Archive for the My Funny Valentine Category

Abandonée DNF

Posted in My Funny Valentine on February 14, 2009 by bethleasure

29″DNF’d at 320 kms. Conditions: pouring rain for 27 straight hours, a high of 10C/50F, howling wind. City and town officials were evacuating the towns we were cycling through, and closing roads because of flooding…I was barely coherent, shivering uncontrollably, and had started throwing up. I decided it was in my best interests to call it quits … especially since the storm showed no signs of letting up.”                     posted by machka on randoneurs forum


Sometimes abandoning a ride is smarter than continuing. Relationally this may be wise also. No matter how much communication or attempts to resolve problems, overheated hearts must separate at times. I don’t know how many tales of failed love or lost opportunity as a result of the bicycle I’ve heard. Now in cycling’s headlines, we read of separations on an international scale when one perspective doesn’t match another about how to manage cycling’s growth or reform its problems. Calling it quits for a time may be the best way to set up reconciliation. Cool off, regroup, get better conditioned to rejoin the peloton, your special person, or the management of a situation  at another time and venue.

DNF is like the Scarlet Letter next to a race result, but it can come with valuable take-aways. It’s a chance to reorder priorities, realize another’s perspective, and recover emotionally so you can think clearly about changes that will lead to smoother involvement. The downside is that whatever issues, weaknesses, or flaws helped create the problem travel with you until you do the tough task of facing them. Calling it quits with a lover, a team, an organization, or a system is the beginning of a new set of circumstances to overcome. Be sure that IF you separate, you have done EVERYTHING you can before this option becomes necessary. Outside of your control is the desire of others to reconcile; but it’s your obligation to attempt to mutually decide that the time, climate, circumstances, and personalities are best lived in the community in a more separate capacity.


“God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and  enter into God’s work of making things right between them.” 302 Corinthians 5:19

Prayer for Calling It Quits
We are thankful for an opportunity to bail. We confess this seems simpler than solving relational difficulties. We ask for wisdom to know the difference between when this is the best option for all concerned, or when this is a cop-out for doing the hard work of effective interaction.

Ponder Is stopping better than continuing? Affirm I can choose my pauses and my finishes. Watch for a way to end that involves those affected, if possible. If not, dismount as gracefully as possible.


29Randoneurs: Roll Call, posting by Machka, Copyright 1999 – 2007

DNF means Did Not Finish.
30The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Trading Pace

Posted in My Funny Valentine on February 13, 2009 by bethleasure

27″Last night’s conversation was very impressive. Your hearts were open, and your ability to use the tools was superb. I hope that conversation is one of many signposts on your journey as athletes…and leaders, that marks a place you learned and grew.” Jeff Williams, Counselor-Mediator, Cyclist


As a director working with a team of eager young men, we used the PAIRS® method to resolve a conflict with great success! The inevitable change-up in pecking order when a rider surpasses another’s leadership on the road frequently leads to conflict within teams. Anytime the status quo changes, opposition increases. The dominant roles on teams are frequently in flux, even within the same event, and it takes care and communication to make smooth transitions among egos in competitive evolution. Sometimes riders can get a bit full of themselves with more success and become a little less appreciative of team. Bike racing being as it is, time often wears down the sharp edges of disagreement by displacing arrogance into cautious confidence.

In the meantime, conflict resolution is a must. Several factors come into play. There must be a clear authority who desires resolution among difficult or brawling parties, and it helps if that authority has neutral reinforcement. We brought in a mediator. The mediator ruled the framework of the discussion; I as director offered clarification but in procedural order; the disputing teammates listened to each other’s perspective, then responded in an orderly method. They traded pace in describing their frustrations.

I was really proud as these young men, vehemently, but with dignity laid out their grievances about one another. We gave them the forum to discuss the thing fully allowing each to listen to the other’s full report. This process gave both men understanding and constructive ways to modify for better teamwork. Years later, these same two were members of a winning team time trial squad. This was a redeeming finish for a fighting past!


Prayer for Conflict Resolution

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” 28Romans 12:18 


We are thankful for a principle of harmonious living. We confess we war for our rights. We ask for ways to express our privileges which lead to peaceful and effective relationships.

Ponder Do I need outside counsel to mediate a conflict? Affirm I seek help to be heard and to listen. Watch for persons who can help end disagreement by offering a forum for objective discussion.


27Follow-up email by Jeff Williams, who acted as Mediator for this conflict resolution. His work has helped thousands of couples to save and improve their marriages. We thought he was more than qualified to assist in a team misunderstanding.

28The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

In My Ear

Posted in My Funny Valentine on February 12, 2009 by bethleasure

24″Keeping your ears open to everything — to the spectators’ transistor radios as much as to the information coming from the directeur-sportifs…”                Eros Polti, Pro Cyclist



There’s nothing better for winning performances than the force of experienced race direction on the radio combined with a rider’s sensory awareness and perception from within the peloton. That radio in the ear is a second opinion and a source of information and motivation. Even when the information isn’t quite correct, it can be helpful in providing another spirited voice to meet the demands of a race. Someone believes in me and I can hear them!

Communication with your special someone is a lot like this. It is another viewpoint, based on correct information or not, on realities that you both are experiencing. The point isn’t to be right; the point is to hear the other’s perspective. Listening is a lost skill in a world of visual technology. We have to relearn oral tradition to be good at it. You have to listen to understand, as well as see or perceive. Countless times in race reports, what a rider saw was very different from the true result. We can only see within our range of sight; we need each other to see more.

There are some valuable communication tools which can assist you toward a more intimate, caring, and peaceful relationship. These methods can be used outside of romance also. My favorite is a 25“Daily Temperature Reading” which covers five conversational areas sandwiching hopes, praise and previously undisclosed information between heart-felt areas you’d like to clarify or see changed in your interaction as a pair. The speaker has the floor, then the listener: one point at a time. Both parties face each other. By the fifth stage, no matter how heated the discussion, the way is cleared for understanding and deciding together how to tackle a problem. This makes the conflict an opportunity to become intimate allies. Sounds like winning teamwork!

“Lo, mine eye hath seen all this, mine ear hath heard and understood it.” 26Job 13:1

Prayer for Communication
We are thankful for interaction which brings insight and greater awareness. We confess we sometimes like the sounds of our own voices and opinions over others’. We ask to be better listeners.
Ponder Am I an accomplished listener as well as expresser of what’s important to me? Affirm I talk about and listen to problems. Watch but don’t rely fully on sight; use the ears of your heart and on your head too!

24“An Autobus Named Survival,” More Stage 11 Reports, Tour96 archives, from L’Equipe article after Stage 7.

25“Daily Temperature Reading” is a method for communication by PAIRS® Copyright © PAIRS Foundation It was created by Virginia Satir, a noted author and psychotherapist. For mediation sessions, we use a Dialogue Guide that provides prompts to reveal where disconnection takes place so conflicting parties can resolve conflict.

26Holy Bible, King James Version public domain

Solo Attempt

Posted in My Funny Valentine on February 11, 2009 by bethleasure

22″I just want a girlfriend.”   States Almost Every Espoir Cyclist I’ve Coached

No marriage, no children. This is the dream of some cyclists whose marriages or family responsibilities weigh upon them like too much Valentine candy. Others are longing for a special relationship that can share at least part-time in the life of a cyclist. Grass is always greener? Perhaps, but there is a motivational factor in a romantically happy existence. The chemical effects of being in love are like dark chocolate to the nth degree on the brain: a deeply satisfying experience into the dopamine zone.

You could say I’m the least likely person to write this section or the most. The romantic part of my life has seen sadness and failure, which I partly attribute to my need for growth and understanding of self and men. On the other hand, many a successful new venture has come from the experiences of formerly bankrupt entrepreneurs. Hard things teach valuable lessons to those willing to learn. I believe that areas where we’re meant to be glorious are at times where we experience our greatest challenges, so I still have hope and so should you if you’re mounting up for a solo attempt. The truth is, sometimes no relationship is better than some relationships. Being a single cyclist has many benefits. Beyond playing the field, one can focus on the field as a serious cyclist trying to make it in a highly competitive environment. Freedom to travel and live with limited resources carefree from responsibilities of looking after others financially enables you to live your dreams in cycling. Not every romantic relationship has to be serious so long as both parties understand the level of interest; otherwise, someone may get hurt which may be more distracting and debilitating than being alone. Either way, enjoy some fun times of discovering who you are on and off the bike!

Prayer for Singles

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”- 1 Corinthians 13:4-5


We are thankful for transitions of solitude. We ask for soul mates to come into our lives at the right time who appreciate our cycling-selves; and for healthy dating or encouraging friendships in the meantime.
Ponder Do I need a soul mate or a playmate? Could I benefit from some time solo? Affirm I can be alone and content. Watch and guard your heart from connections which take away from your purposes.


22Too many names to mention. This is a tough reality for aspiring elite riders who are focused on the time necessary to make it as a pro, not to mention lack of resources and energy to cultivate and keep a relationship. Some of their European counterparts are already married and have strong foundations to support them through this tough transition as young men seeking their way and livelihoods.

23The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

In Tandem

Posted in My Funny Valentine on February 10, 2009 by bethleasure

20“She’s stronger than she thinks and her efforts are necessary for us to achieve our objectives. If she stops pedaling, we’re in trouble, I thought as she said, ‘If we weren’t connected, I wouldn’t be pedaling.’”                      

Jeff & Laura Williams, father-daughter tandem team


Marital love is meant to be agape, committed and unconditional. Love like this may begin in romance but continues in confidence that another’s differences or viewpoints can contribute to what’s best for both lovers. Connie Carpenter and Davis Phinney must’ve figured out something really important about how to incorporate cycling into their lifestyles beyond their talent and world-class performances – wonder if they would write us a he said/she said book about marriage between cyclists? This would be valuable advice that’s sustained a happy relationship and produced another world class cyclist in son Taylor Phinney. While they are one of cycling’s famous families, all of our families can be famous for being loving. No family is completely without its challenges. Because of the gap between perfection and reality, there is familial dysfunction even with a loving couple possessing masterful parental skills. Today isn’t so much about coping with your past family experiences as it is about how to think about being a passionate cyclist and building a happy family simultaneously.


My theory is that because of Europe’s knowledge of cycling culture, European racers have better odds at starting families and having stable home lives than American counterparts. The spouses of Europe seem to have more understanding of what it takes to be a bike racer, and they live in proximity to where their mates race. Perhaps we can take a lesson from them in family life as we have for decades in racing strategy and training physiology. Quality time and being faithful to understand one another are strong wheels to roll beneath in tandem.


Prayer for Marriage & Family

Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage.” 21Hebrews 13:4


We are in awe that two can become one. We confess our inabilities to think and behave in the best interests of our better halves at times. We ask for improved communication that leads to understanding our mates’ concerns/needs and for blessing on the marriages and families of cyclists.


Ponder What is my familial ideal/reality? Affirm I learn what it takes to include my spouse/family in my cycling lifestyle. Watch for freedom to ride by offering your family to participate how they wish.


20“The Power of Teamwork: A Bicycle Built for Two by Jeff Williams in Daily Grace & Truth, an email devotional. Jeff Williams is a Marriage & Family relationship expert, Counselor-Mediator, Leadership Coach, Recreational Cyclist, and friend. Jeff was the President of the Board of Team Spirit, a non-profit to bring chaplaincy to cycling active in 2005-2006 founded by the author. Jeff is currently the Founding Director of Grace & Truth Relationship Education. His relational principles can be found at


21Holy Bible, New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Tyndale House Publishers

Love & Bicycling

Posted in My Funny Valentine on February 9, 2009 by bethleasure

18“To ride a bicycle properly is very much like a love affair – chiefly it is a matter of faith. Believe you do it, and the thing is done; doubt, and for the life of you, you cannot.”  HG Wells, Author & Bicyclist


We dedicate this week to romantic relationships, which bring us joy, purpose, and companionship but which also cause us the greatest consternation during times of conflict. Cycling adds to the dynamics of our relationships, for better or worse: it is time-consuming and can be perceived as self-indulgent, although riding/racing do give benefits to and via community. If you’re a cyclist, even a single cyclist, eventually cycling is an issue that will be addressed in a relationship, perhaps that’s why you’re single? Even a monk would have to account for all that time on the road – away, distinct; separate in cause and passion. Do tandem teams in relationship with one another have more harmony? Not necessarily, neither escapes the other through cycling since having interests apart from your loved one is necessary also. Even relationships with other cyclists have conflict as a result of cycling. Cyclists with other cyclists seem to have as much conflict as a result of cycling as cyclists in relationships with non-cyclists. So while cycling may change or be an additional component in the dynamics of relationships, it is never the true cause of conflict. There’s a lot of talk these days about compatible personality styles for couples, so called perfect matches based on common preferences; but studies show that relational health has little to do either with opposites attracting or with having a lot in common. Rather, what is at the heart of healthy, happy relationships is compassionate, committed love; what the Greeks call agape or unconditional love. How does one find such a love? Well, we don’t fall into fitness, and neither do we fall into this kind of love. We pray for this week’s ride down Lover’s Lane.


Prayer for Relationships

“…if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing…

these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 191 Corinthians 13:2, 13


We are thankful that we’re created for profound and pleasurable intimacy. We admit that cycling passion sometimes competes for our aficionado. Teach us to love in a way that is mutual.


Ponder Am I able to be committed for lasting love? Affirm I determine what type of relationship I’ll seek based on my ability to commit. Watch for love to find you when you say what you’ll receive.




18The Wheels of Chance: A Bicycling Idyll by HG Wells published London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd. 1986


19The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society