Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Power of Prayer

For as long as we've been sentient we've pondered the purpose of existence.  Indeed, literature, art, and song all resonate with cries of "What does it all mean, anyway?"  Is life merely a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing?  Should we be content to cultivate our gardens?  Are we destined to boogie oogie oogie until we just can't boogie anymore?

Nobody knows.

Nevertheless, the search continues, which is why some of us turn to religion--and it turns out elite-level Freds and Fredericas are no exception, as VeloNews reports:

Amid the scene, a group of eight riders gather near the lobby bar and exchange hugs, greeting each other like old friends at a reunion. Veteran rider Ben King joins the group, as does Evan Huffman and Greg Daniel. One by one, they slip out of the room, walk down a hall, and into the silent back corner of the hotel’s empty bar. The conversation simmers, and the riders sit in silence.

Then they begin to pray.

Our Fred, who art in Lycra, crabon be thy frame...

The prayer session is another meeting of the cycling-centric ministry of Athletes In Action, the national Christian sports group that was founded nearly half a century ago. AIA’s cycling ministry is just five years old, launched in 2012 by Todd Henriksen, himself a talented racer whose pro career ended just shy of the European peloton. Henriksen and his co-chaplain, Brian Firle, crisscross the country during the season, holding prayer sessions for cyclists on the eves of the country’s largest races.

Frankly it's surprising it took this long, because if ever there was a sport to make people question their life choices it's cycling:

Riders in the UCI Continental ranks rarely perform in front of television cameras or huge crowds. How does one define his or her place within the cosmos when success depends on grabbing a water bottle from a team car?

“Everything they do is based on performance, and their value as a person is wrapped up in that,” Henriksen says. “As a Christian, you know that God loves you no matter what you do, no matter if you’re successful or not. That kind of thinking gives them a purpose-based identity. It gives a lot of freedom to live your life.”

Actually, if you think about it, there's really no sport that's more Christian than cycling.  Consider:

  • Guy acts like he can walk on water and heal the sick
  • One of his trusted disciples betrays him
  • Guy gets crucified
  • Guy comes back and starts a podcast nobody listens to

Come on, if Jesus came back you'd never know it.  The sad truth is that if the beatitudes were a tweet storm nobody would retweet it.


Of course, just like the early Christians who had to meet in secret, the Christians of the peloton are also a misunderstood minority:

“Most people think that if you’re Christian, you’re some crazy Bible thumper.”


Hey, I'm just being honest.  And I can assure you my feelings in this regard are by no means limited to Christians.  For example, one time we were in a restaurant we didn't realize was kosher and my wife took out an orange slice to feed to our baby.  Now, you can't bring filthy non-kosher food into a kosher establishment, and for all they know we could have been keeping that orange up a pig's ass.  Anyway, our inadvertent transgression caused a kerfuffle, and presumably they had to then scrub the place down like the candy bar scene in Caddyshack:

Now that's crazy.

All that aside, it is true that life in the peloton is life on earth distilled: a roiling, churning, all-consuming entity that alternately elevates the ego by dangling in front of it the prospect of victory, and then wears it away on the grinding wheel of pain and difficulty.  And amid this abject existence of oxygen debt, this stampeding herd of Lycra-clad haunches, this swarm of goo-slurping locusts (and mixed metaphors), it's hard not to come to the conclusion that if there is indeed a God then it's an Old Testament one who governs by attrition.  It's also hard not to conclude that the rules to which this God demands adherence are more or less arbitrary, and that the inconsistent manner in which this God punishes transgressions is equally so.  But it's easiest of all to conclude that all of that's irrelevant and it is what you make of it.  So if nothing else I supposed you've got to admire these people for seeking what Jesus represents in an environment where any evidence of those qualities is scant at best, though you've also got to admit that ultimately it's a place for the pragmatist--which is why it seems silly to expect Chris Froome not to race:

Froome is allowed to race while the case continues, although many in the cycling community — including UCI president David Lappartient — said he should sit out until a ruling is made. A decision, and any appeals, could take up to one year.

Sitting it out because people think you should just isn't how survival works.


wle said...

possible podium!
Post a Comment On: Bike Snob NYC
"The Power of Prayer"
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BamaPhred said...


O'4fuxake said...

boogie oogie oogie!

Bryan said...

Ugh. Religious people. I know far too many Jesus Freds, but I assume that's just part of living in Ye Olde South. The upside is Sunday mornings are perfect for going to the grocery store before everyone gets off their knees and takes the Jesus dick out of their mouth.

Blog Drafter said...

Post a Comment On: Bike Snob NYC

"The Power of Prayer"
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Proof right there that the Podium exists!
And also, a being named Bike Snob NYC exists!


(I pray every time I get on a bike. I don't know who I direct those thoughts to, but I'm damn well praying every time I get on a bike.)

Schisthead said...

The meaning of life is actually 'The Hustle'.

You were really close.

boys on the hoods said...

Christian cyclist mantra......"THE POWER OF THE LORD PROPELS YOU"

Unknown said...

vsk said ...


It's The Power of Chrysler Compels You!!


HDEB said...

Today's BSNYC post has an image of Jesus next to an ad for "bikes.direct.com", never thought I'd see that combo here : )

Anonymous said...

Here in Texas, the Dodge Ram Doolie is God because that's what the Super Bowl says.

Anonymous said...


hmmm, I have always thought that the Hokey Pokey is what it is all about.

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Top Ten? Hey Zeus!

dancesonpedals said...

All of that spirituality is nice, but who air brushed the Madonna del Ghisallo's nips?

Anonymous said...

[Insert outraged comment about blasphemy here]

And Bryan - were you an alter boy?

Colin Wilson said...

Jesus est dans le premier etc etc etc

Also that's kind of a sick cross made of cycles. A cyclo-cross, if you will.

Grump said...

If Jesus came back, he's be arrested for kicking a top politician in the keister. For this, he's be pumping iron in prison for at least 10 years (if he wasn't shot dead)
It's a shame that there isn't more than 250,000 Christians in this country (and a third aren't even Christian)

Back in the 70's said...

Funny scene from Caddyshack - come to think of it, that movie had a lot of funny moments.

Bikeboy said...

Does anybody ever do a "blessing of the bicycles"? Just curious.

(Sometimes at MOTORCYCLE events - you know, BIKERS - they will have somebody who's inclined and perhaps empowered, bless the motorcycles. You know - to be reliable safe transportation and maintain shiny-side-up, and deliver the believing riders to their various destination watering holes, etc.)

Some Christians believe that they don't need to do nothin' but BELIEVE, and they'll be saved at the end. I like to think I should do all I can to be a good disciple, and in the end, the saving grace of Christ will deliver me over the finish line. (With or without the checkered flag - I don't need to be in first place.) I try not to impose my faith on anybody else; they can believe or not believe as they see fit.

Anonymous said...

I've often cogitated upon the affinity between Freds and the religious — they both mindlessly abide by a code, ritualistically don their (lycra or liturgical) vestments for regular testamental processions and have a blind faith that their piety will be rewarded with better cornering and/or eternal life.

Personally, I'd rather live the free-spirited life of the heathen and ride whatever I like, however I like, wearing whatever I like.

There should be some limits, though; Snobby's Ol' Piney, for instance: that crime against humanity is the work of the devil.

Suwannee Dave said...

"AIA’s cycling ministry is just five years old, launched in 2012 by Todd Henriksen, himself a talented racer whose pro career ended just shy of the European peloton. "
Reminds me of the story of the minor league baseball player who could consistently hit a long ball almost to the wall. An old codger in the stands said that if they only moved the wall in ten feet, the guy could be playing in the majors.

Chazu said...

Nicely done. May I suggest following Mrs. Betty Bowers (America's Best Christian™) on Twitter and/or Facebook?

I'm not affiliated in any way with Mrs. Bowers... I just appreciate good satire.


JLRB said...

"Everything they do is based on performance"

Well how unique they are! Everyone else's careers are based on just showing up - cyclists actually have to perform!

Enjoy Fat Tuesday

Schisthead said...

I think of the hustle playing 42 to the hokey pokey's attempt at bogarting Einstein's later work on explaining everything.

Dooth said...

I was an utter failure as an altar boy. And grew up to own a Zeus road bike.

BamaPhred said...

I was an udder failure as a 4-H participant.

The Almighty said...

After a tiring day of zorching demons, performing miracles, alternately answering and ignoring prayers, and keeping these damn humans in check, Snob’s minor blasphemies makes me laugh.

Anonymous said...

"The Hustle" is actually the meaning of capitalism.

You were sorta close.

Far as I can tell, being on a bike is the meaning of life.

Anonymous said...


JLRB said...

Jesus is God personified - God is the good energy within us all - some call it love - George Lucas called it the Force - in a sense we are all Jesus - try to do good things to others (like pumping up a stranger's tires), or at least in the terminology of Breaking bad - DBAA

JLRB said...

and whatever you do, don't drag your flag

Jesus Freakbike said...


Climate change will turn your Lord Lob red-faced!

1904 Cadardi said...

Last week I gave my spare tube to a commuter that had flatted (I was driving home, she was riding). Is that enough of a good work to get me into cyclist heaven?

Drock said...

7:30 a.m. on the Mtb trail, i can see the cars backed up on the interstate from a tall vantage point. I hopped off pointed my two index fingers skyward and gave thanks that I wasn’t sitting in that pile of cars.

Grumpo said...

I don't know why, but there's something even creepier about sport religionists than normal religionists.

Bob said...

Its Jesus, Its only Jesus, Pray to Him, And all give thanks to Him, It's not how religious you are but Its your believing. Thanks for sharing this.

ClevelandYeah said...

@ Grumpo. So true. I played HS football at a Catholic School. "Say a Hail Mary and we'll get a first down." So so creepy.