Archive for the World-Wide Welcome Back Category

Magic Carpet Ride

Posted in World-Wide Welcome Back on January 24, 2009 by bethleasure



71“Cycling [in Israel]…has been developing at an impressive rate – at both the amateur and competitive levels…Anyone seeing this for the first time simply cannot believe the immense popularity of the sport.”      Itzik Hoffman, Israeli cyclist

My first encounter with cyclists from the Middle East was with Israeli racers in Belgium. Like other non-european hopefuls racing in 72diaspora, they had come for the conditioning and initiation to the bike racer’s holy land. Kermesse means, after all, church mass associated with village feasts, due to the “race around the church” circuits in the Low Countries. Now euro-elites return to Eden for cycling paradise. Lance Armstrong visited Israel to open a new cycling route to commemorate Israel’s Independence Day. The nation is also host to: a pro mountain bike training camp to enjoy temperate climbing in pre-season, and an elite espoir team that races in Europe.

As an interesting twist on the Middle East peace process, a bicycle rally to save the Dead Sea saw Israel in cooperation with Jordan. ASO, the Tour de France promoters, also organize the early season tune-up Tour of Qatar, the most prestigious race in the UCI Asia Tour. Getting this kind of international and inter-organization cooperation seems to take a genie in a bottle, or should I say bidon. Where these paths cross was an ancient trade route which now emanates to the ends of the earth not on camels but as oil geopolitics. Now top teams use the desert tour as preparation for Spring Classics in Europe. A bit different from camel caravans of old, this modern magic carpet ride puts lycra next to burkhas while top sprinters test fresh legs. Foreign policy rhetoric with war-like tones is put aside when American pros line up next to a fully-kitted Iranian squad, for instance. If we could just work out our differences from the perch of a saddle, many lives and a lot of resources of energy could be reallocated to peaceful uses.

Prayer for Middle East Cycling

“…in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”73 Acts 1:8

We are amazed by increasing world-wide opportunities in high-level racing. We ask for politics to be put aside for the sake of cycling’s universal esprit d’corps and blessing upon cycling in the Middle East.

Ponder Can I schedule time in ancient lands into my cycling itinerary? Affirm I can discover the magic of the old spice routes. Watch cycling’s peace process.


71“Riding Along on a Pushbike, Honey,” by Ronny Linder-Ganz posted 11/10/2005 on Israeli news site

72Diaspora means “the scattered.” The term diaspora (in Ancient Greek, διασπορά – ‘a scattering or sowing of seeds’) refers to any people or ethnic population forced or induced to leave their traditional homelands, the dispersal of such people, and the ensuing developments in their culture.”

73The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson




Off To See the Wizard

Posted in World-Wide Welcome Back on January 23, 2009 by bethleasure

69“The Tour Down Under traditionally marks the beginning of the professional road cycling season. As well as enjoying warm weather conditions during the early months of the year [and] European cyclists of the highest level…[it’s] a celebration of cycling to welcome the new season in style.”

To the land of Oz, Australia of Oceania territory that is…this ain’t Kansas anymore nee the Koppenburg either. The Tour down Under has become the race of initiation for the professional racing calendar. Warm weather, great competition, and the kangaroo way of being serious and laid back simultaneously works its charm. You may have never visited there, but its competitive cycling citizens ride on international teams in increasing number. Australian Institute of Sport has managed a great coup d’état by revolutionizing the traditional euro talent pool to include its cultivated athletes. Evidently there’s some wizardry in their methods as they clean up on the track as well. Australian women were in Europe back in the day with me, when I was a lone ranger American female and only our national team came occasionally. The Aussies and Kiwis were there not for national-team invited races but for elite development and international competitiveness. Somehow they managed to outrace me (not always) while keeping me continually in stitches with their quaint English expressions and wise-cracking humor. This tendency toward being jokesters is deceptive because you’d be hard-pressed to find a tougher mindset for the challenging conditions of road racing. Grit coupled with cognitive and geospatial fearlessness makes for great road racers. No wonder Australian cyclists have created a bit of wake across the waters. Like Dorothy clicking her red heels together and chanting, “There’s no place like home,” now the world is coming home with them, and the Tour Down Under is the first ProTour event outside of Europe.

Prayer for Australian and New Zealand Cycling
“Send your grain across the seas, and in time, profits will flow back to you.” 70Ecclesiastes 11:1

We are glad for our mates down under. We confess we envy their resiliency matched by raucousness. We ask blessing upon cycling in Australia and New Zealand.

Ponder What can I learn from these mates? Affirm I can laugh with new friends while racing with grit. Watch for increasing cycling opportunities in this region. advertisement for Tour Down Under coverage, 2008

70Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust

Invitation Only

Posted in World-Wide Welcome Back on January 22, 2009 by bethleasure

67“It’s a very unfortunate situation for not only our riders…It appears that only a few powerful race organisers do not recognize that we are an entirely different team from 2007 and should be allowed to compete in the world’s biggest races.

Johan Bruyneel, Team Director -Astana, on not being invited to the 2007 Tour de France


The ProTour calendar greatly changed without the support of the organizers of the Grand Tours, and this created several levels of elite professional racing. In time it may be possible to participate in a national tour on a continent other than Europe and still carry the same prestige and attract more eyeballs, assuming population growth and expanding media coverage. While Greg Lemond put the Tour de France into the panorama of American cycling, Lance Armstrong brought it to the American public? Couldn’t some great racer of the future help put a tour of some as yet discovered grand cycling nation in the view of the world? It’s hard to imagine because we’re so greatly fond of our Classics and our Grand Tours. Their routes and climbs and lore and legends are familiar to us world-wide: races presented by ASO-Tour de France, RCS-Giro d’Italia and Unipublic-Vuelta a España along with major classics whose venues evoke cycling mastery and heroism. I hope they’re always with us and always as greatly admired. But I think it naïve to believe other events will not eclipse some of Europe’s calendar. It could be the same decisions that represent a few interests will lead to broader emphasis elsewhere. In a world with exceptional cycling terrain, new mountains beckon to be conquered, new cities hail for a sprint finish, and new fans cheer for us to participate. We are a people in love with movement, and that includes the places of prestige on our racing calendar as well. Invitation only events may find themselves with fewer of the best teams to register as event selection grows; in the meantime, God bless ‘em.

Prayer for Racing Organizations

“He lifts up a banner for the distant nations, he whistles for those at the ends of the earth. Here they come, swiftly and speedily.”  

68Isaiah 5:26


We are in awe of cycling’s historical tours and classics. We confess we don’t yet know the best way to include new national tours while honoring the interests of our pinnacle events. We ask for humility with one another in devising the best calendars possible.


Ponder Can I appreciate the perspective of events wishing to protect their territory and make it exclusive? Affirm I understand the prestigious banners of the biggest events. Watch as our world shifts its eyes upon more venues.




67“RCS gives Astana the cold shoulder,” Edited by Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen First Edition Cycling News, February 20, 2008


68The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society



International Cycling Relations

Posted in World-Wide Welcome Back on January 21, 2009 by bethleasure

64“Normally what we did in the past was be aware of the points of the ProTour. It wasn’t just being good in a few races, but in all races. We’ve always had an international calendar. We can’t just focus on the ProTour. We’ll go to the races that are best for the team, whether they’re in the ProTour or not.”                                              Scott Sunderland, Sport Director, Team CSC


World governments discuss international issues through vast multinational organizations, such as the United Nations that set policy, enforce international law, and forecast development. This esteemed governing body must respect the sovereignty of nations in a principle of self-determination that expects individual countries to decide indigenous forms of government, economics, and civil order. However, the lines of authority blur at times about who is deciding what in cases of war or in foreign policy pressures. In theory, the UN is to respond to national invitation and not impose policy; in practice, the degree of authority over a nation’s sovereignty is in continuous debate reining in some UN powers and extending others. Such sovereignty exists somewhat in cycling where national federations and powerful race organizations determine policies and procedures in compliance with guidelines outlined by Cycling’s UN or UCI that is – Union Cyclist Internationale. This governing body is headquartered in 65Switzerland – interestingly, the land of international neutrality. The UCI’s mission and tasks are necessary, and its programs must be adaptable and respect the sovereignty of its key realms. In free trade, consumers decide. In cycling, “market demand” where teams select events, is a more complicated transaction involving the wishes of powerful race organizers at times at odds with the UCI. Doesn’t that just sound like negotiations occurring between sovereign nations and the UN? It proves we need both sides in tandem.



Prayer for Union Cycliste Internationale

“…for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” 66Isaiah 56:7


We are thankful for the eagerness of the UCI to foster cycling’s future and the distinction of the Pro Tour. We confess acrimony and inability to see perspectives of diverse groups. We ask esprit d’corps for decision-makers to trade pace and set tempo without dropping the teams’ interests.

Calendars for Europe, Asia, Americas, Africa and Oceania are available at:

Ponder What reforms are necessary for measured growth? Affirm I influence policy by defining what’s important to watch, race, and buy. Watch the big events as well as the new events at various levels.





64UCI‘s ProTour: ‘Gradual globalization’ or imminent collapse?” By Andrew Hood Posted Jan. 21, 2008


65Centre Mondial du Cyclisme World Cycling Center is located in Aigle, Switzerland and is headquarters to the UCI.


66The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society




New World Class

Posted in World-Wide Welcome Back on January 20, 2009 by bethleasure

1“…we will always have the greatest respect for the century of heritage upon which the glory of our sport rests. Globalization is the future of cycling, but we will build on the foundations of cycling’s traditions.”
Pat McQuaid, President of Union Cycliste Internationale

The new racing season rolls out with our blessing from start lines in continents as far away as Australia to Asia. The same multiplication instinct of mankind seen in a worldwide spread of civilization, economics, war, philosophies, religion, culture, and trade are underway in cycling. This isn’t a well-crafted policy of an international governing body but the way of the world. The global village has a bike shop. The bicycle transcends socioeconomic distinctions and discriminates against no one. It’s logical that the highest forms of its competitive practices would also be uncontainable within borders or regions or beloved events. Extreme measures to fight the forces of globalization will only reflect badly on traditionalists. International cycling relations means that more choices are offered on the calendar and on more levels. In the short term, there’s conflict to work through as race organizers vie for status and prestige in deciding which teams to include. Our exceptional interest on the Classics and Grand Tours will diminish no less by promoting new events. Rather it gives a wider field for distinction and creates new layers of honor. Any attempt to mandate this process is more about managing the inevitability of a new world cycling order. Consider just two benefits – a broader pool of talent and sponsorship macroeconomics:

2“With the globalization of cycling…cycling shoes, jerseys, bicycles, bike parts and tires, speedometer, heart monitors, and the goods and services provided by commercial teams competing in big international races like the Tour de France, are made available in our malls, shops and streets. And a lot of world-class Filipino racers were inspired and born…” from the Philippines

Prayer for Globalization
“…good news to announce to the people of every race, tribe, language, and nation on earth.” 3Revelation 14:6

We are glad for a beautiful world of new routes to explore. We confess expansive change brings out our controlling natures. We ask for smooth shifting in conflict resolution as cycling’s horizons broaden.

Ponder Am I a cycling ambassador? Affirm I spin the globe. Watch for new places to ride!


1“UCI’s ProTour: ‘Gradual globalization’ or imminent collapse?” By Andrew Hood Posted Jan. 21, 2008

2“Street Globalisation: From Led Zeppelin to Lance Armstrong,” by Nonoy Oplas under “Minimal Government -Philippines” posted 3 April 2007 © In Defence of Liberty. Mr. Oplas is the head of Minimal Government campaign in Philippines. This article was originally posted at the on-line seminar on globalization being organized by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Manila.

3Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Blessing of the Bikes

Posted in World-Wide Welcome Back on January 19, 2009 by bethleasure

58“Through this event [Blessing of the Bikes], we would like to focus the attention…on the health benefits of bicycling… [and] the safety precautions that should be practiced by cyclists and drivers as they share the road together.”     Andrew B. Leeka, President-Good Samaritan Hospital, Avid Cyclist


Blessing of the Bikes is an annual event to start the cycling year with a prayer for cyclists. This Catholic ritual began in Italy and has since spread world-wide with leadership and participation of many denominations and faiths during many times of the year. It marks a true beginning to cycling season or a cycling-specific event. It has several purposes that may include honoring alternative approaches to transportation, celebrating healthy living, safety, or a memorial service with a moment of silence for fellow cyclists who have died over the past year. Take today to thank God for your safety and health, remember those who’ve passed over their final Finish Line, and ask for a prosperous cycling year. In ancient Israel, tambourines and drums tapped a praise and reminder that God was always present; on the bike you have the clatter of spokes beating a rhythm that God is near and cares for you. We begin with a blessing in what promises to be many new seasons of global cycling experience.

Prayer for Racing Season
“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.” 59Numbers 6:24-25

“Lord our God, You make the clouds your conveyance; You travel on the wings of the wind; You sent to your servant Elijah a fiery chariot as a means of conveyance; You guided man to invent this [bicycle] which is as fast as the wind: Therefore, O Lord, pour now upon it your heavenly blessings. Grant unto it a guardian angel that it may be guided upon the rightful road and be preserved against all harm. Enable those who ride…to arrive safely at their destination. For in your ineffable Providence, You are the Provider of all things, and to You we give glory, to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and always and for ever and ever. Amen.”60

Ponder Do I feel cared for and know that my cycling is a matter of focused prayer by many people? Affirm I know that God rides with me and with others. Watch and listen for God’s presence every time you’re aware of the music in your spokes and His power in the wind.


58“Good Samaritan Hospital Hosts 4th Annual West Coast Blessing of the Bicycles,” May 14th, 2007

59The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

60This is a Greek Orthodox version of a bike blessing. “Blessing of Automobiles, Bicycles, Cars, Motorcycles, SUV, Trucks, and other Means of Transportation, Number 1 in English,” Byzantine Melkite Euchologion published by the Eparchy of Newton (Our Lady of the Annunciation Al Bisharah) in Roslindale, Massachusetts, Sophia Press.