NICA: The Future of Mountain Biking in America

Sep 11, 2015
by Danielle Baker  
 
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'Founded in 2009, the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) develops interscholastic mountain biking programs for student-athletes across the United States. NICA provides leadership, services and governance for local leagues to produce quality mountain bike events, and supports every student-athlete in the development of strong body, strong mind and strong character through their efforts on the bike.'

NICA High School League Photo Philip Beckman - pbcreativephoto.com

Could mountain biking be the new football in American high schools? Maybe not quite yet, but if any group is focused on changing the curriculum it is the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA). Started by math teacher, Matthew Fritzinger, in Berkeley, California, NICA has been on a crusade for the last six years to incorporate mountain biking into schools as a legitimate option for sports. When the interest grew with the kids in Berkeley they began attending local races, but were discouraged to find no other youth in attendance at that time. Mr. Fritzinger reached out to the race promoters to request high school categories which lead to the creation of NICA and the high school race circuit. Austin McInerny, NICA's Exectuive Director took over coaching the Berkeley team in 2004 and has had a hand in the growth of NICA which now includes 19 leagues in 18 states - with four new leagues to be announced at Interbike. To date over 6000 students and 2500 coaches have gone through the program.

NICA High School League Photo Philip Beckman - pbcreativephoto.com
NICA Map

With two race seasons Spring/Fall, NICA certified coaches offer training through the summer and winter months as well - both on and off the bike. The volunteer coaches complete a certification program produced by NICA, hold an annual coaches' license, have wilderness first aid, and submit to a background check. They promote proper rest and nutrition and racers are prohibited from using caffeine as a stimulant for racing. But their focus isn't only on the athleticism, they are also working to build the next generation of trail users and mountain bike advocates by working with organizations like IMBA and producing videos on etiquette.

NICA High School League Photo Philip Beckman - pbcreativephoto.com
NICA High School League Photo Philip Beckman - pbcreativephoto.com
  Team spirit!

Pinkbike has come aboard as a supporter of NICA and is proud to be involved with a program that is making mountain biking more accessible at younger ages for our athletes and also more accessible as a concept for families. Just imagine what our sport would look like if our athletes were being coached on bikes as young as the kids who are currently playing T-Ball or soccer. And now imagine a team sport where no one sits on the bench. In an effort to keep the barrier to participate low, as an organization NICA promotes incentives for kids who are giving back to the program, the involvement and support of local bike shops and businesses, and donations of gear, time, and money. NICA is in its fifth year as a nationally incorporated non-profit and relies on donations from the cyclists around the country for continued growth. Most importantly though is the message they promote that an entry level mountain bike is all that is needed to participate. Due to variances between states' and schools' involvement the cost of participation varies from approximately $35 - $50 to register for the year, and another $35 - $50 for each race entry. Some teams charge dues that range from $50 - $100, and all leagues are encouraged to fundraise, which in some cases covers all the costs for the members for the year.

NICA High School League Photo Philip Beckman - pbcreativephoto.com
  Course-side mom support.

NICA High School League Photo Philip Beckman - pbcreativephoto.com
  While mountain biking is an individual sport, the team training environment helps to build the same values as team sports like soccer and football.

At this time it is still a challenge to standardize the leagues across the states. In some locations the race directors pay out thousands of dollars for permits and in others they are granted use of the land for free. In some schools the coaches are paid for, the students receive credit for their PE class, and even a varsity letter, but in others it is held as a completely separate program as some schools are entrenched in a 'traditional' sports mentality. It can be hard to fathom that any school wouldn't support an endeavour targeted at developing a healthy lifestyle with the problem the American population is facing with childhood obesity and diabetes, but unfortunately some schools are still run by an older generation of administrators who associate biking solely with doping or Rampage. Part of NICA's program is helping these administrators, and some families, to truly understand what mountain biking is and what it can bring to their kids.


bigquotesNICA is important for many reasons, but, most significantly, through our efforts, we are introducing adolescents to the wonders of cycling and the empowerment and opportunities that come along with learning how to ride and to being a contributing member of a team. Cycling is the gateway to the realization of personal wellness and a societal shift in community re-engagement for our youth. For many of our student-athletes, participation on their school mountain bike team is the first time they are mentored by caring adult coaches on the practice of safe and responsible cycling on public trails and the connections made between the students and the coaches are strong. Not only do participants learn to ride extremely well, they also learn what it means to be a steward of the natural environment and to be a contributing member of a group. These valuable lessons prepare students for adulthood and enable them to continue riding and racing well beyond high school. NICA is a youth development organization that is helping adolescents become strong and productive members of society.
-Austin McInerny, Exectuive Director



The goal that NICA has - to offer mountain biking as a team sport at high schools throughout the United States, is a big one, but it is one that could changed our whole industry. Allowing kids to access bikes, eduction around advocacy and etiquette, and competition at earlier ages and from different cultural, financial, and demographic backgrounds has the potential to explode our mountain biking population. And with that, our access to land use, market, and even acceptance or understanding by the general public can grow.

NICA High School League Photo Philip Beckman - pbcreativephoto.com



Views: 1,662    Faves: 3    Comments: 0

You can also watch the 2014 Utah season summary video here.

For more information about NICA please visit their website or follow them on social media - @nationalMTB.

All photos by PB Creative (Phil Beckman).
Must Read This Week

157 Comments

  • + 53
 I raced in the NICA league for 3 of my high school years and it was an amazing program. It doesn't detract from the spirit of mountain biking, it just adds more people to the sport which is a great thing. The league provides great opportunities for everybody who is involved. For beginner riders who need a bike but can't get one because of their family's financial situation, the league will loan them a bike for the entire season at no cost. For the crazy fast guys, college scholarships can be attained for mountain biking. Also, the focus of most of the teams, at least in my experience, is not on racing it's just having fun and doing stupid shit with your friends on the team. NICA merely opens up the door to the awesome world of mountain bikes for people who would otherwise never experience it!
  • + 14
 As a collegiate racer, be wary of mountain bike college scholarships. Don't forget why you're going to school.
I heard in the Norcal league you're not allowed to take your wheels off the ground? Anybody have any more details on that and how that's the future of mountain biking?
  • + 29
 Yep, that is true. I race in Norcal for the Nevada Union Miners. We wheelie and huck everything thing we can! They hate us for it!
  • + 10
 The collegiate teams without varsity teams and scholarships have more fun anyways. Go Boulder yeew!!!
  • + 5
 Jimmy, there is usually one team that doesnt fallow that norcal rule, like Austin said its the miners. every chance we get, its Huck to flat or get out
  • + 8
 Well if any of you miners want to go to UCSB and ride for us send me a pm. We fully support huckin your meat. Ride fast take chances
  • + 7
 The whole "keep two wheels on the ground thing" is because they don't want to be sued when some kid doesn't know how to jump and cracks his skull. Its not enforced at all tho.
  • + 8
 I raced in the NorCal league from 2009-2012, our team at San Ramon Valley High grew to nearly 80 riders by the time that I graduated. Its funny, that picture with the girls with the green and yellow body paint was from my senior year. I always hucked my bike off of anything that I could during those races and they were a blast. They weren't overly-strict but they have regulations. It just amazed me at how much the sport grew in popularity. Our team helped start a neighboring school's team and they grew just as fast as we did. Our team was BIGGER than every single sports team at our school, and we were known for our athletics. The NICA is the best thing to ever happen to the sport of mountain biking.
  • + 2
 Socal has the same rule about "not taking wheels off the ground". It kinda detracts from the fun factor but it makes sense from a liability standpoint... me and my friends still do it all the time
  • + 4
 That's only for the Nor Cal league. I'm in the Utah league and they do a great job with courses. We just had a race last week near Park City where there was a more technical varsity section to the lap as well as 2 A/B lines. It was pretty fun because one of the A lines you could get a couple feet of air off (not much) but still fun for the courses. heres a pic: www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10204789795047834&set=a.10204789747806653.1073741891.1326757110&type=1&theater

We also have races in moab and st George
  • + 5
 That Photo is sick! Norcal would never put something like that in a course. I just think they are a uptight. All of our courses are boring except for one.
  • + 3
 Technically it's true that you're not allowed to take your wheels off the ground, but everyone in NorCal sends it whenever they get they chance and no one has ever said anything to us.
  • + 6
 In BC, the high school events have enduro and the provincial track started down a set of dirt jumps.
  • + 1
 There was also an unofficial jump jam where kids were regularly boosting 6+ feet on their XC bikes.
  • + 2
 As a former racer on the Nevada Union Miners, I can attest that our team had the most airtime and wheelies of any in the NorCal league. Racing is really fun and we have some fast athletes who always get great results, but each and every single one of is knows how to have a good time on course.
#wheelieking
  • + 4
 It's possible to keep your wheels on the ground? I don't believe it...
  • + 2
 The "Keep your wheels on the ground" rule is not black and white. It is simply do minimize silly boosting off of everything to show off. The kids I help coach know that if I catch them boosting unnecessarily, skidding, etc, on a team ride, they're doing pushups. Once practice is over and we're not on NICA time I'll take them on rides to air stuff out.

It's just a way of managing risk in an environment where a couple seconds of showing off can lead to a halted practice for 30 people and an ambulance ride for one person.
  • + 3
 As long as you don't crash, your good. How can you prevent hucking and Skidding when you hauling ass down the trail?
Thats weird that that coach does that. The two wheels on the ground only applies to the races.
  • - 6
flag Kona-Stinker-Dude (Sep 13, 2015 at 6:46) (Below Threshold)
 keep ur tires on the ground!!? step over a downhill bike and do some real riding. how is NICA even considered racing
  • + 3
 "real riding" ok then
  • + 1
 Burn
  • + 2
 I do do real riding. I race Enduro. I only race Norcal/NICA to stay in shape. I love downhill. Cross country is hard too tho.
  • + 0
 I don't even know why your commenting here. I basically just said keeping your wheels on the ground is unrealistic. Downhill is not the only "real riding", yes it does it take skill to ride downhill, a lot more than cross country. NICA is considered racing because it is physically exhausting pushing your body until you can't even ride anymore; against other people. I have ridden down "real" downhill, double black diamonds at Canyons Resort in Park City and at Northstar Resort. If your going to talk about "real riding" and skill, it takes way more skill to ride a 140mm bike down a double black diamond than it does on downhill bike. Your comparing apples to oranges.
  • + 1
 It use to be a big no no to get your wheels of the ground. Matt Fitzinger who started it all was actually a roadie and a lot of things about mountain biking put him on edge. Over the last couple years it has really mellowed out though. The rule still exsistes for liabilty reasons but no one really pays much attention to it. As a matter a fact in Utahs State Championship Moab race a in 2013 there was a bit of a table top on the course. Our announcer named the Ronnie Ramp. It scared the hell out of some of the parents and grandparents watching, but tons of kids where jumping it and only one kid that I know of wrecked and he just got up, shook his hand in the air and raced on.
  • + 2
 I did a NICA race on Saturday. It was a suffer fest but I enjoyed myself as the trail was a blast. One thing I will say is a timed superd event would be very welcome. I think that could add to the development of cyclists by showing kids what other races are like and let them chose for themselves. I believe that would be great for NICA. If you can have highschool football we can have DH/enduro high school league.
  • + 1
 @Jimmy0 I ride in the Colorado league and your not supposed to take the wheels off the ground if they catch you you can get disqualified. Your also not suppose to practice jumping during your team practices. Who though? I do it haha
  • + 45
 Shouldn't this be titled, "the future of mountain bike *racing* in america"? There's a whole world of mountain biking outside of racing.
  • + 13
 That future isn't as easily marketed.
  • + 3
 Can you tell me who and how the future of mtb in America is otherwise defined?

Put another way, tell me your alternative proposal.
  • + 7
 Every mountain bike racer is also a particpating in that world of mountain biking you mention. They ride bikes like us, talk bikes like us, dig trails like us, and raise their consciousness about land use issues like us. Racing just gives it the structure and makes it fit in with virtually all other high school sports which are competitive. These kids are likely to stay in the sport at a disproportionately high level of skill and commitment. Its they, the riders, who are (part of) the future, not the XC races of their high school days.
  • + 7
 The same way that people who play basket ball in high school will probably still play pick up games when they graduate, or played baseball will join D league softball, these young men and women will probably still ride after high school. I think this will be good for both developing our top talent so we have more than just a handful or riders in at the top of the sport, and will also grow the recreational side of the sport.
  • + 16
 Highschool XC racing holds a special place in my heart. I remember starting off with a janky hardtail. Our team rides were on all mtn trails. Crank it to the top then come down gnarly single track. The stuff we came down was as raw as it can get. Riding such trails on a hard tail was the best I could have done to lay the foundations for my mtb skillset. Then I transitioned to a XC dual suspension. It worked well for the races. But I began to smash the poor thing through rock gardens and off of drops. I knew I was starting to ride too hard for the bike. Now I've got the dedicated trail bike that is happy to take that kind of abuse. Then my Dad and Brother got into mtn biking because of my experiences. So my friend, this is more than just racing.
  • + 10
 "the future of XC mountain bike *racing* in america"

FTFY
  • + 2
 There seem to be a lot of young xc racers in the U.S which is great, however the same can't be said for DH. For obvious reasons of course, but it'd be cool if there was more DH interest in the U.S in general. I guess Enduro has kind of taken over.
  • + 2
 The future of mtbing in America is programs similar to VVASA (www.vvasa.org), where kids are educated on trail ethics as well as the skills needed to become mtbers. Racing is a natural progression if they choose, but not pushed upon at VVASA. NICA is a fantastic program, as riders and the industry, we need to teach the sport in addition to the competitive side of it. As a brand, we are proud to support programs like VVASA as well as NICA.
  • - 10
flag TheMastodon (Sep 11, 2015 at 10:38) (Below Threshold)
 Why did someone down vote me?
  • - 2
 Im not saying anything negative about xc, i have huge respect for the skill and fitness it takes.
  • + 4
 Downhill racing requires a usa cycling license just like xc but all the support goes to xc racing (and road racing). I sure hope USA cycling does not get ahold of enduro's.
  • - 1
 Yea that would be shit as they already charge hundreds of dollars just for amateur races and hardly give anything in return.
  • + 3
 The racing is not what NICA is principally all about -- it is about developing the kids' minds and bodies, turning them into healthy, athletic, and strong bike riders with a positive attitude and good character, having fun and making friends along the way. The racing is important, sure, but it is a means to the more important goal. Many kids who get hooked on biking through NICA move on to ride or even compete in downhill or other disciplines (no high school league for DH, yet). This is the only sport I have seen where even a heavy, slow kid who would be on the bench in other sports is welcomed and celebrated for trying hard. The NICA movement in the US really is the best thing in biking, period, if you ask me.
  • + 1
 Why all the xc guys neg prop you I dunno. Dh is dying due to race promoters blowing it, and enduro is what the kids look up to now.
  • + 2
 Is dh dying is the USA? Its pretty strong as a race scene in Australia, and the world cup is probably as strong as ever
  • + 0
 My experience in the good Ol' USofA is that the only thing people ever watch or go to is DH. At the Fontana series, only families of the riders are watching the Super D and didn't they cancel some XC events because of lack of entries?
  • + 0
 Dh is definitely not healthy here in Idaho. And it hasn't grown any stronger since NICA, actually it has fallen off here. I sure do see a lot more xc/cyclo/roadies at the young ages though. Good and bad, I just wish the organizers and promoters did a good job for everyone, not just XC. But the kids who like dh end up doing that anyway. Riding is riding one way or another. So I am torn on it.
  • + 1
 Everyone can participate in an XC race, not so much in Downhill as more skill is required. Now our local enduro's are starting to dumb down courses for junior's, different courses then let's say expert women. . . . . Personally my son will quit racing Enduro's because of this! it needs to be at a high level if you want to advance kids. They are the future of the sport. And Downhill is much bigger then Enduro's!
  • + 1
 Well enduros are the biggest race series in Colorado right now which isn't bad cause endure races are actually a tons of fun. But the idea of dumbing down courses really halts development of skills. Other than Aaron Gwin and a few others, There are very few Americans at World Cup dH races near the top. Which is interesting considering we are one of the wealthiest nations and definitely have the mountains. I understand easier courses will bring more people into the sport, but it also sorta changes the sport. Mtb isn't supposed to be easy. It takes a lot of practice and commitment and is definitely not for everyone. Xc btw is also supoooosed to be hard and take fitness and skills but I'm guessing they've dumbed down the courses. Go ahead neg prop me but you know it's true.
  • + 22
 As a former racer of a Norcal Team, NICA kicks ass at what they can do. This sport really keeps students out of trouble (spending money on bikes not crack) and gets them out in the woods. Every time the season comes around, all my team mates can think about is riding at the end of the school day. We train so hard and love it. Even though we get no credit in our local highschool for what we do. We keep doing this because its so much fun if you love the sport of mountain biking. Racing and winning is fun, but just racing is fun alone. Its XC which isnt my first pick to race, but we dont care. Riding with people our age and loving it is what its about. Thank You NICA. And Norcal
  • + 5
 One of my buddies was a coach of a NorCal team years ago and I used to go ride with them sometimes. I couldn't have asked to ride with a more polite, enthusiastic, all-round great bunch of kids. It was heart-warming.
  • + 2
 Hey @iamamodel, was that Scott Sharples?
Hes an Australian that coached our team, the Nevada Union Miners (which @chillrider199 is on) a few years ago.
  • + 1
 No, I think it was an El Cerrito team (Bay Area). Scott Sharples, huh? You guys were really lucky as he is a good coach. The Aussie junior team did very well when he was coaching it. Nathan Rennie, Sam Hill, Jared Rando, Ben Cory, Amiel Cavalier all medalled at world champs under Scott.
  • + 18
 I am a 49yo dad who has been a mountain biker for 30+ years. My daughter raced as a Freshman in NorCal division last year. The experience could not have been better. The vibe at the races is awesome. Events are very well organized. Everyone is there to have fun though the riders are definitely competitive. My only complaint is that the team "kits" are definitely roadie in nature (GAG!!) Her success in the sport has made her more health conscious, fit and has tremendously improved her self-confidence. She is now a very strong and competitive rider and will join me for enduro events this next season. Her focus is on riding and school. There is no time/interest in boys or parties. Best of all, we have a great time riding together. I couldn't be a bigger supporter of the organization.
  • + 0
 XC racers wear spandex kits, it's what you do. You can wear baggies if you want to even though it is proven to be aerodynamically less efficient.
  • + 2
 well,aerodynamics shouldnt be the winning factor at this level..
  • + 1
 Marginal gains. Every little bit helps. Aerodynamics is always a factor depending on a multitude of variables. And these racers are damn fast, the kids I raced against last year in variety have raced in Europe at world cups.
  • + 3
 I agree. Race organization and logistics are the best I have seen (including USAC MTB Nationals, at least for Cat 1 juniors). Exposure to NICA through the NorCal League had an incredibly positive effect on our son and through him our whole family. He's now off to college and looking to take his racing to the next level.
  • + 2
 lol @ no interest in boys.
  • + 12
 I occasionally cross paths with local high school coach. We hosted a large-ish social ride and he brought a couple of his riders. After we finished the 35mi ride, we're shooting the shit and I find out one of his riders just started riding less than a year ago and is now cranking out huge miles! She had been training all year and accomplished so much through old fashioned hard work. Forget the racing and "grow the sport," MTB teaches kids discipline, work ethic, goal setting, etc. Lessons that will go way beyond the bike. . .

On another note, the LBS owner that sponsors the team says after seeing kids have all the fun, parents will usually buy an entry-level hardtail so they can ride too. LBS has probably sold 20+ $1000 hardtails that he normally wouldn't have. Getting fat-butt parents off the couch doesn't hurt, either.
  • + 15
 Wish they had enduro or dh. Not as team friendly, but still.
  • + 3
 It's definitely a team event. It's scored as a team event. Best placed 5 riders on a team, in any class. It would still work for enduro or dh.
  • + 1
 Enduro/DH is no less team friendly than XC. In general you race alone in every format. Perhaps more so in XC than in Enduro when you can be with your team on the transfer and before/after stages. Cyclocross perhaps allows for some team interaction in an event as there is often a "pit" area. Otherwise I can ride and train with a "team" in any format. It's really only in road racing that the team itself is important in making tactical decisions of how to win (i.e. drafting and blocking etc.)
  • + 8
 Just wish there was much more gnar instead of fire roads
  • + 7
 it's not about the gnar, its about getting kids out on bikes that otherwise may not have the opportunity. if kids want to ride enduro, and can afford a decent bike than there are plenty of opportunities for them to race privately.
  • + 7
 Those sports are just a bit harder to do everywhere is all. You can't do downhill races in MN or Wisconsin that are any solid length without making the whole league drive for hours. There are however dozens of cross country ride areas that are available. And generally bikes are cheaper so its a bit easier to get an entry level XC rig than an entry level 150mm trail bike.
  • + 4
 Actually that's true. I just figured a mass start xc race might be more team friendly than a 30 second interval start enduro or downhill race. But, since the majority of riding I do is enduro or downhill, I'd much prefer to race that. And at the moment I'm stuck in a regular PE class because I'm unable to get PE credit for riding. A group of friends and I are trying to change this. Too many litigation and legal issues I guess...
  • + 3
 I think beginners should start in XC anyway. Build their skills and then progress into other disciplines. DH for a beginner means higher consequences for inevitable mistakes.
  • + 2
 Just wait and race in college where dh is the main event, and the tracks are real dh courses (at least in the rmcc).
  • + 1
 There would still be other disciplines for those who wouldn't want to start in Dh. And learning fast the hard way is what a lot of the boys want whether they know it or not, maybe not as many would leave the sport due to spandex disillusionment. Just like the trails, more trail or race diversity=a place for all personality types=less conflict. What is so hard about that IMBA? There are enough wheelchair accessible "biking trails".
  • + 1
 I agree with the previous statement. I race in Colorado for Animas High School, but my primary focus is DH. The NICA races offer a great opportunity to get good training. I know a lot of the racers in Colorado would be stoked on some 5 minute ish timed trials. There could be an up occasionally preferably it would be mostly down. All of the NICA venues I've raced at, the DH section could be used for this event. Another thing to think about is there are 100plus kids. Starting in the back of that pack is not only frustrating but also the dust is awful. In time trials there's an equal start for everyone. .
  • + 10
 My daughter is racing this year in Wisconsin. It's pretty cool. It's kind of crazy though, my daughter's team is a composite of 6 schools located 20 miles or less from Kettle Moraine State Forest. The south unit of Kettle is the most used mtb trails in the state, 300+ riders a day on the weekends, 1 out of 5 seem to be kids, we only had 10 kids sign up. My daughter is the only varsity aged rider on the team (17), the rest are freshman and grade school aged. 4 of those had never ridden a mountain bike off road. In all fairness, most cars at Kettle are from Illinois. It's just odd. Wonder if a place like Whistler would have the same low turn out for local riders..
  • + 3
 There is a reason us from Illinois go to kettle. I ride Emma Carlin section and im sure you know why.
  • + 1
 I coach a team near a very popular riding area and for us the biggest challenge is recruitment at the schools and volunteer support. So much of this is about "marketing". It might be word of mouth, telling all the bike shops, club days at high schools etc. I think the most successful way to get the word out is by having racers promote their team with their friends and anyone they meet who rides or wants to ride.
  • + 9
 First race for the Minnesota league is this Sunday. And I am proud to be walking around school today wearing my jersey other riding clothes all day.

Everyone lighten up, the lycra is comfy but I do still refuse to not wear baggies on my lower half. It's just kids racing bikes at the end of the day, and it's fun to do well and maybe win, but that's not the main point. It's just great having other people to ride with!

XC racing, while it may not be that exciting, it's easy enough to work hard enough to the point of exhaustion and have a laugh with everyone else on your team once you're done with chocolate milk or a root beer and just hang out. (These are high school kids, remember.) xD
  • + 3
 Kill it out there this weekend at the Jail Trail! Was one of my favorites in the 2013 season!
  • + 7
 NICA has filled my local Utah trails with kids on bikes, which is a good thing. The local HS Lone Peak has something like 150 participants. Good job getting them dirty and away from the screens that surround them. I bet this weeks race at Corner Canyon in Draper, UT hits 700 riders. Most freshman riders are smoking their Dads. The Varsity riders are tough to hand on to on the trail. These kids have skills and lungs. Any bike , Any gear as long as they ride.
  • + 1
 ya I think we already passed 700 I think at soldier hollow there were more then 1000
  • + 1
 I sure hope that NICA puts effort into retention of these kids riding. XC isn't always easy spinning if you know what I mean. I can see some possibility for fall off once they figure out that it hurts to be fast and as a new rider struggling to fit in, keep up and be overwhelmed by riding in general some may get discouraged. I remember when they were starting up a couple of years ago here and they encouraged MP3 players and BBQs. So when does that part of the season start for the riders? Hope they keep it fun...
  • + 5
 My understanding is this is a High School program, not college. It's not surprising that the powers that be can't wrap their heads around a sport that ain't " stick and ball". What's even more surprising is that mountain bikers are more concerned about what these kids are wearing than how to support getting kids on bikes of any kind. No small wonder there are hardly any top World Cup XC riders from the USA
  • + 7
 It's actually about the riding, not the racing. Helmets are required at all times. And you can wear baggies, there is not a requirement. If the student WANTS to race, they need to wear a matching team jersey. It's not mandatory to race at all. As for the lack of UCI riders, 4 of the 10 kids that signed up on my daughters team had zero off road experience, I'd say that's a start, especially if it sticks..
  • + 1
 A lot of people care more about style than actual riding and having fun these days
  • + 5
 NICA needs to support jr high school students well. That is the huge gap with their program. The Washington Student Cycling League serves kids from grades 6-12 and we have young kids who are getting the racing bug. Already several of our 7th and 8th grade XC kids are moving to race DH and enduro. I'll be out with a group today helping them prep for Cascadia Dirt Cup finals next weekend. Also, roadie kits are definitely not required.
  • + 1
 NICA is doing a great thing, pretty much all XC which is fine. My beef is with USA cycling who collects fee's from Junior downhill racers, controls it with no knowledge of the sport. No support for kids with potential, lots of camps for XC, road and CX though. Please keep them out of Enduro's! And believe me they want to control that too. They even had an Enduro national at Mammoth this year . . . Watch out!
  • + 2
 the Utah league does Junior devo races. We had over 450 kids race in the junior race alone this last weekend
  • + 1
 I 100% agree, middle school needs to be incorporated. I was lucky enough to help start a team in Wscl and our middle school had a couple kids more than the high school team!!
  • + 1
 Im in middle school and im training with the highschoolers and racing in a middle school race the day before the high school races
  • + 1
 Are those races sanctioned through NICA? Or are the middle school races sanctioned through another organization? Just curious
  • + 1
 They're still thru NICA.
  • + 9
 USA cycling sucks
  • + 3
 I don't see mountain biking truely reaching its potential in the States until implementation of universal healthcare. I'd already be broke after a year and a half of mountain biking and 2 collar bone operations. This isnt a deadly sport, but it's extremely injury prone, and that makes it bank breaking south of the border.
  • + 2
 I'd suggest skill building first and incremental progression as a more effective alternative. Huck it and f*ck it is a fun slogan, but a dumb ass way to ride. Taking excessive risks before you're ready carries a high opportunity cost in the form of down time when you could have been progressing. BTW, most of us have jobs and insurance.
  • + 4
 I love to see the sport growing, but then trails get over used, dumbed down, and crowded. I love mountain biking for the escape, and I have mixed feelings about it becoming more "mainstream". Anybody else feel this way?
  • + 1
 Don't worry dude. If you stick with it, in 3 years or so, the trails will thin out. This is the 3rd spike in mtb's I've been involved in the past 28 years. Boom in the late 80's, late 90's and right now. The early 90's and mid-late 00's, I rode 3-4 days a week and only saw my tire combo in the soft spots for days on end. Sometimes I'd see a different set of tracks and get all excited. Haha... On the weekends it averages 40 or so riders on a 6 mile loop, as far as volume, it's way too many.. Wink
  • + 2
 I agree. I don't understand this "Grow the sport!" mentality. I live in Colorado. You can forget about riding trails anywhere near a population center on the weekends, it's too crowded. The average skill level has decreased and trail construction/maintenance reflects this. I'm all for people getting out, but you won't catch me preaching the gospel on why every human possible should be riding...
  • + 2
 This looks like a cool idea to me, and from what I can see anything that gets kids out on bikes is a positive thing, especially now that a lot of parents seem to be less keen on letting their kids go exploring by bike. If you're some sort of lone wolf who can't be seen in Lycra then you can go off and do your own thing.
  • + 4
 Neg. props to all the people who are complaining about the wording of the title. You're all missing the point. NICA is great for mountain biking as a while, not just racing.
  • + 1
 The main point here is that this is an organization that is promoting what we all love at an early age. Whether is be dh, enduro, xc, or road, it it getting more kids on bikes and broadening our exposure to more people. NICA does a great job at putting on these events. While all levels of athleticism are welcome the course is beginner friendly as well. I see many of the viewpoints on here concerning other disciplines and I respect that. Can you truly see a kid that's never been off road on a bike hucking down an enduro trail or dh course? Lighten up fellas, we all love the bikes, the woods and the gnar. Thrash til your hearts are content but realize what this is doing in the bigger picture for all of us.
  • + 1
 This needs to happen in socal. A few group of friends had offered to include an mtb team to school sports but everyone thinks it is far too dangerous to be a school sport.... Yet there are no problems with football. Schools need to stop being so protective and leaving things out . I know liability is an issue but that is not enough reason to not even consider a team.
  • + 1
 There is a SoCal League, just completed its 6th year. Check it out at www.socaldirt.org. The stepping stone to creating teams at each school is a so-called composite team that covers multiple schools in an area. That's usually how it gets started in a new area.

Statistically, cheerleading is easily the most dangerous high school sport. It isn't realty about danger (see football). It's more about image.
  • + 1
 Good on you Pinkbike in the New York League we never saw any kind of media and there was very little local support at our races which made it fun on good days and bad days were pretty crappy with no one around but riders and parents saying good job to their child in last place having a bad day hopefully this will open more eyes to nica races and make the events more fun
  • + 1
 I give your school a 'pass' for teaching the importance of mountain biking but a 'fail' for not teaching the importance of punctuation.
  • + 0
 I'm missing the period on my keyboard lol I'm sorry to whom I've offended I wish it was my school that taught me any MTB however I was on a composite team two hours away from my home New York league is very sparse
  • + 1
 There are other smaller leagues around the country besides NICA that are getting kids out on the trail and into racing, such as the Washington league mentioned earlier and the Michigan Scholastic Cycling Association that includes the 10 and under age group. www.miscabike.org Michigan also has a great program over on teh west side of the state the Dirt Dawgs that only goes up to age 12 www.grdirtdawgs.com
  • + 1
 Thanks for mentioning Fritzenger! He helped my friends and I start our High School team back in 2005 when he was just starting to get momentum for the NorCal league. We all went to Tamalpais, so we were all dowhnhillers and dirt jumpers. Our team had a shorts-over-the-lycra rule that made everyone look at us funny at races. Its awesome visiting home, going on a ride, seeing the team on the trail, shouting "hey! I started your team!" Only to get a "who the hell are you?" Look back in return.
  • + 5
 youtu.be/acFitz_lz44

Check out this video about NICA New York!!
  • + 1
 Being a racer in the Utah High School Cycling League, It's opened a lot of doors for me not just in mountain biking but school, I've had colleges wanting to give me scholarships since I started wining my second year of racing. I love the high school races, and I'm so glad i got to be a part of it from the beginning of the Utah League.
  • + 1
 Having a son race all 4 of his HS years in NorCal league it developed a general love of the sport. He did really well and continues to ride today although he's moved to Enduro riding more then XC. The league is designed to include everyone so courses are made for true beginners all the way up to seasoned racers. Sure the top 20 or so in each race are serious and focused but there are also those that are there for the team and fun of it! NICA develops a love of the sport which hopefully is continued for life. Cycling is expensive enough and XC is cheapest racing for beginners. I could hardly afford supporting the racing he was doing from NICA to other outside series. Many kids would be out of luck dollar wise doing DH or Enduro racing.
  • + 3
 Why is this purely driven by XC? To each his own, but it's rather disappointing.
  • + 0
 Great organization. I raced 2 years, and I really liked the practices. The races not so much (too much stress), but I definitely feel like I am a better biker because of it. One suggestion that I would really like is to have some sort of equalizer among competitors. In JV, there was an incredible spectrum of bikes. People who had $8000+ carbon race machines, and kids riding their parents huffy (maybe not that extreme, but I did see a person riding an ancient dual crown bike). Not to criticize kids who worked hard and bought their own bike, but I think their should be some sort of limit on how heavy/expensive peoples bikes can be. It would be great to have everyone on the same bike, and just let fitness and skill be the determining factor in winning.
  • + 1
 I agree on the equalizing. My son's 1st year he did well, often top ten and even made podium. I knew he needed a better bike them my older RockHopper M4.I sold my motorcycle in my son's 2nd year to get him on a better bike and an extra set of race wheels. I think equipment wise I was in about 5k on the bike, but he was still I would guess on the least expensive bike in the top 20. There were a few fully sponsored riders that rode on private teams outside of NICA with multiple bikes (full carbon HT race rigs and FS carbon for the bumpy courses) each costing far more then the Niner HT he was on.
  • + 0
 I am not a fan of NICA I attempted to create a league in southern Nevada and due to all their restrictions we were not able to set it up now instead we are doing a USAC club which is a lot more reasonable to set up.
  • + 2
 Go NorCal League! So proud to have spent 4 years coming up through the organization.
  • + 2
 As someone who is in their final year of racing I can say this is such a fantastic organization. Ride on!
  • + 3
 Major, major props to PinkBike for supporting NICA. Way to go!
  • + 3
 Gimme some of that mom support !
  • + 1
 Does NICA require the kids to race a certain amount, if they have paid their dues and just want to go to the practices?
  • + 1
 No. Practices vary. Typically, some teams require a kid to try out at least one race, but most teams don't require any racing if the kid doesn't want to do it. But being on the team means showing up at practices (and often races too, as a spectator and to preride the course).
  • + 1
 Im currently starting a team for my school and going on a team ride tomorrow morning so I'm right in the midst of it haha.
  • + 2
 I had a NICA race today, and it was awesome!
  • + 1
 I just hope that the future of mountain biking offers a bit more than XC BIKES, SPANDEX AND RACING.
  • + 2
 Every kid deserves a bike. Every kid needs a chance.
  • + 2
 whats wrong with caffeine
  • + 0
 The title got me, thought I was going to read about Canada, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, etc... also, since those are American countries too last time I checked!
  • + 0
 Here in the United States we pride ourselves on our ability to forget that "America" is a broader term than just our borders. It's something we really relish and call forward at every opportunity. God bless 'murica.
  • + 4
 Yes, thanks @JacksonTM I was being kind of sarcastic in my comment! Cheers!!!
  • - 3
 MURICA!
  • - 8
flag AllMountin (Sep 11, 2015 at 11:03) (Below Threshold)
 If you'd just stop being such a drug infested shithole of a country, we'd respect you more.
  • + 5
 And exactly which country has created a demand for those drugs?
  • + 1
 Woderful....

Pd: In my country "NICA" means "no f****in way!!"

LOL
  • + 2
 NICA whaaaat.......
  • + 4
 Nicca please
  • + 0
 Just pay this fee of $1 million dollars and we will certify you.
  • - 1
 I am in my second year of coaching and I have my fees reimbursed through the fundraising that we do as a team. I am confident that every coach in our league gets the same.
  • + 3
 this is so true we attempted to set up a southern Nevada league but there are way too many fees
  • + 1
 vermont….
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