Lee is ready for Masters Worlds. Photo courtesy of Lee Waldman

Lee is ready for Masters Worlds. Photo courtesy of Lee Waldman

by Lee Waldman

If this was a tweet, something that I’ve never done before, here’s how I think it might go:   State championships, a nice step towards recovery after a month of only bad luck. Rode well, felt strong, only minor leg issues over the barriers. Missed the split at the start but then on Sunday I realized why. Had the mother of all head/chest colds. All things considered I think my ninth place overall (best of the 60+ riders) was a pretty stellar result. I’ve paid for it since though with a low-grade fever and a cough that just won’t go away. Oh well, it’s a rest week anyway. Between my health and the 12 inches of snow outside my window it’s a good week for some easy riding on the trainer and lots of tea.

And now I realize why I don’t tweet.  I can’t synthesize my life into 140 characters.  Not that I’m particularly interesting,  I’m just verbose.

Monday, December 26

Well, I survived Christmas and all of the food that could have set me back even further than this ridiculous cold. I can’t remember being sick for this long in at least eight years. Being the stubborn cuss that I am, I trained anyway; although until yesterday it was all indoors. I’m already hating the trainer and I’ve ridden it less than a dozen times this year.

It’s been way too snowy here the past couple of weeks to train outside. Yesterday, Christmas day, I made a futile attempt to set some new tracks on my local cross course so that I could feel like a racer again. The 10 inches of untouched snow on the road up to the course set me straight and relegated me to the road. I found solace in the fact that last week was supposed to be a rest and recovery week so even though I feel like I’m losing ground, I can step back from my emotions and remind myself that it’s all part of the plan.

Today I’m sitting here and watching the wind outside of my study window beginning to gust into the 20 mph range and wondering what, if anything, I’ll be able to do outside today.

Thank G-d for my television’s DVR.  I can at least sit on the trainer and watch the last couple of World Cup cyclocross events. If there’s any validity to the theory that visualizing is an effective training tool, then I have a fighting chance of being ready to race on January 15.

Wednesday, December 28

Finally, a good day on the bike. Because my cough is still hanging around like that unwanted party guest, I was  beginning to wonder whether it was even worth the time and money to go to Louisville. Being sick for 14 days will do that to your psyche.  But today, I finally felt like a bike racer again. My surge interval workout went well. The legs were good, the cough minimal, the heart rate up into the desired zone. Unlike the last few “recovery” rides, I didn’t finish drenched in sweat, crawling up the stairs consumed by wheezing.

So, even though the last week taxed my patience and my resolve. Maybe it was all for the best. Maybe, as I seem to say a lot these days, the Universe is smarter than I am. Maybe I needed a week of down time, a week to refresh mentally because after today I feel ready to race.

I’m not sure what the final result will be on January 15. I’d like to think that I can still contend for a podium placing. Way back in October I was a lot more confident than I am now. But then everything seems possible when you’re three months removed. Today I feel like I can line up and race. For me that’s really what this is about. There are men out there who did a better job of picking parents. They have the genes. There may even be men out there with better technique. But I’m promising myself that there won’t be anyone who lines up in Louisville for my race who understands more clearly, the importance of simply experiencing the moment. At 61, simply lining up is the accomplishment I’m going to savor.

Saturday, December 31

Last day of the year and I have to say that it’s been a good one. I’ve raced well, for the most part. Right now, however, I’m sitting at my desk watching the recurring wind devastate my deck. The forecast today – 50+ mph winds. I don’t think I’ll be training outside. Plus, this ridiculous cold, the one that never seems to end, is back and firmly ensconced in my head. I know what’s going to happen. The first day I’m back in school with students will be the first day I feel healthy.

The training block that Ben had planned for me to get ready for Worlds has been revised a bit because of illness, but I’m pretty confident that I’ll be ready – as ready as one can be after not racing for a full month. The only problem I can see with our domestic racing schedule is that it leaves too much down time for those riders going to Nationals and/or Worlds. I don’t know if there’s a way to fix that considering how anxious we all seem to be to start racing in early September. It will get even worse next year since Worlds aren’t scheduled till the end of January. I don’t have a solution but it is problematic.

I’ll leave that to the powers that be and just concentrate on getting my body and my head ready for one more race.  And then, time to rest, ski (if it ever snows in Colorado), and ride my bike for fun.

I just got done reading Andrew Dillman’s latest blog entry from the EuroCrossCamp. I’m thoroughly impressed with his thoughtfulness. I may not practice the same religion as Andrew, but the simple fact that someone so young could find a way to unpack the spirituality in cyclocross racing is impressive. He has his head on straight. His comments give me faith in our younger generation, something that I struggle with some days as a middle school teacher. They also remind me, when I need to be reminded, of the reasons for racing. We both  focus on something bigger than personal accolades. If racing cyclocross is distilled down to my measuring my success by the number of victories I garner, then it’s time to quit. If, however, my racing is a reflection of the life lessons that competition teaches, me, then I’m racing for the right reasons. But I’ll leave that discussion to a future column. Right now, I’m going training. Finally a nice day. You should too.

Go ride your bikes.  And, Happy New Year.