Archive for the Warming Up Category

Warm Climbs

Posted in Warming Up on February 26, 2010 by bethleasure

Who is waiting at your mountaintop?

21“My mother was there on the last kilometre today. She was with me during the bad times and I dedicate this day to her.” Marco Pantani, Il Pirata, celebrating his last mountain victory in the Tour de France, July 2000

How would you climb a mountain if you knew your favorite person, one who loves you unconditionally, awaited your arrival? That’s a double whammy of warmth. Of course if you’ve headed to warm climes, you’re all set for loads of uphill time, but I know from making it through tough Colorado winters that it’s possible to train in the mountains all year. The descents are wicked cold of course, so it’s best to plan either a rendezvous point with a driver or do a series of short climbs with quick downhills. Either way, climbing is an essential part of winter base training.

Adding the extra resistance of uphill work is the next fitness progression. Mountains may not be available but over-gearing into headwinds or on hills adequate for repeats heat up your pace from 22piano andante to sostenuto adagio. Sustained muscular endurance is the goal of this period and can be coupled with low rep/multiple set weight training in the gym.

Some climbers steer clear of weight training favoring resistance on the bike only. Certainly, climbing on the bike is the most specific adaptation: gaining muscular strength for climbing is best gained by climbing. Resistance training off the bike may benefit cardiorespiratory endurance by improving cardiac output through stronger heart contractility. An argument can be made in either case with consideration to an athlete’s strengths, goals and time available. Ultimately, one must climb a lot!

This is only one phase of climbing prowess, but it lays some important ground work. Winter climbing is a bit of a fairytale experience and the wintry environment is energizing, from icy mists to silent solitude. I remember facing a familiar scene one chilly morning when all the world was frosted in bluish cubes Picasso-like. Still, I was plenty warm up that Purple mountains majesty. Maestoso!

Prayer for Strength Endurance/Climbing Fitness
“I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.” 23Psalm 121:1-2

We are grateful for enjoyable ways to build strength. We ask for opportunities to ride uphill, scout important climbs, become more powerful.

Ponder Am I factoring in strength as an advanced element of endurance? Affirm I am a better climber as a result of climbing. Watch for that uphill mojo with more vertical miles.

21quoted in “Biography for Marco Pantani,” by Internet Movie Data Base on He was nicknamed “The Pirate” because of his shaved head, bandana, and gold earring, and I submit, his swashbuckling climbing abilities that caused many others to walk the plank off-the-back. Part of a small group of cyclists to win the Tour de France and the Giro D’Italia in the same year.

22piano andante is long, slow riding to sostenuto adagio, sustained work generally characterized by overgeared, low cadence, tempo. Maestoso means Majestic in Italian.

23The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Warm Thoughts

Posted in Warming Up on February 12, 2010 by bethleasure

28“While there are certainly born champions – people who possess great physical advantages – there are also many cyclists who have become winners because of their mental prowess.” Dean Woods, Australian Cyclist, Olympic and World Champion

Protect your mind as well as your face

The golden mind of a conqueror is molded by fiery thoughts of overcoming all adversity while undergoing cold hardship. Winter’s high volume weeks may wear down one’s enthusiasm but provide a great opportunity to imagine possibilities. With increasing fatigue and duress acting as strength training for the mind, think of your mentality as a muscle to train where increased stress, then rest yields prowess. Enduring long training in cold, lots of climbing, travel, or comparisons in riding with others are perfect conditions to practice the mental fundamental of positive thinking. Periodically, an epic ride or adventurous experience can test fortitude and spark survival instincts.

Coming to the end of oneself and digging deep, stretching oneself mentally is ignition for future exploits. Sometimes life brings this to you unwanted – well outside your realm of comfort. Seize it as an opportunity to capture the stuff of winning by rising to it and then storing it for confident distribution against your next challenge. Even if it levels you and you “fail,” this is another tool in your winning package that gives clues as to how to surmount your limits, providing refinement in goal setting.

Part of these limits may come from within when self-talk is negative. Check your internal chatter and utilize its information. “I’m going to get dropped,” unchecked may cause you to give up too soon, but the same statement can school you as an empowering direction to change position. Even off the back, you have value and must trust that the worst finish can be fuel toward many firsts. You must win in your head to become a winner on the road.


Prayer for Positive Thinking

…With human beings this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”   29Matthew 19:26

We are grateful to participate in a process of prosperity in partnership with greater powers from within and without. We confess our doubts in ourselves and a loving God which sees us through all difficulty. We pray to believe that all things work together for good.


Ponder Have I learned to lose by being defeated from the start? Affirm I can do all things with God to help me. Watch for miracles, but work toward those chances.

28Dean Woods Manual of Cycling, by Dean Woods with Rupert Guiness. Copyright © Dean Woods 1995

29Today’s New International Version, © Copyright 2001, 2005 by International Bible Society

Warm Companions: Training Partners

Posted in Warming Up on February 9, 2010 by bethleasure

26“…find a group of friendly local racers to train with and learn from. I emphasize the word ‘friendly’. Of course, all of us in the cycling community really are friendly, but there seems to be a scale of friendly. Some racers willingly embrace new riders and some, well, let’s just say they stay more to themselves.” Kim Morrow, Masters World Champion

Kim Morrow, center, one of the friendliest riders in the peloton

I came to bike racing as an adult. Someone told me to exercise for my mental health in order to manage the stress from a young marriage wrecked by my husband’s cocaine addiction. I started riding the old Schwinn that hung in the barn and felt accomplished with my daily three miles. Next I read about group rides and decided to try one. It was a blast! Someone from that ride invited me to a club ride. I was mystified by the idea of people in association who liked riding bikes in groups. The club suggested I bump up to B then the A ride from the gentler C ride, especially after one of them loaned me an updated bicycle. I’d graduated from a tank to a touring ton of steel but it felt like a feather to me.

During those summer weeks of discovering the entirely novel experience of riding fast, club members cajoled and encouraged me. Without quite knowing it, my trauma was being processed and my confusion about the past was dissipating in the slipstreams of new friends. Out of gratitude for the attention and affection, I entered the club time trial. I won it and beat most of the men. The club took me to the big city bike shop where I met a mechanic who ran development clinics. In a bitter cold January, I learned how to pace line, corner, and discover the joys of bumping drills and grass criteriums. The sponsoring bike shop invited me to race for them, providing me another equipment upgrade. Now I was on a sleek Italian racing frame. It had been wrecked and I couldn’t take my hands off the bars because it was so bent but it felt like a Ferrari to me.

Thus began decades of racing, and I haven’t stopped riding with others since. Kim Morrow was one of the ones who encouraged me. During the dreariest of days, faithful companions not only brighten your ride but show you roads you’ve never traveled.

Prayer for Training Partners
“By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.” 27Ecclesiastes 4:12

We are thankful for the social benefits of cycling. We recognize a time to ride with others and when to train alone. We ask blessing on those who make what seems impossible simply a smooth and speedy draft.

Ponder Who are my favorite wheels? Affirm I can shield another from frigid winds. Watch your friendly paceline grow.

26“Thinking About Racing?” by Kim Morrow on EFC Coaching Tips Kim Morrow is one of the friendliest riders in the peloton. Sometimes I think comfortability with one’s abilities comes across in a generous spirit. What you have a lot of overflows to others. From Kim’s website, “Kim Morrow has competed as a Professional Cyclist and Triathlete, is a certified USA Cycling Elite Coach, a 4-time U.S. Masters National Road Race Champion, a Masters World Road Race Champion, and a Fitness Professional. BUT, in her very first official bike race she got dropped right from the start.” Her friendly nature sought out training companions, who encouraged her and in turn were encouraged.

27The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

Warm Bods

Posted in Warming Up on January 19, 2010 by bethleasure

24“Massage…gives a jump start by warming the muscles, tendons, and ligaments…preheats your body…to endure the demands to come.” Roger Pozeznik, Cyclist, Massage Therapist

Even sports massage can be luxurious!

The rigors of travel or hill repeats merit some spa time. The healing hands of a masterful masseuse compete with the heat of a warm sauna or outdoor hot spring for soothing relaxing recovery. Though cold therapies may be better at certain times, massage is important for injury prevention, recovery, and enjoying day after day training and touring, not to omit – yikes – help healing from a crash, and for a pre-ride warm-up.

Many techniques of massage are available. From deeply cleansing sessions to gentle clearing, the sequence for cycling should include legs of course, but also neck and shoulders. The goal is supplesse – that oft elusive state of great strength and flexibility – found after hard training. With appropriate recovery, supple muscles dance, responsive to the rhythms of the road.

Massage is necessary for pros but the entire community can avail of this service, either through self-massage, foam rolls, or some method of rubbing smooth the contours accumulated through fatigue’s metabolic by-products. Some believe a connection can be made with long-held emotional by-products as well, as mind-body-spirit types have felt for years. Many a tale can be told about tears on the massage table and some memory returning evoked lovingly by deep touch. With this vulnerability in mind, it’s important to choose practitioners carefully.

Sometimes targeting specific tightness or injury is assisted by physical therapy or chiropractic modes. It’s pretty common in cycling to have some kinetic dysfunction now and again when even subtle changes wreak havoc on palpable areas.

Prayer for Massage & Therapeutic Treatments
“But Jesus said, ‘Someone did touch me; for I perceived that healing power has gone forth from me.’” 25Luke 8:46

We are grateful for masters of muscular manipulation and for deep relief from soreness. We confess we sometimes neglect this necessary part of training. We ask for conscious effort and opportunity to care for laden legs and for blessing upon massage therapists and other muscular practitioners.

Ponder Am I caring for my legs as much as I’m cracking them? Affirm I can learn some self-massage when absent from experts. Watch for happy legs when warm hands apply their healing power.

24Massage for Cyclists, by Roger Pozeznik published by Vitesse Press, Montpelier, Vermont

25Amplified Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

Warm Accommodations: Host Housing

Posted in Warming Up on January 15, 2010 by bethleasure

Some digs are better than others

19″ We are looking forward to your visit! We’ll take everyone. If I get to eavesdrop on a conversation …on the day’s racing in the evening I am more than happy. Now I have a team to root for when I watch the race.” Michael Foley, Recreational Cyclist, Host Housing extraordinaire

In nine countries in twice as many years, I stayed in hundreds of homes at various training or racing venues. In all that time, I only had one really sketchy bed – the one where two large outside dogs slept and it was rainy season; and one bad experience – with a feuding couple just prior to their divorce. The smell and feel of wet flea-bitten dog sheets and inadvertent conflict for two nights was well worth the risk to become acquainted with all the other hosts. I owe a huge debt and will probably have company in my house as payment for the remainder of my life.

Benefits to home away from home include: visiting a place from a native perspective; instant fans; insight on routes; more control over meals or accommodating special diets; at times, but not expected, logistical support. In some host situations, I was able to give back and have a positive effect, even remedially influencing troubled relationships or watching kids grow up while reacquainting them to an active, healthy lifestyle year after year. But even that is no guarantee. There was one raucous night when the race organization put our team at an inn above the cantina – the party beneath us didn’t end until dawn. Needless to say, we started that day’s stage a bit bleary-eyed.

Host housing isn’t always the way to go, sometimes you want to return from a race and be alone to recover in solitude or with a choice of teammates who are restful. In that case, to make yourself at home in a hotel is an artform and there are certain tricks – like setting it up as you’d have it at home for ease and comfort. The best hosts know that hospitality means not entertaining you but making you feel at home.

Prayer for Hosts
“Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder…be inventive in hospitality.” 20Romans 12:11

We are grateful for welcome receptions. We confess we can never repay all the hospitality we’ve received from others in this community. We ask to be polite and housebroken guests and blessings on willing hosts.

Ponder Do I leave a place as clean as I arrived? Affirm I can groove into a household while setting up my needs. Watch how big your connections grow when housing is exchanged.

19Conversations with Mike Foley and family from an anonymous location. Let’s just say his area is host to an important race in America.

20The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

Warm Climes: Tropical Travel

Posted in Warming Up on January 12, 2010 by bethleasure

Cycling shorts in Paradise

15Mallorca is quite fascinating! It has a great climate and great scenery and it offers unbeatable conditions for both holiday cyclists and professionals.” Stephen Roche, Pro Cyclist & Camp/Ride Director, on his choice for a winter cycling paradise

Although globalization is expanding cycling’s scope, Eurocentric traditions drive our sport. January’s cold latitudes in the northern hemisphere become wearisome, and we seek ways to warm ourselves this week. After the new year, many pros head to winter training meccas from Majorca to New Mexico, San Diego to Santa Barbara, Tucson to Tasmania. Our friends down under are in full blossom in their warm “winter” (their summer actually, mate) racing season; but track their racing calendar with the north’s seasonality for international competitiveness.

This opens up possibilities to heat up your training travel, especially if your agenda calls for early season fitness. For a mid-winter motivational trip, recreational cyclists can also enjoy a variety of balmy options at winter cycling camps and on touring vacations. Even in nations where bicycles aren’t raced, their prime use as transportation broadens possibilities for warm-weather riding multi-continentally. Then there are the isles – ranging from Hawaii’s sea-shore-to-celestial climbing to tropical circuits around the 16Canary Islands.

January jump starts travel legs as a beginning of our community’s roving. One of the rules for an itinerant lifestyle is to try to return to base camp periodically: the more you travel the shorter the time between 17exercusions, about every three weeks for a domestic pro for instance. This is one competitive advantage of indigenous racers since they can race near home and therefore enjoy the benefit of secure recovery, as well as “home field” advantage. Travel widens one’s definition of home allowing for a bunch of base camps – in our international village.

Prayer for Travel
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage” 18Psalm 84:5

We are grateful for our gypsy free wheeling. We confess frustration when travel is hectic. We pray for safe passage.

Ponder How can the inevitability of cycling travel become an advantage? Affirm I can be a seasoned traveler who migrates with as much ease as a rotating paceline. Watch your requirements for feeling settled, and balance your time away accordingly.  

15Stephen Roche as quoted in “Cycling Tourism,” under Majorca on

For reference to Roche’s own Majorcan cycling camp and for cycling-specific trips to warm climes, see

16For a great article about the Canary Islands, “On your bike in the Canary Islands,” by Nick Ball, editor of posted Monday, 24 Sep 2007 on<

“The island’s year round clement climate and super low rainfall (it lies just off the coast of west Africa and the Sahara) attracts professional and amateur cyclists in droves during the winter months, as they seek out warmer weather for training…”

17Conversations with Jim Copeland, former pro and team director of Team Saturn. His suggestion was three weeks on the road and then swift return to your base to recover and recharge. Just as we rely upon the stabilizing security of gravity while zooming downhill off camber, we need a sense of home between trips. This is one reason under-resourced cyclists are at a competitive disadvantage to those who can afford to travel back and forth, or have luxuries similar to home as they travel.

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