Archive for the Championship Spirit Category

Championship Spirit/Set Apart

Posted in Championship Spirit on June 27, 2009 by bethleasure

Spiritual Peloton

71“The need for a real brotherhood among riders has never been higher. Men may go crazy one by one, but the road back to salvation can only be found in a community.”     Belgium Kneewarmers blog




Entire teams leave races sometimes when one rider tests positive for doping. Imagine the heartbreak of hard work thwarted and dreams unrealized because of another’s misdeeds. Love motivation – pondered as individual drive – must become our distinction now in the context of team and community. Doping is selfish. It helps one rider’s performance (at great eventual cost) yet steals others’ chances. Doping messes with Destiny, and Destiny has a long future.

Yet doping isn’t our only evil, there are many ways we harm others. Today’s point isn’t a diatribe on anti-doping; it’s a persuasion for us to become a spiritual peloton. An athlete who doesn’t use drugs shows faith in goodness even if great results elude. Faith is shown by what we do, and what we do shows our faith. A doper doesn’t really believe in his own abilities or in a work ethic for success. A doper doesn’t keep his body pure. A doper erodes the resources of the community. A doper’s greed becomes the core drive. None of this exhibits the 72fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace toward God; patience, kindness, goodness toward others; or faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control practiced toward oneself.

We are to be a sanctified group. Sanctification is a spiritual concept that the body is to be kept pure and separate from unholy use. A sanctified body is a dedicated body presented as a living sacrifice. Cycling rewards self-sacrifice. A Spirited community is transformed from its natural realm to higher purposes and performances beyond what our own natures are able to express. Potential in cycling is beyond what we can imagine if we embrace a spiritual life and invite God’s power into the peloton.


Prayer for Sanctification
“Jesus said, ‘By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’”  73John 13:31, 35


We confess it’s difficult to love one another in a competitive environment where we must fight for wins as well as resources. We ask to be set apart from other athletics and activities by our love for one another and for honoring God, others, and our bodies.                

Ponder Do I think of my cycling as holy? Affirm I am set apart to serve in cycling. Watch God reward us for right motives and holy acts.



71“Coercion” posted on Belgium Kneewarmers blog 2/22/2008

72Fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23

73The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. NIV calls this section “Shining As Stars.”

Championship Spirit/Handling Criticism

Posted in Championship Spirit on June 26, 2009 by bethleasure

Opposition Attracted

79“I do understand some things about my grandfather. His determination. His character. He was a religious man, with deeply held beliefs about things like…no alcohol, tobacco, or swearing. And he had a forgiving spirit towards his enemies and adversaries.” Grandson of Major Taylor, one of the First African-Americans to be a World Champion Athlete

"Don't fail to live a clean life," one of Taylor’s Dozen Don’ts

"Don't fail to live a clean life," one of Taylor’s Dozen Don’ts

Champions are acquainted with opposition and adversity. Championship ground is broken by opposing that adversity with forgiveness and determination. The message of grace under fire is as relevant today as ever. Whenever you do well, opposition seems to increase. Everyone loves a winner – maybe because they make a magnetic target to transfer fears and insecurities.

Opposition is a first step toward one another, a spiritual 80entropy. Winners force an adaptation by everyone else that creates tension in someone of different stuff. This doesn’t surprise a winner. Everyone else sees happy podium pictures but the champ hears the comments of jealous rivals and remembers overcoming criticism. There’s always more pressure on a favorite, and often that favorite doesn’t push a popular agenda or represent the majority.

No one in cycling represents any majority. We are a minority community. We will come under siege as individuals and as a group. We must learn not to turn from pedaling to pouting or shouting. When he didn’t meet popular criteria for what a champion should be, Jesus didn’t utter a word but instead endured beatings because of what was at stake. Opposition is a grace that forces champion character because it allows death to self and faith in a righteous vindication. Some criticism is valid and can make us better. Other vitriol has more to do with the criticizer’s tensions adapting to someone better on that day. While enemies adjust, wait courageously.


Prayer for Handling Criticism
“If you see your enemy hungry, go buy him lunch; if he’s thirsty, bring him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness, and God will look after you.”   Proverbs 25:21-22

If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought…Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick.” 811 Peter 3:13-18 

We are glad to let harsh comments be turned over to God to decide methods of possible confrontation toward resolution and forgiveness.

Ponder Am I ignoring smack talk? Affirm I ask God and wise counsel to show me if this criticism is valid. Watch an enemy smoothed, perhaps even transformed, when you don’t lash back.



79Unveiling of Major Taylor Statue Worcester, MA on May, 2008:  “A Major Monument,” by Alan Cote News feature, May 27, 2008

Faced difficulties with grace

Faced difficulties with grace

Competing on Sunday was one of Major Taylor’s acts of faith, like Eric Liddell’s stance depicted in the movie, Chariots of Fire. In the context of culture, this made more sense than it does today. Faithful Christians today can race on Sunday but observe some day for Sabbath – a rest day and a day for worship preferably assembling with others to do so either in church or a small group. This is taken from a biblical principle where Christ was rebuked for healing on the Sabbath, and King David rebuked for eating bread out of the temple. Both were considered necessary acts in timing with circumstances. Bike races are on Sunday for lots of reasons – it makes sense to continue that and one can still be deeply devout.

80Entropy is a thermodynamic principle where contrasting energies are forced to turn toward one another in order to smooth differences – like ice melting in water, for instance.

81The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Championship Spirit/Stewardship of Talent

Posted in Championship Spirit on June 25, 2009 by bethleasure

Chain Tension

82“I’ve made my way steadily and it’s better for me to keep making progress. It’s better for me if I earn things myself.” Dan Fleeman, Winner of Tour of Pyrenees, historically a stepping stone to Grand Tour teams


Good tension

Good tension

It’s refreshing to read this developing champion’s quote when questioned about expectations to advance to a major pro squad. He discusses earning the right to advancement rather than being entitled to it. One of the challenges of the current class of Espoir are tendencies toward instant gratification problematic of 83Generation Y. As a group, Millennials are impatient with nose to the grindstone – a process to gain prizes, learning to deserve laurels, earning on the way to entitlement. This blatant quality easily distinguishes who will endure on the hard road of champion cycling.

Even with the effort, only a few sift through for greatness; yet without the plodding work ethic, no chance exists. There are no slackers among the result makers of Grand Tours. No GC rider is claiming rights to be there…just because.

It’s like the tension on the chain – adjusting it to work efficiently is calculated to be as close to zero chain slack as possible but never in tension. Too much slack leads to shock load, too much tension leads to loss of momentum. Often by the time a rider earns the right to wear yellow, the difficulty of advancement has tightened drive into gratitude. These riders have become great stewards of their ability – meaning they’ve been graced with something extraordinary that they’ve also worked extraordinarily. Their tension is at zero slack with little shock when fast accelerations come, and expectations keep moving forward.

This mindset is a spiritual quality that illustrates the tension between God’s grace – unmerited favor – and our free will about it. Champions invest successfully on what wasn’t earned but freely given – their talent – yet earn the right to showcase that God-given talent.


Prayer for Stewardship
“You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.”   James 2:18

“Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment.” 84Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25:14-30


We confess we put less in the coffer than we expect as a dividend. We pray to be faithful with our abilities, knowing our reward is related to a belief shown by doing.

Ponder Are my efforts as elevated as my expectations? Affirm I give at least as much as I’ve been given. Watch a champion act like a well-adjusted chain worked hard in propulsion.


82“Fleeman follows in Bernhard Kohl’s Footsteps,” Tuesday 12th August 2008 by Lionel Birnie

83Conversations with Robert Stock, business analyst for corporate hiring and job satisfaction trends. Mr. Stock has conducted studies on The Millennials, also known as Generation Y born 1980-1994 – the current class that makes up Under-25 racing as of 2008 until 2018.

84The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Championship Spirit/Yielding to Win

Posted in Championship Spirit on June 24, 2009 by bethleasure

Yield What You Want

76“We told her to lay off before the bend and stay on the inside in case anyone came off, and then to take a run at them.”  Julian Winn, British Cycling Team Manager on Nicole Cooke’s Sprint for Olympic Gold


Olympic Gold by yielding to golden advice

Olympic Gold by yielding to golden advice

Cooke’s hesitation at the strategic point toward the finish line appeared like a mechanical problem to some. In truth the move was deliberate. She yielded to her competitors and to a winning tactic directed by her manager. A win that Cooke wanted required submission to the thoughts, advice and actions of others. This is typical of championship wins. British press credited agreement by six people for Nicole’s medal, as well as teammate Emma Pooley’s planned setup attack for the win.

Submission or yielding isn’t a popular notion to a westerner’s sense of individualistic entitlement and liberty. Yet total surrender is the highest use of a powerfully free will. One surrenders because one trusts the authority. This is a useful spirit in team dynamics when pecking order may change throughout a season or a race. It’s useful in race tactics as a placatory response to an attacker – catching a few breaths with a calming posture that doesn’t threaten an opponent at that particular time. As a deferential style to riding in traffic, yielding saves lives.

A championship spirit learns to submit itself to others and even die to oneself. Acts of submission are part of a champion’s self-controlled presence. As a championship emotion, submission is composed of 77Acceptance + Reverence, and Contempt is its opposite. Submission then fits naturally with Love motivation – the most powerful and sustainable catalyst for championship performance. Spiritually, submission offers what is most wanted on an altar of letting go, letting God. On the fringes of a Jewish prayer shawl are cords worn on the head as a sign of submission before God. Champions wear submission by how well they use their heads in agreement with what others want, willing to yield in order to gain access to victory.


Prayer for Submission
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” 78Hebrews 5:7

How odd that willingness to lose is a key to winning. We confess trust in anything other than self comes by sweating blood at times. We ask not for what we want, but for trustworthy advisors and supporters. Ponder Can I yield to wise guidance? Affirm I trust the trustworthy. Watch resurrected riding when submissive actions confirm your trust.

76“Analysis: Women’s Road Race,” by Edward Pickering, Sunday 10th August 2008 Said article credited six people – coaches, management, sports psychologist, family – all committed to Nicole’s Olympic win far in advance of the event, as well as her teammates. Interestingly, Emma Pooley’s reward came with a silver medal in the Time Trial.

77“The Nature of Emotions,” by Robert Plutchik

78The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Championship Spirit/Chaplaincy

Posted in Championship Spirit on June 23, 2009 by bethleasure

Team Spirit

74“It’s not enough to have Christians riding together for support. We must serve all of cycling and do that by focusing on the spiritual lives of our elite and pro riders.” Tim Lagerborg, Founder of Team Ironclad, a faith-based non-profit for cycling

“Since [Team] Ironclad has been around, the spirit of the races has changed.” Racer noticing positive change


Australia's Pastor Lydeamore - only known elite cycling chaplain worldwide

Australia's Pastor Lydeamore - only known elite cycling chaplain worldwide

Military chaplains encourage the troops in war and peace time regardless of denomination. Many professional sports teams have chaplains to support their athletes. Yet Pro Cycling has no chaplaincy, one of few sports that lack a designated ministration to buffet its “warriors” spiritually. Is it any wonder our sport is besieged and beleaguered?

Pro cycling offers the most high profile example to the rest of the riding community. Pro cycling drives consumer interest and burgeoning growth. Often we concentrate on niche groups in the sport by funding programs for this and that in order to grow it whilst our professionals remain unsupported in the essentials of body-mind-spirit. Our pro ranks experience tragedy, death, and temptation. Our pros suffer long separations from family and support networks. Our pros grapple with issues regular riders never encounter.

Our influential pros need positive influences. They are both venerated and vulnerable. While there’s a clear anti-doping message in my writings, there is no judgment. We ponder confession, forgiveness, and resistance to temptation not hatred of dopers. Some temptations at the pro level are understandable as its pressures are unfathomable outside the pro peloton. The hard ones of cycling face hard spiritual choices every day manifested in a highly physical realm. Just as support is available for training methods, strategic decisions, nutrition, sponsorship, mental psyching, and emotional counsel, wise advice regarding the ethical, moral, and eternal implications of riders’ choices must be a feature of the caravan.

Pro football has a chaplain for nearly every team. Some teams engage in organized study and prayer. Its members appear to be on a short leash for misdeeds, and solidarity is seen among its players league-wide. The correlation for football’s success is not just about gate proceeds. God has been invited into pro football. Pro cycling needs to send a similar invitation for team Spirit.


Prayer for Chaplaincy
“…the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.”  75Isaiah 11:2

We pray for the peloton to receive spiritual counsel and care. We ask for resources to bring chaplaincy to Pro Cycling.

Ponder How could cycling be served by a moral and ethical support structure for its pros? Affirm I am influenced by the pros. Watch the sources of your inspiration and notice its correlation upon your decisions.


74Conversations with Tim Lagerborg. Team Ironclad started small with a core group of mountain bikers. They offered free spaghetti dinners at big races as a way to introduce their support to the race community while sponsoring elite riders. They merged with International Christian Cycling Club which broadened their base of support at the amateur level.

75The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Championship Spirit/Spiritual Life

Posted in Championship Spirit on June 22, 2009 by bethleasure

Spirit Power

69“…things you can do to better integrate mind and body for sport performance: Cultivating your spiritual life…notice how spiritual practice can be so physical in many spiritual traditions…” Marvin Zauderer, Sports Psychologist & Cyclist


Championship spirit is the basis for championship cycling. Where does that spirit arise and how is it cultivated?

Speaks renewed spirit for a long career

Speaks renewed spirit for a long career

Steve Speaks found his answer by accepting the teachings and person of Christ. Steve went through the gamut of searching from top to bottom and back again. He was a pretty good cyclist before this with time on the national team, pro contracts, European racing. He also practiced the seamy side of pro cycling including doping and partying.

While away racing, a drunk driver hit his family head on – killing his wife and one child and seriously injuring another. A haunted shell of a man for years, pain and anger characterized the empty despair that seemed to follow him even into races. Worse than broken, he was hardened and oddly hollow. His father-in-law was a minister who continued to pray for Steve and to hope for him to find solace and salvation. Steve finally did, quietly in his home above Boulder on bended knee. He transformed not from self-effort but from the inside out. The Holy Spirit renewed Steve’s spirit and doors opened. He met a Christian girl and married. He sought and forgave the drunk driver who’d wrecked his first love and his life. He trained with newfound passion and began to win. Further he began to dominate American racing well into his forties. Steve Speaks was a new rider and a new man because he’d discovered spirit power.


Prayer for Spiritual Life
“A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death… Jesus personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all…Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life…if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him…It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!” 70Romans 8:1-9

We need to be alive to God – to have spiritual life. We ask to simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

Ponder Is my spirit fully trained by being alive like Christ? Affirm I have resurrection power! Watch the Holy Spirit pace with your spirit to strengthen your body!!!

69“Toolbox: Integrating Body and Mind,” Marvin Zauderer, Sports Psychologist & Cyclist, posted Tuesday, August 05, 2008

70The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson