Friday, August 9, 2013

#Juniors: Riding Through Butterflies

Four years ago when I nudged my daughter Mackenzie into bike racing we had one consistent concern from week to week - butterflies. Not the kind of butterflies that flutter around your backyard and make little girls run with a net squealing with excitement, but the deep down nervousness that makes the stomach tighten and questions of doubt arise at the dinner table.

My kids were so tight, their stomachs so consumed with butterflies, they were afraid of being sick on the start line or on the bike.  I explained.  We all get nervous, especially when it matters.  Many adult racers go through the same thing.  My friends from BioWheels Gerry and Joe are known for it.  While making last minute equipment tweaks, I've heard them coughing at the team tent.  It happens, even to mom and dad.  It's a reflection that you care about what you're doing.  They'll fly away at the sound of the starter's pistol.  After several minutes of coaxing they'd typically loosen up a bit, at least enough to get them to start line.

Today, probably a few hundred races later, the butterflies before a normal Ohio Valley race have dulled to a mere blip on the radar screen. It's a local race, no big deal.  Occasionally something will rear its head, a misplaced glove or a rubbing wheel, and the wings of nervousness will flutter momentarily, but never long enough to escape the net of reason.  Lately, I thought they had migrated away. 

Not so.  There was nervousness tonight in Rimouski.  They were back, big red maple leaf winged Canadian butterflies. It wasn't unexpected.  It wasn't so much that this is a UCI level international stage race.  On top of that, it is their first time team time trial in a foreign country with hundreds of teens watching, kids their own age, peers.  At Mackenzie's side a French speaking Canadian counted down.  "Trois!  Deux!  Un!  Allez!"

Nothing was familiar tonight in Canada, except for one thing...the butterflies.  Now, after four years of racing, hundreds of start lines, the butterflies were back, but this time they were telling my kids everything would be okay.  This is normal.  This is how it is.  Now it feels familiar.  They were where they needed to be.  Like their colorful pretty fluttering cousins, this time the nervous butterflies we're comforting.  Without uttering a word every kid knew the butterflies would take them to the start and see them to the finish.


david hart said...

Nicely written der kaiser

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