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“GET LOW” – Dec 19

December 19, 2013

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”  Matthew 6:6

Winter cycling has no allure for me.  I don’t get that anxious feeling of excitement when the allotted training time begins to approach.  It is easy to find an excuse not to do what feels like an obligation.

My excuses come easily because I am cycling on a trainer in my basement.  Spinning on a trainer is cycling at its worst.  I start in my basement and stop in my basement with only the sensation of the increasing burning fatigue in legs that are pedaling to nowhere.

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I cycle in my basement for the sole purpose of preventing the loss of last season’s gains.  I want to emerge from my basement in the spring at the same level of fitness that I entered it in the fall.  The only way I know how to do that is to keep pedaling to nowhere.

I have added another goal to my winter cycling to try to increase my motivation.  I am working on my aero-position.  My hope is to build the endurance and flexibility to stay as low as possible on my aero-bars for an entire 24 mile ride.  However, this goal has made an already unpleasant training time even more unpleasant.  My tired legs now have company in their protestations.  The combination of legs and shoulders questioning what I am doing has caused serious motivation problems.

I was beginning to question the value of my goal when I am down on my miserable aero-bars with the only wind coming from a fan.

I was reminded of the importance of my goal when I listened to a fascinating podcast  the other day.  It was an interview by Richard Diaz at Diaz Human Performance and John Cobb.  John Cobb is renowned for his expertise in fitting cyclists, particularly triathletes and time-trialers, into the most optimum aerodynamic position on the bike.  I have posted links to several of his fitting videos at the end of this post.  I was reminded in this podcast that you don’t ride on aero-bars for a leisurely cycling experience.

You ride in an aero-position to go fast. 

It takes 746 Watts to produce one horsepower (Hp).  A puny car can produce 100 Hp or 74,600 Watts.  According to John Cobb, “a good performing human for an Ironman distance can average only about 200 Watts”.  I know that I am not what he would consider a good performing human so I am sure that my average watt production over a 100-mile course will be probably be in the 150-160 Watt range.

So, we don’t have very good motors.  If that is the case, you have a limited motor, limited horsepower, but if you are trying to go “X” distance, pretty fast, then the only thing you can do is get through the air easier…The power to get through the air doubles the faster you go so it is incredibly important to pay attention to all kinds of little things to reduce the drag…your basic position is a huge thing.
~ John Cobb (not a direct quote)

Anyone who has spent time cycling knows this to be true.  We don’t have very powerful motors.  The best of cyclists are humbled by a head wind.  Steep climbs cripple our speed.  Our fastest times come on the downhills only with the aid of gravity.  We don’t have good motors so we must be as efficient as possible with converting that power into forward motion.  The most efficient position is staying low on the aero-bars.

You have a choice, you can suck it up and stay low, it is five more minutes, or you can take a turn and go to the donut shop and relax.  You can go either way.  ~ John Cobb

Richard Diaz asked a question that crystallized why my winter goal is worth it.

Richard Diaz:  When dealing with a really big wind, I get out of the saddle and try to muscle my way through it, in interval fashion.  Do you gain a mechanical advantage by doing intervals through a big wind?

John Cobb:  You cannot build enough power to offset the aerodynamic gain by being lower… if you are willing to suck it up into a head wind position, you need to choke up on your aero-bars so you can build more leverage, get into a harder gear…and concentrate on your on your pedal stroke, pull on your bars hard, stay in your aero position concentrate on really pushing down on those pedals hard and the lower cadence will help you with that…and you can concentrate harder on your technique and then you will get through that wind pretty fast.

This coming spring, I want to go fast.  I don’t have a good motor, even at my fittest, but I can get lower.  I can work on my endurance at staying low.  My limited power will be most efficiently converted into forward motion this coming spring because of what I am doing this winter.

When I got done listening to this podcast, I went to my basement and lowered the handlebars on my tri-bike as far down as they would go, mounted up and spun to spring speed.

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As I spun away in my prayer like aero-position, I could not help but think about prayer.  Humans are spiritually powerless.  Yet, I don’t see very many people living in a way that demonstrates that they have pitiful spiritual motors.  The cyclist who rides upright with his jacket open usually does not understand how much his position is holding him back.  In a similar matter, many Christian fail to appreciate how their spiritual position is holding them back.

All of a Christian’s spiritual power comes from the Spirit of God.
We are powerless in ourselves.
All of our spiritual power is a gift from God.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.  Acts 1:8

We receive power through the Holy Spirit to follow Christ, to bear His fruit, to do His will and to persevere through this life.  We might try to muscle our way through difficult times but we will never be able to build true enduring power.  We might try to muscle obedience but we will never be able to build enough power from within ourselves to overcome our sinful flesh.

We have to be willing to suck it up and stay spiritually low.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God you will not despise.  Psalm 51:17

I know of no better example of staying spiritually low than prayer.  Why don’t we pray?  Is it because we think we have the power to accomplish what is necessary?  Is it because we think that we are powerless against fate?  Is it because it is uncomfortable?  Is it because it is boring or feels like a waste of time?

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  Matthew 7:7-8

Lel4nd / Foter.com / CC BY

I don’t drop to my knees for a good time.  I don’t come before my God with a broken and contrite heart for a leisurely experience.  I come to my Father because I have a pitiful spiritual motor.  I come to my Lord because I need His strength.  I want all that holds me back from this world to flow across me as smoothly as possible.  Therefore, I need to get low.

I need to get low and I need to stay low.  I want to go fast spiritually.  I do not have the spiritual motor to be the person I want to be.  I am powerless to give God the glory He deserves.

I need to get lower and stay down there because that is where my power comes – God has promised to give the power that I need, when I need it.

“If I should neglect prayer but a single day, I should lose a great deal of the fire of faith.” ~ Martin Luther

PRAYER: O Lord, I need you.  I am powerless without.  I can do all things through You but I can do nothing without You.  Father, fill me with your Spirit.  Help me to get low.  Help me to come to You with a broken and contrite heart.  Father, I know that I let too much of this world hold me back.  Create in me a position that will speed me towards the person I desire to be – glorifying you in all that I am.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Resources:
Aero positioning for road bikes
Differences between a road bike and triathlon bike  
Setting your seat height – Sam Warriner and John Cobb
“SLIPPING THE RESTRAINS OF BURDENS” – Sept. 16

6 comments

  1. I’m right there with you on the trainer. Spinning away so that next season starts out better than last year. When I added aero bars to my road bike, I gained at least 1 mph straightaway. I also take trainer time to listen through an audio Bible. I figure I should at least redeem the time and gain something spiritual.


  2. I was intrigued already with your discussion; but then you took a turn with the prayer analogy, and I loved the essay even more. (Wasn’t expecting that!) Reminds me of a song I heard old saints sing when I was growing up: “Keep me low down at the feet of Jesus.” Great article…as always.


  3. First I feel your pain on the trainer issue.
    Second I found a book called Foundations that is dedicated to strengthening your back muscles which have helped me a lot with avoiding lower back pain after a cycle session.

    Lastly, as a high school runner I always used to repeat Phillipians 4:13 over and over in my head when I felt like I was going to throw up or felt like giving up. I still do that sometimes when I hit a head wind or want to throw my bike trainer out a window. But now you have given me more to meditate on, so thank you.

    Good luck this spring, God bless, keep your head down and power on.

    Merry christmas


  4. Great message–very powerful!


  5. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    interesting way of thinking about prayer


  6. Although I must admit I had difficulty staying on the bike…..when I got to the spiritual correlation I found it a powerful message…spiritual training is very hard work…. some days I have a hard time putting my head down and riding into the wind!



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