Every once in awhile you are both amazed and inspired at the same time. This morning, as I left the only aid station on the route from Gunnison to Crested Butte, I was passed by a father-son riding duo. What immediately grabbed my attention was how young the son was and how effortless his cadence seemed to be. I was determined to catch them and watch this young man at work; so with great effort I stood on my pedals and slipped into their draft. Father and son worked effortlessly together, pushing hard, but enjoying the ride, and the fact that they were doing it together.
At the end of the ride I was eager to find out more about this remarkable young man. Nick Leuenhagen is twelve years old and is proud to be from Boise, Idaho. When I asked him how long he had been cycling, he thought for a moment as if to recollect all the years and then said, “Five.” His father, Bryan, told me that Nick rides with a club team named the B.Y.R.D.S. which stands for Boise Young Rider Development Squad. Nick had amazed more than me. When I caught up to him at Crested Butte he was posing with a number of other cyclists that had seen him speed by on their left side some time during the week. Nick was
taking it all in stride with a humble demeanor and a gracious spirit. Both father and son are quick to give most of the credit for Nick’s ability to his cycling coach Douglas Tobin, who has obviously done a remarkable job mentoring this young man.
Nick not only loves road cycling but also enjoys mountain biking, and downhill skiing – and has mastered the Rubik’s Cube (one more thing he a proven himself better at than I am).
I’ll be honest, I have nearly given up on the next generation more than once lately. It seems that most twelve year olds are more interested in exercising their thumbs while staring at computer generated adventures than they are exploring the beauty of nature on a saddle of a bicycle. I was inspired by you today Nick; but more than that, on a short ride from Gunnison to Crested Butte, while I heard you say “hello” to everyone you passed, you restored my hope in the next generation. Thank you for passing me today Nick! I pray that your spirit will be infectious and that your love for cycling will inspire many other for years to come.