The Hardest to Write: A Column by Lee Waldman

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Here at Cyclocross Magazine, as with everywhere else in the country, the mood has been subdued in the past two days. In this column, one of our regular writers attempts to string a few of his thoughts together, and we join him in offering our thoughts and prayers to all of those impacted by this tragedy.

by Lee Waldman

I went to bed last night, the night before our Colorado State Cyclocross Championships, not thinking about racing my ’cross bike, but about senseless violence. I woke up this morning still thinking about it. And for the last hour I’ve listened to reports on NPR while simultaneously reading the morning issue of The Denver Post.

Now, while I should be applying embrocation, loading bikes and dogs into the car and mentally readying myself to race today, I’m struggling. Perhaps it’s because of what I do for a living — teach — possibly it’s simply basic human empathy, but I’m sad beyond comprehension this morning.

I’ve written more than one column about the importance of putting cyclocross racing in perspective. It is, after all, what we do for enjoyment, not who we are. This morning I’m hoping that what I do for enjoyment might possibly buffer the realization that there is still such cruelty and violence in our world.

I’ve been studying The Holocaust with my students for the past week. Their overwhelming question when thinking about that level of depravity is, “Why?” This morning I’m asking the same question. Sadly, there never has been, nor will there ever be a completely acceptable answer to the question.

The news is already full of calls to reexamine gun control laws and I have my own opinions on all of that, but this magazine and this column isn’t the forum for that discussion. Nor is it the forum to ponder how and why someone so young, only 20 years old, can experience so much pain that they need to strike out at so many innocent people.

This is the place, however, to remind ourselves that there still is good in the world. This sport, with all of it’s frustrations and challenges, still brings us all joy. After all, why would we punish our bodies the way that we do? It seems discounting in some ways to compare cyclocross to a school shooting of such magnitude and that’s certainly not my intent. I do hope that getting on the bike this morning might help me, and possibly some of you, to buffer the pain that I’m sure many of us are feeling this morning.

So, pray for the parents and the children, be thankful for who you are and what you have.

If you ride this morning I hope you have a good one.




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Saturday morning I awoke before 6 to head to the New England Regional races in Fitchburg.  Even though I had loaded the car the night before, I was lethargic, thinking about the tragedy unfolding piecemeal in the news to my south.  My usual psyche up with booming techno rattling the speakers in the car seemed inappropriate as I drove out.  Instead, I put on NPR and wondered how anyone could stand the death of a child, how even those who were spared could cope with the loss of their friends and family. Despite the clear skies and the stark beauty of the area in winter, I just couldn't find the tempo.  I parked next to a portion of the course, and began to get myself ready to ride.


It was soon after that something special happened.  A yound kid, maybe seven years old, rolled on his bike across the nearly empty parking lot, his mom trailing a good distance behind.  "How can I get over to the start of this bike race?" he asked.  "Go to the sidewalk, follow it up to the first driveway, turn in there and you will see it", I replied.  "Simple!" he said and repeated the instruction with a huge smile.  "Come on Mom!" and he was off to the races.  Later I would see him along the fence at the finish.  When I waved I heard him tell Mom, "That's our guy!"


The lads at the front of my race had nothing to worry about from me.  After a lap I wondered if I was in the right place, but I thought of that kid on the sidelines and kept going, slowly reeling in a few guys on each lap and finishing in a good spot. 


I pray that I have made a difference in the lives of people around me, especially those younger than I.  I know, as with that boy Saturday, that the person we see through the eyes of children is the one we want to be, the one we strive to become, the truest version of who we are.



As a former middle school educator, I have been struggling with the same sense of grief and reflecting on some of the same thoughts about life perspective and priorities in what we consider is "important" in our lives.  

I can only say that there seems to be a lot more of our population that is stressed, desensitized and over exposed to negative media and sensationalism.  

I was just preparing to go on a training ride on Friday when I walked past the television and saw the live feed from Connecticut and slumped in my chair as the anchor described the horrid details.  Hours went by and I found myself doing a mini flash of my life and reflecting on a time when there was not so much craziness in the world.  I called my wife to let her know about the news and also tell her I love her.  I turned off the tv and went out and climbed on my bike and rode.  I know most of you know why! 

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