Cyclocross

Lee Waldman: Another Life Lesson from Bike Racing – Cyclocross Magazine

Lee Waldman is back with more words of wisdom. The Colorado-based Masters racer last checked in with his column about healing up in 2021. After last week’s events, Waldman is finding the whole country needs to find a way to heal, and applies lessons learned through a life of bike racing to process the insurrection we witnessed in D.C.

One of the maxims that I try to live by is that I’m either part of the solution or I’m part of the problem. In that vein, I’m writing this piece on Saturday morning. Like most of us, I’ve spent a good portion of the last two days watching in disbelief and horror, the events unfolding in D.C. And like many of us, dealing with the gamut of emotions from overwhelming sadness to an increasingly darkening depression, to fear of the coming days. This morning I find myself wondering what lessons are there that we have learned as cyclocross athletes that might translate into lessons that might diminish the chances of similar events occurring in the future.

As I ponder this, there’s one overarching lesson that I believe is worth sharing. It’s important to commit to any endeavor, giving your full 100% to every undertaking. This applies to the way we train and the way we approach our work and our personal lives.

We’re used to leaving it all out there and finding satisfaction in the journey and result. photo: HSBC UK National Trophy Series: Bradford. © C. Morley / Cyclocross Magazine

It matters not what issue or topic we’re dealing with. As athletes, it begins as soon as we commit to achieving success in our chosen sport, whether cyclocross or badminton. If we aren’t willing to make that commitment, we open ourselves up to disappointment. I’m sure that most of the “demonstrators” in D.C. this past week had made that commitment as well. From listening to the rhetoric, it appears so.

Here’s where I believe that we, as athletes have a lesson to teach. Once that commitment has been made and we’ve trodden that path to the end which for most of us is the cyclocross courses that we race (or hope to race next fall), then we must be willing to graciously accept the outcome; to congratulate the winners. If we’re lucky, then that’s us. If we aren’t talented enough on that particular day, at that particular event, it’s someone better. In bike racing, unless you’re Mathieu van der Poel or a master sandbagger, most days will be like this. Either way, it’s imperative that we are good losers; that we congratulate the victor, learn what we can, put a smile on our face, and move on. There will always be another day, another race, another battle to fight.

There are times when we’ve all fallen into the trap of making excuses for our less than stellar performances. We’ve blamed equipment failures, the course, another rider who hindered us. There’s a myriad of excuses that, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve fallen back on at one time or another. Excuses are like noses, everyone has one. The best of us let them go and look ahead. I don’t believe that we’ve seen that behavior from some of our leaders or their legions this week. It most certainly wasn’t apparent last week after Wednesday’s events. From listening to the chatter that’s still circulating, I believe many elected officials could benefit from the “learning to lose” mindset most bike racers learn very quickly. I pray that soon they will change their mindset.

You may agree with me. You may disagree. It’s your prerogative. I felt the need to share this with you this morning. If you do agree, then please continue to demonstrate this behavior. Let it percolate into the way you live your lives off the bike as well as on. Be a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem. That’s what we do in a democracy.

Enough! It’s cold outside here in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. But I’ve been stuck inside for the last 3+ weeks while my cracked pelvis heals.

Today I’m going to try riding outside again. That’s where I find peace and the energy to continue to move forward. I hope you’ll do the same today.

Walman encourages all of us to find our peace on and off two wheels, even when we don’t win. photo: Lost Sierra, © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Go ride your bike, in peace and harmony.