An Interview With Back 2 Basics Director, Lee Waldman

By Jessica McWhirt

Lee Waldman discovered cyclocross early on in his racing career. He saw pictures of CX in Eddy B’s book, which at that point, was a bible for aspiring racers. He started looking for cyclocross in Colorado and found that there were really only a handful of CX races every year, but he was motivated.

One of his teammates, Bill Harr, was a skilled cyclocross rider. He was, and still is, Lee’s cyclocross role model. The learning curve for Lee was very, very steep. He struggled for years, but cyclocross fit with his mentality, and he stuck with it.

He’s always up for a challenge, and Cross presented Lee with that. Fast forward almost 20 years and by the time he was in his 50s, Lee started competing. The end result: Best All Around Rider once, state champion twice (maybe 3, he doesn’t keep track), top 10’s at Nationals, and a podium spot 2 years ago at Nationals in Tacoma.

Lee says, “it’s been a rocky road, but a fun one.”

With Back 2 Basics coming up on August 31, Jessica sat down with Lee to catch up on all things ‘Cross. Read the interview and sign up for the entire series here.

 

Jessica: What are you looking forward to this CX season?

Lee: I always look forward to a number of things. First, reconnecting with people that I may not have seen since last year. Second, testing myself and my level of skill and fitness after a summer of hard work on technique and fitness. Third, providing a venue for people to race and have fun. Finally, immersing myself in a culture that I love. 

Jessica: Why did you start Back 2 Basics? Why not a road or mountain bike race series? 

Lee: We began B2B at the suggestion of Chris McGee who was the executive director of BRAC at that time. He approached me with the concept. Up till then, people had been training and racing at the venue informally for a few years and we knew that there was interest. We felt that it was important to offer a midweek race experience like the CU Short Track MTB series in Boulder but in a location more accessible to Denver area riders.

Jessica: Can you talk about some of the behind-the-scenes actors (RDs, officials,) who play a role in ensuring that the B2BCX race series happens?

Lee: The very first person I can think of is Yvonne van Gent. She is an invaluable source of knowledge and experience and she holds me accountable to doing things right. I’ve been racing for 42 years and she was an established presence when I began. Without her, my series, and the rest of Colorado racing would certainly not be where it is right now. She takes care of making sure my paperwork is done correctly, that I haven’t made any mistakes in my flyer, that I have officials.

Without good officiating, nothing would run well for me. I can’t thank them enough for their hard work under some challenging conditions. They are underappreciated in my opinion.

Finally, the group of people who regularly help me with registration. John Haley and his wife Sarah are key players. John even helps me from his current home in Austin. I couldn’t do this without him and Sarah. 

Jessica: What are the biggest challenges of putting on a race series like B2B?

Lee: Simply finding the time to do everything that I want to do with course design every week. We change the course for every race. We want the riders to have a quality experience and that’s the best way for us to accomplish that.

The other challenge is always simply reminding people to register for the races. With all of the ways that we, as cyclists, are pulled, with the increasing popularity of gravel, most riders have lots of choices as to where they go to satisfy their competitive urge. I want to make sure that B2B and Amy D are at the top of their list.

Jessica: If you had unlimited resources, what is the one thing you would most like to change about the B2BCX race series?

Lee: More prizes although I’m not sure that people race for the prizes. A flyover for my course to add some additional challenges. The ability to pay a group of people to help with the series.

Jessica: What do you think the Colorado cyclocross community can help do to support the growth of the sport over time?

Lee: Simple. Keep racing, keep promoting races, and keep finding new and interesting venues.

Jessica: What do you do when you’re not hosting B2B?

Lee: Besides riding my bike, I’m a retired educator and I tutor struggling readers.

I also spend time with my 5 grandchildren and in the winter, I’m an avid Nordic skier. This past winter I focused on developing my classic technique and found it more challenging and more fun in many ways than skating. 

I also am an avid reader of any topic and any genre. I’m currently going through a spy/crime thriller phase and finding new authors all of the time.

 

Jessica: If you could give someone new to cyclocross one piece of advice what would it be?

Lee: Learning the “trade” of racing cyclocross is like peeling an onion. You go from layer to layer and probably will never reach the end. It’s a continuing journey of improvement that you must have patience with. Don’t be discouraged. 

Look at every race, good or bad, every training ride, good or bad, as an opportunity to get better. Know that you’ll learn more from your failures than from your successes IF you learn to look at them as opportunities for growth. 

Find someone, or some group to ride with, pick their brains and learn from them. 

Watch the Svenness videos!!!

Jessica: What do you love about cyclocross?

Lee: I love the fact that the sport continues to challenge me. No matter how good I get, there’s always more to learn and I am, if nothing else, a lifelong learner. 

I also think that cross is one of the most beautiful forms of bike racing. Watching a good cyclocross rider is like watching someone dance on a bike. I never get tired of watching and working towards that goal for myself.

Jessica: What’s one word you’d use to describe ‘Cross?

Lee: Ballet

Jessica: Why should people race B2B?

Lee: First, what better way to build fitness and technical skills in a very welcoming, community, non-threatening atmosphere? Second, to be a part of an amazing community of riders who race hard but support each other at the same time. Third, and probably the most important, is simply that cyclocross is FUN.

 

 

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