“Is it wrong for me to want to be better, to get faster, and to want to win?”

I finished reading Running with Joy, by American Marathon Record Holder, Ryan Hall about a month ago. Hall caught my attention at the US Olympic Marathon Trials in 2008. At the trials held in New York City, Ryan ran away with the title. He also spent the last 50 yards praising God. He has always been open about his faith with his fans and sponsors. You can watch several of his You Tube Videos chronicling his training and see how faith is pivotal to his life.

Back in 2010, after a less than stellar year, Ryan held a press conference to announce he was parting from his long time coach and the rest of the “Mammoth Track Club”. His reason for the separation was to allow God to have more control over his training. You can imagine the critiques’ articles.

The book I mentioned earlier is a journal of Ryan’s 2010 season. In the journal he shares his training schedule, work outs, emotions and Spiritual thoughts. It is an easy read and I enjoyed it on many levels. I encourage you to pick it up and spend some time with it.

Through out the book it is obvious that Ryan longs for his running to be a joyful experience no matter what place he finishes in the race or how successful his training run felt. I enjoyed seeing a “Pro Athlete” struggle with all the doubts and emotional lows I struggle with as I train for an event. Many times, Ryan would come back from a key work out emotionally drained and disappointed because he was only running a 5:50 mile pace for ten miles instead of the 5:40 he had planed! I caught myself thinking…”Who would be disappointed with that?” I mean here is this guy, who gets paid to simply train and run (Something Ryan admits is a dream come true for himself). I kept thinking why isn’t he satisfied with what he has? Ryan struggles with this question too, through out the book!

Last night as I sat down in front of my training log for the first time in several weeks, I saw how far off my training plan I really am. A week of allergy/ cold; a week of house repairs and cleaning so we can sell the house and bad weather all add up to three weeks behind my goals. I felt myself start to get frustrated and bummed. Then God reminded me of the pages in Ryan’s book. I felt/ heard God say…”Why can’t you be satisfied with what I give you? I give you time to ride, and a body that can experience all of it!” I argue back, “You gave me this personality, the drive to be better, not to settle!” I continue, “Is it wrong for me to want to be better, to get faster, and to want to win?”

I would like to say, God gave me a clear answer to my question, however I can’t. I guess I need to figure out why I want to be better? Is it for me or for others, who am I trying to glorify? Am I in the middle of my due “Mid-Life-Crisis”? What price am I paying in other areas of my life? If God wanted me to excel in endurance sports, wouldn’t he have given me better genes? All of these questions are valid and need to be answered by me. Until then, I will not be prepared for the answers God has for me…

I think tomorrow I will leave a little early for my ride to work. Catch an extra 20 miles and discuss this further with God! I will keep you posted!


My New Bike

This is my new Giant Defy Advance. This is also my first full carbon frame bicycle. I decided to sell my Litespeed and try a full carbon ride. I am not racing on the road any more, so the endurance geometry is a good match for my riding style and needs.

I have a bout 100 miles. I have been pleased. The carbon is noticeably more stiff than the titanium. The ride feel is wonderful. Everyone who has ridden in Indiana in the early spring, knows the roads are trashed with pot-holes and grit. The bike has handled all of these obstacles very well. Never have I long for the smoothness of the Ti frame. The carbon seems to deaden the road feedback, yet at the same time I still feel connected to the road! The bike is slightly lighter than the Litespeed. As pictured it sits at 17.5 lbs. Because of the nature of the titanium, I had Mark Degunya (Wheel Builder Extraordinaire) create a very stiff wheel/ hub combo. The Aero Head/ American Classic hubs are light and stiff. The same wheel set is great match for the carbon frame too! So over all I am very pleased. I will admit, however, if I were still road racing, I would opt for the Giant TCR. I think the TCR's shorter wheel base and fork rake would give it a snappier feel.

Of course I transferred my Campagnolo groupo onto the Defy. The carbon cranks just look great on the bike!

So do the Campagnolo Record Carbon Shifters!

I will check in later this spring to update the review! Enjoy the spring!


Faith Like a Child

I was able to take Saturday off from work and enjoy Peter’s basketball game. He is a defensive dynamo. What is more important, he is having a ball! Peter, unlike his elder brother, could care less about the score (In Up-Ward k-2nd Grade, they do not keep score). He just enjoys the running, jumping, shooting and passing. He also enjoyed blocking shots this weekend. Faith of a child…….

After the game, I was able to arrange a road ride with a friend. We met at the park and headed south on Mann road. The first hill past the golf course and I was loosing contact with Eric. I stopped at the top to check my tire for a flat, or maybe my brake was dragging. No such luck! It was me, my legs were cooked and I was not able to keep up! Eric noticed I feel off like a rock and circled back for me….Our training ride quickly became a social ride.

I was embarrassed, angry and disappointed. The dark clouds above us mirrored the dark clouds in brewing in my head. As I sit here today examining Saturday’s events, it reminds me of my walk with God. So often I find my self not following and having to trace my steps back to My Lord. The whole journey back to my Savior, I am rationalizing, arguing, hurting and weeping. I am embarrassed, angry and disappointed. I fear facing my Savior, even though I know what His response will be.

I think many people have been here before, face to face with their Creator knowing they have sinned! We hesitate and question ...Some get angry and refuse to take the final steps into His arms, others run the opposite direction because they have never known such Love. Some have so much pride; they think they should be able to fix their sin themselves before retuning to Him.

What ever the circumstance is behind our hesitation, we have no reason to worry! The price has been paid already! We are already forgiven; He only wants to pull us closer, for there we will find peace! God is not keeping score, he only wants us to run, jump, shoot and pass the ball! He wants us to enjoy His creation and His Love. God knows we are going to step out of bounds. He knows we are going to foul each other, its part of the game. He is only concerned with our Hearts!

So the next time you find yourself off His path, don’t stop and think, just turn and run all the way back to His arms and rest in His Peace and Love. There is Joy in this, This is called faith like a child.


Sram XX

I finally pulled the trigger and up graded my Trek Fuel. I added some select Sram XX products. My goal was to move to a 2x10

drive train, reduce the Q-actor and save a little weight. The Sram XX was just the ticket…….

The components have a great look and add to the over all eye appeal of the bike.

Love the matchmaker clamp. Allows me to clean up the dash board.

Race wheels with new components bring my endurance rig down to 25.5 lbs.


Spring, Embrocation, Evil Temptress and The Razor's Edge

Last entry to this little corner of the cycling world was focused on sickness and setbacks! This entry could easily continue that theme, but I refuse to give in! Like Jens Voigt, I am a head banger and must always be pushing forward, attacking.

In the midst of all the negative news and circumstances today, there is much to be joyful about and rest assured the biggest event is the Good News, which we are reminded of each spring! The next big good news is the assurance that warmer and more enjoyable riding time is moving closer!

I was first introduced to cycling by an older kid, who lived across the street from me in Evansville. It was 1985 that Mike told me about a bicycle race in France, where the fittest rider was not the winner. He was forced to wait for his team leader. I was confused, but captured by the concept! It would be another two years before I ever ventured out on a ride with Mike.

I tell you this story to help you understand that I have been seriously pretending to be a serious bicycle race for well over 20 years! In that time I have developed some spring time rituals!

  1. Early spring rides are to be epic! These are the rides we share at the coffee shop with our friends. They include words like cold, punishing, bonk, suffer fest and ridiculously steep! These stories bond all cyclists of all levels together. We all suffer on our bikes, our passion for the two wheels hurts at times and no cyclist can escape this fact!
  2. It is hard to explain, but at some point during the spring, the switch comes on and I decided to shave the legs. To be quite honest, it is a pain to keep up…But this act of converting hairy, coarse legs into smooth, pedaling pistons just fires me up and mentally prepares me for war! It also allows for easier application of embrocation.
  3. Embrocation is a ritual I learned later in my cycling life. Now if the temps are below 55, I can’t imagine starting a ride without it! Again, it is a ritual of cycling that is passes from master to journeyman. It is potent, just the smell of it makes my twitch with anticipation of a ride!

So there you have it, James’ spring cycling rituals. No great wisdom, but plenty to share at the next coffee shop stop. One last thing, mostly a warning about the evil temptress that lurks around this time of year. She made her self know this weekend at our home….Samoas….need I say more? Sorry Allison, shouldn't have left me home alone with an open box!



Ok, I have been under the weather since Friday night. Just some light stomach flu and fatigue. Because of this, I have not done any training. It is so early in the season, I can take this time off and not feel too guilty. (Repeat this line three times)

As I spoke about in a past post, it is difficult for us athletes to handle the various interruptions that life sends us! I new friend was telling me about some injuries that happen just before big races and he had to make the call not to race. As he spoke, I felt that dreaded knot in the pit of my stomach too. No athlete likes to cancel a race or important training ride due to illness, injury or other life happening. Yet, it is here we can set an example to our love ones.

1. As Christ followers, we should be at peace. I know that none of us are perfect, and I am a very poor example of peacefully accepting set backs. However, with prayer, I also know I can overcome my very goal orientated nature.

2. As Christ followers, we know how our true worth is measured. My worth is not based on race results or local training ride status.

3. As Christ followers, we must be ready to lay done our nets and follow. Our set backs may be an opportunity to do other Kingdom building.

One last thought today, It is February. March will be roaring in soon! My motivation is high and I am itching to get to riding outside again. This transition from winter training to spring riding is very precious to me! In the 24 years I have been riding, I have developed some traditions! My next post will focus on these!


IC3 Planned Rides

Here is a list of rides I have planned to date. These are on my personal training calendar, so they were created to meet my racing goals for the year. These rides will be challenging, so feel free to attend, but be prepared to hurt.

July 1 Brown County Gentleman’s Race #1– Start at the Brown County State Park trail head near pool, ride to camp ground via trails. Ride the road down to horseman camp and out to 135 and ride pavement to Nebo Ridge. (We will have a car at Nebo staging area for water and food.) We will then ride Nebo ridge and trace the trail and gravel roads of Hickory Ridge area (Similar to Gravel Grovel Course). We will then return to the trail head at Brown County State Park, where we started. This will be a 75-100 mile day/ 10-12 hrs of riding.

July 31 – Ride from my home to Allison’s parents in Wheatfield, IN. I have no idea of mileage, hoping to be around 150….

July 15 – 100 miles before I go to work at 11am. Leave my home around 6am and arrive at BGI South by 11am.

August 26th Brown County Gentleman’s Race #2 – Same as the 1st!

September 16 - 100 miles before I go to work at 11am. Leave my home around 6am and arrive at BGI South by 11am.

Let me know if you are game to participate. We will organize a few easier more social rides closer to summer. If you have an idea, please let me know…..


Tabata Intervals....

Yesterday, after riding tempo in the garage for 50 minutes, I started my usual Sprint 8 session. I cranked the CycleOps Trainer up the mountains setting and off I went. After 5 intervals I felt good, so I decided to deviate a little and try a “Tabata Interval Set”. I couldn’t finish 4 sprints!

I first read about these intense intervals on Velonews. They consist of eight 20 second intervals with a whole 10 seconds rest in between. Very challenging!

Try a set out this week!

Finding Time.....

Finding time to train is difficult….With a family, work, church and other time fillers, I find it hard to find the time to train. Since I am a schedule type person, I have created a great weekly schedule that fits all my time fillers into a nice neat package. Problem is….life and other people are not so committed to MY schedule. For instance, Allison (worlds best wife), has been sick for the past 5 days. She is a trooper and tries to continue as normal, but she must rest. This leaves me to do a little extra. This small extra, throws my whole perfect schedule off! Once I am off the schedule it is difficult to return to it. I then get very grouchy, feel sorry for myself and start listening to all the selfish thoughts that go through my head.

I have stumbled across a great way to combat this destructive cycle….this solution has been there sitting in front of me for many years. So simple and powerful, yet so hard to do….Prayer. We are taught to pray about everything. Yet the idea of laying my training at His feet never occurred to me. It is powerful, trust me. I encourage you to pray and share your training concerns to Jesus. I know, I felt like a selfish little school boy asking for a special favor, too. However, as I thought about it more, I realize God placed this passion in my heart. He takes delight in me training and racing.

The real benefit is that in prayer, my goals are better aligned with God’s goals for my life. When I may place too much importance on a particular race or build period, my time in prayer often eases my tension about the training/ race and helps me see the more clearly the big picture. Prayer also helps me deal with the disappointments, especially when I don’t get to see the big pictures. We all know our passion for this sport can become too big in our lives, this God will not tolerate! Prayer protects me from this idolatry.

I encourage you to pray about your training and racing and be ready to listen to your true Coach!



Sunday’s workout….

30 minutes easy ride on Trainer

Sprint 8

5 minutes of zone 4 riding (Heart Rate Zones)

Rest of the hour I cooled down

I have forgotten how difficult Sprint 8 is on a bike. I was finding my speed dropping around 25 seconds. It was painful to keep it up for the full 30 seconds. According to Phil Campbell, this indicates I was doing it correctly. Sprint 8 is trying to get you to totally work over the fast twitch muscles. Although it was painful and I was dead, it did feel good to blow out the engine.

Latter in the evening I did some foam roller work on my legs. My right calf has been giving my problems.

I was able to get up this morning and do my devotional. Today’s was on patients.

“A patient spirit is better than a proud spirit” Ecclesiastes 7:8

Pride derails me so much. I know as an athlete, my pride has forced me to ride/ run harder than my workout called, just so I could keep up. Then I would miss two or three work out recovering. Or my pride kept me from attending a training ride with a faster group because I knew I would get dropped.

This morning’s devotional reminded me to be patient with myself; God is not finished working out His plan in my life…or yours!

It reminded me to remain focused on the goals God has for me this year. To not push and try and make things happen by myself, God is faithful.


Tim Johnson, Cyclo-Cross World Coaching

Video to watch!

Sprint 8 Challenge

I have started the Sprint 8 challenge….I have used the Sprint 8 program before and found it useful. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Phil Campbell, Sprint 8 designer. I had some specific questions about using Sprint 8 with endurance training. I like the HGH increase, but realize I can not rely on this program to get through a 100 MTB race.

Phil suggested during my high mileage cycles to try doing only two Sprint 8 sessions a week. Fit the sessions in at the end of a normal endurance workout. I questioned that I would be too fatigued to muster up 8 good sprints. He said the point was to get anaerobic and concentrate on the fast twitch muscles.

I have used Sprint 8 through the prep phase and just for fitness maintenance. I will try Phil’s suggestions and let you know how it works. Currently I will be doing three sessions a week for 6-8 weeks


New Year, New Goals

I will first apologize for being so lazy about my blogging! I will try and do better this coming year!

Indiana membership is growing. We have members all over the State, but no one area of strong concentration. This past summer we tried to do three group rides in different areas. We got one ride in. It seems that IC3 riders are dedicated cyclist and family members. We will try for a few rides this summer again.

God has given me this passion for cycling and pushing myself to the limit physically, I count every minute on my bicycle as a gift. It helps me stay healthy, mentally stable and I enjoy fellowship with other rides. I can not count the numbers of times I have been on a long solo ride and God has spoken to me about life. Cycling is a larger part of my life.

These are all great reasons to ride and join IC3, however, I am also a family man. I am a leader in my house. At no time should my cycling interfere with the relationship I have with my wife, kids, church and extended family. I will admit that this tough! This is one of the areas I will be blogging about this year….

Enjoy riding, most of mine has been inside on the trainer!