If you are into mountain biking and have been in Colorado for a while or into 29ers you probably have heard of Walt Wehner of Waltworks Custom Bicycles. 303Cycling caught up with Walt and asked him a few questions.
[303cycling] Give us a little background on Walt Wehner. How did you get into bikes (i.e. building, racing etc.)
[Walt] So I got into bikes (and by "got into" I mean "rode bikes recreationally") starting in 1998 when, believe it or not, some weirdo was stalking my girlfriend, and showed up as we were getting ready to go climbing at a crag in Los Alamos (my hometown). So we bailed on the climbing, got out of there, and she suggested a mountain bike ride instead. I took out her father's beat-down rigid mountain bike from about 1985 and crashed it about 20 times on the technical trails behind her house. Horrible, horrible experience. But in order to keep up appearances, I told her that I'd had "fun" and that I'd love to do it again. Fortunately, she held me to that (thanks Alisa!) and the second time was actually enjoyable. From there I was hooked.
I got into racing because all my friends told me I should, because I didn't get tired riding up big hills like they did. Did my first race in 1999 at Sandia Crest in New Mexico. It was hilarious - I lined up in black dress socks, cutoff sweatpants, and one of those 1980s helmets that looks like the bastard child of a styrofoam cooler. My idiot friends had told me to do the expert/pro (categories are combined at a lot of NM races) race, so I was so intimidated it was ridiculous. I waited until everyone had gone to actually start riding, figuring I'd just try to keep up with the slowest of the shaved-leg/team kit dudes.
As it turns out, I passed all of them on the climb (it was a long climb) and was briefly winning the race, but then the trail turned downhill - and in my excitement I didn't even *see* the first switchback until I had sailed off of it into a ski run. Where I promptly crashed, separated my shoulder, and gave myself a concussion. Needless to say I did not win that race.