CXM columnist Lee Waldman checks in with his latest column. He has all of us looking back, looking forward and dreaming big.

When one door closes, another one opens. I’m certain that we’ve all heard this, or a variation, at some time. I’m also guessing that you’ve never considered it in the context of cyclocross racing. This just might be the appropriate time to do just that. After all, the door has closed on the 2019–2020 cyclocross season. What doors will open for you? What doors will you open for yourself? Start by asking yourself, “What’s one word that might describe what I want from my racing next season?” And then ask yourself, “What can I do to make sure that I get there?” You guessed it; this is just another way to get you to think strategically about what you can do to be a better ’cross racer in 2020.

Commit to Realistic Change

I’ve written about this in the past but hey, this is a brand new year and with that comes the opportunity to walk through an entirely different door. There are always choices. You can continue to do what you did last year. Hopefully, it worked out well for you. You can rest on your laurels. You can take your successes and build on them. You can also, if your season wasn’t what you hoped for, look honestly at where you might have missed the boat. Then, make a commitment to change.

If change is in your future, consider this. Make a list of everything that you did “wrong” last year. This could be anything from diet to rest to your training calendar and anything in between. Write each item on a separate piece of paper. Then, with the appropriate amount of pomp and circumstance, burn them, bury them, do something to kiss them goodbye. Figuratively you’re saying goodbye to that particular list of “mistakes” and taking one more step towards opening that door to more success next season.

Lee Waldman after his Jingle Cross race on Sunday. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Lee Waldman looking forward after his 2019 Jingle Cross race. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Then, since you’ve made that commitment to move forward, make another list, or series of lists of all of the positive moves that you can now make to work towards that goal or goals. I’ve written about SMART goals before. They are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Don’t commit to spending a month in Europe and racing with the big guys, unless you know it’s a real possibility. Commit to reasonable goals: local podium finishes, meeting your training goals every week. For me, one would be actually resting two days a week.

It may seem that what I’m suggesting is a negative approach to racing. Think of it another way, you’re committing to change. That change will lead ultimately to success. The other commitment that might be particularly helpful at this point is to avoid looking at your past year negatively. Make that same commitment to not look at yourself negatively. This process is about impartially examining what worked and more importantly what didn’t work. Then you’re ready to move forward.

Dream Big

Now I’m going to throw a monkey wrench into your thinking. As you consider your commitments for next season, why not think big? What would you do with your cyclocross racing if you were to think big and then to race and train full-out? What would your goals and the requisite commitments be now? Don’t get me wrong here! I still think that there should be some reasonableness attached, but why not dream big? Reach for the stars here, but make sure that they are stars that, if you totally commit, are within your grasp.

Lee Waldman rides up one of the hills. Masters Men 65-69. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships, Louisville, KY. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Lee Waldman dreams of Nationals podiums. photo: Masters Men 65-69. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships, Louisville, KY. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Might this way of approaching your racing be unrealistic? Well, it might. Might it set you up to fail? That’s a possibility. But because you show up every weekend in the fall and spend much of your time shouldering a perfectly rideable bicycle, it proves that you might be a bit “off”; prone to risk-taking and thinking outside of the box. So, what I’m suggesting is simply the next step.

Building up and Tearing down dreams at Masters Worlds. © Cyclocross Magazine

Could Masters Worlds be coming back to the U.S.? Building up and Tearing down dreams at Masters Worlds in Louisville. © Cyclocross Magazine

There’s a rumor starting to circulate, thanks to Cyclocross Magazine’s reporting, that Masters Worlds may leave Mol, Belgium and return to the US in 2020. If it’s true, I know that I’ll be setting SMART goals for myself. I’ll be thinking big and making the kind of commitments necessary to have a good ride there. Is it a risk? Absolutely! Is it the kind of risk that an old guy like me wants to take? Definitely. I’ll reach for the stars because if I don’t try, I’ll never have a chance. In my past life, I taught downhill skiing. My supervisor, a Norwegian, used to tell us to ski every run as if it were our last. The older I get, the more I understand what he was saying. I hope this isn’t my last year on the ’cross bike, but I plan to train every day, race every race as if it was.

Give these ramblings some thought as you walk out the door to go ride your bike. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll see you at Worlds.