This is WHY we RIDE

This is WHY we RIDE from Bruce Kraus on Vimeo.

A short promo for this weekends Saskatchewan Provincial 15km ITT, Road Race, and Criterium hosted by the Regina Cycling Club (RCC)

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Santa enchilada … su afuera caliente!

Journal Entry 07202017

It was a hot one out there today! 32C with a blistering wind. I was content to ride an easy pace as my heart was pumping furiously just to keep cool. Three litres of fluid and I was still parched – need to nail this down right as dehydration really sucks. There is no shade on the bald prairies and 30 SPF does not cut it. Good prep for the 38C temperatures of southwestern Montana 😉

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Overcoming Fear…

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If there is one thing I understand unequivocally, it is fear. I am not talking about the boogie man hiding underneath our bed as children. I am referring to the fears that we all experience when we face the numerous challenges of life and living. It is so much easier to remain in our respective comfort zones than to tackle the challenges of personal change and adaptation to a rapidly changing society.

For some of us, our inward fears did indeed begin in childhood and became hardwired within us according to psychologists. Our childhood experiences of  hunger, pain, violence, neglect, abuse, belittlement, and ridicule set in motion mistrust and fears that can be enormous obstacles to overcome as adults.

Modern society offers all kinds of self-help books and tutorials, the services of counselling professionals, and a plethora of psychotropic drugs to either assist adults in facing and overcoming their fears or dulling our emotions and taking the edge off our experience of reality. These are all of some help and should not be dismissed haphazardly, but in my experience, human methodology and assistance alone can be likened to putting a bandaid on a deep and festering wound and hoping it will just heal itself. Unless we get to the root of our fears, and the wounds are cleaned out and truly healed, we tend to pass on those fears to our children and our children’s children.

It is almost incomprehensible to me now that we can continue to go through life thinking and acting like we are all alone in our fears and that it is safer to stay within the confines of our neatly created reality.

We were never created to be fearful, but the episode in the Garden of Eden, changed that for all of humankind. It is interesting that one of the first responses of the Biblical characters of Adam and Eve, after their disobedience, was an attempt to hide from God out of fear. A once perfect creation was now experiencing the most deadly of all human thought and emotion – FEAR.

As a new follower of Christ one of the first biblical verses I committed to memory was this:

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 1 Timothy 1:7 ESV

I had learned very quickly, on the basis of this verse, that God was very present in my life and heart via the Holy Spirit. But to experience the power of God, His unfathomable love, and enablement to live a life of self-control was a moment by moment, day by day,  and year by year walk with God, as I understood Him, each step along the way.

Slowly, over the span of some 37 years, I am still learning to trust God to help me to overcome my fears and to be healed of all of life’s harsh moments day in and day out. Addressing and overcoming our fears, both large and small, begins with our relationship with God as we understand Him. The scripture is there to lead us and guide us through the maze we call life, hopefully avoiding the traps and entanglements that tear us down and produce unreasonable fears in all of us.

To be healed inwardly of even the deepest fears is to experience the love of God in a way that is almost indescribable with mere words. I am so thankful for this journey of life and the many kind-hearted and like-minded people who have helped me along the way.

God with skin on…I like that!

The Majestic Monarch

Agriculture
Photograph courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/agriculture.html

This morning I headed out west on a road ride of a classic loop that takes one through the picturesque community of Lumsden, Saskatchewan. The morning air was a little cool with a wind from the northwest. On my way out on highway 11 (also known as the Louis Riel Trail after the 19th century Métis leader), I came across thousands, if not tens of thousands of Monarch Butterflies sunning themselves (keeping warm) on the shoulder of the highway and fluttering about the Purple Flax and Canola fields. I can honestly say that, after a couple of decades of riding this route, I have never witnessed something so majestic. Of course, I had forgotten to mount my Garmin Virb camera on the bike before I set off this morning and have absolutely no evidence of this unique moment. Nevertheless, I was rewarded with, perhaps, a once-in-a-lifetime experience of the beauty and majesty of our natural world.

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https://www.strava.com/activities/1090164610/embed/2fac6c058611c8dc6e287b06d5b2dd94827148b0

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Five…Four…Three…Two…One…GO!

2017 Saskatchewan Provincial 40km Individual Time Trial (Start) from Bruce Kraus on Vimeo.

The Saskatchewan Provincial 40km Individual Time Trial was held on July 15, 2017 near the small community of Kronau, Saskatchewan. A beautiful sunny afternoon, moderate wind, and an excellent course led to some outstanding times and many personal bests for the participating athletes.

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2017 Saskatchewan Provincial 40km ITT

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Need for Speed: 2017 Provincial 40km ITT

The 2017 Provincial 40km Individual Time Trial was held today in the small community of Kronau, Saskatchewan. Kudos to the Regina Cycling Club executive, volunteers, and officials for successfully hosting the event. A beautiful afternoon and an excellent course provided the right opportunity for participating athletes to set incredible times.

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Exercise Addiction: Chasing the Dopamine High

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Sian Welch and Wendy Ingraham crawl to the finish line at the 1997 Ironman

In a day and age where extremes seem to be the norm, rarely do I find someone that I know personally that exercises moderately for their mental, physical, and spiritual well being. Just about everyone I have met in the climbing and mountaineering, road cycling, running, swimming, and XC ski communities tend to exercise or “train” at the extreme or sharp end of their chosen sport or recreational activity.

Keep in mind that the majority of the aforementioned are at least in their forties now and would be considered master-aged athletes. Some are incredibly gifted physically and appear to excel at their chosen sporting endeavor. The majority are just ordinary middle-of-the-road “pack filler”, yet they train and race in their age-group or skill level categories like they are world class athletes. They are addicted to exercise and the dopamine highs that come with it. Their stated reasons for participating in extreme endurance sport are varied, but if work and/or family responsibilities, injury, or illness prevent them from exercising daily, they are often miserable, anxious, and a bear to be around socially or otherwise. That dopamine high – the heightened sense of well-being and feeling alive rapidly diminishes. For many, depression is not far behind.

How did I come to recognize this in others? Because I am just as guilty as they are for chasing the proverbial dopamine-on-a-stick so prevalent in endurance sports today. Our sporting clubs are almost like destructive religious cults where we literally celebrate the extreme and those individuals that accomplish the extraordinary. Every ride, every run has to be of “epic” proportions to be worthy of our praise. The bar is set higher and higher and we move from marathon challenges into the realm of ultra marathon distances. If one has not gone on a four to five hour 100+ kilometre ride over the weekend, one’s efforts are not deemed worthy of attention, let alone celebration. This is borderline insanity and we have social media sites like Strava to prove it.

Over a period of many years, I have repeatedly asked medical doctors and other specialists how much exercise is necessary to maintain optimal physical and mental health. Invariably, their response is typically ” about thirty minutes of moderate activity per day“. Keep in mind that several of these physicians are endurance athletes themselves and are just as addicted to the dopamine highs as the rest of us. Perhaps we need to heed the warnings of the medical community, and the studies of psychologists and psychiatrists about exercise addiction and the long-term consequences of abusing our bodies in our pursuit of exercise nirvana.

A number of months ago a friend suggested to me that I should consider participating in sport in a “manner that is suitable for my age“. At first I felt insulted and wondered if this was just another criticism from someone that may be living a rather sedentary lifestyle. It is that group that I am most concerned about, as the medical clinics and hospitals of our nation are filled with people who suffer from diseases that predominantly originate from inactive lifestyles and poor food choices and eating habits – the opposite extreme of exercise addiction.

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Walking – a healthy alternative to extreme endurance sport. © 2017. Bruce Kraus. All rights reserved.

The answer, of course, to the aforementioned dilemma is moderation in all things. If we want to be truly healthy in mind, body, and spirit, we need to make positive choices that will benefit us in the long term. It was the off-the-cuff remark of a friend that has caused me to re-evalute what it truly means to be healthy and to take positive steps to wean myself off of the pursuit of dopamine highs through extreme exercise. Addiction is addiction, no matter which way the ball curves. There is no such thing as a healthy addiction in the true sense of the word.

The extremes that we see in just about every aspect of life today reminds me of how broken humanity really is and how far removed we are from our Creator and His loving intentions for our lives. We really are living in an upside-down world.

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