refuse to allow these responses to have power over them and instead use these responses as fuel applied at the proper moment. This isn’t to say that emotional riders don’t win. Some of the biggest winners are emotional riders. Passion slings from them like the sweat from their brows. It’s the extraordinary measure and focused uses of this passion that lead to wins.

Often assertive moves that work are surprises to everyone else and therefore don’t elicit timely aggressive reactions. On the bike this may result in a break that leaves others butchered or slowly strangled by single-file surges. Competitors are left in Awe or Disappointment more than in Anger, and Anticipation has been demoralized. The ability to utilize Winning Aggressiveness comes from experience and awareness – altogether different than instinct or emotion and yet composed of each.

Prayer re: Aggressiveness
“We can do anything we want to. But I tell you that not everything is good for us. So I refuse to let anything have power over me.”  601 Corinthians 6:12


We confess our boldness needs to be supported by brains and brawn. We pray for the submission of aggressiveness to body and soul.

Ponder Do I use the same tired move? Affirm I try various moves at the right times. Watch and note when aggressive moves lead to victory.

58“Patient Aggressiveness and Bike Racing,” posted on Joe Friel’s blog May 4, 2007

59“The Nature of Emotions,” by Robert Plutchik posted on

60The Bible, Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Championship Emotions/Emotional Health

Posted in Championship Emotions on June 16, 2009 by bethleasure


54“I had been through enough abuse. The secret’s broken, and I never want to be that person again. There can’t be any more secrets.” Greg Lemond, One of the Heroes, on emotional healing of childhood trauma

Imagine your most shameful secret revealed. Ponder the courageous strength to reveal that secret voluntarily in order to heal and help others. That’s championship emotion capable of winning the biggest bike races.

Greg cried in disappointment after a bad race; watching his level of passion helped draw me to cycling

Greg cried in disappointment after a bad race; watching his level of passion helped draw me to cycling

We often hear of the emotional benefits of exercise. No supporting documentation exists on the pursuit of cycling as an attraction for emotional healing, yet as fertile ground for recasting grueling trauma into glorious endeavors, many anecdotes exist. One astute 55observer noted, “The pro peloton in Europe has an undercurrent of abuse, neglect, and emotional challenge associated with it. Many with childhood trauma are racing at a high level. This isn’t documented, just my observation.” Another career manager of pro teams postulated on a series of bad choices by one grand champion, “He’s definitely working something out” as a result of childhood loss.

At-risk youth become adults that face a greater probability of physical, social, cognitive and emotional problems. These consequences are well-documented. At-risk is defined as abused, abandoned, neglected, adjudicated or emotionally challenged. The abuse can take many forms including physical, verbal, sexual, or psychological. There isn’t a person on the planet that doesn’t have some scar from the improper behavior from another person. Even minor trauma must be processed or consequences linger.

Therapists 56recommend working on these innermost wounds privately in a circle of trust before deciding to go public – or not – about one’s hardest experiences. Just as time in itself isn’t enough to produce a winning rider, hard work must accompany emotional health. The best news is that we in the peloton can overcome our past by facing it with the same vigor we use to train for a win.

Prayer for Emotional Health
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God…Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”   57Isaiah 40:1, 30-31

Our souls cry out in pain. Be a Presence that comforts us as we seek wise and caring counsel when needed. We ask for emotional health for the peloton.

Ponder Which emotion(s) need attention? Affirm I am emotionally fit. Watch energy soar when negative emotions release.


54“Revealing sexual abuse suffered as a child helped cycling champ LeMond heal,” by Eric Adler The Kansas City Star posted July 28, 2008

55Sources protected because both these conversations were confidential discussions about specific individuals and general trends. Both comments were made by knowledgeable, educated and intuitive pro team staff working directly with riders at the Grand Tour level.

56An excellent source for discovering the process of emotional healing is Healing Is a Choice: 10 Decisions That Will Transform Your Life and 10 Lies That Can Prevent You From Making Them by Stephen Arterburn. Thomas Nelson Publishers September 2005

57Holy Bible, King James Version public domain

Championship Emotions/Anger Management

Posted in Championship Emotions on June 15, 2009 by bethleasure

Attack, Counterattack

52“I decided to attack in the last couple of kilometers and knew it would be difficult.” Igor Astarloa Askasibar, 2003 World Champion, on his perfectly timed attack


In championship racing, the timing of the final move is critical. If a rider counters every attack or surge without regard to energy cost, it’s doubtful that race-ending pep is available. Power must be applied judiciously; and data file analyses show in kilojoules that winners produce more zeroed-out space, pedaling less than others. Efficiency, razor-like readiness wins races.
Anger can burn like the sun OR light the way

Anger can burn like the sun OR light the way

Likewise, precise management of anger-fueled energy can help us. It feels like crap when someone mistreats us. Powerful feelings of anger energize for action and signal that something is WRONG! Anger is a necessary emotion – our fence in a land of intersecting interpersonal boundaries. Yet it’s a secondary emotion. One first feels afraid, attacked, offended, disrespected, forced, trapped, or pressured, and anger registers.

Distinguishing the causes, and therefore the solutions of that wrong can be more complex, but is necessary for the primary rescinded need to be protected and replenished. Utilize the important information that anger gives. Take time to think through the occurrence and why it felt like a trespass against you.

Anger repressed or sustained in the body can lead to sickness. There are many studies linking long-term anger to physiological stress; and stress to reduction of antioxidant disease-fighting ability, as well as hypertensive disorders caused by loss of relaxation. Properly managed anger fuels energy, indicates a wrong that needs righted, a battle that must be fought or something from which to flee. Like a well-timed attack, you want to put this energy to its best use while dropping all in contention.


Prayer for Anger Management
“Be angry but don’t sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” 53Ephesians 4:26

We are grateful that anger in itself isn’t wrong, and confess we sometimes misuse it – countering to our detriment. We pray for awareness of causes, and wisdom for its restricted utilization.

Ponder What does my anger have to say? What’s the lesson and how do I apply it effectively? Affirm I use my anger to fuel intense response or release, with kindness to myself and others. Watch sunrise’s upsets shine hot at high noon and fade into mellowed beauty by day’s end.


52“What They Said,” by Tony Szurly in “World Champs: Elite Men’s Road Report,” Daily Peloton. 10/12/2003

53The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson