Monthly Archives: July 2014

First Monsoon

Ride report, July 2

The skin on my arms was beet red and puckering from hailstone impacts.  I was riding my bicycle on Snowbowl Road when the first monsoon of the season let loose.  A grey cloud drop had appeared in the morning above the San Francisco Peaks and steadily grew.  By midmorning deep rumbling thunder was sounding and a few dense raindrops splattered on the pavement.  When I looked to the south the sky was a crystalline blue unique to Arizona.  The Peaks were creating their own weather.  At mile marker two on my second repeat the pauses between rain drops ceased and cold air descended in heavy downdrafts.  I turned around just before the torrent was unleashed.  The pavement darkened and  washed over in seconds, completely slickened.  I rode carefully as this being the first rain in months, no doubt there was oil and industrial fluid washing away, left by leaking motor vehicles and probably some splatters from bicycle and motorcycle chains.  I made it down without getting too cold and the lightning strikes were not terribly close.  Most of Highway 180 on the way back into town was dry.  Past the alpine gardeners pullout on the descent towards the city limits the forest clears to the north and vista of the entire mountain opens expansively.  There it was, a curtain of rain showers drifting down, the droplets coalescing into a three dimensional liquid veil across the classic silhouette of the mountain reigning over town.  Monsoon season has arrived in the high country.  Cyclists, ride early and carry your wool covers!  When you hear the bird song that precedes the huge thunder reverberating off the mountain sides, begin considering a bee line for the sweet shelter of home!

Matching the Wind: AZ State Road Race report

Matching the Wind: A View from the Men’s Category 1-2 Arizona State Road Race 2014

That’s what happens when you work for each other.  –Eric Marcotte, after the 2013 AZ State Road Race

Part I: Race Preparation

September 2013 was the last time I felt the pulses of bike racing.   I had been concentrating on work and family but I was missing racing so much I awakened to the idea that the right balance of racing could boost and sharpen my life focus, rather than detract from it.  So I went to Show Low, Arizona for the Arizona State Championship Road Race on June 14, 2014 to race with the Landis-Trek team.

After committing to do the race a week and half before I didn’t have time to refine my fitness.  I took care of all the little things with renewed attention, such as resting properly, eating right, stretching, riding with purpose.  Bicycle racing is not an easy pleasure but adding intent to daily routines deepens enjoyment, and the little things add up to a difference in performance.  Michael, Chris, Paul, and me made up our team this day.  Our plan was to protect Michael and Paul since Michael had finished sixth at Tulsa Tough the week before in a classy professional field, and Paul’s abilities are legendary.

I had the usual bevy of prerace worries—all the driving this would entail, bike prep, time away from work—but I stuck to my plans.  I had a good feeling about the race, but I’ve learned to be wary of those sensations, as confidence is tricky business.  Humility seems to be the best mindset to work from so I deliberately tried not to get too excited.  When I rolled up to Chris’s place to pick him up for the drive to Show Low, he threw in his Natural Grocer’s reusable bag containing his dinner, breakfast, and all the nutrition he’d need for the race.  I brought my food in a Natural Grocer’s bag, too, and we saw we would mesh as travel companions.  Sharing the adventure made for a fun trip.

At packet pick up at Show Low Ford happy volunteers welcomed us.  Registration flowed easily.  The t-shirt given to each registrant is now my new favorite.  All the nice touches!  After registration Chris and I greeted our teammates at the Super 8 and discussed race plans, unanimously deciding the best preparation was to go to sleep.  One of the things I love about racing (and as I get older, feel guiltier about) is that it requires one to pamper oneself, making sure you’re properly fed, in bed at a decent hour, not wasting any energy on insignificant matters.  The concentration created in preparation for seizing the moment on race day is like generating a protective force field.  Every bike racer has the recollection that race day is going to hurt, though we forget just how much.  Check your race journals for details.  You must take good care of yourself.  It is your duty to focus, relax, rest.  And eat a big meal and drink.

Part II: The Race

On race day winds were steady around 30 miles per hour and gusts felt like a tall farmer with the open palms of his big hands was leaning with all his mass against our bikes and bodies.   Men’s Category 1-2 race would travel 81 miles with the last 16 mile stretch from Taylor to Show Low charging straight into the wind.  There were about 30 riders in the field. We rode through Show Low during a neutralized start.  The right turn onto highway 260 signaled the beginning of racing.  I went to the front.  The strong cross wind was coming off the peloton’s left shoulder.  Competitive sensations surged through my body.  It had been so long!  The adrenaline was lying to me telling me I could work harder, but I was on borrowed time quickly after the first couple of pulls.  Michael said Mark, save some for later, clearly seeing my over enthusiasm could lead to a too quick demise.  This suggestion was timed perfectly for me to get my wits about me and remember we had nearly 80 miles remaining, and everyone was saving.  A little later Michael instructed me to start missing every other pull so I would conserve more energy.  Michael passed the tips to check my efforts calmly and kindly even though I was racing like a rookie.

Paul’s legs were working well and he kept stretching out the front of the field.  His efforts and some counter attacks from anxious riders on the rolling terrain led to a gap with a lead group consisting of about twelve riders.  Three Landis-Trek riders were in it, Paul, Michael and me.  The group worked well together growing the gap before Paul and Nate broke away before the first feed zone.  After making the right turn towards Highway 277, the road from Overgaard to Taylor, we passed the feed zone but couldn’t hang onto bottles because winds were gusting at our backs and our speed was well over thirty miles per hour.  Michael and I focused on covering everything in the chase group and letting the other riders whose teams were not represented in the break work on pulling it back.

Paul and Nate stayed away much longer than anyone expected, especially considering the chase was furious.  I was starting to feel tired and thirsty.  I couldn’t imagine what working in the break must have been like for those two riders!  In the chase there were many more riders sharing the load.  Lewis, Kyle and his teammate, Robert, and Adam all were taking hard pulls.  Lewis in particular was racing inspired and his pulls were hard to follow.  I was exhausted from the surging efforts and at the mercy of the wind.  My legs felt bad.  There is no way to simulate race efforts in training and now I was feeling it.  All I could do was hang in.  It helped knowing I was only a role player.  Tapping into the mental connections of being part of a team effort helped me stay focused and endure the hard moments.  Plus Paul’s sacrifice out in front was giving Michael, Chris, and me a relatively free ride.

By the time Paul and Nate were caught just before Taylor the chase group had been obliterated and those remaining were somber.  Salt whitened the cheeks and streaked the race kits of this tattered band or riders.  All outward signs of bravado disappeared.  After we made the right turn onto the home stretch from Taylor we were in our little rings into the wind.  Are they going to call the race off on account of too strong a head wind?  Poor Paul had missed his feed too and needed some water, but I didn’t have any water.  The riders that did have fluids passed them around.  This shared suffering, the compassion that develops between racers, is a beautiful thing.  It is a strong and memorable bond.

For some reason Paul attacked again.  We all watched stunned and unbelieving.  Later he told me he had a nice iced coffee treat before the race that morning at the local McDonalds, and was just feeling it that day.  No one thought Paul was going to be a threat alone out there in the wind for the last 15 miles.  We just watched him ride away.  We had other small attacks in the group but you could tell everyone was flat out tired, and each attack was slowly reabsorbed.   Michael and I discussed how poorly our legs felt.

Then a strange thing happened after Paul had disappeared up the road.  We came upon a Landis-Trek rider on the shoulder nursing leg cramps, and thought naturally Paul was done.  So I figured no matter how badly I felt it was now my job to go and make the other riders chase into the wind, so Michael would be able to draft and attack with a final decisive blow closer to the finish.  Timing in bicycle racing is an interesting thing.  Attacking seems to work best not as a cerebral decision, but a sensual one, kind of tapping your foot to the rhythm of the group, waiting for a lull in the pace when riders are sitting on the back of the saddle. You can feel when it is a good time to go.  Reacting to that open moment, your mind kicks in, making you go even though your body is saying no.

I was listening for a good time and found it.  I was surprised to get a gap but then terrified I wouldn’t be able to make it to the finish 10 miles away.  I found my legs were working better at a steadier rhythm out on my own.  The sense of excitement of breaking free from the pack’s tenacity was accentuated by such a long wait. I’m finally doing something besides hanging on!  I was hurting but determined to carry on until I couldn’t anymore.

The motorcycle referee pulled up next to me and said I was one minute behind another rider.  That didn’t make sense, who could be ahead?  No matter because I was going as hard as I could, pedaling evenly in smooth circles to avoid inciting muscle cramps.  A little ways further and I could make out a Landis-Trek jersey in front of me.  Closer still and Paul turned his head around.  Then I knew the rider cramping on the side of the road earlier had to have been a Landis-Trek cyclist from another race category, because it couldn’t have been Paul.  Paul was right there in front of me.  When soloing off the front, Paul had been told by the motorcycle official that another rider was coming but the official didn’t tell him it was his teammate.  When we made sight of each other we were astonished, and relieved too because we were nearing the finish.  Just before the turn to the finish Paul relinquished his fervent pace and I rode up next to him.  I saw a face of absolution, all the fire expelled, a free spirit pure joy.  Paul insisted I go first but I only could demure.  It was obvious the wind was rewarding his effort today, maybe because he did not insist on his own priority.  Paul uttered heartfelt words that spoke for both of us and then he was riding alone again.  No one could have done anything to stop him on this day.  He waited for me past the finish line and we celebrated.  That was all worth it.

photo 1The Landis-Trek team rode as one and made each individual stronger.  On race day Paul didn’t rail against the ferocious winds but carried a respectful awe, fastening his effort and focusing his energy.  He set out with the goal that no matter what Landis-Trek was going to win that day.  He wouldn’t have known what he was capable of if he hadn’t the courage to charge out there again and again into the headwind, diving into the great unknown.  Paul made the entire organization winners, our manager Brian, the E-Board, sponsors, and the White Mountain Road Club members whose support and volunteerism makes the Landis-Trek domestic elite and regional racing team possible.  A special thanks to Eric P., whose Christmas parties and enthusiasm renew us each year, infusing the club with positive energy and rooting us firmly in the best of classic cycling road racing traditions in the United States and around the world.  Seeing Paul exuberant and sharing his story with the racers around him, we witnessed the energy for this collective victory channeling through him.  There is no way you can be that happy riding alone.  I learned something about the essence of road bike racing on this day. Great efforts everyone.

Race Website:

Landis-Trek bicycling programs:

The Tall Fiddler by Tommy Emmanuel

naming the wind

My wife was helping me sift through ideas for a motto for Bike Yogi Consulting.  I threw all my best ideas out there urgently excited for confirmation but she’s a good editor, and quickly if not roughly, with straight forward honesty at least, she shot them all down.  Finally–thinking back to how I reacted to my recent rest day off the bike–she suggested “no bike no life”.  Well, that is fitting for me, but I told her I didn’t want a double negative in my motto.  She retreated back for a moment, whirled some creative energy around, and came forward with “elevating life through bicycling”.  By golly that’s it!  I paid her by going and doing all the dishes.  She says I’m still in debt.  I agree.  Working through a grass roots, person-centered approach I want to help enrich life through bicycling (just like the idea of reading for elevated living except with bicycling the landscape we ride through is our book, bicycling the language).  If we get out in the wind and go for a spin bicycling helps us learn more about our self and connect intimately with the world.

questions for bicyclists, answers for everyone

Shouldn’t bicycles get out of the way of cars?  We are susceptible to a trick of the mind that creates second classes to justify our priority, dominance, and greed.  No, there is no reason why bicycles should be subservient to cars.  I remember when I was truck driving many truckers liked to think they had priority on the road as workers, keeping America moving, but in reality truckers have even more responsibility to take care of other road users since trucks have so much weight and power.  The same thing is true on shared use paths, where bicycles may be the fastest, but have to yield and respect the pace of pedestrians and equestrians.  More power equates to increased responsibility.  The requirement for respectful attitudes to assume that additional responsibility increases directly proportional to power.  Freedom is contingent upon exercising our power within limits, abiding by rules with discipline, and all freedom is dependent on protecting the freedom of our neighbors.  All the advertisers selling cars don’t find this a huge selling point, but it is true.  No one should ever be driving a car feeling unchecked power, it is a huge responsibility!  And same for bicycling, I am on the lookout for kids playing on the street, walkers, pets, wild animals, runners, other bicyclists, skateboarders, inline skaters, cars, utility and maintenance workers, emergency personnel, tourists pulled over to watch wildlife, ask directions or check out the scenery, you name it.  In this new era of global society everyone travels first class.  As more countries around the world pick up their use of the automobile, the United States has an obligation to become a leader in showing how shared roads can keep intact the primacy of traditional and basic, cost effective, and efficient modes of moving including biking and walking.  If we don’t have good access to safe and comfortable walking and bicycling in our everyday lives, the motor vehicle driving experience will be degraded too.  The roads will be a dog eat dog madhouse.  Here’s our chance to be a global leader for good.  Good walking and biking is primary and makes everybody a winner.

Is bicycling painful?  As the Buddha said life is suffering.  Suffering on a bike makes you stronger.  I like the feeling better after a long bike ride than the way my body feels after a long car ride.  The main difference is once you get off the bike you immediately begin recovering and rebuilding stronger, while the car ride leaves you in a weakened state, deeper in a hole you have to dig out of with exercise and movement to regain your elasticity and flexibility.  The other thing about bicycling is it makes me feel so alive.  The intimacy of the weather on the skin, the measure of the breeze against your body, even the storms are unforgettable.  It makes me feel so alive and my memories so bright knowing what I did on the bike today was a very sensual thing.  It is immediate living!  A very gratifying activity.  Plus the endorphins and preservation of youth one derives from bicycling are very powerful and uplifting.  There is nothing like feeling strong.  It is so empowering realizing what you can do with your own power.  Interestingly one gains as much mental confidence and strength through bicycling as physical robustness. Health=Wealth.  Bicyclists are rich $$$

Why do you ride on busy roads?  For the same reason I sometimes drive my car on busy roads.  I want to get somewhere and this is the best route for me.  We wouldn’t say someone who is navigating Friday afternoon rush hour driving their car to an occasion is endangering themselves with that choice, and we should give the same benefit of the doubt to bicyclists, or any other mode of transportation.  I often hear bicyclists referred to as risk takers.  Not true, at least that part of the population that bicycles should not be taken to represent all cyclists.  It is a misconception to think that the reasons people ride bikes for are less important than the reasons people drive cars for.  And in the end, the low impact, small footprint, efficient and cost effective nature that is inherent to bicycling is hard to beat, and terribly hard to argue against if you are using your reasoning and critical thinking faculties without preconceptions or bias.  Not everybody has to bicycle but we can show respect for the mode that people choose or need to use to move around by, and not look down upon one mode over another.

Isn’t bicycling just an elitist sport?  I started out as a bicyclist for economic reasons–I didn’t own a car, cars are so expensive!–and I loved commuting and errand running so much that I started to do bonus miles on my days off.  I didn’t plan to fall in love with bicycling.  Bicycling is for everybody that wants to try it, for school children, families, commuters of all kinds from business people to house painters to political leaders, for social rides, touring scenic roads, taking a vacation from town from your front doorstep on a Saturday morning.  It just so happens to be a carbon free vacation, too!  Even the elite bicyclists are everyday normal people, and usually use the commute as the backbone of their engagement with the sport.  Long after I’m done racing I will still be riding to meet everyday needs when bicycling makes good sense for any given trip.

Are bicyclists whimps?  Huh, oh, I think I know what you are asking.  I look different because I’m skinny, eh, not like a stereotypical image of a masculine puffy chested man.  Bicycling strengthens the strongest muscle in our bodies, the human heart.  Everything runs off the heart, so we get more blood to the brain, everywhere the circulatory system reaches, every part of the body.  This is a good thing because all the important systems in our bodies run on blood, especially our love!  Even though I don’t have big muscles in my arms, I imagine I could kick like a mule.  Being a bicyclist is just another version of what it means to be normal.  We are all normal, we are all ok.  There is no room for meanspiritedness anymore.











when cars turn against people

Yesterday on the Saturday community bicycle ride down Lake Mary Road south of Flagstaff, a chevy pickup driver steered his vehicle into two bicyclists, hitting them with his truck, while screaming “get out of the road!”.  Unfortunately during the summer tourist season bicyclists receive low level harassment and are endangered by motorists regularly.  This is not the first incident I’ve been present at when a motorist forcefully used her/his vehicle to “teach us a lesson”.  The kind Sheriff responding to our 911 call yesterday must have been wondering, why would we keep coming out to do this ride when our safety continually is threatened?  First, it is an appropriate road to do a group bicycle ride on (more on that in an upcoming post!).  Second, well, we are Americans, and Americans don’t compromise their passions for living just because hate criminals and people willing to take advantage of power differentials are out there on the prowl.  We are a courageous not cowardly people.  Third, intolerance is antithetical to American values, and we stand up for those values, not run away from attacks on our common bond of civility.  Hostile traffic and road rage is not unique to bicycling, it is a problem for everybody.  We believe in equality and justice, the sanctity of human dignity in every individual, the right to pursue happiness, and recognizing our common humanity beyond the labels that describe our differences.  There is no better place than the United States for these ideals to thrive.  We need to support victims, not reprimand them, and teach vehicle operators that escalating a misunderstanding or trying to punish someone, or even being rude to a fellow road user, is a non-starter.

Law abiding bicyclists riding with consideration for others have no need to apologize.  After repeatedly being treated like they are doing something wrong, most cyclists I know end up thinking from someplace deep inside themselves that can’t quite be pinpointed that there is something wrong with riding a bicycle on the road, that there is something wrong with them.  These are symptoms of being a recipient of continual abuse.  This is a rather traumatic “normalized” state for people to be functioning in.  It is a drain on society, the families and children of bicyclists, for our employers, for reaping the full service potential from our citizenship.  The most common reaction is for people to turn away from road biking and retreat to mountain biking, or some other calming activity.  The closing of opportunities is a huge problem we can reverse with a concerted, unified, sustained effort.  Often times law abiding bicyclists’ safe and predicable road manners are misinterpreted by motorists who don’t understand other points of view exist on the road besides the one from their own windshield.  I sent a letter to the editor to the Arizona Daily Sun knowing this educational component was not universally understood.  The Pima County Sheriff’s Office put out a nice memo clarifying the commonly misunderstood rights of bicyclists.  It would be beneficial for Flagstaff Police and the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office to jointly develop a uniform enforcement policy confirming the same rights, and for the motor vehicle department to initialize educational campaigns and training modules informing the public of the shared road guidelines.  Check out the “Bicycle Law Enforcement: Enforce Laws with Mutual Respect” article on Flagstaff Cycling.  There are more good resources for bicyclists on where to ride in the “Street Smarts” publication, and it is ok for motorists to cross train in this realm too, even if you don’t ride, perhaps especially if you don’t ride.  The law is on the side of bicyclists, but the public perception needs to come around so differences are better understood from our shared common ground as legitimate citizens on the shared road:

We have a big mountain to climb in front of us to put these principles into motion as normalized best practices on the road, and to stop the discrimination against bicyclists.  The best thing we can do is to understand why these crimes are happening and make sure drivers have the tools, knowledge and support they need to make peaceful decisions going forward.  We can forgive, warm up our hearts with compassion and move forward, recommitting to relating to each other on equal, mutually respectful terms.  I hope the riders that were hit yesterday are healing up OK, in their bodies (they appeared OK, they were very lucky, and highly skilled to stay upright), but equally so in their psyches, where post traumatic stress syndrome can sneak in and start strangulating the state of feeling well.  Keep riding, be rolling ambassadors, take care of each other, come forward and voice your concerns so everyone hears from you, and never stop working to make the shared road a microcosm for the democratic values we formed this wonderful nation to preserve.  We can do better than bashing each other around.  Let’s give hope some legs.  Time to go for a ride!

When People are Around, Slow Down

I sent this letter to the editor to our local newspaper the Arizona Daily Sun a few weeks ago but never heard back from them.  I resent it this morning.  The main thing I was trying to accomplish was to build understanding and basic respect for the rights of bicyclists on the road.  It is funny to think you have to remind people not to use their motor vehicles as instruments of intimidation or as weapons against co-citizens, but unfortunately our experience tells us much progress is yet to be made in this realm of society where violent tendencies still reign.



Letter to the Editor, Arizona Daily Sun Newspaper, Flagstaff, Arizona

When People are Around, Slow Down:  Bicyclists in Consideration

Bicycling season is in full swing in Arizona’s high country, and the Arizona Governor’s Office for Highway Safety reminds us that “bicyclists may occupy any part of a lane when their safety warrants it”.  Bicyclists have full legal access to the travel lane including when a bicycle lane is present.  Bicyclists are trained to ride as far to the right as practical, not possible.  When bicyclists are in the travel lane as part of traffic, they may be passing other cyclists or road users, avoiding deteriorated road surfaces, or navigating obstacles such as broken glass and dangerous debris.  Slow down, wait to pass until it is safe to do so, and provide the recommended passing distance of at least five feet (three feet is the absolute minimum) from the furthest point of your vehicle, including mirrors and trailers, and the bicyclists’ left elbow and leg.

The Federal DOT considers “bicycling equal with other transportation modes” and bicyclists have equal access to our roads.  When passing groups of bicyclists be especially prepared to wait until it is safe to pass.  “By law, cyclists always have the right of first come, first served in the lane that they are occupying.  Vehicles can’t legally intrude into their path, or pass them, unless it is safe to do so” according to Peace Officer Kirby Beck in Law and Order magazine.  This means drivers may have to be patient and wait to pass bicyclists until the oncoming lane is completely clear of traffic, especially when passing groups of bicyclists.  Never use your vehicle as a weapon to threaten, harass, intimidate or endanger the safety of your neighbors on Arizona’s beautiful roads.  We need everyone on board to help Arizona actualize our full potential in welcoming and encouraging active and renewable transportation so that we may keep reaching towards our full potential as healthy citizens with a diverse array of good transportation choices.  Thank you!

Mark Aasmundstad, Flagstaff Cycling member.  Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists, Flagstaff Representative. Former over-the-road 18-wheeler commercial driver.  Current Arizona State Time Trial, Team Time Trial, and Hill Climb Champion.  USA Cycling license # 210273

In the Beginning, Bicycles Were Equal

Bicycles are equal to cars and have the same rights to the road.  Is this as difficult for you to imagine as it is for me?  Coming from a background as a commercial truck driver and growing up primarily using the roads with motor vehicles, it has been a challenging learning experience for me to understand how bicycles should interact on the road.  Sometimes when traffic is thick, heavy and suffocating, it is hard to even see there is room for bicycles.  But sure enough as I keep pedaling–in recent years on my bicycle I passed the 200,000 plus miles that I drove as a commercial truck driver–and learning the principles governing the shared use of public road facilities, I’m realizing bicycles make perfect sense and there is room for bicycles to share the road safely providing we all drive in a way that is compatible and respectful.

The roadscapes don’t always look like there is a place for bicycles because for a long time roads were designed without taking bicycles into consideration.  That legacy of discrimination has been a big problem!  And there was no good reason for it at all, simple neglect, fear of diversity, overpowering homogeneity ruled, a big mistake.  This article provides good background on the history of marginalizing bicyclists:  But the United States is truly a progressive nation with a long and strong history of overcoming injustice and inequality.  Plus we are intelligent.  Planning and design guidelines have increasingly embraced the bicycle as an efficient means of moving beautifully synchronized with planning, environmental, and human needs.  Increasingly design standards are being evolved to integrate bikes and not ignore them, even induce demand for bicycles.  Here is a hub with some of the latest design resources transportation planners reference: The Federal Department of Transportation crafted some excellent policy language that urges everyone to fully embrace bicycling and walking as basic building blocks of our core transportation system, and see active transportation as means of moving that should be fully respected and accommodated:

The momentum is rolling for bicycles.  The soft side of the transportation planning paradigm–by soft I mean adapting attitudes and perceptions to change human culture–is educating and training driving behaviors that are compatible with the increasing diversity on our roads.  This realm is the primary focus of Bike Yogi’s services.  All roads are good bicycle roads (except where bicycling is explicitly prohibited, such as urban interstates), with or without special infrastructure such as bike lanes, providing users share the road respectfully.  The first problem is educating everyone of the fundamental rights of bicycles to share the road as equals, and not as a class subservient to motor vehicles.  Sometimes bicycling safely means counterintuitive strategies, for instance, if a lane is too narrow for an average sized motor vehicle to pass a bicycle without leaving the lane (moving left), then a bicyclist is usually best off riding further into the lane, or “taking the lane“, to discourage a too-close pass and possibly being squeezed too far right off the road. is focused on building cross-cutting resources to illuminate the principles behind the shared road, expounding on practices and methods that help traffic run safely and smoothly, and creating innovative pathways forward for people, organizations, and communities that want to fully embrace and empower the bicycle as a means of moving with many benefits, all this with an emphasis on the joys of discovery one can make by venturing out into the world on a bicycle.