Archive for the Foreign Tourin’ Category

Asian Cycling

Posted in Foreign Tourin' on February 4, 2011 by bethleasure


65“I am having fun in other parts of the world.”  Leon van Bon, Dutch Pro, on his Asian team contract

Asian superhighway now trading cyclists

The Silk Road extended from southern Europe, through Arabia, Egypt, Persia, and India until it reached China. It connected East with West allowing trade, communication, and cultural interaction and was a significant factor in the development of several great civilizations in which the modern world has its foundations. It was a superhighway of mutual benefit revealed by the tales of Marco Polo. Known more as an explorer, in reality Polo was a trader seeking rich merchandise. Egyptian jade was carved into beautiful jewelry in the Orient and Chinese silks adorned ancient western kingdoms; Indian spices seasoned the known world. The result was Europe’s exposure to Asian culture. While sea routes replaced the Silk Road, Polo’s tale inspired other explorers like Columbus who was in search of another route to China when he discovered the New World.

Now66 Marco Polo rides again to discover new worlds as a cycling team. The team has become a route for Asian cyclists to reach the highest levels of competitive cycling in partnership with the experience of its multinational roster and exposure of its international schedule. Like any development team, they face disparity in resources when racing against the pro teams at international tours.

China hosting the Olympic Games accelerated the pace on this new path for Asian cycling. Its spring stage races are already host to worldwide professional teams in search of early season spice: Jelajah Malaysia, Tour of Thailand, Tour de Langkawi are a few flavors.

While the names of routes may change, fine silk is still considered a priceless treasure. Look for Asian cycling to do as Asia has always done – play a critical part in adorning cycling’s future upon silken superhighways.

Prayer for Asian Cycling

“I’ll make all my mountains into roads, turn them into a superhighway.

Look: These coming from far countries…” 67Isaiah 49:11-12

We are grateful for new paths that open up before us. We ask for fresh spices to flavor cycling’s stir-fry and ask blessing on Asian cycling.

Ponder Have I some goods to offer? Are there some concepts or things I need in order to spice up my cycling? Affirm I am a traveler seeking the best. Watch for new ways to trade for fuller, richer and more luxurious cycling.

65“Last year’s Nokere winner now world traveler,” Latest Cycling News, March 19, 2008 Edited by Bjorn Haake

66Marco Polo Cycling Team info

67The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

South American Cycling

Posted in Foreign Tourin' on February 1, 2011 by bethleasure

Sin Represas62            Without Power-Lines

63“The environment along the Carretera Austral is so beautiful, you don’t care if you’re riding along at 5mph for days and days and days!”  Nik Obriecht, Bicycle Mechanic and Cyclo-Explorer 

The wild road calls gently


As cycling explorer, we are thrilled by the ride itself and in awe of the beauty around us. A trio of bicycle wanderers pursued whimsy and took weeks in January-March on hundred-pound, steel touring bikes hauling tents and all their gear in search of adventure…and found Patagonia.

Perhaps the last edge of un-civilization exists along the road, Carretera Austral that leads to Patagonia in southern Chile and Argentina. The road of 1350 kilometers is epic like “the worst, steep, craggy gravel driveway you can imagine” twisting through many climates: coast, snow-topped Andean mountains, desert, rainforest, jungle and glacier lakes. Even the word, Patagonia, sounds like a fantasy world. Patagonia is an expansive undeveloped land fiercely protected to remain as is with an incredible variety of fauna and flora. Thousand year old plants live at road-side. It’s considered the last wild place on earth.

Despite its lack of infrastructure, the experience of these wanderers was remarkably problem-free. Its indigenous people were accommodating to their cycling guests, assisting with transport to ferries, safe bike storage, and hosting meals. The hospitable natives peacefully live in the region with European émigrés who settled there within the last century. Each town is a distinct cultural enclave of its settler’s origin. Much different from taking a cruise and souvenir-shopping at tourist malls, there were no complaints even while encountering the “horrendous” conditions of the road itself. Everyone was smiling as they enjoyed one of the last frontiers without an industrial footprint. Sometimes it’s best to ride without connection to any technology – cyclometer or powermeter, reminding yourself why you love it.

Prayer for South American Cycling

“The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 64Numbers 14:7

We are thankful for the good earth. We ask for eyes to see beauty, to be without complaint, and ask blessing upon South American cycling.

Ponder Is there wildness in my cycling? Affirm I sometimes ride without power-lines and make time to explore. Watch and appreciate as you are only passing through this good land.

62Sin Represas really means without development and could refer to power-lines, dams, deforestation or any symbol of urbanization that changes natural topography. It is a movement or campaign to arrest development and the slogan seen on signs throughout Patagonia.

63Conversation with Nik Obriecht. Nik shared his stories of adventure riding in South America. All quotes in this section are by Nik. He and fellow cyclo-explorers took thousands of photographs. You can view them at or speak to Nik about his trip at the shop in Ellicott City, Maryland, USA.

Carretera Austral means Southern Road.

64The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


Posted in Foreign Tourin' on February 5, 2010 by bethleasure

59“Dont worry is ok… just let me know what u need and when, I glad to know people like you, please keep in touch!” Santiago Lopez, Mexican Team Director

Bike racing and Mexican food are a match

The transition of the aging professional from paid athlete to retirement and a new place in the world can be an anxious time of searching: one’s soul, for a job, and a new identity. My decisions were 60tranquilo, pretty relaxed. I knew I’d never leave cycling, but I was ready to retire from racing as a participant. I was more interested in developing talents in others.

So my first gig was as a Team Director in an international stage race that traveled deep into Mexico. Just me, over a hundred Latino correros, and my team of wholesome Midwestern boys. Even though my vehicle had a position number on it, there was no strict assignment in the caravan. I had to fight like an aggressive classics rider with my rented cargo van against compact Central American cars to hold my spot at the front! I thought to myself what kind of initiation is this? Yet we were well treated by the organization, and I made friends there. We also brought home the U23 jersey despite the cooperative efforts of favored teams of the region.

The culture of the race was as chaotic and despotic as perhaps the governments in Central America. Not exactly precise, a lot of unplanned last minute, we-weren’t-told stuff happened. For example, the race bible said we finished after a sharp right on the main boulevard. So our team led-out right, and the entire peloton kept straight. True this fiasco could’ve been a result of my neo-director amateurism. But I could find no printed change on any document and it wasn’t mentioned on race radio. A little band of los directores worked this out in some dark corner and neglected to tell us. Would I go back for the tours that ride all over this region? ¡Si hermanos! But with prayers to be tranquilo in all circumstances. Vaya con Dios.

Prayer for Central American Cycling
“But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.” 61Psalm 37:11

We are thankful that the discipline of quiet strength brings an inheritance. We confess we find safety in structure and at times complain about spontaneity. We pray for dignity under pressure and ask blessing upon Central American cycling.

Ponder Do I take matters in stride in appropriate situations? Affirm I can be dignified at all times. Watch for respect when behaving honorably, even in chaos.

59Conversations with Santiago Lopez, whose translation, good will, and brotherhood saved me a few scrapes in Mexico.

60Tranquilo- Peaceful, Quiet is used as a gentle command to relax, don’t worry
Correros – racers
¡Si hermanos! Yes brothers!
Vaya con Dios – Go with God, God bless you.

61The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Bike Relief

Posted in Foreign Tourin' on February 27, 2009 by bethleasure

55“It is fabulous. I am going to show this bike to other farmers and they will see the importance of growing coffee.”   Beatrice Kayitesi, Rwandan coffee farmer, first-time bicycle owner


There’s that cycling-coffee connection again – this time with an African flavor and as a means of enticing industry for economic development. Our intrigues of professional racing seem minor compared to the problems Africa faces: distribution of basic necessities, epidemic disease, unsafe water supply, inadequate sanitation, starvation, government corruption, and genocide. Despite all these hardships, African cycling rides on with a vibrant racing schedule, several internationally-ranked teams and tours, and potential for positive change via the bike. The first American to participate in the Tour de France, Jock Boyer, is now directing Rwanda’s national team, which is fast becoming a showcase to other African nations of what a cycling team can accomplish. Supported by Tom Ritchey, mountain bike design pioneer, the team brings attention to the national economic impact of his specifically-designed bike. The coffee bike has special panniers and durability to haul beans and transverse African byways. World Bicycle Relief® has also partnered with various organizations to combat the HIV/AIDS virus in Africa by providing means of transport for healthcare workers. Here is their mission statement:


56“Simple, sustainable transportation is an essential element in disaster assistance and poverty relief. Bicycles fulfill basic needs by providing access to healthcare, education and economic development. Bicycles empower individuals, their families, and their communities. Our mission is to provide access to independence and livelihood through The Power of Bicycles.”


Simple transport, racing exposure, basic needs: ride to empower!


Prayer for African Cycling

“Men cry out under a load of oppression; they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful.”

57Job 35:9


We are grateful for bikes as a means of livelihood! We confess we ignore the problems of others. We pray for relief and resources for the distribution of bicycles. We ask blessing upon African racing.


Ponder What am I doing to relieve the suffering of the oppressed? Affirm I 58assist others using my bicycle. Watch for a riding way to heed the world’s cries for help.


55“Coffee farmers get bikes on credit,” by Eugene Kwibuka, Northern Province, The New Times, Rwanda’s first daily, March 18, 2008 as credited in Project Rwanda newsletter

56“The Power of Bicycles: Empowering People,”

57The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

58All Sevens Ride for Africa. 7 Days, 7 Countries, 7 Cities, 777 Miles – and Finishing on 07/07/07 – a ride for relief. There are others, and you can organize one!

irie jammin50 – Powerful Good Times

Posted in Foreign Tourin' on February 26, 2009 by bethleasure

51“…great farm road network and the unbelievable island love for the sport of cycling…the number one sport on the island! We’re friends to this day. But that’s just the way the island cyclists are. And there are TONS of them!” Chris Gutowsky, Owner, VeloSport Vacations


Professional riders and velo vacationers have plundered the hidden treasures of the Caribbean for excellent racing and an enjoyable pre-season. Every season on the East Coast, a hurricane crushes through amateur racing by the blast of two indomitable 52friends – a Guyanese Flash Gordon and a Tornado Trinidadian. These two tradesmen are hard wheels to follow in the final surge fight for sprint position; both deal in crafty as pirates of the criterium. With silver temples and a pension, they regularly school the up and comers. Yet, they’re so friendly and fiercely competitive; you almost want them to beat you or your best guys because they’re the stuff of legend.


Likewise the promise of bounty in a Caribbean voyage causes some teams to sail in some great racing in many of these island places this time of year. Tours of the Bahamas, Bermuda, Cuba, Dominican Republic are ports of call for early season racing. The islands have a long racing calendar and a Caribbean championship. Their champions travel outside the region as well. A 53Puerto Rican sponsored team landed in Virginia to conquer its mountainous tour, and six guys with humble poise and private humor conquered better supported teams. Teams have been combing the seas searching for fresh talent and finding it among the islanders. The same ports-of-call and beach getaways likewise provide a cycling adventure. Young Caribbean riders are gaining experience even now. What a destination for a scouting trip!


Prayer for Caribbean Cycling

“Far-flung ocean islands wait expectantly…”  54Isaiah 42:4


We are grateful for relaxation and rejuvenation by island get-aways. We ask for fun rides and races and more trade in cycling talent from this region. We ask blessing upon Caribbean cycling.


Ponder Do I have friendly but competent competition that can delight me as we push each other? Affirm I am a pirate of the secret treasures of far-flung cycling places. Watch and exchange some friendly fire as you discover new territory or information in your cycling community.


50Rasta/Patois Jamaica Dictionary, Compiled by Mike Pawka, Last Updated 06/15/97


51Travel: Caribbean Winter Blues,” by Richard Pestes, posted 1/16/2006


VéloSport Vacations


52Aubrey Gordon, twice Masters National Crit Champion & World medalist on the track for points race from Guyana and Patrick Gellineau, track Masters Worlds Champion from Trinidad.


53Team CAICO is a UCI registered Colombian team with a Puerto Rican sponsor and administration.


54The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Cycling Explorers

Posted in Foreign Tourin' on February 25, 2009 by bethleasure

48“Generally I find the development of cycling good in that it becomes more globalised and is taking advantage of its popularity in such far-off lands…I hope that this development won’t be held [back] by conservative Europeans.”                                               Peter ‘Paco’ Wrolich, Pro Cyclist



Wasn’t it Europeans who were the world’s mapmakers searching for new territories? From this cycling epicenter, we look again for an ever-widening circle of conquest – for cycling interest. As the Jamaicans say, “The child must creep before him walk.” So, many pro teams slip away to play in gentle pre-season latitudes. While early season intensity burns, interesting far-flung venues make it fun. In an activity that is by nature pleasurable, it may seem strange that a conscious effort is made to keep cycling festive. Yet this is an important consideration. It’s a long competitive season, February to October for most, with a lot of racing, sponsor expectations for results, and pressures to perform. Physiology and periodization work along the precept that a peak is achievable perhaps several times a year with focused hard periods and scheduled tapering times. The days of Merckx-like momentum throughout all the important events on the calendar are pursued by a few spring to fall classics specialists. Some don’t have the luxury due to role or resources to be in top form for key events, but it is possible to maintain consistent performances without planning for a peak.


Another group to be reminded to keep it fun is anyone with a geared up personality, who takes riding seriously on some level. Those who enjoy the process of training can get so into measurable gains, they forget what it’s all about in the first place: good health, quality outlet, community-based activity, adventurous escape! Even with serious goals and a tough voyage ahead, keep your quest for new territory fun in this new season!


Prayer for Fun

As for every man to whom God has given riches and many good things, He has also given him the power to eat from them, receive his pay and be happy in his work. This is the gift of God.”  49Ecclesiastes 5:19


We exhilarate at windswept careening on fresh road. We confess we take ourselves and our goals so seriously at times, we sideline our enjoyment. We ask for escapades/moments of celebration on the bike.

Ponder How can I check my cycling fun factor? Affirm I notice my signals of exasperation that remind me to trade pace with amusement. Watch and learn what keeps you entertained to persevere throughout the entire season.


48“Wrolich travels the world,” By Susan Westemeyer, Latest Cycling News, February 4, 2008 Edited by Gregor Brown


49The Bible, New Living Version Copyright © 1969 by Christian Literature International