Lee Williams – I Ride - Dirt Rider Magazine

Lee Williams

_Regents Professor and Dean of the Graduate College, University of Oklahoma; undergraduate degrees in Physics and Mathematics; British Peace Corps in the Caribbean; Ph.D. in Geography; specializes in "remote sensing"-aircraft and satellite imagery. Born in Deganwy, Wales. 59 years old._I've owned and ridden bikes for 44 years. I gave up dirt bike racing when I turned 30, thinking I was too old! I picked it back up about when I turned 40, because I still rode and was by then riding with my two boys and daughter. I thought that if I didn't get back into racing then, I never would!When I began the "administrative" track at the university, colleagues advised me to downplay my dirt bike riding, as it wasn't "seemly." So, I didn't broadcast it but didn't deny it. What I found was people actually envied me that I was still riding and racing, and it gave me an edge, so now I am introduced as the Graduate Dean who races dirt bikes. I think the truth is the position can be intimidating, so when people learn the dean is actually human and has fun, it makes me more approachable.I've raced with the Oklahoma Cross Country Racing Association for over 14 years. It's cool that for the longest while they didn't know what I do for a job and didn't care. Riders come from all walks of life, but it doesn't matter, it's just a bunch of really great guys and ladies who love riding and racing dirt bikes.My wife Naila has been amazing. When friends ask if she's not afraid of my racing, she'll say yes she's afraid when I race and when I get hurt, but realizes how important it is to me, that it is me, and she couldn't dream of asking me to stop. That doesn't mean she's happy when I buy another bike!My research field is using satellite and aircraft images for earth resources-everything from searching for ship routes through the icepacks in the Arctic to finding Civil War battle sites in Kansas. It's been neat recently to do satellite fly-throughs of the trails we ride in Colorado!Bikes have always been in my blood. I can't imagine ever not riding. It's just an incredible release. I'm not a fast racer, but I love the feeling of total immersion and becoming one with the bike. I do all the mechanic work on the bikes and love going in the garage after work and decompressing by working on one of the bikes-I have nine!