Archive for the Out Like a Lion Category

Tolerating Pain

Posted in Out Like a Lion on June 24, 2011 by bethleasure

Go Fly A Kite                                             La Flamme Rouge

The Red Kite is overtaken                                              62La flamme rouge dépassée
The Yellow Jersey arrives                                             Maillot Jaune à l’arrivée
Radio Tour Information                                                      Radio Tour Information
Broadcast Television Tour de France                 Transmission télévision Tour de France

Kraftwerk lyrics, Techno Band, Cycling Enthusiasts

Timm Peddie

Peddie, Mionske, Chann, Darren, Lance - 1992 Olympic Team

Before Olympic road cycling became professional caliber, the final amateur American Olympic Trials occurred in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Based on a points system, one could qualify for the Barcelona-bound team but not before first facing the formidable class of 1992 – future lions like Lance Armstrong and his notable compatriot star domestiques. Yet it was an underestimated rider named Timm Peddie who forced an attack that stuck and won from his small group.

Peddie was not a favorite but he wasn’t without palmarès. He’d done some national team trips and had been tested as an espoir. Not as talented in some areas (and not doping either), his ability to suffer was off the charts. He wasn’t considered a GC contender, but he was known for repeatable snap that separated him at odd times from a peloton of painmeisters. His results were few but they were spectacular and solo. He rode with passion and produced a plethora of emotional reactions. This same fire
characterized his off-the-bike persona as well, and he was often a source of controversy due to his relentlessly righteous zeal. He was not without flaw nor meant to be pitied because he was misunderstood. He was simply as fiery and in-your-face as the red kite which clearly marks the final kilometer. He held nothing back.

In meeting both pain and the final kilometer, it’s no time to quail, rise up to the challenge or neither gives you respect. Mais où est cette maudite de flamme rouge, je ne sens plus mes jambes! Where is the flippin’ red kite because I cannot feel my
legs?! The red kite can also be a sweet marker that indicates your time to suffer will rise and fall at last…prior to the podium flowers, showers and resuscitating powers of rest and recovery.


Prayer for Ability to Finish Strong

“Lift up a banner and proclaim it; keep nothing back…” 63Job 39:21


We are thankful for the inflatable archways of the flamme rouge that mark the remaining throes of suffering. We ask for ability to tolerate this painful challenge that leads toward an expected end.

Ponder Am I eager to face pain like prey that must be clawed? Affirm I forebear to finish strong and capture a reward. Watch the kite as a sign to keep nothing back, then fly.


62“Lyrics 2003 Tour de France,”

63The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Milan San Remo

Posted in Out Like a Lion on March 18, 2011 by bethleasure

La Primavera             First of the Season 

69“It was bleak and the wind made a low moaning noise. I’d have felt scared if I hadn’t been used to bad weather in cyclo-crosses…I was sure of my victory and with only 100km to go I felt a new strength. The idea of crossing the line alone brought back all my energy.  Eugenio Christophe, 1910 frostbitten winner, hospitalized for a month after Milan San Remo

A Beautiful Beginning

The first spring monument of the classics, La Primavera is frequently caught in a battle of indecisive weather. The environment’s drama of colliding air currents is an appropriate feature of this classic’s intensely fought race to the finish.

Historically, eager early season victories have occurred both via bunch sprints and by separations. In the past, Col de Turchino frequently determined the winner. Now no longer such a factor, other added features discourage the race ending in a predictable bunch sprint.

Italians have won it most often posting fifty firsts, with Eddy Merckx the most individual wins at seven, and Team Bianchi working together for fourteen victories. Costante Girardengo also won seven times but was disqualified once for going off course; incredibly he finished in the top three every year from 1917-1926.

Many were winners of other events, including world championships. As early as 1914, riders from outside Europe came to participate, attracted to the attention of its hard conditions. The route also has steadily increased making it the longest classic. It winds along the coast but toward its end, the little constant hills of the capi spring into play, and the race comes alive on the Cipressa. Eddy Merckx believed that everything had to be saved for the end, and Laurent Fignon sat on the back for 250 kilometers waiting for his two wins.

The separating move is now made most frequently on the Poggio, but even the descent into San Remo can help decide. Best chance is had by a long-suffering sprinter or by an enduring strongman who can handle final surges. The first of the First of the Season must truly be on form and able to fight to the finish.

Prayer for Milan San Remo

“You’ve got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it…do what you can, not what you can’t…This isn’t so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you’re shoulder to shoulder with them all the way…” 702 Corinthians 8:11-20

We are thankful for the first tests of the season. We confess we focus on the long unknown rather than the short certainties that come with time. We ask to do what we can and blessing upon Milan San Remo.

Ponder Do I focus more on what I lack? Affirm I must concentrate on what I can control. Watch what you can do for your unique strategy.

69“The Most Terrible Conditions,” April 3, 1910 account translated from La Gazzetta dello Sport After this victory, Christophe was hospitalized for a month for frost bite but took 2 months to return to full health.

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

Italian Cycling

Posted in Out Like a Lion on March 11, 2011 by bethleasure

Gocce de Vita    Drops of Life

66A river is born drop after drop… you will be disappointed and saddened, but fate is a sort of hinge on which much else depends.”  “Dewdrops” theme for 2007 gran fondo ride, Maratona dles Dolomites

Pantani, poet of the mountains

I miss the lion that was Marco Pantani. I never knew him personally, but as a climbing aficionado and ex-wife of a cocaine-addict, I felt his passing most keenly. It was to manage the shock of relationship with a crack addict that I chose the intensity of bike riding initially. To treat post-traumatic stress, cycling transported me to a healing place. So Marco’s discesa pericolosa, “dangerous descent,” into hard drug use was poignant, connecting my beloved and victorious velo-world with distressing personal memories.

My relationship with Italian cycling took on new meaning after his demise. I regretted that I didn’t know Marco. Perhaps even one understanding, gracious conversation would have made some difference had I had the chance to speak to him. Camaraderie and communication do matter. We know that cause and effect are important to destiny:

67“Many a factor helped the team to stay united and keep motivations high: the pride of being part of the national squad, the eagerness for redemption in such a bad moment for Italian cycling, and the long time the ‘Squadra’ had been spending without taking the title. All these key-factors played their part in the masterpiece the boys accomplished on Sunday.”  Franco Ballerini, on directing 2002 World Champion Italian team

Think of a few past Italian contributions: language, politics, romance, design – and their effects on current influences of culture – food, wine, art, world religion. In Italian cycling, there are numerous distinctions: such as quality frame and equipment manufacturers, a steady stream of cycling coverage broadcast worldwide, and cycling passion. The appassionati gather grupo compatto to participate and watch cycling – and why not for such scenery?! Dura, dura…hang in there!

Prayer for Italian Cycling

“Let us not give up meeting together…but let us encourage one another…” 68Hebrews 10:25

We are thankful for tears to mourn our losses and feel our passions. We confess we sometimes harden our hearts when softness is demanded. We pray for passionate dialogue and ask blessing upon Italian cycling.

Ponder Is there anyone whose pain may be alleviated or course straightened if I intervene? Affirm I care enough to confront, making a difference in another life. Watch how words have impact; caring is received, though one may have to wait for this result.

66Preparations for the 2007 Maratona dles Dolomites,” Angelo Senza La O’s entry of January 11, 2007 on Gran fondo is the Italian version of cyclosportif. The website for this gran fondo is

67“World Road Championship – Italian Interviews Wrap-Up,” By Fabio 10/15/2002

68Holy Bible, New King James Version, Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Spring Classics

Posted in Out Like a Lion on March 8, 2011 by bethleasure

Returns the Roar

64“I think only of victory.”                 Rik van Looy, King of the Classics

RvL: Monumental winner: as a man thinks so is he.

Spring is here, the Classics commence, and the lions prepare to line up. The Classics are long-standing races of the highest professional level, the celebrated first fruits of the cycling season. To win ensures a career in blossom, to attempt it shows great courage. Spring roars the return with pleasure and power in the dominion first established by van Looy. A few facts:

*    Most prestigious one-days on the international calendar occur in Europe

*    Long, technical point-to-point epics, some circuits also

*    Often accompanied by uncooperative & uncomfortable weather and temperatures

*    Courses often feature numerous hard steep hills and tough road surfaces, such as cobblestones, frequent turns, and narrow passage

*    Best teams compete; participation determined by various methods over time

*    A few riders become classics specialists

*    These hardmen are swift, strong and confident tacticians

*    Most revered are 5 Monuments of the Classics. Only 3 men have won them all:

Rik van Looy, Roger De Vlaeminck, Eddy Merckx  – all Belgian

1         Milan San Remo             March      Italy

2         Ronde van Vlaanderen   April        Belgium  

3         Paris-Roubaix                 April        France

4         Liège-Bastogne-Liège     April        Belgium

5         Giro di Lombardia         October    Italy

*    Spring Classics

Amstel Gold Race The Netherlands                             La Flèche Wallonne Belgium 

*    Semi-Classics and other notable prestigious races of Spring, such as

Omloop Het Volk        Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne     Gent Wevelgem           Belgian Cycling Federation for comprehensive list

Finally, the classic that may cause you to claw for the start line is your local spring event that signals a new season of prowess. Celebrate with an epic ride that roars in the vigorous return of race season!

Prayer for Spring Classics

“Vaulting the mountains, leaping the hills…like a gazelle, graceful; like a young stag, virile…Get up, my dear friend…winter is over…Spring flowers are in blossom all over!” 65Song of Solomon 2:8-12


We are thankful for tradition and history in cycling. We ask blessing for the Spring Classics.

Ponder Do I have an epic early season event or goal? Affirm I get results! Watch these races and their lions as they decide who is king on the road.

64“Making of an Emperor,” TIME magazine June 1, 1962 Rik was the first cyclist to win all five of the most prestigious one-day classics. He won a lot of other races also. See 

65The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Hung Out To Dry

Posted in Out Like a Lion on March 30, 2010 by bethleasure

59“It was such crappy conditions, and it felt good even if I was shivering the entire race, it felt good. After seven hours on the bike, I saw that everyone in the break was pretty exhausted, I knew I had it all good.”   Dominique Rollin after winning an epic cold wet windy stage of Tour of California

Because it's so fast

While others suffer in harsh weather, excitement runs through the hard men. You hear excuses pre-race of being too lean to endure such conditions, yet winners don’t appear to have more body fat. Perhaps it’s attention to replace extra energy lost due to thermal stress but for sure it’s tenacious psychology. Where fear is sensed, the fearless come to the fore since fighting for the front needs fitness but also mental activation.

But if caught in the screaming single file gutter dead last and on the rivet, you mustn’t focus on your placement. Instead race only for the wheel ahead trusting that a lull will come or anything in fact which relieves your lungs from being north of your throat. However, if caught in the screaming single file gutter dead last and not on the rivet, then you must seek ways to move beyond this death chair or you’ll be hung out to dry. Unless caught in the screaming single file gutter dead last not on the rivet with better steady state than surge fitness and you know how to shoot the gaps. Then you could actually enjoy this tunnel vision tongue on the top tube speed of the front who are obviously fitter than you. And your mood may be brightened because you prefer that it’s above freezing with horizontal rain instead of single digit wind chills faced with only mounds of clothing for company. Certainly if caught in the screaming single file gutter dead last enjoying steady pace, change of weather, fewer clothes and more riders, you are in the best spot for worry-free spitting, considerate not to add to the conditions of those near. Now if caught in the screaming single file gutter dead last steady state pace, change of weather, spitting happily with fewer clothes and about to hit cobbles, then the skill of shooting gaps will come in handy as you careen around the carnage of your competitors. This additional debris along with small animals out of hibernation and into your roadway are another part of the season’s conditions.60

Otherwise, stay on the front. Remember no matter how hard it is, when it’s over, the experience will never come back again quite like that.

Prayer for Spring Conditions

“We need to be energetically at work…while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over…He said this and then spit in the dust…” 61John 9:5-6 

We are thankful for how seasonal conditions add yet another dimension to cycling’s variables. We pray for safety, a little toughness and tenacity to endure the gutter. We ask for a blessed and Happy Spring!

Ponder Do I have a relentless will for the front? Affirm I fight my way back again and again. Watch for spring’s blessings through its special hardships and savor the hard moments as opportunities to shine. 

59“Interview with Dom Rollin after winning Stage 4 of ToC,” video interview courtesy of youtube and on February 21, 2008

60“Mirror Incident,” by Beth Leasure from Spok’n Word, race report from Europe, 1995-1996

61The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Ways of the Windblown

Posted in Out Like a Lion on March 26, 2010 by bethleasure

57“On a really windy day it is very difficult indeed to move up from echelon to echelon, and so your finishing position may already be decided by the echelon you’re in.”  Rebecca Bishop, Pro Cyclist

If the lion is a tailwind,  no worries

If the lion is a tailwind, no worries


Matter-of-factly, my Dutch director gave only one strategy for my first European classic, “Ven ja leaf da citi center, ja moostbe en da front. De vind vill sort it out an de ras vill be over der.” (When you leave town, be on the front or the race is over.) Sure ya well, I’ll be ready.

So we started as he said, and did our round about the city. Passing through downtown, we headed into narrow straat toward tulip fields racing 5k so far. One more block of perfectly manicured village, I sat 15th in the sweet spot, thinks I.

Past the sheltering row, we rode into a wall of wind. The first echelon formed in seconds. It went across the road with dexterous velocity and put a gap of impassible space between the next line. Fifteen riders couldn’t fit across that path so I was in the second echelon. The race for first was over for all but the front dozen.

Afterwards, my director and I looked at each other and I said, “Ya well, now I know what you mean en da front.” In the howl of Holland’s winds as if I’d never raced before, the roar of any March lion previously known seemed like a house cat. It wasn’t enough to know it was coming, you had to learn its ways.

It’s wicked hard in an echelon. Even in sheltered crosswind, the riding is resisted. If wind gusts laterally, there’s still air ahead to slice with no slipstream to protect. Of course, the road is always turning so the echelon is like covering yourself with a sweater in a gale – inadequate shelter.

Usually guttered, the final position in the echelon is the worst – providing less side and no drag protection. So a trick to rest can be to take more pulls nosing in front before the last wheel rotating or to sit mid-way behind, constantly nosing your front wheel in and out of the moving middle. No one seems to mind if you do this for a rotation – the Dutch are winsome even if their winds are not, but still this is a time when doing the lion’s share of the work is definitely rewarded.

Prayer for Echelon Skills

“We made slow headway…and had difficulty arriving…when the wind did not allow us to hold our course.” 58Acts 27:7

We are thankful for a way to sail on bikes. We ask for skill to slice air in the boomerang of windy pacelines.  

Ponder Do I train in winds with others to learn its ways? Affirm If I must take the path of most resistance, rest and rewards can still be discovered. Watch the wind’s direction for clues to find a semblance of the sweet spot.

57“Peloton Riding,” skills by Rebecca Bishop, Scottish pro, posted on

58The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson