Last year, when I started the Davidson County Composite I did so with hopes that my then 5th grade twins would have a well established team to enter the league for the 2nd season. I coached the team, attended all of the races without any of my family members coming along with me. My being away from my family on those weekends during the first season was not easy. I knew (and hoped) it would pay off the next season, once our kids were old enough to join NICA. In Feb 2017 we ended up moving to save commute time for me, and to access some better school choices for the kids as they were heading for middle school.
Luckily, Brent Lester and the Guilford Gears took us in after our move so we had a well established team with some nice people we already were acquainted with from other cycling activities.
I’m writing to share this latest experience with you and what it means to us. While my son is hooked for life on mountain biking, my daughter has always been hot and cold. She has fun at various races, is so-so about practice events (she’s one of 2 girls her age on our team, which I take fault for not doing the best job recruiting more girls, yet). Nevertheless, when we rolled up to the pre-ride, I think she was in shock at how many cars were parked in the lot. She was still not too excited about the pre-ride, which is normal for her. We met up with the team, and she hung in the back for the ride, and not long after we began the entire team was out of sight. I could tell she was sad that no one would wait on her. She said, “Dad, I thought we were supposed to ride together as a team?!” I told her not to worry. That we were right behind them and they’re all spread out and reminding her that she shouldn’t be riding too fast the day before the race anyway. I think everyone was just too excited to remember to stay together.
As you can imagine, I wasn’t sure how I was going to recover from what just happened. Thoughts of doom were running through my head that she would be bummed out the rest of the day. But we both ended up having a great time on the pre-ride, talking and laughing. Just us 2 with only one or 2 complaints. I was really excited about the fact that she had no trouble with any of the short climbs and by the end of the pre-ride she seemed to have gotten over the fact that we weren’t with the team and the fact she was “stuck” with dad 🙂
Fast forward to race day and the start. I could see a solid vein of happiness in her when she made her way over to staging and saw all of the girls, teams, etc. Her friend Elliott Porter made it to the race which was a relief for her to have a friend near her in the field. She was laughing and joking around while her group was waiting for their turn. When John blew the horn for the start, my wife, Tracy, and I both could not believe (or have predicted) the level of energy she summoned to blast off the line! We quickly ran across the field to see her come through the short climb and the berms. The large smile on her face as we were cheering for her, ringing bells, and screaming at that point was a site to behold!
Her brother was also cheering at the top of his lungs, he was so excited for her. Seeing 12 year old siblings express love for one another isn’t common place (although it exists, they won’t admit to it). Tracy said, “she’s in second place!”
Anyway, I was blown away. She went as hard as she could go the entire race. I could tell. Because most races she completed in the past she is barely winded (she’s got great cardio from swimming, her “favorite sport”). She joy rides most races, which is still OK with dad because I like to joy ride with her and will take any opportunity to do so. But this was different, she was red faced, breathing hard, and smiling big at the finish, and giving me high 5’s. I literally almost cried to see her excitement and joy.
I told her NICA was different. I told her she could do it. I told her it would be major fun. I want to thank you and the crew for making it so dad and mom didn’t have to eat their words! You guys are awesome. Who knows, maybe she will be recruiting some of her friends, or at least OK with trying her best effort for a second race.
We were getting ready for school this morning, both kids came down in their new shirts we bought for them at the race. I dared not mention how awesome she looked in her shirt. Thinking it might get a pre-teen reaction. I just hugged her and let her role out the door. She even asked us to text her a few pictures of her from the race.
The Hensley Fam
Mike Hensley is a parent and coach who experienced the wonder and beauty that is the NICA Experience at our first race of the 2018 season at Browns Creek . He’s given us permission to publish his words.