Archive for the The Spiritual Cyclist Category

Cycling & Joy

Posted in The Spiritual Cyclist on December 23, 2010 by bethleasure

Christmas Wishes

73“I felt like I was forgetting how to smile at the little things and that I wasn’t honoring my personal commitment to 24-7 happiness.”  Mara Abbott, Pro Cyclist, on rekindling joy

Turn those miles into smiles

Our sport is full of hard and unhappy moments: lonely miles in harsh conditions, disappointing results, injury, sickness, rivalries, financial pressures, growing pains, doping demons, imbalance via compulsion. Our happiness may be affected by many uncontrollable variables, and some unhappy consequences we’ve brought upon ourselves.

As we enter into a holiday of exchanging gifts, celebration, and reunions, let us bring to mind the joys of cycling. Joy isn’t dependent upon circumstances, feelings, or outcomes. It is an inner quality. Like a refreshing wellspring, sometimes it cascades easily over the peaks of life; and sometimes in a sun-scorched valley, joy only trickles in bittersweet drops. Despite circumstances, recall victories, recount positives; commemorate small beginnings, fractional progress, new opportunities.

Learn from a young cycling sensation’s rise into the pro ranks. Hired as a domestique, she raced several years steadily making progress but perpetually aloof, unhappy. One ordinary day, she was directed to attack and instead of the usual set-up for her team leader, the move stuck giving her a decisive win. It was the first time I saw her smile. Suddenly she was transformed into a person of warmth, radiant and relaxed.

It’s sad to think we wait for these fleeting moments to share the inner contentment that flows within us. Knowing that all things worth having are gained or maintained mostly with difficulty, joy must be drawn from a constant stream of gratitude for what’s noble and of good report.

In the spirit of the season, take a trip to the wellspring of joy and celebrate your successes, rejoice with others over their victories, smile at the future – take this gift with you and sparkle in every circumstance!

Prayer for Joy

 “… like a champion rejoicing to run his course…” 74Psalm 19:5

We are thankful that we have many reasons to be happy. We confess we judge ourselves and others by human doing, rather than as human beings. We ask to recollect joy no matter what we suffer.

Ponder Can I rejoice always? Affirm I am happy with what IS, even while recognizing the need for more or better. Watch for ways to turn your miles into smiles.

73“Rekindling the Sparkle,” by Mara Abbott in US Women’s Cycling Development Program diary entry January 12, 2008 www.cyclingnews.com

The cyclist referred to in this section is not Mara Abbott- who seemed to be born smiling. Rather, the cyclist referred to here, who finally smiled, went on to other bigger victories after this, hit a slump and returned to former sad countenance eventually losing her contract. I hope she remembers joy that transcends all circumstances!

74The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Cycling & Faith

Posted in The Spiritual Cyclist on December 21, 2010 by bethleasure

Higher Power

75“…You have to have faith that if you’re doing the work now, you’ll get there sometime.”  Nicole Reinhart, Champion Cyclist, whose faith warmed all who knew her

Champion of faith

Nicole Reinhart was an aspiring champion and a humble, loving person. In 2000, a race series of four single-day events offered a bonus of $250,000 to the rider who could win all four races. Amazingly, Nicole had won three of four. In the fourth race at the line, she said she wasn’t nervous because she had her team, Team Saturn, behind her.

Nicole crashed twice in the race and her teammates worked hard to pull her back to the front for the final lap. It was one of the most intense demonstrations of teamwork I’d ever witnessed, and the most fluid and focused work I’d ever seen in the women’s peloton. Even her competitors were admiring.

Just when the crowd expected the Saturn train to deliver the goods and a sprinting Nicole for the win, Nicole crashed again and tragedy struck. This time it was fatal. Everyone at the race was devastated, and so were many world-wide who knew her. She was just 24 years old and coming into the beginnings of greatness as a cyclist.

Just one month before she died, she offered an unusual kindness to me, though I barely knew her. She was an approachable champion in a sport where so few are charitable with their competitors. She had already discovered a generosity of spirit based on faith that takes a lifetime for most to learn, if ever.

This optimism was based on an indomitable belief that her efforts would be rewarded. As a young interloper into cycling’s rigid competitive environment, she was a winner and a record-breaker, despite opposition, hardship and criticism. Perhaps her greatness was at its zenith as a person, and in her completeness she was called home where the streets are paved with gold. She’ll be the ride leader when we get there.

Prayer for Faith

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.” 76James 1:2-3

We are thankful that challenges come which test our resolve. We confess we rely on ourselves when we have access to help from a loving Rewarder. We ask for resolve and realization to believe.

Ponder Am I relying on my own efforts alone? Affirm I was made for a purpose and a Person greater than myself. Watch for signs that God cares about you having faith that you will be rewarded.

75I have no reference for this quote, other than a defunct website. But I stand by it as something Nicole would have said. Her father, Mike Reinhart, recounted Nicole’s challenges, opposition, work ethic and beliefs to me posthumously. In over a decade as an endurance athlete, she had won multiple junior national championships, two gold medals at the Pan-Am Games and a professional contract. BMC Software Company, the sponsor of the series in which Nicole was killed, donated the winnings to her family, who used it to set up the Nicole Reinhart Memorial Fund. The fund distributed scholarships to aspiring young cyclists.

76The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Staying Power: Cycling & Patience

Posted in The Spiritual Cyclist on July 2, 2010 by bethleasure

Staying Power

81“…people have to realize cycling is a sport of time. It takes time to train. It takes time to get fit. It takes time to learn race tactics. It takes time, so be patient.” Mike Sayers, Pro Cyclist

Sayers knows about cycling's pitfalls and pitstops

The mantra of our times seems to be, “we want it all, and we want it now.” Two proud flaws of entitlement are: 1. blindness to the benefits of a long labor in the same direction and 2. blame when quick solutions elude.

Despite soundbyte communication and speed dating, there is no shortcut to valuable, lasting excellence. In cycling, there are immediate results and long-term results. How many overnight sensations have you seen burn off like morning mists?

It takes about 100 races just to begin to understand strategy, and some never get it, clueless about what’s really going on in a race. One cycling mantra is it takes 5 years to know how to use your legs, and five more to execute what you can imagine. It’s a beautiful thing to experience a rider’s chrysalis into that second decade.

Physiologically, 82it takes about 10-12 years to make a male europro. Instant success may come to a rare few, and if they stick with it, now we’re talking world class and record-breaking.

The best used implement in the toolbox of winning skills is willingness to wait while working…the dreaded PATIENCE. This tool comes out in the final breaths of hard effort, sensing that momentum is about to reverse, surprised by a second wind, discovering the right opportunity to act. This tool works especially well with others because it knows its prize-winning place in the box. This tool can be cruel if wielded against you forcing you to wait; but with the protection of hope, it becomes teachable and trusting.

Patience believes the best is yet to come, pride sadly thinks it is passing and must all be seized now. It’s as important a tool to carry in your saddle bag as a tire iron for patience can fix a broken spirit and keep you rolling on.

Prayer for Patience
“The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” 83Ecclesiastes 7:8

We are thankful that meaning and value are added through the depths of time and perseverance. We confess we don’t contain our desire for speed separately from patience in the soul. As hardship must come, keep us encouraged as we wait, energized as we work.

Ponder Am I using energy to push away what instead should be persisted? Affirm I can tough it out and finish stronger than I began. Watch for a generous spirit as patience makes your heart large enough for a task as big as was meant for your life.

81“The Best Cycling Advice,” by Bruce Hendler, PezCycling News posted on www.active.com/cycling/Articles/The_best_cycling_advice.htm. Mike Sayers has wonderful tenacity as a star domestique.

82Presentations by Andy Coggan, Exercise Physiologist, power guru, and Masters Cyclist, from clinics held between November 2004 – October 2006 on Cycling-Specific Exercise Physiology which noted research comparisons of VO2 Max and power at LT as indicators of performance potential.

83The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Cycling & Humility

Posted in The Spiritual Cyclist on June 4, 2010 by bethleasure

Wielding Power

84“People are screaming and the next thing you know you’re going too hard. You’re out of the saddle sprinting up a hill or something and because of the cheers you don’t feel a thing until you get to the top. Then you pay.” Alison Sydor, Pro Cyclist

With confession, even the disgraced get back a little self-worth

 

Riding and racing are a healthy means for getting attention. We all need praise, and the bike becomes a prop in the rolling theater of athletic drama. A supportive cycling world may provide affirmation that is lacking from other areas of one’s life.

Educational material for coaches is focused on a modern role of coach, not just as trainer, but as character-builder in a world of fragmented families and values. Teaching worthy values like meekness or giving quality emotional support are just as important as a workout plan.

Sometimes life just puts people around us who frown, abuse, criticize and put-down. Particularly when things go well, everyone loves a winner. But with winning so elusive, we cannot measure our lovableness on the approval of others, which comes and goes like a tailwind on a meandering course.

Likewise living large on prestige and honor, a false reality can leave us proud and overconfident – pride in the sense of thinking you’re all that. It can also lead to poor judgement and a sense of invincibility that may lead to very bad choices.  Thinking yourself unbeatable, vaunting superiority or arrogant displays are often associated with insecurity and a need for approval. It’s a long plummet from this pedestal and a hard pull to be dropped from and – gotcha – where’s the self-worth? These arrogant winners are some of the emotional neediest people. Sport temporarily rewards this need. Yet the best race and life tacticians are meek in applying strength without arrogance, irrespective of approval. These kinds of victories endure.

Pride in the sense of self-esteem, realizing the value of your life and that unseen forces guide and protect you is healthy. Everybody has a limit – a fragile boundary far from omnipotence. You see 85this in the peloton when riders encounter hardships. Their responses that improve character and confidence require humility. A winning strategy that employs competitive humility and realism– a firm sense of self that knows how to implement what it’s got and when– works in life also.

In time, we see arrogance brought low. We even see this fall work some redemption on the fallen. This is as refreshing as when a humble competitor gets on the podium.

Prayer for Humility

“Pride first, then the crash, but humility is precursor to honor.”  86Proverbs 18:12

We are thankful for elegant moments of humility. We confess our pride – thinking both too much and too little of ourselves at times. We ask to see ourselves realistically.     

Ponder Is pride making me pay too early? Affirm I can be confident minus conceit. Watch smug swiftly abandon, self-esteem take the lead.

84Alison Sydor quote from a now defunct website. I cannot substantiate this remark, but the sentiment has been experienced, and overconfidence is not a competitor’s friend. However, I’m not calling arrogant; this quote is used because she admits she had to pay for a mistake.

85The principle of a fall or wake-up call as a result of pride is a redemptive blessing to the soul. So while it may look like disgrace to the public, to God it is discipline borne of love to teach us how to be.

86The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Cycling and Peace

Posted in The Spiritual Cyclist on December 29, 2009 by bethleasure
Lean, Serene, Cycling Keen

87“Before a major bicycle race the riders are supposed to be, if not at one of the seven levels of serenity, at least calm and purposeful…”  Samuel Abt, Cycling Writer 

Peace on bicycle earth

As we reflect upon this demising year, take an overview of your cycling purpose. While you choose your favorite from the holiday goody tray, what was your specific cycling pleasure of the year? Your enjoyments show as much as your disappointments. In fact, career counselors say pay attention to any strong emotions as indicators of your particular problem to solve, your unique assignment. Cycling evokes your passion alright, or you would dread to experience these daily inspirations about it.

We get so winded in our seasons of competitions and comparisons, our calm is smothered. Countless times I’ve counseled racers in bad form, financial ruin, and relational distress who, ready to let it go, still had a conviction that something was not yet completed. Indeed there was work to do in each case: learning resourcefulness on a strict budget; patience while physiological adaptations finally take hold; reuniting separate lives through communication; taking a dream as far as reality permitted.

For others the new year may bring a downsizing or shifting of cycling’s place: learning how life is without training as your profession; transitioning to a different role or team; living out a suspension.

Resuscitate your excitement by remembering why it draws you. This may be an extrinsic reason, such as prize money or praise; but think a little harder and figure out what’s behind it all. From the same cup as joy comes peace, an inner surrender to your life on this road because… [your heart’s answer.]

It’s as if we’re called like clergyman to this sport because it demands so much of us and is more than a job or a past-time. Celebrate this calling and breathe new faith, hope, and joy into it for this coming year. The peace of knowing its meaning for you will drive you to finish strong in your destined race.

Prayer for Peace

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” 88Proverbs 14:30 

We are thankful that we’ve been called to cycling for some special purpose. We confess we entangle this within the destinies of others. We ask for peace to show us our own clear road. 

Ponder Is my cycling troubled; how can I change course? Affirm I am at peace with my direction and duties. Watch peace be a road map which gives clear signs for my designated route, even with switchbacks ahead.

87“Tale of a Cyclist in Need of Victory,” by Samuel Abt, Sports Editor, International Herald Tribune, published April 7, 1998 on www.iht.com

Author Samuel Abt, associate editor for the International Herald Tribune, is based in Paris and has written about bicycle racing for over two decades. His Tour de France reports are published regularly in major periodicals, and he’s produced a shelf of books about cycling.

88The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
 

Heart Power/Forgiveness

Posted in The Spiritual Cyclist on April 22, 2009 by bethleasure

77“Over time we realize we’ve made a lot of messes…faith comes down to forgiveness…all people need second chances. God gives…second chances—more than that, He gives us as many as we take.” Tom Ritchey, Bicycle Designer & Manufacturer

 

Tom Ritchey in Rwanda

Tom Ritchey in Rwanda

Lack of forgiveness is usually about anger, often justifiable. Holding on to anger doesn’t bring vengeance on another; when you refuse to forgive, you damage yourself. How we respond to difficult experiences directly affects our spiritual and physical well-being. 78Empirical research on the connection between both seeking and granting forgiveness and its relation to mental and physical health is burgeoning. Forgiveness is linked with both the emotional heart and the cardiovascular one: unforgiveness has a physiological impact! Best to be rid of it and release the violator to their own consequences.

 

To forgive someone else is to be free of the past.  Forgiving is not dependent on another; it is a matter of will. This will is the reward of processing emotions and their lessons, coming to a place of compassion for the inflictor even if only one tiny positive can be extracted from the violation.

 

Reconciliation, however, IS dependent on another’s amendment; but forgiveness is all your work.  Since your heart works to hold on to an infraction, energy can be shifted to instead work through it.

 

Cycling’s present has incredible challenges; devising solutions will bring future contention. We need to forgive to keep the pace-line working steadily. Forgiveness is the first rotation, the second round brings healing, and a third can bring unified movement to this 79billion-rider peloton. Let’s all keep pedaling with powerful hearts.

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer for Forgiveness

“Peter…asked, ‘How many times should I forgive someone who does something wrong to me? Is seven times enough?’ Jesus answered: ‘Not just seven times, but seventy times seven times!’”

80Matthew 18:21-22

 

We are thankful that we can stop further damage of another’s past wrong by cancelling it within us. We confess resentment and holding grudges weaken us and make us captive victims. We ask for power to see how another’s misdeeds lead to something for our good, if only a desire for righteousness and the ability to release forgiveness.

 

Ponder Am I holding on to anything against anyone? Affirm I can be vibrant in the forgiving life, just as others have forgiven me. Watch the incredible power of a healing forgiveness infuse body, soul and community with new life.

 

 

77“Tom Ritchey – Pedaling Home,” by Chris Ahrens © Risen Magazine 2004 – 2007 as posted December 12, 2007 on www.projectrwanda.org

 

78“Forgiveness and Health: Review and Reflections on a Matter of Faith, Feelings, and Physiology,” Journal article by Charlotte Vanoyen Witvliet; Journal of Psychology and Theology, Vol. 29, 2001 and “Forgiveness: the Power that Heals”  By Richard Innes listed as of December 15, 2007 www.actsweb.org

 

79“The UCI represents the interests of more than 170 National Federations, 5 Continental Confederations, 1200 professional riders, 600,000 licensed riders, millions of cycle sport enthusiasts who train on a regular basis, and more than a billion bicycle users.” stated under FAQ on www.uci.ch as of December, 2007.

 

80The Bible, Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society