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Brothers compete in national event

It all started with the Tour De France.
Two of Unicoi’s own, brothers Nolan and Connor Tankersley, have been part of the world of cycling for the past two years, but the journey began after watching the popular cycling race held yearly overseas with their father, David.
“Dad used to ride,” Nolan explained. “He actually sold his road bike, but then we were sitting, watching the Tour De France and he said ‘You should try riding,’ so we went about getting a new road bike and it just went from there.”
Connor agreed with his older brother.
“Mainly our parents got us involved,” he said. “We would sit and watch the Tour De France together. They helped us learn how to ride the bikes, get prepared for races and we’ve been doing it ever since.”
The life of a cyclist is one that can be tossed around in the same category as having a full-tome job, with all the effort being put in by the brothers, who currently attend Unicoi County High School.
It’s a “job” they both surely love to do, with Connor and Nolan getting their fair share of races in.
“I say we’ve done at least over 150 races in the past year,” Nolan said. “There always two or three a week, so it’s been a lot.”
With Connor following in the same routine as his big brother, all the work with their riding coach, all the races and all the daily riding, is starting to pay off for the two teens, who are now getting their chance to shine in the nationals of cyclocross racing, being held in Madison Wis., during the first week of January.
The race will have people around the nation coming to join in the cyclocross fun.
The eldest Tankersley had his first taste of national last year, competing in the road racing nationals, but there are a couple of butterflies for the veteran rider.
“I’m a little nervous,” Nolan said. “I had a chance to compete last year in the Road Nation, but this will be a new experience; it’ll be fun.”
The brothers will be competing in the nationals together, but will be a part of different categories, as Nolan will be participating in the 17-18 age category while Connor, the self-proclaimed “newcomer” to the national scene, will compete in the 15-16 age category.
When it comes down to the whole brotherly bond the brothers can’t help but have a competitive sibling rivalry.
“It’s always going to be there,” Nolan said with a laugh. “I’m faster than him right now, but we’ll see how it goes in a couple of years.”
Even with the friendly competitive spirit, the youngest brother sees his older brother as a role model.
“He has accomplished a lot since he started,” Connor said. “He definitely is a role model to me.”
Competitive cycling has picked up steam of late, with colleges starting to recognize the activity scholastically. Colleges such as Milligan, Virginia Intermont and Lees-Macre now have cycling programs and even ETSU has been looking to start a program that will give student athletes a chance to receive scholarship opportunities for riding, whether for road racing, mountain biking or even cyclocross.
The life of a cyclist can be a rough one when participating in a daily ride, with some motorists forgetting about the ‘3-Foot Law’ which means motorists need to give cyclists a three-foot clearance when passing from the rear.
Mother, Tracey, also spoke about the what Unicoi County can bring to the table for the cycling community.
“The towns of Unicoi and Erwin have been a big help to us,” she explained. “Unicoi was the host site of our first cyclocross race during 2011, which was sponsored by the Tri-Cities Road Club. We live in such a nice place and both towns can bring a lot to the table when it comes to cycling. Pinnacle Tower has been so popular since it’s opening, it’s great to see how cycling has taken off here as of late.”
Be sure to stay updated with The Erwin Record as we will be bringing results of the Tankersleys’ races in Wisconsin as soon as they are made available.
For more information about cyclist safety, be sure to check out the website, www.3feetplease.com.