Posts Tagged ‘Bicycle’


Wordlessly Being

March 22, 2020

Spring ride with the  TT bike



January 1, 2016

“Oh, you’ve grown your beard out” has been the obvious statement which I have heard several times over the last couple months.  It is usually followed by a puzzled look and an awkward pause.  Usually, I try to fill the silence with some justification as to why, I would do such a thing to my face.

I understand the question.

My beard is an accurate gauge of my mortality.  I check it annually from November through January.  Every year, the territory of brown whiskers has slowly been ceded to the territory of the grey.  At this point, whiskers are an effective strategy to add 10 years to my appearance.  This is the question behind every puzzled look – why would you do that?

My reason for growing a beard is one that only those who live in cold climates can appreciate and today, my reason was fulfilled.

I was fortunate enough to get outside and do some New Year’s Day cycling.  The temperature was 12 degrees F and the roads were relatively free of ice.  So, we bundled up and rode.

New Year's Ride

I grow my beard out for just this opportunity.   If you cycle cleanly shaven in the cold, the best you will experience is a frozen face.  However, a beard gives you the opportunity to experience the shear epic-ness of winter cycling:

the beardcicle.



2016 is off to a great start!

I pray you all will have many epic, beardcicle
worthy, days in the coming year.


PRIZE BIKE – April 9

April 9, 2014

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:11

 I have entered my first writing competition. I submitted my paragraph online and have been waiting for this day. Today, the contest ended and the evaluation of the hopeful has begun.  There are many reasons to enter a writing competition.

It forces you to actually write and produce something worth reading.
It allows a wider audience for your work.
It is a good way to test the water of the broader writing community.
It forces you to write carefully and critically.

Bicycling (magazine)

While those are good reasons to compete, none were my motivation to enter. I entered my first writing competition because I wanted to win. The April edition of Bicycling magazine was their annual buyer’s guide. The issue contained 123 reviews of the latest and best that the world of bicycling manufacturers has to offer.

The competition was to enter a 150 word, cycling-themed, parody of Bicycling writer Bill Strickland. The winner of the competition will get to choose any bicycle reviewed in the April edition that has a suggested retail price of less than $5,000.

Team RadioShack Madone

Since entering my 150 words, I have spent way too much time thinking about the prize. I have gone through ridiculous evaluations between the merits of the Guru Photon SL and the Felt F2; considerations of which would be better for my riding, the Trek Madone 6.2 H1 or H2; the Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL4 is way over the $5K limit but maybe they would work me a deal.

I was surprised what all this prize contemplation wrought when I took the humble seat of my Fuji road bike for my latest ride. I rode along a familiar route in the crispness of the spring morning, past pastures of frolicking calves, accompanied by the harmonies of a thousand song birds, yet completely engrossed by how much better a ride on a prize bike would be. I realized the surprising level of disappointment that was crouching at my doorway when I considered the likelihood of not winning the prize bike.

Specialized S-Works Roubaix

I had allowed the fun possibility of winning a writing competition turn in discontentment. I own two very nice bicycles. My bikes are not the limiting factor of my cycling. I don’t need a $5,000 bicycle. I can’t justify a $5,000 bicycle. Yet, I want one. How foolish will it be for me to be disappointed if I am not elevated from my humble road bike to the exalted saddle of a prize bike?

An amazing level of discontentment can arise when all we focus upon is what we don’t have, rather than what we do.

Jesus told the parable of the wedding feast and how people chose the places of honor. He instructed us in a level of humility that selects for ourselves the lowest place of honor. Then, when the host comes and recognizes our lowly status he will move us up to a higher place of honor.  The parable is a wonderful image of how we are humbled when we exalt ourselves and how we are exalted when we humble ourselves.

However, what happens if no one comes to raise us up?

It is often easy to see those who exalt themselves in their desire for honor. There are some who insert their resume of spiritual prowess into every conversation. Those overt challenges for the high seats of honor are easy to identify.

However, the subtle pride of feigned humility is often much more difficult to capture. We can become masters of contrived humility, spoken in anticipation of elevation. This more socially acceptable variant of honor seeking pride is exposed when we do not receive the anticipated response.

How do you feel…

…when you are not acknowledged?
…when your advice is not sought?
…when you’re not asked to lead?
…when self-deprecating statements are not countered?
…when no one asks what is wrong?
…when your value is not extolled?

How do you respond when you are not elevated to a seat of honor?

Feigned humility allows discontentment to fester in anticipation of being elevated to the seat of honor. We can become so engrossed in winning the prize of people’s honor and praise that we fail to appreciate the seat of honor we, as followers of Christ, have already been elevated to.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:16-17)

We have been elevated to sit at the Lord’s Table as an heir.

Is there any greater honor? We have been given the greatest prize the world has ever known. Let’s not wallow in the sinful discontentment of seeking the lesser prize of man’s praise.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me for being a master of feigned humility.  Forgive me of the pride in my anticipation of praise.  Forgive me for giving so much thought and effort into seeking the prize of man’s honor.  Forgive my sinful discontentment.  Lord, you have given me an honor that I do not deserve and could never earn.  Thank you for adopting me into your family.  Thank you for lifting me from my lowly estate and giving me a seat at your table.  Help me to be content in you and you alone.  Open my eyes to all that you have given me.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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April 1, 2014

““Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” 1 Corinthians 9:24

In my last post (Race Day), I was in the midst of pre-race excitement and the unknown of never having competed in a cycling event.  I am now in the haze of reflection on a weekend of bicycle racing.


ToO Road Race 2014

I now know that my day-dream of standing on a podium really was a silly fantasy.
I also know the dreaded realization of being crushed by  “real” cyclists.

Time Trial:

I knew I was in trouble as I watched the other riders warm-up. I was impressed by the degree of aero-equipment that whizzed past me; TT bikes, aero-helmets, aero-wheels, and skin-suits of every variety and shape.  The vast majority of my competitors wore the gear of a cycling team and looked very fit.  I did not see any newbies, like myself.

The actual race confirmed my fears. They release competitors individually, in one minute increments. I was passed by three racers. In fact, I was passed within the first two miles by the guy who started immediately behind me, after I had been averaging over 23 mph.  I finished 10th…out of ten, in my age group, 76th out of 87 overall. However, I had personal bests on both climbs and I maintained my heart rate between 155-165 bpm. It was probably the best I could do.

I am satisfied with the race since my finish was strong (for me).


The crit course is located in the downtown section of a local town, in the form of a rectangle with two block straight-aways and 90 degree corners. It is flat and fast. From the whistle, we were immediately up to 25 mph. I managed through the first and second corners.  On the third corner, I was set up on the outside of the turn. I could not see very far ahead due to the group so I set my line base on the rider inside of me. We all leaned into the turn but I quickly released that I was being pinched into the curb as we were coming through the turn. I grabbed my brake a little too hard and felt my back tire slip toward the curb at which point I felt this sense of weightlessness. The next thing I knew I was standing in a grassy area adjacent to the course, inspecting my bike.

I had crashed in my first lap. Fortunately, I landed on the only grass aligning the whole course.  A rider with better bike handling skills and experience probably would never have crashed. I am a little disappointed that I did not get back on my bike and finish the crit – I probably could have. The crash rattled and scared me.

I did not finish well. In fact, I did not finish.

Road Race:

I didn’t want to do the road race after my experience with stages 1 and 2. I had been humbled and outclassed. I had done the pre-race ride and knew what a day on the road race course would be like.(Strava-Like Community)   A few friends encouraged me to continue and consider the road race as an opportunity to train and gain experience. I had no answer to their encouragement so I sucked it up and went for it.

To my surprise, I hung with the group until the climb at the end of the first lap when I was dropped and the group was gone. I rode in solitude for the next two laps, as I had expected, finishing 12th …out of twelve, in my age group, 49th out of 58 overall. I am happy that I persevered through the race even though my time was not competitive.

Measure the Heart
I was thinking about Paul’s encouragement to compete in a way to obtain the prize.  Thankfully, God does not judge our faith by outward appearance. He knows our heart. He knows the blessings and abilities that He has granted each one of us. He does not grant the prize based upon the external accolades from this race we call life.

God judges us based upon our heart.

I may have exhibited more heart and determination than my weekend rankings may have exhibited. I have not been blessed with much of the youth, experience, strength and athleticism on display by those real cyclists. I don’t have the luxury of time to put into dedicated cycling training necessary to achieve the sort of cycling fitness and power that I saw this weekend. But given where I am, I might not be in last place if heart were a category.

God judges us based upon our heart and what our love for Him motivates us to do with all the blessings and abilities He has given us. That is why we should not judge other people by their actions. We never know how competitive their heart really is. They might actually be running a better race of faith than I am without many of the advantages I have been given.



Race Well
We are all in a race. The goal of this race is to persevere and finish strong in our faith. We should all be striving to hear the words, “well done, good and faithful servant”.

We may feel outclassed by other people’s faith and dedication.
We may have crashed our faith due to inexperience and poor decisions.
We may be rattled and afraid of where following Christ might take us.
Bad experiences may have us at the edge of wanting to give up.
We might feel discouraged as we slog along in solitude.

Remember, God does not judge the external results of your faith. He judges your heart. He knows the gifts He has given you. He knows the disadvantages you are overcoming. He knows the faith He has given you. He has you exactly where He wants you. He is providing you with experience and training so that you will persevere to the finish line.

So, don’t give up; look to other real faith racers as examples of what is possible. Take heart in knowing that God has given them the strength to follow Him as they do. He can do the same for you. Most likely, He is already doing it as long as you continue to show some heart – a heart dedicated to loving God more than anything.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the opportunity to race this weekend. Thank you for showing me how important heart is.  Thank you for giving me grass to crash into.  Thank you for the faith that you have given me.  Thank you for the experience and training that you are putting me through.  Lord, examine my heart.   Give me examples to follow and be encouraged by.  Help me to suck it up and continue when I feel like giving up.  Remove all fear of following you with a wholly dedicated heart.  Help me to keep the prize of living well for your glory in sight. I want to embrace the hope of obtaining the prize. Grant me a spirit to race my life well. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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August 5, 2013

“These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.  If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 2:23-3:2

I completed the 4 Summit Challenge.  It was not what I had expected.  This past summer my friends and I have been ride everything with a vertical grade to prepare us for this challenge.  I felt confident in my level of fitness to complete the ride.  However, that confidence was quickly consumed at the base of the vertiginous second summit.

040914CornersI was riding with a friend as we began our ascent but we soon separated into our little worlds of endurance as we sought our individual climbing cadence.  I knew early on that this was going to be a new and unpleasant experience.  I had already surrendered into my lowest gear when I caught a glimpse of the road miles ahead.  The road crossed from one side of the mountain to the other and then gouged itself upward in the form of three switch-backs.  It was like my own personal l’alpe d’huez.

71472755_0Miles of unrelenting slope were ahead of me, without the relief of a lower gear.  Therefore, I had to grind it out.  The resistance of the mountain was too great for me to keep a high cadence on my pedal stroke.  So, every turn of the pedal required more power than I wanted to expend.  My muscles burned from the constant tension on the pedal.  My heart pounded against the pride of falling below 5 mph.  The sweat poured off of me as I struggled to keep cycling in a straight line.

It was a rather pathetic display.  A display that was made more irritating by other cyclists passing me while carrying on a conversation.  I was not capable of conversation.  How could these freaks be talking so calmly while I am gasping for every ounce of oxygen I can suck through the gaping hole that was my mouth?

Cassette Replacement 020

Cassette Replacement 020 (Photo credit: QuietDangst)

The answer to that question came over the following days.  A friend had stopped in a bike shop after the 4 Summit Challenge and had discussed our struggles on that day.  The owner commiserated with our plight and explained that he always changed out his gear cassette for that climb.  He recommended that we use a 12-30 gear cassette.  The numbers refer to the amount of teeth on each gear.  The more teeth a gear has the easier it is to push on a climb.

That bike shop owner had stated something that I knew but had not occurred to me.  The cassette on my bike is 11-21.  The difference between 21 teeth and 30 may not sound like much but it is a huge difference.  It would have allowed my ascent to have included conversation and an appreciation of the view rather than a miserable grind that tempted me to quit.

I see a lot of folks grinding through their Christian existence.  Like many, I have ground through my faith trying to climb a virtuous ascent to holiness.  I have employed all sorts of aids.  I know the grind of self-discipline.  I know the temptation to follow the practices of mature believers and the wonder when I did not get same results from their method.  It all has the appearance of wisdom but I have found that these methods have not stopped the indulgence of my flesh.  The severity of self-imposed discipline can be so grinding that it has always made me want to quit after a period of time.

The virtuous ascent to holiness always reveals our method.

We cannot gracefully ascend in obedience when we are relying upon our self-discipline.  One can grind it out for a while but it will be miserable.  Those who make the Christian life look easy have learned how to ascend in joy by setting their minds on the things above, not on things that are on earth.  They know how to seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Ascending is all about having the right gear.

Effort has to be expended in every believer’s ascent but the right practice will make the difference between a pathetic display that few will want to emulate and an enjoyable, peaceful, glorifying, ascent to new heights.

I cannot control my flesh.  I have never been able to permanently grind it into submission.  However, I do control what I set my mind upon.  I end up doing what I want to do.  By setting my mind of the Spirit and the things above, the desires of my mind are changed by the Spirit.  I don’t need grinding self-discipline when my desires have changed.  I can allow myself to do what I love when my mind has the right gear.

Let’s set the only gear we need into place and seek our Lord.  Let’s ascend to new heights of holiness to the glory of God.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for giving us a path of obedience that can be joyful.  Forgive me for so often trying to follow You in my strength.  I can be so foolish in my thinking that all that appears to be wisdom will somehow work.  Thank you for giving me your Spirit to teach and guide me.  Teach me how to set my mind on you in all circumstances.  Help me to recognize when I am failing to set my mind on the things above.  Lord, you are so good to me.  Fill me with a joy in obedience that will be a pleasing fragrance to you.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.


DOING IS BEING – Dec. 14th

December 14, 2012

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock…And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” Matt. 7:24,26

Bicycling (magazine)The weather has turned too cold for me to get out on my bicycle and I am too cheap to buy winter riding gear. The cold is a convenient excuse. I ride mostly for triathlon training and to stay in shape so my typical riding session involves pain of some kind. I do not really like pain.

However, guilt has motivated me to set my bike up on a trainer in my basement.  That is mostly a convenient way to store my bike. Riding a bike on a trainer is just the pain of riding outside without the scenery.  That makes it even easier to find excuse to avoid what hurts.

I am contenting myself with reading my Bicycling magazine, as if reading about cycling will keep the calluses on my butt. The sad fact is that reading about great rides up the Pacific Coast Highway does not keep me in shape. I wish it worked that way.

I cannot call myself a cyclist unless I actually cycle.

Double big gulpWhat we are is not based on what we want to be.  If that were the case then I would be a genius. The reality is that I am not a genius. What we are is based on what we do. Vegetating in front of the TV with nachos and a Big Gulp makes me a couch potato.  It does not matter what I might be reading. That seems like a pretty reasonable correlation. You cannot claim to be something that you don’t do.

Yet, there are many folks who claim to be a Christian without doing anything. They understand all the strange terminology of the Christian world. They may be able to act appropriately in certain crowds.  The problem is

that a close examination reveals that there is a lack of implementation from hearing to doing.

Christian is not a surname like Mister or Miss. Christian is a descriptor. The title, Christian, cannot be ascribed to someone who reads their Bible or listens to a sermon but does nothing with what has been communicated. That is just like a couch potato claiming to be a cyclist.

We are part of the family of God only when we hear the words of God and do them.  That is when we are standing on the rock.  You will find yourself on sinking sand if you try anything else.

PRAYER: Lord – give me ears to hear and a heart that desires to do.  Father, show me how I can take what you are communicating to me through your Word and implement it into my daily life.  Change me more and more into your image.  I cannot transform myself.  Lord, change me, don’t leave me as I am.    Amen

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