Master’s racer Lee Waldman fought his way onto the podium in the Colorado State Championships. Now he’s in final preparation mode for Nationals in Bend. This is installment #8 of Lee’s regular column, catch up on #7 here.
This has been one of those cyclocross seasons here in Colorado. Conditions have run the gamut from mid 80s, hot and dusty to peanut butter mud to yesterday’s state championship race: frozen solid, icy, snowpacked and sanded. I’m ready for whatever Bend throws at me now. In the past three-plus months, I don’t think that there’s a course or weather condition that we haven’t seen here. The bad news is that I’ve had to clean my bike more this year than in the past five all put together. On the plus side, there are few, if any, conditions that scare me now.
In one of my first columns I talked about some of the demons that I hoped to vanquish this season. One of them was my fear of riding rutted, frozen courses. After yesterday, I’m pretty darn sure I’ve conquered that one. The course had everything: a frozen run-up that left me wishing I’d taken the time to mount toe spikes (and possibly crampons), an equally frozen descent, a crazy-long ice covered off-camber section (shades of Providence, R.I.) and lots of icy barrier sections.
I’d love to be able to write that I won. I didn’t. I was second though! My victory was in conquering the course. A second consecutive championship jersey would have been nice but it just wasn’t to be yesterday. Cyclocross offers such a range of challenges, all of which influence results. My second place yesterday had less to do with fitness, strength, power and technique than it did with equipment.
A group of four of us separated from the rest of the 55+ field right at the start. That group quickly became two by the end of the first lap. I was riding within myself, confident that my technique was going to move me into the lead and it looked as if that was going to happen. With three laps to go, I caught the leader on the aforementioned off-camber traverse. I was riding it without brakes and taking time out of him on every lap. I sat 10 meters behind for the next quarter lap and was just coming up on his rear wheel as we freewheeled into a very slick barrier. He made it. I didn’t. Without spikes, I’d skidded through on every lap, almost having to stop to remount since it was so sketchy. This time I missed the remount completely! I haven’t done that all year. By the time I got myself sorted out, first place was 20 seconds up the road. Hey, that’s bike racing.
Now I’ve got four days until my race in Bend. I’m as ready as I’ve ever been for a race. It’s a bit intimidating when you see at least four past national champions on the start list. It will be fast. It will be hard. And, no matter what the weather gods throw at us, it will be fun.
This has been a great season. I’ve loved my racing. I’ve loved writing this column. I hope that my next one will include some pictures of me on the podium but, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I plan to live in that moment when I’m on the course racing with the best masters racers in the country and doing something that fuels me physically and spiritually.
Thanks for reading. Talk to you after Nats.