Archive for the The Hard Rode Category

Cycling & Weight Management

Posted in The Hard Rode on September 7, 2010 by bethleasure

Don't leave the bread behind

Bonking & Bulimia

5“I never understood the term BONKING until I started cycling.” Dr. Al Bowman, Cyclist

Weight management is a constant priority for cycling performance. An optimal eating style is an art of personal preference that relies heavily on the science of nutrition and mathematics: Energy In=Energy Out.

With this focus come abuses and excesses. In women’s cycling, there’s a risk within the female athlete triad for bulimia/anorexia. While it’s important not to pound poundage – become obsessive about it, svelte strength-to-weight ratios are the fundamental unit of measurement for successful performance.

Some riders try to address weight management and race fueling issues by bonk or depletion training. We did bonk, we do bonk, we will bonk. It’s not always possible to get the right amount of carbohydrates in time to avoid hypoglycemic shut-downs. The brain and muscles are functionally affected. We feel ripped off and humiliated when something so simple to maintain robs us from potential performance. But training in a bonked state is a bad idea. The basis for bonk training begins a day sans breakfast and then goes for a ride. In reality, this slows not speeds metabolism 6. Metabolic processes burn more energy so eating more regularly improves metabolism. Glycogen depletion contributes to poor immunity, risking illness. Training starved can lead to less intense training. Intense training is the side of the strength-to-weight ratio that really matters in race performance. Sometimes being a bit beefier helps keep up the power numbers.

Also muscle mass is heavy so targeting weight in poundage isn’t the meal ticket. Lean mass mass + power output are the two indicators to watch.

Instead of starving, eat for fuel with pleasure. The French seem to have it licked – small tasty portions with variety, in-season freshness and something alive in each meal. This translates to performance meals that are a tasty source of high-calorie, quickly-processing snacks à table or from a musette. Eating wisely and well for performance and a perfect waist line do not have to be distasteful.

Prayer for Weight Management
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” 3 John 1:2

We recognize this as a hard discipline and are glad for all the delicious food choices to maintain good health and high performance. We ask for responsible weight management.

Ponder Am I well-fed AND svelte? Affirm I love eating well and wisely. Watch the hard continue to ride.

5“Fuel for Cycling,” by Al Bowman posted under “Cycling Nutrition” as of 9/30/08 on

6“Mythbusters,” a webinar presented by Stephen J. McGregor, Ph.D. on 3/18/08 arranged by USA Cycling. Stephen is part of USA Cycling Science & Education faculty and Applied Physiology Laboratory of Eastern Michigan University.

7The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Lack & Uncertainty

Posted in The Hard Rode on September 29, 2009 by bethleasure

Broke & Bewildered

16“…rightly or wrongly, the US Pro scene is still seen as the poorer relation to European racing.  This highlights the human struggle that is professional cycling away from the top echelon of riders...” Ian Melvin, Cycling Movie Reviewer


Heres someone whos figured out how to make a living from his bike

Here's someone who's figured out how to make a living from his bike

The top echelon of riders is not without struggle, uncertainty or lack. Successfully managing a cycling lifestyle is about overcoming lack and uncertainty. It is true that our top Europros may know less about financial lack than their domestic peers – in many nations, but the riders who serve them or who are in development aren’t getting rich either. Further, even world class women have less potential for an enriching income than male peers.

I recall a scornful editorial by a top 17European-based pro. He criticized a domestic-based female peer for her response to poor funding. She figured out how to get what she needed so she could race by living rent-free in a van. Her “mobile home” was humble but enabled her to race her way into a national title and Olympic inclusion. Instead of praising her resourcefulness, this pro rued her lack of resources publicly trying to shame her as unprofessional. He seemed to have forgotten his own history as a developing rider – sharing equipment and small living spaces with other struggling cyclists. Eventually, he had a big salary from a robustly-sponsored team but sadly, he went on to struggle with lack of judgment and tested positive for several banned performance-enhancing substances. Who managed their poverty more skillfully?

The racing lifestyle is rife with many types of lack that the truly successful overcome or at least manage. Everyone must not lack realism or judgment to restructure for financial viability and victory.


Prayer re: Lack & Uncertainty
“For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.” Proverbs 11:14

He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.”  Proverbs 12:11
“And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” Matthew 13:58

 “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” 18James 1:4


We confess we are responsible for some types of deficits due to lack of faith or lack of work. We ask for abundance and surety.


Ponder What are my options when in financial lack or if lacking judgment, advisors or faith? Affirm I ask God for what I need and then work with Him in either getting it or letting it go because it was more of my want not His best for me. Watch the hard continue to ride now with another focus – financial viability, rich in character or restructuring for success.


16“Cycling News: Product Review: Pro – The Movie,” By Ian Melvin posted Jan 19, 2005 on  Pro – The Movie is a sequel and follow-up to film feature, The Hard Road.

17Not naming names here. The point isn’t to judge the riders involved but to illustrate lack of resources, lack of judgment, and lack of other necessities for success as an ethical and empathetic bike racer.

18The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Vanishing Opportunities & Events

Posted in The Hard Rode on September 25, 2009 by bethleasure

Between Rides

14“Another factor is my view on doping in sport. I’ve had money taken from me and results taken from me by people who have later tested positive. So that, too, has reduced my ‘win at all costs’ mentality that I might have had. It has lessened my drive to ‘win, win, win’ and made it more about ‘what can I do.’ My overall satisfaction is tied more to what comes from me, and the satisfaction has increased because I know it’s coming from me.” Ben Jacques-Maynes, American Pro Cyclist


Ben seems pleasant in every situation

Ben seems pleasant in every situation

Staying satisfied amid the shifts and pace changes inherent in cycling life is a quality that contributes to mental fitness. Satisfaction is connected with a perceived sense of control – balancing when to exert to overcome circumstances and when to let go.

With the squeeze felt by changes in economic prosperity and the ever-present flux in team life felt most particularly toward season’s end, a satisfied soul learns how to moderate will to draft through the toughest realities.

Some of these realities have to do with teams coming and going, lost events due to lack of sponsorship or public attention, and aging. Anxiety about all these things can cause us to rock the delicate scales between control and release. For instance, we may become overbearing in approaching teams for a new contract; over-train instead of over-reach in training; or become the objects of negative attention versus having our needs met.

There’s a time to act another way. This is where a dialogue with God and prayer can be so powerful. In quiet moments, ponder what an existing situation can teach or how it can guide to uncover if it is really a vanishing loss or a vacant spot for a new opportunity. An All-Knowing presence sees and knows exactly what these between-times mean in the scheme of His plans for us. Learning to listen is a part of every relationship. Surrendering one’s will to a higher authority and having sensitivity to hear divine will are steps in drawing closer to God. Acting upon what you hear is a demonstration of faith. If God be for you, who can be against you?

So go for it but like one would when being efficient in the pack – wheel to wheel in the flow of the peloton. In the maturing season of impending autumn, exhibit spiritual growth between rides or opportunities. Your surrendered listening ear can seek Him in scripture and in prayer. This is within your control.

Prayer re: Vanishing Events & Opportunities
“All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field…The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” 15Isaiah 40:6-8

We understand that some things are outta our control – so we’ll let go and let God do with it what He wills. Show us Your way through it as it is the best way.

Ponder What glimpses of eternity do you sense? Affirm I see beyond the next opportunity and then the next to see what will last. I see what I need to do to get there – at least the next step. Watch the hard continue to ride when we take that faith step.


14“Toolbox: The Mind of a Mentally Fit Pro,” by Marvin Zauderer posted February 19, 2008 on This article also drew upon aspects of “Toolbox: Managing Your Will to Succeed,” by Marvin Zauderer posted April 08, 2008 on

15The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Popularity & Unpopularity

Posted in The Hard Rode on September 22, 2009 by bethleasure

Bad Guys & Good Guys

Fame or Notoriety - neither satisfy

Fame or Notoriety - neither satisfy

10“Laurent Jalabert and Richard Virenque remain the French public’s most popular riders. At the start, the mere mentioning of their names causes the public to raise the decibels a few notches .” Cycling News 

11It’s been very difficult but I will try to use all that happened to get stronger. If I had known I would have to pay that much of course I would have thought twice.” Richard Virenque, 7 Polka Dot Jerseys-TdF, on rebuilding a ruined reputation

12“I have heard nothing about the organisers changing their minds, and I have in no way requested anything in this regard. I think I had a reasonable discussion with the French after last year’s painful situation, but it had nothing to do with the question at hand. Of course I am happy, but now my attention is focused now supporting my team as best I can.” Bjarne Riis on TdF reinstatement


The fêted can become the hated, and the fêted can also become the reinstated. It doesn’t pay to put too much stock in public approval. If you live for prestige, then your vanity will exhaust you – because popularity is fleeting. There’s always the next great rider to cheer and the next monumental accomplishment.

Over time, the public is harder on those who staunchly deny wrong-doing in the face of evidence, even circumstantial evidence. In public perspective, time for truth to be exposed and the guilty to respond appropriately or not – generally divides good guys from bad guys. The public is forgiving – particularly upon admission of guilt. But if we base our motivation on public opinion, popularity or approval, our willpower and spirits go up and down like undulating terrain.

Sometimes the right thing to be is unpopular. Sometimes the right decisions take time to become popular. Yet someone must take leadership and risk popularity. Sometimes we screw up and unpopularity is deserved. We are all sinners who can be saints. We can become saintly and still fall to sin. The truth is the truth regardless of fluctuating opinions.


Prayer re: Unpopularity
 “How can I account for this generation?
…John came fasting and they called him crazy.
I came feasting and they called me a lush, a friend of the riffraff.
Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they?
 The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” 13Matthew 11:16-19

We’re grateful that God sees and knows what’s true. We ask to be made righteous in God’s eyes no matter what we’ve done or will do.

 Ponder Ever notice how the same act that makes you popular from one quarter draws criticism from another? Affirm I try to do what’s right based on a higher standard. Watch the hard continue to ride.


11“Cycling: Virenque battles to rebuild reputation,” by Lawrence Tobin for Independent, The (London) posted Aug 16, 2001 on Business Network

12“Riis reinstated as Tour winner,” Latest Cycling News, July 4, 2008 edited by Hedwig Kröner

13The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Loneliness & Isolation

Posted in The Hard Rode on September 17, 2009 by bethleasure
Broken Hearts & Bad Company

8It’s difficult to make meaningful relationships even with the team. We don’t live in the same area and people have a hard time keeping in touch even when spending a whole season together.”  Ben Raby, Pro Cyclist on the difficulty of isolation inside and outside the race circuit



Anton admitted that emotional support was hard to come by as a Europro

Anton admitted that emotional support was hard to come by as a Europro

In sports psychology scholarship there’s not much written about making friends, keeping lovers, and staying connected while pursuing professional sports careers or elite athletic goals. Yet it is a real concern.

The racing lifestyle is isolated because of its itinerant and transient nature. Times of solitude are absolutely necessary for training, travel, recovery, spirituality and self-discovery. Bike riders have plenty of that.

We are also meant to be surrounded by others for learning, sharing, and worship. These times with others in community sometimes seem harder to come by and therefore more precious to maintain. A return home may not alleviate loneliness because a racer isn’t in one place long enough to develop and keep close friendships. Sometimes teammates and lovers are not the best choices for releasing the tensions of racing via communication.

As a group, we cyclists sometimes display remedial social skills. We enjoy the isolating experiences of a bike ride and are comfortable alone for long periods. But we also experience a lot of minor trials and major trauma that should be processed in the context of caring listeners – timed as close to the event as possible.

One must create understanding and independent support networks that permit freedom to come and go – making small talk or sharing deeply – depending on what social need is required at a particular time. Just as marital communication must consist of mundane discussions from fixing the toilet all the way to profound disclosures about doubts and dreams, we must have people to talk to, laugh with, cry with and relate our simplest thoughts and most heartfelt notions – as cyclists, competitors, athletes with pressures.

Perhaps knowing that communication – and all types of it – is necessary will help us be better company for one another – listening patiently to a frustrated race report or fantastic ride story.

It’s also another occasion for dialogue with God. 


Prayer re: Loneliness & Isolation
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
Psalm 46:1
“The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart.” Psalm 34:18
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” 9Psalms 147:3

We ask for listeners, friends, and companions. Bless those in our lives who care for us. We share all our troubles with You, O God, so now listen to this…     

Ponder What do I tell others, what do I keep to myself? Affirm I tell God everything, some people some things, and others nothing about my troubles. Watch the hard continue to ride…especially after a good conversation clears the air!


8Conversations with Ben Raby during tough and uncertain times. At season’s end, he learned unexpectedly that team sponsorship had folded for the following year.

9Compilation of The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society and Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Losing & Failure

Posted in The Hard Rode on September 15, 2009 by bethleasure

Battles & Wars

2“It is tough when you have hard news. But Saul was in a very bad situation before. Now I am so happy that he is coming back as a normal guy with a normal life… that for me is more important. It is a big victory.”  
Roger Legeay, Directeur Sportif on return to life


Fierce wind, rugged roads, all kinds of adversity

Fierce wind, rugged roads, all kinds of adversity

Lost battles can lead to bigger victories. It’s in these lost battles that we learn what’s really necessary to overcome for ultimate victory. Failure is a masterful instructor. Perspective is necessary to remain undistracted from purpose and to demarcate priorities.

Even though instructive however, some failures or losses are devastating. Loss of a contract may change a lifestyle. Losses related to illness and injury can destroy dreams. We lose a lot while pursuing a campaign with future objectives, and battle-weary is a frequent state for bike racers.

It is appropriate to react to loss with sadness, self-pity, disappointment, and other emotions that help mourning – so you can move on. Perhaps a current challenge dwarfs anything that came before it. Remembering past challenges strengthens present resolve to manage current challenges. Even a small win is meaningful if a base is established for either fortifying defenses or launching offensives. Likewise, small losses have benefits as tests and training for bigger rewards.

Stories that we consider to be epic are in truth made of ordinary people in unusual places facing impossible circumstances who through providence and fortitude rise to some new height. We are meant to live a wild adventure.

Goodness is worked out by these daily challenges. There’s no escape from this hard but exciting reality. So embrace all that transpires – the winds, the mechanicals, the less than perfect position, the hindering competitor, the self-doubt – and march on one pedal stroke at a time, one painful hill, one lung-bursting surge, as one more defining moment. If there’s one 3little crack of consciousness, stay upright through exhaustion. Many meaningful battles on unremarkable terrain precede winning a war. Get back in formation in the embattling peloton.


Prayer re: Losing & Failure
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 41 Timothy 4:8 

We understand that our physical abilities are limited in the pursuit of happiness. We ask for grace to grieve losses and encouragement to think beyond them.             

Ponder Is a current loss just one battle or a devastating defeat? Affirm I can assess damage and ditch my disappointments. Watch the hard continue to ride.


1This is a play on words that refers to a cycling video called The Hard Road, Native Productions – It’s about the hardness of life as a professional on an under-supported squad. One suffers at all levels of the sport in various ways. Even so, the hard continue to ride.

2“Legeay comments further on Raisin decision,” by Shane Stokes posted 11/07 on

3The Rider by Tim Krabbe, published by Bloomsbury USA, NY, English translation copyright © Sam Garrett 2002

4New American Standard Bible Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation