January 26, 2011 Director's Note The 2011 season is quickly building momentum, and the first races of the year are taking shape. We recently launche


January 26, 2011

Director's Note

The 2011 season is quickly building momentum, and the first races of the year are taking shape. We recently launched our newly built NICA Pit Zone, a place where team directors, coaches, parents and students can register for races, coaches licenses and access information. Mountain bikes are becoming highly advanced, so why shouldn’t NICA?

This is also a busy time of year for skills camps and clinics. NICA’s Skills Development Director Lee McCormack is developing the curriculum that NICA coaches use to teach their athletes to ride with more safety, confidence (and speed), based on his popular book, and will be in NorCal Jan. 30 to lead a coaches' skills camp (and is open to all adults).

Lastly, we were thrilled at the turn-out of coaches at our Washington Leaders Summit this past weekend – it's clear this new League is off to a great start. Thanks also the hospitality and fantastic rides!

Matt Fritzinger
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NICA Awards Dinner report

The spacious auditorium at Clif Bar & Company’s new headquarters in Emeryville, CA was packed to the walls for the first annual NICA Awards Dinner on January 8. Students, coaches, visionaries and volunteers were honored for their contribution to the sport. Thanks to everyone behind the scenes and in front of the cameras for making it an enjoyable celebration. Here’s more information on the award winners plus photos.

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Lee McCormack and students of his 2010 skills camp. Photo: Jon Suzuki

January 30 Skills Clinic with Lee McCormack

Top MTB skills coach Lee McCormack is returning to Camp Tamarancho in Marin, California on Sunday, Jan. 30. The skills clinic is for beginner to advanced adults who want to better their skills as mountain bikers. Half the day is in the classroom, followed by half a day on the bike.

“I learned a ton when I attended,” said NorCal League director Vanessa Hauswald. “I went to Moab two weeks after I took the clinic, and I rode stuff I would never have considered riding before; seriously! Lee is only in the Bay Area a few times a year and this opportunity does not come around all the time.”

Mark your calendars for January 30, 2011 from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. at Camp Tamarancho in Marin. Come prepared to ride! Class size is limited to 20. For more information, contact Lauren@nationalmtb.org or register here.

Washington League Leader's Summit Report

The fledgling Washington High School Cycling League set a new NICA record by attracting 35 participants to its inaugural Leaders’ Summit in Snoqualmie, Washington, near Seattle, January 22-23.

In setting this record, the Washington League surpassed the other new school cycling leagues in Colorado and southern California. The Washington League currently has Project status, not full Chapter status, in the NICA structure.

Summit attendee Liana Campus said, “I am so excited to have attended the Leaders' Summit this past weekend. As a NorCal High School MTB alum I know how wonderful mountain biking can be for high schoolers—both physically and mentally, and can not wait to help bring this amazing program to Washington. We have a lot of work ahead of us but with the tireless work of Lisa (Miller, Washington League director) and the NICA team I know it can be done.”

The Leaders’ Summit is a training weekend that forms the education backbone of League leaders. It brings together everyone that is interested in becoming a coach, an assistant coach, parent volunteer, and ride leader to develop skills and knowledge, share strategies, and build community. It is a unique opportunity for participants learn all about the Washington League, how to start a mountain bike team, how to work with their schools, issues related to liability, and the intricacies of working with high school cyclists.

Quick Spin with Nat Lopes

California native Nat Lopes wears many hats in the bike industry, and NICA is fortunate to have him as its Strategic Planning & Development director. This mountain-bike loving world traveler has a great story to share below.

When and how did you get pulled into the mountain bike world?
In junior high school a friend of mine took me for my first mountain bike ride in Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa, CA. I was in great shape from running cross country and track and we spent all day riding the single track trails, swimming in Lake Ilsanjo and eating blackberrys in the woods. I loved being able to cover so much more ground, than when I was running and it opened up this whole new world of exploration, that I could ride to from my house. About halfway up the first climb, the trail opened up into this huge meadow surrounded by big redwood trees. The strong sun was evaporating the morning dew as a group of deer ate grass and a pair of red tailed hawks soared overhead, it was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen and I knew right then I was hooked for life.

Tell us about your IMBA days.
For three years my wife Rachael and I had the amazing opportunity to travel across North America as part of the acclaimed Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew program. We travelled year round and eventually made it to 46 States, 9 Canadian Provinces and all the way down into Mexico.

Along the way we visited hundreds of destination riding areas, trail systems, and bike parks and had the honor to work with and train thousands of dedicated volunteers and land managers from every major land management agency in the United States including the National Park Service, National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Army Corps of Engineers on the how-to design, construct and manage sustainable trails and trails systems. We also had the opportunity to meet many of the legends of the sport from lobbing on Capital Hill in Washington, D.C. with Ned Overend, to riding the North Shore of Vancouver with Wade Simmons.

And, we had the opportunity to work in many unique locations from building new trails in Anchorage, Alaska and watching glaciers calve into Prince William Sound, to planning trails in Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii, watching fresh lava pour into the pacific ocean. It was an incredible experience to be able to work for such an amazing grassroots organization alongside some of the most dedicated volunteers, passionate land managers and experienced trail professionals in the country. If you are not an IMBA member and you ride a mountain bike, you should be!

How did you connect with NICA?
I started working with NICA as a consultant back in 2009, when NICA was still just an idea. It was an extremely exciting time getting ready to launch the national effort working on everything from vision and mission statements, to launching the website, to strategic planning and corporate development. It has been pedal to the metal ever since!

Explain what Hilride is all about, and how it got started.
Hilride provides consulting services for the development of sustainable destination riding areas, trails, trails systems, and bike parks. In 2007 Rachael and I launched Hilride, to build and expand on the expertise we gained from our experience with IMBA. Our mission is to realize the potential of the global mountain biking movement as force for economic development, environmental conservation and the promotion of healthy active communities.

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Nat Lopes experiences the Big Island NorCal-style. Photo: Rachael Lopes/Hilride

We love traveling and riding in new locations, and we especially love having a diverse range of projects, clients and work environments. Our projects have included; creating a mountain bike tourism development plan for the region of Istria in the country of Croatia, designing lift-access bike park trail systems for Schweitzer Mountain Resort in Sandpoint, Idaho and Moonlight Basin Resort in Big Sky, Montana, master planning multi-use trail systems in the Kula Forest reserve on Maui, to designing municipal bike parks across the western US, and filming and producing videos for IMBA and the Outdoor Alliance.

What are some of the current Hilride projects on your desk?
Right now we are working on some very exciting projects including designing a brand new 14.1 acre municipal bike park in Marin County called Stafford Lake Bike Park, master planning an 8,000-acre multiuse trail system for for Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park and the East Bay Regional Park District and producing a documentary film, a series of articles and a website for an organization called the Outdoor Alliance to help protect Colorado's amazing national forest roadless areas, you can learn more at www.coloradoroadlessproject.com.

What's it like working with Rachael every day?
It's the best part of my job and I am not just saying that because she is technically my boss (Hilride is registered as an official Womens Business Enterprise WBE). For the last seven years we have done everything together, from traveling to every single state in the US and 15 different countries around the world, to riding, filming, photographing, training, presenting, writing, designing, etc. It's not always easy, but we love what we do and we love each other.

What gets you amped about high school mountain biking?
The first time I went to a high school mountain bike race was in 2009 at the NorCal season opener in Fort Ord. I was stunned to see the hundreds of riders, the Pit Zone packed with team encampments, fleets of girls warming up on wind trainers in full race kits, the course lined with spectators, it was nothing less than incredible!

It gets me amped to think about how much riding has been an influence in my life and provided me with some incredible opportunities and then to see this next generation of riders, learning how to ride, train, compete and just have fun exploring the natural world, while being encouraged and supported by an incredible network of dedicated coaches, parents, volunteers, staff and a whole range of racing, camps and programs. I gets me amped to think that we are bringing the sport that I love so much, to thousands of young riders in high school across the country!


Specialized Factory Team rider Todd Wells racing the 2009 national championships in Colorado. Photo: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Feb. 6: Dirt Roll (NorCal)

The 2nd Annual Dirt Roll, a benefit ride to ensure that kids have safe roads and great trails, is February 6, 2011. Specialized Factory Team racers Todd Wells and Lea Davison will be riding, and proceeds from the Dirt Roll will go towards the ongoing advocacy work being conducted by the Marin County Bicycle Coalition and the NorCal League.

The Dirt Roll will offer both recreational and competitive cyclists the opportunity to participate in a fun and well organized event. The event will start at the San Geronimo Golf Course in Fairfax, California on the morning of the Super Bowl. You can join the supported mountain bike, or road bike, ride through the famous Camp Tamarancho or the bucolic backroads of Marin County. After the ride, head back to the San Geronimo Golf Course for a BBQ, with local beverages, new friends and the big game!

Adult participants are asked to raise a minimum of $125 to join the fundraising event, youth participants are asked to raise a minimum of $75. Register here.

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Feb. 19: Paramount Ranch Roundup (SoCal)

The Paramount Ranch Roundup is a benefit ride taking place at historic Paramount Ranch in the Agoura Hills area of the Santa Monica National Recreation Area on February 19, 2011. The course is a 2.5-mile loop composed of single and double track trails winding through areas that have been used for filming since 1927. Each lap of the course brings riders down “Main Street” of the western town movie backdrop where teams are encouraged to set up their tents to support their riders and live music will urge riders on.

Adult participants are asked to raise a minimum of $125 to join the fundraising event, youth participants are asked to raise a minimum of $75. Register here.

NICA Sponsorship Update

Planning and executing a fun and memorable race season in different leagues around the country takes experience, time, manpower and resources to run smoothly. NICA is grateful to have the support of its many sponsors, and would like to acknowledge the latest companies to provide support in 2011, including Maxxis, Fox Racing SHOX, Adidas Eyewear, Crankbrothers, Kinetic Trainers, Wilderness Trail Bicycles (WTB), Ritchey Design, and Quality Bicycle Products (QBP). Support the supporters of the high school mountain bike revolution! Contact Nat Lopes if you’d like to get your company involved.

Become a NICA Trailblazer

Managing the growth and supporting infrastructure of high school mountain biking takes time, talent and resources. Your financial commitment is an essential part of NICA’s efforts! Read more about becoming a NICA Trailblazer here.


Jan. 30 NICA Skills Camp with Lee McCormack
Feb. 5 SoCal Bonelli Park Rider Camp
Feb. 6 SoCal Cheseboro Canyon Rider Camp
Feb. 6 2nd Annual Dirt Roll benefit ride at Camp Tamarancho
Feb. 19 SoCal Paramount Ranch Roundup benefit ride in Agoura Hills
Feb. 27 North-NorCal Prologue, Granite Bay, CA
Feb. 27 South-NorCal Prologue, East Garrison/Fort Ord (near Monterey, CA)
Mar. 6 SoCal Race #1 - Vail Lake Challenge at Vail Lake, Temecula
Mar. 13 NorCal Race #1 - Granite Bay Challenge, Granite Bay CA
Mar. 18 Washington League movie screening - “Life Cycles” (Seattle, WA @ REI Flagship Store)
Mar. 27 NorCal Race #2 - TBD (near Monterey, CA)
Mar. 27 SoCal Race #2 - Cruise the Keys at Keysville, Lake Isabella
Apr. 3 Washington League Race #1
Apr. 10 SoCal Race #3 - Power the Pinnacles at Lake Arrowhead
Apr. 10 NorCal Race #3 - Central Coast Invitational, East Garrison (near Monterey)
Apr. 14-17 Sea Otter Classic, Monterey, CA
May 1 NorCal Race #4 - Boggs Mountain Classic, near Cobb, CA
May 1 SoCal Finals at Vail Lake, Temecula
May 1 Washington League Race #2
May 15 CA State Championships at Los Olivos
June 30 2012 League bids due

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