The spring season is nearly in full swing with all the excitement that come with the races. NorCal and SoCal had their opening races several weeks ago, and the Texas opener is coming next weekend. Soon after, the Washington race series will commence on March 25th. The NICA staff is cheering on all our teams and look forward to seeing you at a race soon.
Meanwhile, another kind of race is going on. Folks from eight different regions are vying to be the next NICA Project League (New York, West Virginia, Arizona, Georgia, Virginia, New Mexico, Maryland, and Tennessee). Starting a high school mountain bike league is no small task, so let's do more than just cheer these efforts on – if you hale from these regions do send us a note and we'll do our best to get you involved. Together we will bring high school mountain biking coast to coast by 2020.
See you on the trails,
Spring Racing Under Way
NICA's 2012 spring racing season is well underway, with three races completed between NorCal and SoCal and close to 800 student-athletes participating.
Due to some cold and stormy weather, the Texas League was forced to postpone their inaugural race, but riders, teams and coaches are itching to hit the trail. Vance McMurry, Director of the Texas League, said, "While we were sorry to postpone the race, it was necessary for the safety of the riders. This just means that on March 25th riders will be even more motivated to leave it all out on the trail!"
The Washington League will be hosting it's season opener at Fort Flagler, a great venue located on an island in Puget Sound. The second year league is expecting 20 teams to participate in its four-race series.
The SoCal League's second race was held at Wildwood Canyon State Park, marking the first time a high school mountain bike race has even been held in a California State Park.
If you haven't been to a NICA race before, now is a great time to experience one!
Hog Canyon Classic Race Report, SoCal League
The SoCal League held it's second race of the 2012 series at the Wildwood Canyon State Park. Over 285 student-athletes showed up amid sunny skies and dry weather to ride the new course, with a great combination of fire roads and swoopy single track.
The League's Director, Matt Gunnell, said of the event, "The racing was of the highest caliber and the straight uphill grass finish provided many great drag race style sprints that were thrilling to watch. Several new Leader Jerseys were awarded and some of those may change hands all season, as the competition is extremely tight. This was truly one of the best weekends of racing we've ever had in the SoCal League."
In the JV Girls category, a close race resulted in a rare scenario: twin sisters tied for the top spot in the overall standings. Reka Felenyi (Rim of the World High School) put in a great performance to win the race, while her sister, Dalma placed third after a tightly contested finish with Maddie Melcher (Redlands). With the Felenyi sisters tied for first in the overall standings, the family is set for an exciting season of racing!
With overall standings separated by only a few points in several categories, the SoCal League is looking forward to an exciting racing series.
Quick Spin with Coach Adam Haverstock, NorCal League
Quick Spin with Adam Haverstock, Head Coach of the GBK Preparatory School Mountain Bike Team in the NorCal League. The team hails from Santa Cruz, California, at a small public (charter) school with only 200 students. We caught up with Adam ahead of the NorCal League’s second race of the 2012 series.
Tell us about how long you've been coaching high school mountain biking.
I came on my role purely by accident. The former coach, a good friend, had an accident and was facing surgery. He called and asked for help while he was off the bike. At that time, the team was small and had only been participating in races for about a year.
I went to a practice and didn't know what to expect, very wary of making the commitment. I was hooked after that first practice.
I had a long racing career myself, but had fallen out of the sport. Riding with the kids got my soul going again. I had a way to help a younger generation find the love of the sport that I had known and the experience has rekindled the love of the sport in me. After a month of being an assistant coach, I was left to take the team on as head coach. I dove in head-first and haven’t looked back.
How would you describe your coaching philosophy?
Always keep it fun! That’s why we are all there, after all, to have fun. Some student athletes have that competitive drive and want to take cycling to another level, and I have helped put them on the path. But I wouldn’t even advocate that for a student if they didn’t express the interest first. Most kids want to just ride with their friends and have fun, even if they are really fast, and that’s ok! But when a kid comes to me and says “Coach, I want to go to the next level and really go for it” then I have a separate game plan for them that is more serious, more structured. At the end of the day, though, all that matters is that my kids are having a blast and are establishing a great relationship with the bike and the cycling culture to make it a part of their lives for years to come.
How has the team changed since you got involved?
In 2007, when I started, the team was a rag-tag group of six kids, casually riding, occasionally showing up at races. I added a little bit of structure and helped lay a foundation of skills and fitness to make sure kids could complete rides safely and with a smile on their face. We had practices where the kids did fun on-the-bike drills that they loved, but were really intervals or skills practice in disguise.
Word spread and now we have 18 student-athletes on the High School team with only 200 students enrolled at the school. We also have a junior high team practicing with us as an introduction to the sport. So total kids including my Junior High riders is 22 kids.
NICA is excited to offer a series of free webinars to develop coaching skills and knowledge, share strategies, and build community. All webinars are taught by seasoned coaches and are a great opportunity for both new and experienced coaches to improve their skills.
In addition, each webinar provides 1.5 Continuing Education Units (more information at NICA Continuing Education). While new coaches are encouraged to participate, these webinars are not intended to be a substitute for attending a Leaders' Summit, which are held annually by each League.
Participation requires a computer with internet access and a phone line. Questions may be directed to Austin McInerny, NICA Education Director (firstname.lastname@example.org).
March 21 How to Start & Manage a High School MTB Team (Matt Gunnell, SoCal League Director)
March 22 How to Start & Manage a High School MTB Team (Ken Mozek, San Ramon Valley)
March 26 Creating Effective Training Rides (Paul Chourre, Drake HS)
March 27 Risk Management & Insurance Overview (Austin McInerny, NICA Education Director)
April 2 Risk Management & Insurance Overview (Austin McInerny, NICA Education Director)
April 3 Securing Sponsors and Fundraising Ideas (Lee Bird, St. Francis HS)
April 9 Working and Motivating Parents and Volunteers (Mauricio Barba, John Burroughs HS)
April 17 Becoming an Official School Sport (Pete Kirkham, Hemet HS)
May 8 Tips for Recruiting, Retaining, and Coaching Girls (Pete Kirkham, Hemet HS)
May 15 Getting Dirty: How to Get High School Student Athletes to Contribute to Trail Work (Steve Messer, Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association)
Colorado CycleFest Hosted by Tom Danielson
Tom Danielson, a world-class professional cyclist with roots on the mountain bike, will be showing his support of the Colorado High School Cycling League when he hosts the 3rd Annual CycleFest.
The event will include a benefit dinner on May 5th in Denver, CO hosted by Tom Danielson. The evening will include a silent auction, live music, dinner and evening entertainment by both Tom Danielson and league student-athletes.
The event continues on Sunday, May 6th with a benefit road ride in Boulder, CO for all levels.
All proceeds will benefit the promotion of the league's high school mountain bike programs in Colorado.
The Trek Dirt Series is a traveling mountain bike technical skills instruction program offering personalized instruction, professional programming, and an incredibly skilled and enthusiastic coaching staff.
The annual calendar includes sixteen women’s specific and two co-ed weekend camps, cross-country and downhill focuses, and small skill-specific groups geared to beginner, intermediate, and advanced participants.
Everywhere the program has gone, it has left a community of inspired mountain bikers in its wake. From those picking up mountain biking as a new outdoor sport, to those breaking through barriers after years of experience, the Dirt Series has created a legacy of fun, support, energy, and success.
For a complete list of dates and locations, additional information, and registration opportunities, please visit www.dirtseries.com.
▪ March 20–22 NICA Attends National Bike Summit (Washington, DC)