Archive for the Heat Wave Category

Cycling & Road Infrastructure

Posted in Heat Wave on August 13, 2010 by bethleasure

Cycling Mirage

33“It is a grueling day in the sun so what does a rider get besides sore muscles, tired posterior, sense of accomplishment and several hours of pure cycling madness? There is no answer that fits all. Riders pit themselves against the road and elements for different reasons.” Hotter ‘n Hell Hundred annual August event in Texas

Road good enough to eat...on

Every road rider enjoys long stretches of beautifully paved road. The road provides a way toward many destinations. The uses of the road are many. Environmentalists rejoice, new 34uses from hot roads include siphoning solar energy! As the heat waves from pavement and melting tarmac increase our rolling resistance, we are glad for a healthy network of asphalt.

Great roads contribute to great riding. Some of the most successful promoters have ties to transportation authorities that connect race sponsorship with government budgets for new roads and maintenance. One race promoter sat on his state’s highway transportation committee and each year, new venues and newly paved roads would magically appear. Like some of our favorite quiet training routes, these practices have the potential to be crooked, but not always. There’s nothing quite like new racing pavement for speed and safe cornering.

But ancient paths and old roads provide interest and challenge, such as epic stages that go gravel, with steeper sections than most cars can handle. These provide beloved memories of conquered terrain that makes us all feel like superheroes in rain capes. Even on the flats, we all encounter potholes the size of Texas that can swallow downed riders especially if drenched and filled by a summer downpour. Roads take a beating from extremes in weather and hard use and then take their vengeance on the soft skin of the peloton.

For example, those seams that don’t quite match may be large enough for a tire to hit at an angle for truly technical riding. Crazy endo’s, superman style occur in such cases. Then there’s the uneven, off-camber railroad tracks with a diagonal approach that invariably some rider dead heads and dead-ends a shortened day. Looking ahead to avoid the obstacles isn’t always possible with curving roads or a packed field or a frenzied crowd blocking the view. Far sighted stares can also be obscured by the mirage-like effect of salty eyes, or winded perspective, or cross-eyed effort. All we see ahead is more pain but the hope toward the finish line drives us on, no matter what the road is like.

Prayer for Road Infrastructure

“I will make each of My mountains a road, And My highways shall be elevated.  Surely these shall come from afar; Look! Those from the north and the west…” 35Isaiah 49:11

We are thankful for existing networks of roads and we pray for more roads opened for events, maintenance and safe passage.

Ponder Am I paying attention to road conditions? Affirm I use vertical techniques like the bunny-hop! Watch the surface and pick a safe line if possible, otherwise pray for safety.

33About Hotter ‘n Hell Hundred posted on www.hh100.org

34“News Releases: Alternative Energy Hits the Road. Research at WPI Explores Turning Highways and Parking Lots into Solar Collectors,” posted August 11, 2008 by Worcester Polytechnic Institute, MA www.wpi.edu

35Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Cycling: What’s Hot, What’s Not

Posted in Heat Wave on August 10, 2010 by bethleasure

What’s Hot, What’s Not

28“Two related trends bode well for our sport: More and more races are providing online pre-registration, and more and more races are reaching capacity…”  Chicagobikeracing.com

Hot: Yoga for Cyclists Not: tight, weak muscles

Today consider contemporary cycling crazes.

HOT: Internet information and interaction for rides and races

NOT: Electronics replacing face-time, used for delicate personal discussion or conflict-resolution, and further isolation depite more ways to communicate

HOT: Less elite amateur teams and more low-budget pro teams

NOT: Amateur skills and habits in a pro peloton; not enough mid- to high-level professional teams and programs

HOT: Powermeters, positioning systems, accurate analyses of energy expended for nutritional replenishment

NOT: Replacing pacing strategies by feel or human spirit for robotical prognostication or by targeted data only, and this from me, a power-based training coach

HOT: High intensity work, less long slow distance

NOT: Six hour rides for weekend warriors; likewise neopro advancement with not enough volume

HOT: Criterium series and UCI Tours (U.S.)

NOT: Disappearing stage races/quality events for mid level pros (U.S.)

HOT: Ethics for winning; sense of purpose from participation

NOT: Questionable accountability or testing; winning at all costs

HOT: Strong teams with a number of capable but selfless winners

NOT: Arrogant team leaders who can’t get the job done

HOT: Facts plus faith

NOT: Optimism without realism, discipline, data, or deft counsel

Prayer for Trends & Fads

“An intelligent person is always eager to take in more truth; fools feed on fast-food fads and fancies.” Proverbs 15:14

 

“Young people are prone to foolishness and fads; the cure comes through tough-minded discipline.” 29Proverbs 22:15

We pray for truth in our trends, firepower instead of quick fixes.

Ponder Is my belief system current? Affirm I spot truth in tradition and trends. Watch new ways and remember worthy old ways.

28“Is it necessary to pre-register?” Apr 15, 2008 posted under “Reader Questions” on www.chicagobikeracing.com

29The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Cycling Animals

Posted in Heat Wave on August 6, 2010 by bethleasure

Dog Days

30“It’s great how stealthy bikes are. Animals are often surprised by our sudden appearance…And the stuff of legends this has become…a Nannup Tiger (supposedly extinct… people who claim to have seen one are branded nuts.) It was a very isolated part of the south of Western Australia. We stared at each other until he realised that people were not supposed to see him and trotted off.” Adrian, an Australian, on animal encounters of the bicycle kind

I don't make this stuff up...really.

With all our miles on isolated roads, it will be a bicyclist that discovers 31Bigfoot. Here’s just a North American list of animals encountered while racing or training thus far – other than road-kill of every kind: deer running across, beside, toward me; wild horses and escaped cattle; moose, elk, and antelope; bears yikes!; giant turtles crossing the road together (a flock of turtles?); geese, duck and chicken families; ground hogs, prairie dogs, porcupine (imagine quills in a tire); moles, squirrels and chipmunks escaping spoke entanglement (since squirrels can be so wily, we have to come up with another pejorative for a wobbly cyclist); birds swooping and pooping (Audubon-types would envy this list); bats, bees, moths and other pollinators; mice, rats, minks and raccoons; foxes and coyotes; pissed peacocks and wild turkeys; frogs, toads, tarantulas; snakes, lizards, and armadillos; wildcats and bobcats, mountain lions heard but not seen thankfully!

Housecats seem to get killed by cars but have sense enough to run or duck for bicyclists. Dogs are the most common problem. Not that I dislike dogs, but dogs are unpredictable with bicyclists. There are the yipping, barking, protecting dogs; but there are also chasing, herding, biting dogs, and the worst – crossing dogs. The latter can be deadly for rider and dog. Trouble with these types of deadly dogs is the unpleasant encounters with these types of deadly dog owners, who sometimes delight at their canine quirks. Jerks! In fairness to dog lovers, regularly I hear an owner yell, “Rocky, come” or some other moniker for Fido on the loose toward the female on two wheels. Keep leashing and lowing. We need a clear road even when we like the company.

Prayer re: Animal Interaction

“…bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.” 32Genesis 6:19

We thank You for making creatures of the non-cycling kind. We ask that the procession toward the ark be cancelled when we ride close and for safety of all species and cyclists.

Ponder What is my first response to unsafe animal scenarios? Affirm I realize roads are artificial intersections for animal routes.  Watch – it’s amazing what’s out there!

30“Animal Encounters of the Bicycle Kind,” posted on January 17, 2007 – a response by Adrian www.bikehugger.com. This posting has a few great animal encounter anecdotes on it!

31This is a joke. Just because I believe in God doesn’t mean I believe in everything. Although, I do think that some form of wild ape could exist in North America, and I’m waiting to see it at road-side in the dark woods of Appalachia near my homestead.

32The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Cycling & Heat

Posted in Heat Wave on August 3, 2010 by bethleasure

Some Like it Hot

19“It was a sauna out there.”  Raivis Belohvosciks, Latvian Olympian on Beijing Road Race DNF

It's just a mirage, that's really a bicycle

 

Late summer Latin dominance in hot and humid races is nearly predictable. Northerners take notice, some like it hot. We perform best when our body is not under stress from our surroundings. As an outdoor activity, cycling relies on the good graces of Weather and Terrain. These graces growl during these dog days of summer. The more time spent with under heat stress, and the body adapts. This happens fairly quickly and within 2 weeks, one can expect big changes in blood volume while sweat rates and the efficiency of sweating begin to improve also.

Spending time at altitude or in heat and humidity begins a process of physiological adaptation to those conditions. Pro cyclists travel to training camps or make choices about where to live that simulate these conditions so the power of the graces can be wielded for the initiated and against the unfamiliar. Even a few days of heat exposure prior to an event helps acclimatization, and racing a few events in the heat before a key race tops off intensity. Saunas, heat chambers and other artificial environments assist adaptation.

Before a national event in a humid southern climate, the bike on a trainer in a greenhouse at the hottest part of the day became my training laboratory. Simulating conditions improves 20heat tolerance – coping with dehydration while lowering resting body temperature, perceived exertion, cardio strain and salt losses in sweat. The body sends a message for mineral depletion by increasing the salty residue after hard exercise sessions. This is a chalky white whisper that more salt is needed! Depletion of salt and water and increased core temperature can lead to several heat-related illnesses – from fainting to heat cramps, heatstroke, and potentially life-threatening and brain-searing heat exhaustion. Hydration and salt replacement in hot or humid conditions becomes life-saving not just performance-enhancing. Yet the best enhancement is gradual exertion over time in the targeted environment.

Prayer for Heat Acclimatization

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter,  day and night will never cease.” 21Genesis 8:22

We are glad for promised seasons and aware of unpredictable weather. We ask to acclimatize in predicted hot conditions.

Ponder Am I matching preparation with expectations as it relates to hot and humid events? Affirm I heat up my preparation according to the expected climate of a venue. Watch the thermometer and barometer.

19“Olympics-Cyclists wilt as Beijing competitors feel the heat,” by Francois Thomazeau posted Aug 9, 2008 on www.reuters.com

20High Performance Cycling, by Asker E. Jeukendrup Copyright © 2002 by Human Kinetics Publishers 

21The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Sex Drive & Racing

Posted in Heat Wave on August 7, 2009 by bethleasure

Hot & Bothered
22“You don’t bring your wife to work at a factory or office, no girls at races.” Pro-Team Policy

Cyclists are a passionate group

Cyclists are a passionate group

In this month, the weather can be extreme and it has an effect on behavior. Mortality rates and city crime waves rise with temperature. Really hot humid conditions stimulate sleeplessness, irritability, and poorer reaction time. Conditions like SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder that depresses and slows some down in the winter heats up hypomania, including greater involvement in pleasurable activities with 23high potential for painful consequences, such as unrestrained buying sprees, foolish business investments and sexual indiscretions.

Even in healthy individuals, 24moods and energy levels are connected with the seasons. Birds fly higher and animals are more active. Reproductive 25proteins connected to environmental change bring on breeding season. Bright days with full sun are stimulating and affect physical functions, such as activity, mood, and sex drive. Add testosterone production from hard training and racing, and summer cycling can grow a family.

During heightened stimulation, studies show no 26negative physiological effects of sex prior to performance, but eyes wide open -there may be social, psychological and emotional consequences. A policy of abstinence prior to important competitions is practiced in most sports, and some scientists suggest this improves concentration. The physical act of sex may in fact relax an anxious athlete; other implications may distract and distress. Team dynamics can be affected by the presence of spouses or other outsiders.

Emotional complications arise from noncommittal sexual activity. Biblical suggestions are to keep sex sacred as it is a spiritual act meant in the committed context of marital fidelity. Not just a physical unity, sex is quite complicated and encompasses body, mind, and soul. You wouldn’t give away portions of your mitochondria or blood plasma before a race, why give away portions of the deep stuff of your soul that also has an impact upon athletic drive? Remember, when there’s fire down below, smoke gets in your eyes.

 

Prayer re: Sex Drive & Racing
“None of us has touched a woman. I always do it this way when I’m on a mission: My men abstain from sex. Even when it is an ordinary mission we do that—how much more on this holy mission.”27    1 Samuel 21:5

We ask for discretion and for the peloton to consider sexual morality.

Ponder Are my sexual practices helping my spouse or creating problems? Affirm I control my sex drive. Be careful what you Watch!

 

 

22This was the policy of a major pro tour team that was very successful; source quote is confidential. Sometimes, it may be appropriate to allow married athletes to couple with spouses – during extended tours for example. The no girls at races policy depends on the consistent behavior of the athlete and spouse and their awareness of how sex could affect performance. For example, the comfort of it may decrease anxiety but it may also cause it depending on the relationship. It may also decrease marital conflict by allowing contact during frequent travel, and I know of one team whose spouses accompanied during long periods of travel and racing. It may also be distracting to have a spouse around when trying to focus on racing. Do what strengthens both the marriage and race performance.

Biblical policies for marital abstinence suggest only for a time, then come back together. Biblical sex is defined as a sacred activity and not merely a physical act. Sex drives are treated the same way as any form of control, such as controlling anger or what one says. However, single athletes may consider abstinence as a policy in general. Not participating in sex is a willpower that can be built over time. These energies can be mounted for other testosterone-stimulating activities, such as hard training and racing. The body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, with athletics a form of worship released to the God who created you, the athlete; and as such, should be kept with great care.

23“Hypomanic Episode,” posted on BehaveNet® Clinical Capsule™ on http://www.behavenet.com

24“Weather and Behavior,” posted on http://www.bbc.co.uk

25″Environmental Control of Kisspeptin: Implications for Seasonal Reproduction,” Endocrinology, v. 148, iss. 3 David Bricker. IUB biologist Ellen Ketterson and graduate student Melissa-Ann Scotti, and UC Berkeley graduate student Alex Mason and undergraduate student Jacob Levine also contributed to the research. It was funded by grants from Indiana University and UC Berkeley. http://www.eurekalert.org

26“Sex and Sports: Should Athletes Abstain Before Big Events?” by Stefan Lovgren posted February 22, 2006 on http://www.news.nationalgeographic.com

27The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Burn-Out

Posted in Heat Wave on August 4, 2009 by bethleasure

Wheels Flambé

17“Let a man find himself, in distinction from others, on top of two wheels with a chain – at least in a poor country like Russia – and his vanity begins to swell out like his tires… Life is not an easy matter… You cannot live through it without falling into frustration and cynicism unless you have before you a great idea which raises you above personal misery, above weakness, above all kinds of perfidy and baseness.” Leon Trotsky, Proletariat Bicyclist

 

Cooked by a long season?

Cooked by a long season?

What is that great idea that causes one to rise above personal misery? High ideals replace baser forms of motivation, such as vanity. If celebrating cycling doesn’t restore enthusiasm for riding and racing, chances are the hot wheels of summer are up in flames, and confidence has combusted to burn-out.

Typically, this occurs after some supra-goal meets a dead-end or path not worth taking. Like the impressive visual presentation created by crepes flambé at its dramatic point of preparation, the flames of desire extinguish both by unmet achievements or in a void that winning cannot fill. Burn-out often follows a long period of concentration to the exclusion of awareness of other realities typical of preparing and participating in cycling events. Interest and physical energy may diminish, circumstances may feel out of control, and solutions detached. Reality gets lost signaling the need for recovery.

Recovery restores physical energies but exhausted expectations need spiritual renewal as well. Spiritual priorities were re-set for me after a cycling goal baked my wheels flambé. Even with measured success, its ashes proved this wasn’t the right goal for me. Rather than pursue a flaming road of frustration, I stopped and took time to ride and ponder my reasons for membership in the cycling community. Burn-out wasn’t an option because cycling is a passionate calling for me. I expect to be hopeful within this community and through cycling. I prayed to find the right road again. The answer was a re-direct and one result are these writings. Any unmet cycling goal or lukewarm spirit is set aflame by persistent prayer – either with renewed determination or with redirected priorities about it.

 

Prayer re: Burn-Out
“Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame…cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder.” 18Romans 12:11-12

 

We recognize vanity or improper worry about reputation cooks real living to a crisp. We pray harder listening for spiritual matches to set our cycling hearts aflame.

Ponder Am I burning-out by imbalanced rest, recreation and reasons for riding? Affirm Cycling is my job and a joy. Watch that focused riding is rejuvenated by God’s plan.

 

17Leon Trotsky posted on www.brainyquote.com. Trotsky was a Bolshevik and charter revolutionary in communist Russia who believed in Marxism applied as social democracy. His assassination by a Stalinist was only recently recognized as martyrdom for his divergent beliefs.

18The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson