IFHT Video: High School MTB Racing is Blowing Up

Dec 14, 2018
by ifhtfilms  


There are over 18,500 kids currently racing mountain bikes on over 1000 teams in 25 state leagues in the National Interscholastic Cycling Association. Under NICA’s leadership, organized interscholastic cycling is helping both today’s youth and adult coaches become healthier and more engaged members of their communities. IFHT Films visited a race at the private Trek Trails in Waterloo, Wisconsin and experienced the movement first hand.


#morekidsonbikes #moregirlsonbikes

Learn more: http://www.nationalmtb.org
Follow NICA: http://instagram.com/nationalmtb


MENTIONS: @ifhtfilms



64 Comments

  • + 24
 NICA is great for new riders but I wish they allowed harder courses because our races mostly cater towards roadies and require almost no technical skills. Maybe it's different in other states?
  • + 9
 In NorCal they do hella MTB racing. My friend's kid does it and it seems rad. Pretty sure Kate Courtney was with NICA just a few years ago and now look at her now....
  • + 9
 Same here in Virginia. North Carolina and Maryland are way worse about the lack of technical features though.
  • + 7
 @CullenHerring: I’m in NC and yeah- we tried to get a NICA race on the local beginner trail and they deemed it too hard. However, the local team has some real fast kids who love to race. Although I loved that mountain biking was outside the traditional school structure when I started in 8th/9th grade (it felt way more punk rock), I’ve come around to thinking that NICA is overall a good thing.
  • + 6
 @CullenHerring: yeah I agree, our league needs to get on it and build some actual courses down that satisfy the needs of more advanced riders. Maybe a different varsity course?
  • + 4
 @CullenHerring: im in maryland and yeah i agree. the problem is we have a lot of beginners but most of us just want to jump and wheelie
  • + 7
 In Utah they race and train primarily on trails in an area nicknamed "Carpet Canyon" since the trails are so easy and they sanitize the trail removing any and all rocks. I am hoping the next generation will push for more advanced and technical trails. Then push for enduro type races instead of XC races. However, what I see is the next generation of "Dirt Roadies" being trained.
  • + 6
 NICA serves a purpose, and to me it seems they hit the nail on the head by having easy courses. The beginners get something they can ride, the best kids get a fitness challenge, and in the end, NICA is producing world cup racers as well as folks on the EWS circuit.
  • + 4
 @normar: Agreed. The kids that are ready for rougher trails will find them on their own or with friends and family. A much better use of time than what I was doing as a teenager.
  • + 5
 @endlessblockades: I’m a NorCal kid and the courses benefit only roadies, because the courses are exactly that: roads
  • + 3
 @AnthonyQDJ: Bummer, even the little loops at Fort Ord?. Dude's kid raced there and although I didn't see the course, I know of some fun segments there....
  • + 9
 Meh, let it be what it is. I'm a teacher (not running a MTB club or team at my school, but in somewhat close proximity), and have seen, over the last 10 years, kids start on NICA and progress into CA Enduro, BME, Scott Enduro, and even EWS races. If someone wants gnarlier terrain, they can seek it out on their own. Around here (SoCal) it's easy to hook up with much faster and gnarlier dudes, even if you're a mid-teens grom. Schools and NICA don't need the headache of being held liable for kids crashing out - this isn't football where people seem to just look the other way w/ regards to head injuries and the like. Plus, you don't need a high dollar FS rig to have fun on NICA level stuff. Kids are stoked on their $1k rigs, and would not be when their cheap rig breaks on a 4ft drop.
  • + 5
 The last season in Utah was good. The most memorable races were Moab, Cedar City (lousy weather... I was a course marshal, died several times, got better...) and St. George. There were definite technical features; however, since the same course is used for almost all levels of racer, it has to be safe for the least experienced ones, even if "safe" means walking for a few of the newest riders. I say "almost" all levels because varsity riders had a special added loop that added to the difficulty. But, this is Utah, and great courses are all over the place.

Background: I've been coaching for NICA for 4 years and have attended 19 races and marshalled for 4 of them.
  • + 4
 @digitalsoul: yup I am a sophomore, and it's mostly easy.
I want Enduro, as do many of my friends.
They just don't anyone hurt...
Screw that, I have crashed on much harder trails, and I can ride them now...
  • + 1
 my school participates in the Northern New England High School Mountain Bike Race Series which does a good job with breaking down courses based on rider level. Beginner's, intermediate, & expert riders get their own courses based on their riding level. The expert courses do get quite a lot of New England gnar to them which does get a bit sketchy for some of the roadies on xc race bikes.
  • + 1
 I like the opening shots with all the RVs and SUVs pulling equipment trailers. Not exactly what I remember loving about getting in the woods on my bike as a kid.
  • + 1
 As some people said before Norcal Mtb has some technical and fun courses. With the exception of fort ord, many courses have technical features to them with some looking pretty close to modern pro xc courses. Many racers in this region are super intense about the sport and many go far with it, including Kate Courtney just a few years back. Come race in Norcal!
  • + 2
 Agreed!!
  • + 1
 The Washington Student Cycling Leauge has some fairly tough courses.
  • + 21
 "we need a 10ft drop into lava"
  • + 10
 Canadian schools need to wake up. There's more going on than just hockey. Cant beat the outdoors
  • + 4
 Who's in school during summer?
  • + 3
 @jubs17: We have this long drawn out thing called spring and a better thing called fall. The wagon comes a long and picks up most for post season and pre season hockey for the believes there kids are the next stars
  • + 1
 Ya our sport is way better than that other sport I'm sure kids don't actually like that sport!
  • + 1
 Certain Provinces have this. Several high school districts (Including my own) compete in the BC high school mountain biking championships each year.
  • + 8
 Just make sure you always keep both hands on the handlebars and both wheels on the ground if you ever get involved with NICA.
  • + 1
 in marylnd they allow hands off, but only if your good and still no jumping.
  • + 5
 Wheels on the ground isn't a thing anymore...
  • + 10
 NICA might be the best thing to happen to our sport in a LONG time
  • + 3
 I guess, but it does nothing for progression of riders ability
  • + 7
 @thedriftisreal: I don't think that's the purpose though. What I can see is an initiative to actually create a rider, get people out on the bike. Then if they grow up into roadies or downhill racers, that's the next chapter but getting it started may be the most important step.
  • + 5
 Bikes are sick. Nica is sick, but you aren't doing the kids any favors by grooming the courses to dirt sidewalks and implementing a 'two wheels on the ground rule'. Kids said it themselves, they want slopestyle and 10 foot drops. They should have a trail building/maintenance class in these mtb towns
  • + 4
 my coaches don't let us do jumps or bunny hops, but I am pretty sure that's because the younger riders follow what the older riders do. One Junior Devo Broke his back this year jumping. I hope they'll let us jump next year, as long as we don't do it around the young ones, and if we don't push ourselves over the limit.
  • + 5
 Many people in the comments are complaining about the lack of technical features. This year I raced varsity in NICA and yes the courses aren't super technical, but after an hour above threshold, just keeping upright upright while weaving in between trees at 20 mph is a challenge in itself. Everyone challenges themselves however much they want and if you want to win you have to be good at the technical sections or just be super powerful.
  • + 7
 I'd love to be a coach.
"Put this flannel on"
"Get your wheels off the ground"
"Don't spill your beer"
#InvestInOurYouth
  • + 6
 This is great! I just got my daughter registered and volunteered as a coach! =)
  • + 3
 I've been doing it 6 years now without any kids on a team and it has been some of the best times I have had on a bike.
  • + 2
 The NICA race courses in Colorado are legit and a few of them even build in jumps. Leadville has 700ft vertical per lap and is very rocky. The top level kids are fast AF and spend their summers embarrassing pros and collecting KOMs.
  • + 2
 For some reason, I always thought it was pronounced "NEEK-A" or possibly, "NICK-A". Whatever it is, it looks like a good organization. For the price of one football stadium like the one at the high school where I taught for 35 years, you could fund a great bike program for eternity with all carbon everything!
  • + 1
 I would agree that NICA should allow for harder courses and more technical riding, but NICA is what go me into MTB. I was lazy, and not passionate about any sport, until NICA came along. That is what started the best years of my life. And I still do NICA, as do many of my friends, but we go out and hit the technical trails. We ride NICA but most of my friends won’t hesitate to go down a black diamond jump trail, or a tech trail. But NICA has that same vib, and that is what got me hooked.
  • + 1
 NICA looks expensive. My girls have been racing the weekly race series for $20 and that means we go to every one. Plus the I-Cup races are $40. Racing nica is going to be expensive by comparison. Does anyone know why Nica is so expensive?
  • + 1
 No different than any other youth sport. Our team is $350 for the year, and our state offers scholarships.
  • + 4
 NICA beeds a freeride league
  • + 5
 plz let us jump nica
  • + 1
 Its not nica it's the schools...they're very concerned about off site activities in the wild. Luckily there's cross country runnning that goes into public so that made for strong case study. All in all so awesome with huge turnouts. Laguna beach has quite the program going for young up starts.
  • + 1
 Great piece! Sure wish it was available when I was in school. Great opportunity for kids to be outside, riding bikes, socializing offline & involved in the community more.
  • + 2
 Been doing it for two years. It’s one of the best things that have happened to me.
  • + 3
 America has their shit together when it comes to High School sports.
  • + 2
 Check out the Washington Student Cycling Leauge in Washington State.
  • + 1
 Scott Bicycles also offers a pretty good deal to any NICA member. FYI young bucks!! Get your bike cheaper!
  • + 1
 Current NICA coach, and 3year jv & varsity racer right here!! Wooohoo nica!
  • + 2
 #LetTheKidsJump
  • + 1
 "10 foot drop into lava" FTW!
  • + 1
 shout-out to @Santamtnbiker he was a points leader this year in utah
  • + 1
 Well done IFHT this is awesome!!
  • + 2
 Go POZ!!!!
  • + 2
 That was awesome!!!
  • + 1
 Anyone know if there's anything similar race series in Canada?
  • + 1
 Did I just watch an advert for a religious cult? Creepy.
  • + 1
 Amazing!
  • + 1
 *needs
  • + 1
 This is awesome
  • - 1
 I raced this year and the courses were just so lame, and it's expensive as hell to participate in my local club.
  • - 3
 Freerideaintdead

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