Photo Credit: Nona Perez, www.perezoo.com
It'd been over a decade since I stopped racing, and I realized it was time to give up on getting back into my former "race shape." But I miss racing. So this past weekend, I went with some friends to partake in Bike Monkey's Annadale race, a historic event in support of California's state parks.
I started near the front of this 600+ rider mass start, but that didn't last very long. Among the hundreds that passed me by were dozens of NorCal League riders, both boys and girls. When did all these high school riders get so universally fast?!
With aching legs and back, I had my dark moments on the backside of the course, but I kept the self loathing thoughts in check. I felt better on the final climb and was even rewarded with the euphoric tingles that sometimes come at the top of a climb. The final descent was pure joy and I finished, 61 out of 64 – my new benchmark in the expert class established. It was utterly satisfying.
If you can mountain bike, you can race, and I hope everyone gets a chance to test their own fitness this summer – just for fun.
We are very much looking forward to our East Coast Tour next week. Can I borrow a bike for the Windham race?
NICA Invitational Camp Wrap-Up
Last week, 42 student-athletes and 15 NICA Licensed Coaches enjoyed a week of time trials, training, skills instruction, racing seminars, yoga, bike fits, guest speakers and racer camaraderie for the 2011 NICA Invitational Camp at the University of California Santa Cruz.
Chris Spencer, Camp Director, said of the camp, “The first annual NICA Invitational Camp was a super positive learning experience for everyone involved. Racers and coaches from three different NICA Leagues worked hard, learned a lot and gave each other a ton of encouragement which they’ll in turn share with their teams back home.”
Guest helpers, instructors and speakers included Whole Athlete bike fitters, Mike’s Bikes Mechanics, Nitish Nag on Cycling Physiology, Simon Dunne of Specialized Bicycles on Bike Advocacy, Tyler Dibble on Collegiate Racing, Julie Kimball on Yoga for the Bike, Jason Moeschler of WTB on technical skills for racing and Al Painter of INTEGRATE Performance Fitness on core conditioning. NICA camp coaches gave talks on nutrition, bike repairs and bike washing.
Many campers are preparing to race at the USA Cycling National Championships in Sun Valley, Idaho on July 13-17. Top riders from the NICA Invitational Camp will be heading to Sun Valley as members of the NICA Travel Team. The 2011 NICA traveling team includes Alex Chamberlin, Austin Gooder, Dominique van den Dries, Garret Gaither, Jacqueline Kabel, Joel Titius, Kenny Valdez, Maya Nielson, Sean Bennett and Tyler Jones.
2011 NICA Awards Nominations
Have you come across a coach, student-athlete or volunteer that has had a profound effect on you? If so, we want to hear about it!
At NICA, we recognize that high school mountain biking is made up of extraordinary individuals, which is why we established the NICA Awards in 2010 to honor student-athletes, coaches, volunteers and partners that have made outstanding contributions toward the development of high school cycling. View the 2010 NICA Awards Recipients here.
We are now accepting nominations for the 2011 NICA Awards to be held January 14th, 2012 at the CLIF Bar Headquarters in Emeryville, CA. Head over to the NICA Awards webpage to view nomination categories or nominate someone who has made a difference to you. Nominations will be accepted until November 15th to include Fall Leagues.
Quick Spin With Ben Capron
Why did you decide to join the NICA team?
While on sabbatical from Specialized this winter, it hit me that I needed to fully commit myself to working with NICA. As a kid and throughout my life, riding has been a hugely powerful force. But my love for the bike isn’t unique; you can’t miss seeing passion in the eyes of every NICA student-athlete. That’s what this is all about – switching kids onto riding to improve their lives and the world we live in. I feel so lucky and honored to join the NICA staff and the larger NICA community on our mission to bring riding to teens coast to coast.
What do you see as the most important thing NICA has to offer youth?
The opportunity to know how much better life is as a rider . . . seriously, riding makes you feel great, sharpens your mind, gets you around under your own steam and builds character. There are lots of people riding who wouldn't be if high school mountain biking wasn't around. And 99% of them said they’d keep riding the rest of their lives. The more the movement grows, the more people will have better lives thanks to biking.
Why isn’t there a high school team in every high school?
Well, there are some areas where every high school has a team, like Marin County. As new leagues mature and areas without leagues establish them, the percentage of high schools with teams will grow. I believe that one day all high schools will have teams. It might take a while, but it will happen. And then people will be asking, "What do you mean, there wasn't always high school mountain biking?"
Read More . . .
Inside Look with Paula Rogers, SoCal League
Based in Santa Clarita, southern California, Paula Rogers was looking for the right sport opportunity for her very athletic son Jesse, a boy with Asperger’s syndrome whose father is a former pro cyclist. In a remarkably short time, she had created mountain biking opportunities for students across a whole school district.
How did you get involved with the SoCal League?
Jesse and I competed in events together. We went to a mountain bike relay race, where a friend, Gary Hansen of Wounded Warriors, told me he’d heard there was a high school league. I went home, looked it up, and found Matt Gunnell. I went to the SoCal Leaders’ Summit, came home and set up teams in four high schools. We had 16 riders, and it was named the Hart District Mountain Bike Race Team. In the second year we’ve grown to 23 riders.
How’s it working out for Jesse?
It’s going great! He’s a very strong rider, he finished fourth in the SoCal League and eighth in the State Championship, and his team-mates totally respect him. We also have one other student on the team with Asperger’s.
Read More . . .
NICA MTB Adventure
An organizational retreat on the best trails of Moab!
Join us on this one-of-a-kind experience! The NICA MTB Adventure, to be held October 19th-23rd, is an all-inclusive adventure tour on the best trails in Moab. Guided by the world renowned Western Spirit Cycling Adventures, this fully-supported and professionally guided tour will take you on a slew of famous trails and rides including Hurrah Pass, Amasa Back, Slick Rock, and the Whole Enchilada, a trail widely considered to be one of the top-5 trails in the country! This amazing experience will take you over incredibly diverse ecosystems and terrains, and even includes a 5,000’ descent from Burro Pass in the La Sal Mountains all the way down to the Green River in Moab Valley. Make sure to reserve your spot today! (Send a note to [email protected], webpage to be posted soon)
Bring "With My Own Two Wheels" To Your School
Last summer, brothers Jacob and Isaac Seigel-Boettner (both UC Berkeley and Cal Cycling alums) and Ian Wexler traveled around the world to shoot a documentary about the bicycle as a vehicle for social, economic, and environmental change. The final product was With My Own Two Wheels, a 44-minute long film that weaves together stories of two-wheeled empowerment in Zambia, Ghana, India, Guatemala and Santa Barbara, CA. You can find out more about the film here.
This coming academic year, the filmmakers plan to screen the film at middle schools and high schools across the country. They are working with World Bicycle Relief on a classroom discussion and activity guide that will provide a framework for teachers to weave the bicycle and the stories in the film into their lessons. In addition, a student grassroots advocacy kit will provide inspired students with all of the tools they need to organize events with the goal to get bicycles to those who need them most, whether it be through a used bicycle drive for a local bike kitchen, or a fundraiser ride for World Bicycle Relief.
The filmmakers are looking for inspired teachers, coaches, parents and student racers who would like to bring With My Own Two Wheels to their classrooms and auditoriums. They will provide the film, the activity and discussion guide, and (schedule permitting) one of the members of the three-man crew to come speak about the film and their experiences as mountain bike racers turned activist-filmmakers. Screening events can be tailored to all class or assembly sizes and subject areas, from school-wide assemblies, to small classroom discussion and filmmaking workshops.
If you are interested in bringing the film to your school, please contact Jacob Seigel-Boettner at [email protected] with your school's name in the subject field. He will send you a copy of the activity guide and a preview screener of the film in late-July so you can decide how best to bring With My Own Two Wheels to your school and community.