Monday, May 30, 2011

Respect the elements

Today's ride of 118 miles, my longest in over 20 years, left me drained, trashed, and humbled. I've done 3 centuries so far this year, but nothing like this one. The first element not to be taken lightly was the heat. Wisconsin has been experiencing a somewhat cool and wet spring...until today. I don't know what today's official high was, but I'm guessing we went over 90 degrees F.

The next element that brought me to my knees on today's ride was the terrain. The hills were alive with the sound of...lungs heaving and legs screaming. Heat and hills are a force to be respected of themselves, but put them side by side and they become the monster that comes to destroy. Oh yeah, then I might as well include the 20-30 mph cross-headwinds that toyed with my already confirmed physical and mental infirmity on the way back.

But it's what I wanted. Really.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dreams and Disciplines

So what's more important to have...dreams? ...or disciplines? Granted, you won't see a dream materialize without a certain amount of discipline to work towards the dream. On the other hand, a man with discipline and no dream will soon wither away and die. But the dream, fueled by passion, gives motivation and reason for the discipline. And there is nearly nothing on this green earth, that can stop a man (or woman) who follows their God-given dream.

I leave you now with two references to read and to pray about:
Phillipians 3:14
Proverbs 29:18

Monday, May 23, 2011

"Your old men will dream dreams"

Thirty years ago, in a land not so far away, dreams were in the making. It was 1981, and the sport of ultra-marathon cycling was making the press, as Lon Haldeman sets a new trans-continental record. During the summer of 1982, the first transcontinental bike race happened, "The Great American Bike Race". During that same year, I bicycled 220 miles across the state of Wisconsin in one day with two other cyclists. During that ride, I considered the possibility of a cross-state race. So in 1984, the first "Race Across Wisconsin" was held. I organized and directed that event for 4 years, as it grew from its humble field of 3 cyclists for the innaugeral year, all the way to a whopping field of 67 in 1987, the race's final year, complete with individual support crews and police escort. It was quite a sight to behold, and an even greater one to participate in, if you were there. In that final year, we even had a true local legend, 1984 Olympic Silver Medalist, Brent Emery.

So here I am, 30 years later and dreaming again. The dream had been a bit unclear since the latter part of the '80s, and even sat in hibernation you might say, until about 3 years ago when I hopped back in the saddle. Now it has cleared up quite a bit. In about 2 months I'll be 53 years old, and I've learned a bit about where my limitations fall. Knowing that, I'm hoping that wisdom that comes with age and experience will prove to be my ally, as I draw closer to this new dream. During this year, my training must become more intentional and focused. My plans need to include the formation of a support team. And over the past couple days, I've come to realize that the people on that team don't have to be cyclists themselves. Rather, I see the importance of trust between us all, and the faith that this dream can and will happen.

Over the past few weeks, my training rides have proved to be encouraging, as I feel my body grow stronger and my mind becoming focused. But these are the times to remember, and to draw on, as I know there will be many times over the next year when discouragement will attempt to rear its ugly head and pull me away from this dream. Prayer and good friends are what will help me through those difficult times.

Acts 2:17
In the last days, God says,
   I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
   your young men will see visions,
   your old men will dream dreams.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Another mountain of praise

A couple days ago I completed a 110-mile ride through the rollers of the Northern Kettle Moraine Forest. It was one of those rides that breaks you down, yet builds you up. It was the kind of ride that reminds you that the hills are to be appreciated, yet respected. It was the kind of ride that brings clarity this blog, and to bring praise to the King of Kings.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Dream of Restoration: A Gift from God

I had this lucid dream last night. It was about our late greyhound, Zoomer, who we lost about 11 months ago to bone cancer. After a leg amputation in November of 2008 to save his life, he continued to run and play just like any normal dog. Zoomer lived for almost 2 more years, until the cancer returned to his lungs. This is how the dream went:
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         "The Dream of Restoration: A Gift from God"
            

 I saw Zoomer in my dream. He was about 30 feet away from me. The first thing I noticed was his completely black coat. All the white hairs that he had grown over most of his life were now solid black, except for the white that made him Zoomer - white chest patch and white toes in his left rear paw. Even his muzzle, which began slowly turning white as young as 2 years old, was now solid black again! His luxurious black coat had returned in full. He was a beauty.

 Then Zoomer began walking towards me, and that was when I saw the most wonderful thing...he was walking on all four legs. He was whole again! But there was one other thing, something that I don't think I had ever seen in Zoomer before. There was an unusual peace, a look of contentment in his eyes. No sign of the normal anxiety that he seemed to have lived with his entire life. It was like a face that had personally seen the love of his Creator. And then Zoomer brought his face up to mine and kissed me as I wrapped my arms around him.

 I left the dream and fell back "into sleep". You see, during the entire dream I knew that I was dreaming. It was as if I could see myself witnessing this event and yet at the same time, living within it. It's called "lucid dreaming".

 I believe this dream was a gift from God. I have struggled on occasion with the final memory of Zoomer's last day. Even though that day itself was a beautiful one - abundant sunshine, soft cool breezes, and songbirds filling the air with their sweet voice - there was still the finality of death that seemed to cloud an otherwise clear vision of this incredible beauty around us. But today, I have a new memory, a new finality: I have seen the restoration of the Lord's Creation.
 ________________________
 Mark H. Ehlers - May 13, 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011

Potholes

Tomorrow morning the plan was to do my first ride in of over 100 miles in over 20 years. I was going to participate in the Oostburg Christian School Unity Ride. But a couple of potholes entered the arena this week and forced me to change that plan. First, there is the weather, which looks to be very wet and cold. A high of 45 degrees and 70% chance of rain doesn't sound like an enjoyable way to spend 6 hours on a bike, especially with a headcold about to reach it's peak. Yeah, a headcold - the second pothole in the road.

I was really hoping for this ride to happen, thinking it would be a great way to prepare for next Wednesday's 156-mile, one-day Bone Ride, led by local cycling legend, Tom Schuler. But unless some miraculous healing comes my way over the next couple days, the Bone Ride will have to wait another year for me to practice my wheel-sucking skills.

So far it's been a cool, wet spring in Wisconsin, and not good for my training.