An Open Letter from NC League Director, Mike Long

I’m really not sure where to begin.

We blew away all expectations. NEVER has there been a mountain bike race in this state like the one we just put on. Nothing I have seen in the mountain bike community in North Carolina matches our level of care, dedication to risk management, production quality and positive vibe. I know people that have been riding and racing bikes here their entire life that were absolutely giddy with what they were seeing happen around them. I have had person after person tell me how much they enjoyed this race and how impressed they are with what our team was able to achieve.

Photo: Mike Hensley

The excitement was palpable, it hung in the air. I saw more smiles, fist bumps and high fives in one day than I have ever seen in my life. I saw people yelling and screaming to support kids they don’t even know. When does that even happen?

It’s overwhelming to me. I can’t really process it that well. I tear up just thinking about it. Seeing the kids I’ve watched over the years out there have the time of their life is wonderful. Seeing so many more kids that I’ve never seen before at a bike race is just incredible.

Photo: Deborah Hage

I was talking to Chris Muddiman [our chief course marshal] at the end of the day and I said I don’t know if we can change the world but we absolutely changed the state of North Carolina today.

Let that sink in. You made history, reshaped the face of youth sports and redefined the sport of mountain biking for the kids of North Carolina. From here onwards, we own the yardstick to measure this and we didn’t take from anyone here, we created a new one for North Carolina with the help of our NICA family across the nation.

I think every league in NICA was kind enough to let us tap into their collective knowledge, experience and passion to grow this. I can not thank them enough as they are just as much a part of this success in my mind. I am very happy to pass that gift on to the leagues who come behind us.

I just can’t tell you how humbled and proud I am to call you all colleagues and friends. It’s been hard work but the results have been nothing less than magical.

Max Biller (Lake Norman Composite) gives Guy Hagan (Guilford Gears) a fist-bump for a job well done at the end of their race. Photo: Sharon Whalen

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