Archive for the Summer Carnival Category

Eight Years for a Day: Olympic Cycling

Posted in Summer Carnival on August 1, 2011 by bethleasure

13It’s the most amazing day of my life. I’ve been working for this for the last eight years, especially the last four, and to time everything right on one day is an accomplishment of its own.” Kristin Armstrong, Time Trial Olympic Gold

Olympic Day, Wedding Day, child's birthday - lots of big days in life


What a day it is to peak correctly! Olympic cycling comes only every four years, but the preparation for an Olympic goal occurs every day years in advance. Eight-year physiological planning is considered the gold standard for Olympic competitiveness. Based on this idea and a national team program that is medal-driven, American women have medaled in the past three Olympic time trials. This is the height of honor in female road racing. Whatever struggles were encountered, all pale in comparison to the shimmer of metal on this special day.

Yet living out the countless minutes of training, discipline, sacrifices in lifestyle, travel schedule, race rigors, saying no to over-commitment and yes to isolation and even to boredom at times is all part of what it takes to slip that circular medallion around your neck. It is hardly the high-life enduring hours of racing in the rain, training in
the cold, skipping dessert, keeping farmer’s hours, honing the craftsmanship of
the sport and refining psychology, emotions, and character for excellence.

It takes a team of experts who work well together and who remain focused on the same goal over a long period of time. Even in the time trial, a team is necessary to assist with preparation and competition. For the road race, this becomes crucial and more often than not, the winner comes from a team dedicated as a unit.

To have a great day for one day on the right day is such an achievement. It requires many days of consistent, sustained excellence at a cost in energy, time, resources, and decision-making. Really that one great day is thousands of excellent days. It takes a gatekeeper to win – someone willing to shut the door on distraction and open it to the right focus.

Prayer for Olympic Cycling

“A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else!  I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.” 14Proverbs 84:10

We are grateful for the Olympic Games –a celebration of universal unity through the community of sport. We ask blessing on Olympic cycling and all those preparing for it.

Ponder What am I willing to do for a single day of greatness? Affirm I do more than envy an Olympian. I am dedicated like one every day. Watch your days of excellence lead to a day of celebration!



13“Armstrong wins time trial gold,” posted August 12,  2008 on

14Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004 Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois  60189

Cycling & Collusion

Posted in Summer Carnival on August 17, 2010 by bethleasure

Summit on the Road

5“Levi was awesome. If he wasn’t working for George today I think he would have ridden away from everybody! He was incredible.” Chris Wherry, American Pro, describes two riders working together from separate teams (at the time)

No Gerolsteiner car needed


Levi rode like two men – the champion he is and the worker he can be – to assist George Hincapie for the win in his hometown at the first exclusively American U.S. Pro Championship. This version of cycling’s cooperative summits issued a treaty with stiff terms – national championship in exchange for next year’s teamwork since both riders signed with the same squad the following year. Both riders benefited by the agreement; non-signing participants got whammed. Is it foul or is it fair play in a sport that requires rolling alliances and pre-planned strategies? In this case, cooperation was blatant and no one was trying to hide it; probably either would have won on this day anyway. It was just a gracious favor with future business implications.

However, some events seem clearly scripted from the beginning with riders from opposing teams even on the same radio frequency or using the same team support. Caravan rules in fact state that a director can transmit information to riders from other teams but cannot also provide mechanical support to those riders. One way to anticipate an attack or to know if a chase will form is to notice if team cars pull beside each other in a caravan so directors can discuss tactics against other teams. Race winners of certain exhibition races are decided by committee pre-race. Other forms of collusion exist in cycling that are perhaps not as harmless. Examples include: scripted events that deceive the public as spontaneous acts; and payoffs as in the case of a sponsor’s bonus offered to a series winner being distributed to all cooperative teams. Fortunately, riders’ egos and sense of honor don’t allow this as a constant practice. Winners cannot be bought in the long-run and eventually cheaters turn on one another.

Prayer re: Collusion

“For God can’t stand evil scheming, but he puts words of grace and beauty on display.”  6Proverbs 15:26

We like the alliances that form on the road and celebrate this as part of cycling’s esprit d’corps. We pray for blameless racing and fair strategic practices.              

Ponder What’s my stance on unethical cooperation? Affirm I don’t scheme against the rules. Watch wicked plans bring disgrace on perpetrators and grace overcome all.

5“USPRO’06 RR: Easy As Pie For Hincapie,” by Jered Gruber posted September 03, 2006

6The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Criterium Fitness

Posted in Summer Carnival on July 30, 2010 by bethleasure

Sounds of Summer

3“I grew up doing this style of criterium racing. I’ve been a criterium rider my whole life, more than anything. If you grow up racing bikes in the States, that’s what you are. If you can’t ride a crit then you can’t make a living.”  Chris Horner, American Europro on crits 

Chris can race crits and 'cross, smiling the whole hour

Americans don’t have just a season for criteriums. Easily promoted, these events show up all year on our professional racing calendar. Crits are to American racing what Kermesse is to Belgian, or point-en-ligne is to French racing, or left-side of the road Time Trials are to Brits.
Criteriums show up in stage races here and even have their own national championships.

Crits aren’t the backbone of our race offerings but they may be feet that ground an aspiring rider to stand tall and be seen by scouting pro teams. Some domestic teams are crit-specific with rosters of crit specialists – sprinters, lead-out riders, and breakaway experts applied to criterium situations. These special crit scenarios may be translated to road racing or used in certain track events, but some of its fitness and strategies are unique to the discipline.

Many corners in tight proximity create the unique style of criterium fitness, skills, and strategies. The ability to surge potentially hundreds of times, hit corners at speeds greater than made for automobiles, and navigate around others while doing so separates crit specialists from strong road racers, time trialists or match sprinters. Rhythm changes, as a condensed feature, offer specific race segmentation; great crit riders can hear the changing music of the race like night noises to a summer camper. This music is on key during twilight versions of these events when sight and depth perception are replaced by other senses and speedy sensibilities.

As the American peloton grows younger, crit racing has become less important as a pathway to European racing. It’s still a viable path for a domestic career though perhaps not one that pays as dearly.

Prayer for Criterium Fitness

“Jesus, knowing they were out to get him, moved on. A lot of people followed him, and he healed them all… he won’t yell, won’t raise his voice; there’ll be no commotion in the streets. He won’t walk over anyone’s feelings, won’t push you into a corner. Before you know it, his justice will triumph; the mere sound of his name will signal hope, even among far-off unbelievers.”  4Matthew 25:15

We enjoy our crits. We confess our specialists may overestimate abilities vis-à-vis road racing. We know we need to know how to get around a corner to avoid commotion in the streets. We ask blessing on crit specialists.

Ponder Am I focused only on this specialty? Affirm I put parking lot crit skills to use in other road racing disciplines. Watch the front of the race or you can count yourself out of contention.

3Merco Cycling Classic – NE California, USA, March 1-2, 2008 Stage 1 – March 1: Elite Men Grand Prix, 40 mi “Borrajo claims victory a lap ahead of the field,” by Kirsten Robbins in Merced, California

4The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Cycling & Celebration

Posted in Summer Carnival on July 27, 2010 by bethleasure

Street Performers

15“Chasing records doesn’t keep me on my bike. Happiness does.”  Lance Armstrong, Street Performer

Crowd surfing is one way to celebrate

Fitness makes racing fun, and celebration turns competitive pressure into a pleasure. August is a month to celebrate in cycling. A long period of good weather, great events, and golden moments precede these days – as does hard work. These are times to enjoy rewards of labor like luscious fruits of summer – quartered, savored, and dashed with heavy cream!

Peaches and cream and everything in between are part of a dessert of well-deserved pauses in athletic endeavor. Pause and praise for whatever accomplishments and achievements have come this year! Ponder what you’ve done well, how you’ve improved, what changes could be made, and imagine endless possibilities!

Stoke your happiness through sweet thoughts of self-congratulations for the small moments of success so far this year. Then pass it on and praise your peers and supporters. Be generous and even rally your rivals and enjoy your enemies. Let nothing and no one stop your revelry. You are alive and well!

There is good all around you and gifts have come to you. Think about these things. Let grateful thoughts circulate like a merry-go-round for your cycling mind. Step up to the arcade and try your luck at shooting for some new targets – dream a little about what’s next this season. Mime a story in your heart about upcoming events and make them street performances that stop the crowd in awe and amazement! This midsummer day-dreaming is like a parade that marches into your performances.

My favorite pause was to return home and do a group ride or race that was so familiar and fun I could ride it in my sleep. It gives confidence a boost to ride as if at a summer carnival – for the sheer joy of it!

Prayer for Celebration

“For everyone will talk about your fearsome deeds, and I will tell all nations how great you are.  They will celebrate and sing about your matchless mercy and your power to save. You are merciful, LORD! You are kind and patient and always loving.” 16Psalm 145:6-8

We celebrate our love of riding and are grateful for bikes as means of escape and enjoyment. We ask to see blessings of this summer day and for happy riding moments.

Ponder What can I celebrate from this season’s cycling? Affirm I am so glad about – – -. Watch your spirits soar by commemorating special deeds at your cycling party!

15This is one of those internet quotes without a source. One reference stated that Lance said this after his 3rd Tour de France victory. Lance may have never said this. I cannot substantiate it but it does seem like a philosophy he would reinforce.

16The Bible, Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

European Cycling

Posted in Summer Carnival on July 31, 2009 by bethleasure

Rainbow Tour

7“EuroVelo 6 is an ideal route for those who would like to complete a long-distance bicycle journey one stage at a time… the whole route from the Atlantic to the Black Sea!” European Cycling Federation


European Cycling carries the world of cycling

European Cycling carries the world of cycling

Europe is the center of our cycling world. Time spent there quickly teaches you why cycling is so popular. The concept of village as part of entertainment is central to European life. Cycling brings the community together to participate and watch bike races. The mature cultures of Europe are not too old – despite sophisticated media outlets – to gather in the street to play. We have pondered already some specific European nations dominant in cycling, as well as some of their events. We pray now for all of Europe’s cycling nations and governing bodies. We take a Rainbow Tour that visits everyone and brings good news – a blessing through today’s prayer.


From a nation whose national team was besieged with difficulties to demonstrating 8Olympic dominance, Switzerland is far from neutral in cycling’s united nations. Tiny Luxembourg triumphs over giants with its trio of 9Tour competitors. Kazakhstan put itself on the 10map with solo attacks and Protour sponsorship. Each nation has unique challenges and champions and from one end of the spectrum to the other, we mention them by name:       11Albania  Andorra Armenia  Austria  Azerbaijan  Belgium  Belarus  Bulgaria  Croatia  Cyprus  Czech Republic  Denmark  Estonia  Finland  Great Britain  Georgia  Germany  Greece  Hungary  Ireland Israel Italy  Latvia  Liechtenstein   Lithuania  Luxembourg  Moldova  Macedonia  Malta  Montenegro  Monaco  Netherlands  Norway  Poland   Portugal   Romania  Russia  San Marino  Serbia  Slovenia  Switzerland   Slovakia  Spain   Sweden  Turkey  Ukraine


Prayer for European Cycling
“We knew now for sure that God had called us to preach the good news to the Europeans.” 12Acts 16:10


We are glad that cycling’s heart beats in the bosom of this continent where so many different nations enjoy and promote it. We ask blessing on European cycling.               

Ponder Who is my favorite Europro and from which country? Affirm I want European cycling to increase and improve as a model to the world. Watch and seek ways we can support European leadership in pro road racing.


7European Cycling Federation has members from 38 nations and is a cyclo-touring network that includes Eurovelo6 a transcontinental bike route.


8Fabian Cancellara – Swiss won bronze in the road race and gold in the time trial of the 2008 Olympics

9Luxembourg’s Franck and Andy Schleck and Kim Kirchen were all on the GC leader board of the 2008 Tour de France

10Kazakhstan cyclist, Vinokourov was a delight to watch for well-timed aggressive attacks. Saddened by his doping. Team Astana is registered in this nation.

11See the list on Union Européenne de Cyclisme

 12The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Criterium Season

Posted in Summer Carnival on July 28, 2009 by bethleasure

1“You can’t always win…The last few weeks have been really exhausting.” Jan Ullrich, on appearing in races and exhibitions all over since the Tour


Kriterium or Race around the Kirk

Kriterium or Race around the Kirk

After the Tour, a psyched public enjoys its newest cycling heroes in exhibition races throughout Europe. The height of speed season offers so many racing options, a pro could pull two-a-days within a small driving radius. These races take the form of criteriums, small circuits around towns suited to spectators for watching favorite riders lap after lap for a few hours. Generally, these events are held during a fête that celebrates the town’s origins. Even small cities see huge crowds that pack spectators in deep rows ringing bells and tooting horns and screaming in many languages behind barriers.

In this way, these races differ from their American cousins whose courses are more compact yet less crowded with fans. Another difference is in the strategies employed in these events which are sometimes decided pre-race by committee to ensure that the hero always wins and the crowd convinced this year’s yellow jersey wearer is truly worthy of it. Race fans are aware of this policy and seem to accept it readily. Meanwhile, riders’ tactics are programmed for this exhibition but still the racing is full-on, and sure enough, toward race end, the featured champion manages to slip to the front to properly outpower all peers.

While the truth is that a serious criterium would probably not be won by a GC leader nor a Grand Tour by a criterium specialist, the events are still exciting and offer a living display of pro cycling as breathable art. They can be exhausting for riders however. Towns known as much for master painters and superlative sculpture play host to this ritual that kicks off a season of carnival for pro cycling – a little post Tour fun for the fans, crowd-pleasers by fatigued racers, or a fine tune-up for fresh legs that sat out the Tour as preparation for some of the month’s spectacles.


Prayer for Criterium Season
“…it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.” 21 Peter 1:6


We are glad to see our pros up close and personal. We pray for them in times of fatigue, vulnerability, and expectation. We ask blessing on criterium season.


Ponder What am I really seeing when I watch a race? Affirm I display golden qualities to inspire others. Watch that the expectations of others don’t force negative compromises in your character or capacities.


1“Race Report: Telekom GP Karlsruhe/GP Breitling, Cat 1.2 Germany,” September 14, 1997

2The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson