Tools of the Trade: Road Cycling + Perseverance = Success

As a former Biathlete, I was fortunate enough to have a full sponsorship from a local ski shop for all my skis, bindings, boots, poles, clothing, and an extensive wax kit. As a Master-aged athlete, that several thousand dollar wax kit served as the basis for the entire Provincial Biathlon Team in many of our races in Western Canada 🙂

As a recreational road cyclist, I do not have the privilege of a sponsorship for my cycling gear needs. Each and every bicycle that I possess today, was paid for by my own hard-earned dollars, and I think I value and/or appreciate my tools of the trade a lot more. Naturally, although the aforementioned tools represent a financial outlay of thousands of dollars, I have always sought to be rather modest in my purchases and try to get the best bang for my buck.

I look at material items like bicycles as simply tools – tools that will allow me to participate in the various disciplines of road cycling. The bicycles pictured represent a lot of memories for me – both good and not-so-good.

And I accept that, as that is the way I roll 😉

Life, as I know it, is full of ups and downs. It is incredibly easy to celebrate the successes – not so easy to be positive in the valleys of disappointment. Sometimes, when I enter the room where I store all my bicycles and gear, I am reminded of those disappointments.

For instance, my failure to achieve a sub 1 hour 40km time trial on my trusty Felt S22 TT bike.  Or the rather dismal road racing season I had this year on my Specialized Tarmac, attending three events and then having to bow out ungracefully because of recurrent asthma. Or suffering a nasty knee injury mid-season (from pushing too big of a gear) on my fixed-gear Kona Paddywagon.

Call me a Dreamer, but I still view life as the glass half-full rather than half empty. I keep trying, despite the setbacks, knowing from experience, that the troubles each of us go through in this life will eventually sort themselves out. Adversity builds character and the knowledge that it is “always too soon to quit”. Sooner or later,  a break will come in our life and we will be grateful for “keeping on keeping on”.

If I have anything to say to a younger generation, many of which are fellow road riders, don’t let your frustrations get to you and simply give up. It takes years of hard work and dedication to be successful in road racing, let alone daily life. Finish that road race you entered, come hell or high water. Even if you are dropped from the peloton and have to ride the better part of the course (as I did) alone.

As my Father used to say:

When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

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A Chip Off the Old Block?

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©2017 Bruce Kraus. All rights reserved.

As a father and grandfather, it brings me great joy to see the good things in life being replicated in my children and grandchildren. There were times, especially during the teenage years, where I just wanted to sit down and cry, pulling out the ever increasing grey hairs on my head. Raising children is NOT easy, being a grandfather is a delight!

It makes me happy to witness my adult children, and now my grandchildren, take up the recreational activities that we did with them when they were young. I cannot overstate how important it is for parents to introduce their children to our natural world and the various means of transportation (cycling, running, walking, swimming, etc.) that will get us there.

A chip off the old block? Maybe, but pursuing healthy recreational activities in life builds character and a sense of belonging to something so much greater than ourselves.

Enjoy life – we are only on this great blue marble for a short time 🙂

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Share the Road: A Legal Right?

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When it comes to honouring the legal rights of cyclists on the highways and byways of North America, it is a grey area at best. While cyclists, in my home province of Saskatchewan, have many specific legal rights to the road (i.e. are considered to be legal vehicles or vehicular traffic), the general public does not always perceive it that way. In my opinion, a few motorized vehicle operators, especially in the city of Regina, would just as soon run us over, than yield to a slower moving vehicle.

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Many motorcyclists have the same issues with less-than-courteous or dangerous automobile drivers within the city. The exorbitant increase in insurance premiums (due to automobile-motorcycle accidents) by the provincial insurance monopoly, Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), has forced many motorcyclists, especially sport bike riders, to sell off their now heavily depreciated motorbikes and quit riding altogether. I was one of those “insurance cost” casualties, bit the bullet, and quit motorcycling indefinitely.

As strange as it might seem, Harley riders and road cyclists have more in common than each group realizes. I often get a “low-five” by a passing guy or girl on a cruiser or sport bike. It is almost like we have a shared love for padded shorts, the open road, and an equal dislike or loathing for SGI. Birds of a different feather flock together?

Leather and spandex is a little kinky 😉

Sounds silly, I know, but over the years I have been the object of a whole lot of flirting by women, clad in leather, straddling their Harleys. I usually just stand there, feeling rather naked in my skin-tight spandex kit.

“Hey…honey…are you a Racer? Love the shorts…and the colours…do you know Lance Armstrong?” 😉

I just smile and try not to turn fifty shades of red.  I am probably old enough to be their father!

But…I digress…

Recently, a fellow cyclist (Randonneur) and friend, in his Seventies, was assaulted on a bike path in the city. The outraged attacker started swearing and yelling that a #%%%* cyclist has no business on the bike path, and proceeded to push him into the bush. The cyclist was laying on his back, somewhat shaken up, when the attacker came at him a second time. A well placed “kick to the nuts” ended the unprovoked assault in a split second. It was the attacker who was now lying on the ground in agony. The cyclist remounted his bike and just rode away.

I was astounded at this story, and equally surprised that the long-distance cyclist did not report the incident to the police. More disturbing was the fact that a pedestrian did not think a cyclist had any right to be on a bike path (now known a the Regina Multi-use Pathway). Bizarre…really bizarre…what kind of person would attack a seventy-year-old man on a bicycle?

You can see where I am going with this…

Cyclists in my neck-of-the-woods are damned if they do and damned if they don’t!

If I had a dime for every motorist who has %$$@@ at me for cycling on the road, I would be a wealthy man. Retaliating by shouting back or giving them the middle-finger-salute only serves to enrage an already out-of-control motorist.

Anger management….

It is a no-win scenario for a cyclist to take on several tons of steel, and the arrogant driver knows it. We have all heard of stories where an angry driver, succumbing to road rage, had turned around and ploughed through a peloton or group of riders intentionally, seriously injuring or killing the cyclists.

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To be continued…

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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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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Summertime

Summer is a time to kick back and relax. That does not necessarily mean being inactive, but what it does mean to me is taking a break from social media and getting outdoors to enjoy the sun, the scenery, and real people doing real things. I have very little time now to post on social media as I am endeavouring to live my life to the fullest, by my standards, and not that which is imposed on us by the constant nagging of social media.

Here is a short video of some of my playtime activities to keep the electronically dependant happy for a least…well..um…30 seconds or so 🙂

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