Your comment about so many people our age "giving up and giving in" really rang true with me. I see it every day, I here it in peoples voices when they say "you rode how many miles ?", I see it on their faces when I say, "I race bicycles". I feel proud when I line up on the start line with a bunch of other "old guys" and we start ahead of the kids. Of course many of those kids go blowing past me after the start, but I am out there doing it. Keep up the great work on the bike and with your writing. I enjoy your columns.
Happy to be Riding: A Column by Lee Waldman
by Lee Waldman
Yes, I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written, but with all of the race reports over the last month I would have been lost in the shuffle. Not writing, though, isn’t the same as not riding. As an infamous Tour winner recently said, some things are as prevalent in our lives as putting air in our tires and water in our bottles. So, when I finished my last hard training ride before Masters Worlds, I decided that it was time to share what’s been floating around in my head recently.
I was just fine tuning for Louisville, the race that has occupied a lot of space and time over the last three months, especially considering the fact that I may not have the opportunity to write about racing in a World Championship again. And, I was hoping that I’d be writing this article and the one that would follow, as I mentally prepared for the race. I hoped that I’d even be able to write about a stellar performance. Maybe not a podium but at least a ride that I could be proud of, one that would carry me into the summer and next year’s Nationals in Boulder, just 19 miles from my front door.
That didn’t happen. Due to a series of incredibly unfortunate events, I was not able to ride Masters’ Worlds this year. An unnoticed change in the race schedule left me at home, frustrated and saddened beyond belief. It’s tough to end a season with a whimper instead of a bang, but that’s the way it looks right now.
For me, it’s time to start thinking about next year. I’ll spend the summer on my mountain bike. I have a new goal – to finish a hundred miler in under nine hours. That race will happen on June 15. If I’m lucky I will have become a grandpa the week before. My oldest daughter is expecting and her due date is June 6. Hopefully the little guy will be on time.
My wife and I also retire this year. For her, it means more time to garden, to ride her bike and to relax from what has been an incredibly stressful two years. For me, it means more time to write, to ride, and … who knows what else? I love the openness of the next year. I’ll trust the Universe knowing that something, the right thing, will come up. Missing Worlds will gradually fade into insignificance and I’ll move on with my life.
The beauty of being an older athlete is that although time is passing, there really is nothing of consequence that presses on us. The races will still be there next year. In the meantime, the process of training and building fitness becomes a goal in and of itself. I thank whatever forces there are that have given me the mental and physical fortitude to continue to push my mind and body when so many men my age have given up and given in.
If you’re reading this column, and if you’re over 35, I’m sure you can relate. We are a unique breed and even though I didn’t get on a plane on Tuesday morning for Louisville, I can still revel in the fact that I challenge myself each and every day. It keeps me young, it keeps me healthy and it keeps me happy. What else can an “old guy” ask for?
I’m done for now. Go ride your bikes.
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Landon - I had planned to go with one bike and wheels, which would have been fine for the heats. Two bikes and a pit crew would have been absolutely necessary on Thursday with the gummy mud on the entire course. One guy I know tried - made it as far as the second pit on Lap 1. If your race was Friday, worse news: pressure washers were all frozen! Pit crews were carrying water from the spigot in buckets, and hand washing the gears/chain/wheels - just a mess.
I too offered to start at the back, as I couldn't make the heats - rule against anyone racing that hadn't done the heats was quoted and absolute. That is when I became an observer and went anyway. TC
Lee - When I didn't see you at Nationals I thought sure you would be at Masters World. Even though I pulled the plug after Nationals I followed the news from Worlds as I planned to spectate. I too missed and was surprised with the addition of a heat race. UCI did a poor job in getting the word out. A couple of ladies asked to line up in the back row after they missed the heat race. Their request was denied. Why not let them race?
The conditions with the heavy mud were even worse than last year. Not sure it would have been possible to place in the top 15 without a pit bike and crew. The Masters Worlds promoters seemed unprepared compared to the folks in Verona.
On the other hand the Elite races were handled much better, even with the change of schedule.
Hope to see you in Boulder next January.
Lee - I have enjoyed your articles over the past year or so, and I think we would have been in the same race in Louisville. A year ago I saw the same unique situation you did with a US Masters Worlds, and I would be the young kid in the bracket to boot. I was able to race twice the races and a ton more miles, in no small part due to the support of my wife, and thought I was peaking at just the right time. That's when life likes to throw the curve balls, and in my case, it was the unexpected death of a close friend, whose funeral was the day of the heats. So instead of driving and racing, I flew and watched. And I can tell you that the Masters events and the Elites a couple of days later provided quite an education as well as unrestricted fun. It just became a different kind of opportunity. So the training, with its own rewards, starts again in earnest, and I am glad you have some big goals already in place. Have a great season and thanks for your literary contributions! - Terry
@terryrides To both of you, thanks for thinking about me. It sounds as if I wasn't the only one negatively impacted by USAC's blatant disregard for Masters racers. As one of my friends who was there wrenching put it. USAC treated the masters like the red-headed step child. The only positive thing that came out of it for me is that now I can afford to go to Providence next year. The other positive is that I'm totally motivated for Boulder next January. The course will be awesome. So, see you all there.