IMBCS Racer Spotlight: Lee Buell

We are featuring a series of Spotlights here at to highlight some of our many IMBCS participants. You can get to know some of the folks who race and see how they do it, why they do it, what got them started, and read some of their thoughts. We will continue this feature throughout the season. You might be next, so check your email box for a Spotlight interview! Spotlights will provide a nice representation of ages, categories, and locations to introduce you to people you may or may not already know so you can read their thoughts about racing mountain bikes. Are you considering racing in an IMBCS event this year? You don’t have to be a member of a team. You don’t have to have an expensive bike. You don’t have to have matching socks. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner, a seasoned veteran, male, female, young, old – mountain biking in IMBCS events is open to everyone. We will show that in our Spotlight series and encourage you to sign up for a race and give IMBCS a try.

Today’s Spotlight feature is another relatively newcomer to IMBCS, Lee Buell. Lee has been enjoying some growth in her cycling and the success that comes with that in the races the last year or two. She and I are the same age, so I’m anxious to hear what a fellow 53 year old says. Let’s get to the interview so you can meet our second Spotlight.


Name: Lee Buell

Current Home: Des Moines, Iowa

Age: 53 race age

Employer: Selective Insurance

Racing Category for 2015: CAT II, but also doing marathon races to prep for Chequamegon 100

Race Bike(s): Jamis Dakota Pro 29er and a recently built (Ed Veak built it) Soma Singlespeed 650B/27.5

Bike Team: VeloRosa  Pink Gals Rock!

BB: What’s your favorite idea of a great mountain bike ride here in Iowa?

Lee: An early afternoon spin through Center Trails or Sycamore Trails.  There usually is no one out there and I can just let it flow and take in nature. Next would be any ride on dirt with friends!

BB: When did you start racing mountain bikes?

Lee: This is my third year on dirt as I started racing in the 2013 season.

BB: What kind of race results and series results for the IMBCS did you have in prior seasons?

Lee: My first year I came on strong about mid-season and won the Cat III for the year end IMBCS Points Award. Last year I moved up to Cat II and again won the IMBCS Points Award. I also made the podium for my age division at Chequamegon 40 in my second time at that race. The icing on the cake was finishing the Dakota Five-0.

BB: What are your goals for this year with regard to your mountain bike racing?

Lee: I am racing in the Chequamegon 100 with fellow teammate Kari Anderson. My goal is to finish this. Not only from a fitness standpoint, but from being able to solve any bike related problems that may arise. I plan to race the IMBCS and the Nebraska Pyscowpath Series again this year. On the long-distance front, I completed my first CIRREM (yes, on my Jamis), and will do the Almanzo, the Dakota Five-0, the Chequagemon 40, and the Cuyuna 5-0.  If I have anything left, I may take a shot at Jingle Cross.

BB: What has been your favorite race venue to date in the IMBCS?

Lee: Probably Sunderbruch Park (FORC Side Thrill Ride) because it was technically out of my comfort zone, and skill set each of the last two years. The first year I raced there, the awards were given out by age groups and over half way through the awards presentation, the race director asked who won the Cat III race and how old I was. I was the oldest in the race and the winner! So it will always be my favorite race!

BB: Lee, in preparing for the 2015 racing season, how many hours a week do you train? (Minimum, Maximum, Average)

Lee: I average 15-18 hours on the bike; 2 hours on weights and 1.5 on core/stability. I do a build and taper type of routine.

BB: Have you ever had something happen during a race that prevented you from finishing?

Lee: No. I have managed to pick myself up and keep going. Which does not mean that I have not wanted to quit!


BB: Do you use a coach?

Lee: Yes. Julie Kirkpatrick with Zoom Performance. I went from being an average road racer while on my own to a confident, well-trained competitor since I started to work with Julie.

BB: Do you strength train as part of your training?

Lee: Yes. I do Body Pump for full body strengthening and then do core and IT exercises.


BB: What do you like about the Iowa cycling community in terms of mountain bike racing?

Lee: The friendship and support. It does not matter what town you are from or what team colors you wear, everyone is supportive. Also the guys and gals all interact and hang out. I did not see much of that in road racing. There is always someone willing to ride with you and more than willing to help you with technique or teach you to wrench your bike. I feel that I am part of a larger group of folks that love to ride dirt!

BB: What would you say as words of encouragement to folks out there who are trying to make the decision to race a mountain bike in Iowa or not?

Lee: Go out and try it. My first times out were less than stellar. Try a race. I have gotten shot out the back on numerous races but kept pedaling. The more you do it, the better you get. It is hard to explain, but practice really does make you better. It is not always just fitness, but technique is equally as important.

BB: Excellent, Lee! Your story is very inspirational. Thank you so much for sharing your story with the IMBCS community, and all the best for your 2015 season.

There you have it, folks. It’s never too late to get started racing mountain bikes, whether you are in your 40’s, 50’s, or more!!! Next time you see Lee out on the trail or at an event, give her a shout out and introduce yourself. Lee is just one of the many racers enjoying the IMBCS.

I recommended in our first Spotlight last week that if you have the chance or opportunity to carpool to an IMBCS race with somebody in your area – be it a full carload of racers or just you and another racer – do it! It’s a great chance to meet somebody, swap stories, build friendships, and save on transportation costs. You get the routine. Split the gas money. Share the driving. Keep the driver awake post race. Visit. Learn. Post up your carpool request on the Facebook IMBCS Group page. If you see another request posted and have room in your car/SUV/truck/mini-van/18 wheeler/RV – follow up with a post or PM to the person and dive in to meet them. You won’t be sorry.

Photographs courtesy of Eric Roccasecca