Archive for the May Flowers Category

Cycling & Podium Presence

Posted in May Flowers on July 20, 2010 by bethleasure

Winner’s Bouquet

37“My father phoned me to tell me to continue racing, and I will take the winner’s bouquet from today back to Italy to lay on her tomb.”   Guido Trenti, dedicating his Vuelta stage win to his Grandmother

A Sweetheart on the Podium


A class act example of podium behavior is all the public may know of a rider off his bike. This moment is a very important one to inspire crowds, please sponsors, thank teammates, and send a winner’s message of grace and gratitude. The podium pro stands on the top step and looks at the shutter of every camera pausing for the perfect shot, slightly altering position to peer into every lens. The famous know to look at the camera as if facing a best friend during these structured shoots. Hundreds make their living based on this shot and your interview savvy.

While racing in France, my association on a racing squad famous for historical development taught me much about public speaking. Every regular team meeting at club headquarters, we were required to stand before our peers and give an account of our recent performances. The French press spends endless time talking to their cyclists in a public forum. What these riders discuss isn’t fluff but full of useful information that reveals their thoughts, personalities, race details and strategic insight. Perhaps the analytical public demands reasons for everything but the result is great interviews and cyclists who are savvy at speech. A bit is learned of the rider. Some of the race mystery is revealed to nurture an interested public, and this promotes cycling.

To witness a bit of the private person in public delights: a winner kissing a podium girl who happened to be his wife; a win dedicated to a supporter; a bouquet delivered to team staff as thanks; a credible interview in clear voice rallying popularity. Deals are made and broken based on the savor of this key celebration– will you smell like a rose from the victory bouquet or a skunk cabbage?

Prayer for Podium Presence

“To the latter it is an aroma…the smell of doom; to the former it is…a vital fragrance, living and fresh. And who is qualified for these things?”  382 Corinthians 2:16

We are glad for opportunities to shine. We confess celebrating publicly increases our vulnerability. We pray for a powerful and pleasing podium presence and good interview and media skills.

Ponder Can I discuss a race intelligently and speak well in public? Affirm I speak to the masses with a grateful demeanor and choice words of explanation. Watch the crowd for cues to speak or pose.

37“Trenti takes easy win,” posted 28 September, 2001 on BBC Sport Online

38Amplified Bible Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

Active Recovery

Posted in May Flowers on May 14, 2010 by bethleasure

Smell the Roses

42“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Author-Sherlock Holmes & Cyclist

A real childhood cruiser bike. That bar wasn't for sissies!

A personal rule is never evaluating performance in a fatigued state. The days after hard racing are better left to physical recovery, spiritual renewal, practical fortification but not emotional attachment. For example, after a hard weekend of racing that leaves you spent, don’t use Monday to figure out how to change everything and plan a new campaign. Detach until energies return and thought processes reward with greater clarity.

The longer the event, such as a tour, the more such days are necessary for recuperation. Lightly active easy days are better for recovery than days completely off, although inactive days away from cycling entirely have a place also. Active recovery days can be spent in a variety of activities, including strolling and yoga, but most serious cyclists stay on the bike. This is the time for that ride that feels like a tourist pedaling along at lowest intensity, coasting encouraged. Various names describe its soothing pleasurable nature, such as sightseeing- exploring new places or coffee ride- meeting a friend at a favorite java haunt or smell the roses ride- enjoying nature.

One quintessential such ride occurred in a botanical park where I cruised serenely among garden sidewalks and literally stopped to smell various varieties of rose. Glorious restorations of the soul occur on such rides. Evoke childhood memories of the fun the bike originally gave you, such as recalling Evel Knievel-type antics on a bike with sissy-bars, streamers and a banana seat.

The bicycle is a mechanical gift to mankind, a toy for play despite its seriousness at times. Have a fun-ride. No analysis, see the world afresh!

Prayer for Active Recovery

“Has anyone planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy it?

Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else enjoy it.” 43Deuteronomy 20:6

We are thankful for life’s pauses. We confess sometimes our reaction to working hard is working harder. We pray for sweet times of ride refreshment.

Ponder What is my first or best childhood bike memory? Affirm I am a kid again on this bike toy today. Watch and see everything since you’re going slow enough to take it all in as if for the first time.

42 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle quoted in Scientific American, January 18, 1896

43The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson


Youth Cycling

Posted in May Flowers on May 11, 2010 by bethleasure

Fresh Blossoms

29“It is the first time in our history that children are not expected to live longer than their parents! Clearly, ride clubs have a role to play in addressing this social issue.” Karen Overton, Recycle-A-Bicycle, Youth Cycling Program

How I feel every time I ride


Today we address not the keen category of junior racing, but the incredible societal potential of involvement with a youth cycling movement. Every one of us should be about the business of cycling evangelism. It’s a marketable gospel of health and vigor, and nowhere is this more in crisis than with the children of developed nations.

Programs for kids focus on fostering fitness that feels less like a mandatory gym class and more like fun, handling skills, contributing and participating in group settings, safety, and building self-confidence with each mile logged. Another tenet of the faith is that riding a bike provides environmentally-sound, affordable transportation – a sermon with worldwide youth appeal.

Youth programs assist kids in work-study about mechanics, seek fresh talent for race development, and provide alternatives to delinquency. Cycling is taught as vocation, on subjects like community consciousness, business management, and recycling bikes from landfill to the playground. Our young buds blossom in the environment that is the fertile ground of cycling culture. All this is obviously top-flight activism.

In a simpler role among non-cycling friends with children, it’s assumed I can teach their kids how to ride. Indeed, a coaching joy is watching a tyke go from his trike to a bike in a few grass lessons. This is one of my favorite father-daughter memories after all – a legacy that keeps on giving. Many of the kids assisted retain cycling’s appeal and turn out to be old folks on fixed gears spinning throughout a lifetime, through every rite of passage, a consistently happy activity that recalls moments well-spent in youth. Ride forth and make disciples!

Prayer for Youth Cycling

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” 30Proverbs 22:6

We give thanks for a heritage in children. We pray for opportunity to pass on cycling’s best traditions and ask blessing on youth cycling.

Ponder Does my inner child need some retraining? Affirm I take a time-out and evaluate elementary motivations, skills, and activities. Watch for programs to donate bikes, visit a school, volunteer at a kids race, or guide a child after removing the training wheels!

29“One Revolution At a Time: A Guide to Starting and Running Youth Bike Clubs,” by Karen Overton and Audrey Warren, published by Bike New York and Recycle-A-Bicycle, 2002. and

30The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Mountain Laurel/Climbing Speed

Posted in May Flowers on May 14, 2009 by bethleasure

33“Being a mountain specialist is very hard. Not that I’d rather be anything else because I don’t think you can become…a better human being without effort. You can beat the problems of life much more easily if you’ve met hardship. It sometimes looks as if the first rider to the top has done it fairly easily; you tend to feel more sorry for the men who’ve knocked themselves out to make the climb at all; but believe me to be quicker than the rest and particularly than the other stars involves a lot of pain.”   Manuel Fuente, El Tarangu-Man of Strong Reputation

Fuente in Pink following Merckx

Fuente in Pink following Merckx

34«Marco, perché vai così forte in salita? Per abbreviare la mia agonia».

“Marco, why are you such a strong climber? To shorten my pain.” Marco Pantani, Climbing Sensation


The pain is great, but skirmishes of the mountain specialists to shorten it yield bicycling beauty. On craggy slopes of mountainous forests here in the mid-Atlantic, a gorgeous flower blooms between May and June known as Mountain Laurel. If ingested, its toxic poison leads to 35“profuse salivation, depression, uncoordination, vomiting…watering of the eyes, irregular or difficulty breathing, weakness, cardiac distress…”

These symptoms are a bit like painful climbing at race speed. This ultimate test of limits for a road cyclist demands a large heart, lean body, leg strength, and lethal abilities to suffer. The strength gained from off-season uphill endurance and overgeared tempo is the launching pad toward the pinnacle of speed up the peaks of early summer. A fitness progression to further prepare for this climbing prowess includes flatland speedwork, rolling motorpacing, dozens of uphill races, power intervals of varying gear selections, and a well-trained ability to sustain paces of suffering that buffer again and again into uphill anaerobic agony.

Peak examples of these physiological and psychological factors blossom in the mountain stages of the Grand Tours. Here is where the hardy hearts of the hills display their splendor and unleash dangerous moves of distinction. Honors, such as King of the Mountain, Trophée des Grimpeurs, Cima Coppi, Polka Dot and Maglia Verde are the laurels of hillside heroes. Perennial favorites and annual newcomers embrace the pain of penultimate courses for this mountainous glory!

“I take heart and gain strength. I run like a deer. I feel like I’m king of the mountain!”36Habakkuk3:19


Prayer for Climbing Speed

We are enthralled with uphill combat. We pray for the elements of uphill speed and for help and hearts as big as the rising elevation ahead. We ask blessing on our beloved Climbers.

Ponder Have I heart enough to climb quickly? Affirm I climb with speed if I prepare to embrace pain. Watch who suffers shortest.


33“The Greatest Show on Earth: The Story of the 1974 Giro d’Italia,” directed by Michael Pfleghar ©1974 Bavaria Atelier GmBH, packaged by World Cycling Productions

 Manuel Fuente, the little Spaniard, was respected by Merckx for his mountain strength, 40+ pound weight advantage, and climber’s penchant for uphill attacks. He was known for his character and died in 1996 after battling kidney disease at age 50.

 34Marco Pantani, not sure the original source for this quote. For a great tribute to Marco see, “Marco Pantani, don’t look back in anger,” by Podofdonny posted 2/13/2007 on

 Ultimately the pain of both of these mountain men was eased through shortened life.

 35Mountain Laurel

 36The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Corsa Rosa Pink Tour/Giro d’Italia

Posted in May Flowers on May 7, 2009 by bethleasure

39“But the Giro is so long…so I must continue to believe in good results for me and also for our compact team.” Enrico Gasparotto, Italian National Champion, Maglia Rosa fashionista


In a letter to Romans, one 40apostle called unbelief the most spiritual of all vices. The Giro, like the other events in the trinity of Grand Tours, requires unshakeable confidence to sustain its twenty-one fiery tests of faith.

Time to think pink

one must believe to think pink


In catholic imagery, pink marks the halfway point of penance on the road to eternal happiness. The race for Maglia Rosa is one of the purest tests of cycling greatness and perhaps a sort of penitential sacrifice is necessary to endure it. Certainly it requires many days of preparation for its many days of tribulation before offering redemption and reward.


These tribulations provide historical moments – epic snow pilgrimages, teams eager to prove their worthiness for the French Alpes by dominating the Dolomites, and near sainthood status for the time trialists. These dramas of superlative racing action and amiable pageantry also have theatrical pauses, such as raids on stores for free soda water by domestiques or the peloton stopping for delicate cakes as a memorial to a special campagnolo. We look forward to seeing and believing.


Prayer for Giro d’Italia

“Everyone here in Italy wants to be remembered to you. Grace be with you, every one.” 41Hebrews 13:24-25


We are thankful for this colossal opportunity to witness the best at their best. We pray for the faithfulness of participants. Bless Giro d’Italia.


Ponder Am I penitent for lack of faith as seen in half-hearted action and disbelieving decisions? Affirm I accept grace to believe. Watch faith always rewarded and the faithful redeemed despite past deeds.

39“May 11: Overcoming Obstacles,” diary entry by Enrico Gasparotto for 2008 Giro d’Italia


40Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, and this letter is canonized in the New Testament as one of the great epistles on faith. He later served time in house arrest in Rome. Using time wisely in his Roman penitentiary, Paul eagerly greeted and wrote to the faithful, willing to suffer anything to model belief.


41The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Time to think pink

Race for the Roses/Stretching Limits

Posted in May Flowers on May 5, 2009 by bethleasure

Race for the Roses

31…it was time to sort of man up and take a chance, and I knew that the last corner was close to the finish… I thought if I hit the last corner first, maybe a couple people would come around me, and I’d still get a podium result which is pretty huge for our team. So…I just got probably a nicer run into that last corner, and then it was pretty much just everything I had to the finish.”   Richard England, Pro Cyclist, Stage Winner Tour de Georgia


Just one more stretch to the win!

Just one more stretch to the win!

Stretching beyond real and imagined limitations is one of cycling’s requirements. Consistent winners don’t prepare to win thinking it will be easy. They accept the task requires taking brutal chances. It’s a misconception that more talented riders win with ease. The most successful don’t rely on talent but work the hardest, building on the momentum of small successes, perhaps a sense of destiny, and extra push and risk.


Every life demands the kind of effort that exceeds expected results but must be attempted regardless. Sometimes the reward isn’t the result but the effort itself. Consistent sprinters come into the finish with strategy to win yes, but also with abandonment that trying will put you there – win, place, or show. Think of the strain of a thoroughbred on the back stretch in a horse race, such as the Kentucky Derby. The Run for the Roses is considered the “most exciting two minutes in sports.” This is an example of giving all you’ve got and some you may not yet know you have.


Cycling has its exciting minutes, such as the key attack up a famous wall or the final kilometer in a full-squad lead-out toward a prestigious finish line. And in every cyclist’s experience, there are personal exciting moments, such as digging deeper than ever before to hold on in a tough section or trying a new tactic that puts you in a stronger group.


Consider a training session or a racing moment when you can apply all your effort in an intelligent yet unfathomable exploit. Push to test the limits and see if boundaries require a renewed survey. As summer planting is underway, stay grounded in self-acceptance by attempting hard things – unconcerned about the changing winds of approval of others or fleeting results. This is cycling’s midseason back stretch – our race for the roses.


Prayer to Stretch Limits

“Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?” 32Job 11:7


  1. We are glad for trials which elicit inner strength. We pray for will and purposeful strategy to probe our limits and go for it!        


Ponder When is the last time you gave everything you have? Affirm I try my hardest and then some. Watch your efforts rewarded when a bit of limitless Infinity adds a piece to your portion of faith-in-action.


31Breakaway, enewsletter April 25, 2008 DAILY EDITION Issue 12 of the Tour de Georgia

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