May 26 For me and countless others, riding a bike is one of the simplest joys in life. But in professional cycling there has been a dark side. It bre


May 26

For me and countless others, riding a bike is one of the simplest joys in life. But in professional cycling there has been a dark side. It breaks my heart to see how doping has destroyed many lives. But as we see the deception exposed, I am hopeful a new generations of racers is learning from these tragic lessons.

Several years ago we banned caffeine in high school competition. We did this for one simple reason: we were starting to see some riders (and coaches) using caffeine, a known performance enhancing stimulant, to get a competitive boost. We want our riders and coaches to question that mentality and have discussions on the matter. Our ethics in sport reflect our ethics in life. We’ve always focused our programs on being about much more than racing, in positive, character-building ways.

So banning caffeine wasn’t about taking away a competitive edge, but giving everyone the opportunity to live out the ideal of competition among friends based on training and whatever talents you bring to the start line. I do not believe that any amount of rules and testing are enough in any sport: we must depend and trust the integrity of our coaches and riders.

With NICA alumni already racing at the profession level where doping may never go away completely, it may be that some our riders are already facing this dilemma. I believe I can speak on behalf of all of the NICA coaches and parents when I tell our young riders: never let the cheating of others erode your integrity – there is much more to life than winning bike races. We don't want our programs to promote the idea that any amount of winning, wealth, or celebrity could ever mean more than the simple joy of riding a bike with a clear conscious.

Grazie e ciao a tutti–
Matt Fritzinger

Anna Urias Albany

Anna racing at NorCal Race #3 in Monterey.

Student Spotlight on Anna Menzel, NorCal League

Anna Menzel is a student on the Albany High School team. Recently she spent some time interning in the NorCal office. We asked her about that time and her thoughts on high school mountain biking in general.

What are the main things you get from being part of the school mountain bike team?
The main thing I get from being on our school team is a really close group of people that are great to be around. The practices also allow you to simply relax and just ride after a long school day.

Is high school mountain bike racing just about mountain bike racing?
In some ways it is, but it's also testing your individual skills and challenging yourself with personal goals.

What made you decide to intern at the NorCal League office and how was the experience?
I wanted to intern for an organization that I knew and supported. It was awesome, everyone in the office is amazing, especially Vanessa. It was great getting to know all the people who make the NorCal League possible.

Why do you think so many students, when they get switched onto cycling through mountain biking, can see themselves cycling for the rest of their lives?
I think it's because biking, especially mountain biking, gives people that "cardio high" and has the physical requirements of an endurance sport plus the adrenaline rush of more extreme sports like snowboarding or skateboarding. Also unlike other sports, like basketball or baseball, you're not confined to a gym or field. Biking can be done anywhere and the people in cycling communities are cool people.

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NICA Expedition

Our leagues are built on the strong belief that while racing serves as a great motivator, it is not the ultimate end to our work. Among other things, the bicycle is a mode of transportation, great for health, pure joy or . . . as a vehicle to explore the great outdoors.

This summer, August 1-4, on the epic Tahoe Rim Trail, a select group of NICA staff and coaches will be hosting a NICA Expedition for 12 youth riders. This pilot program is open to all NICA student-athletes currently in 10th, 11th and 12th grade (2010-2011 school year) who have participated in at least 3 races, but will be limited to 12 student-athletes. In addition, participants will need a recommendation from their coach.

Riders will immerse themselves in the beautiful Tahoe Rim Trail for a 5-day adventure. Each day will greet riders with a breakfast cooked over a campfire. The day’s adventure will begin with a ride over some of the world’s most beautiful single track, with riders facing daily challenges ranging from snow-capped mountains to technical singletrack.

For details and registration information, go to NICA Expedition.


Team Talk with Woodcrest Christian High School

The Woodcrest Christian High School Team has been close to the top of the SoCal League all season, and this year walked away from the California State Championships with the Division 1 Freshman Boys’ title. We talked to the David Peery to learn more about his program.

Please give us a brief history of the Woodcrest Christian High School program.
This is the second season for Woodcrest. Our school is a very small private school with only 360 students in grades 9-12. We were approved as a Varsity sport last year by the administration.

How many riders do you have - what's the male/female ratio?
We ended the season with 17 riders, 5 of which are female. We were fortunate to field a nice sized team for the size of our was like 5% of the entire student body at the beginning of the season.

What are your strongest impressions from the state championships this year?
Matt Gunnell and crew did an excellent job at putting on the first California State Championship in Southern California, everything seemed to go so smoothly! I really enjoyed our team being able to spend one more weekend camping out as families and having a great time which is one of my favorite things about the league and for me personally seeing my younger son Tanner come across the line as the Division 1 Freshmen Boys State Champion was an unbelievable experience.

What are the greatest strengths of the team?
Obviously I think we have lots of great riders based upon this season's results but I think our team has built a great camaraderie not just amongst the riders but also the parents. In addition, our team is very fortunate to have such supportive parents, they put in countless hours assisting with coaching and supporting our team and the League at all of the races.

What are the major challenges you have faced in getting the team to where it is now?
Initially just getting the team approved by the school was challenging. This season my biggest challenge was managing our very rapid growth. Last season we had 8 riders most of whom had been riding already. This season we started with 22 riders and pretty much all but the 8 returning riders had no experience on a mountain bike. Trying to figure out how to train them, get them bikes and handle the logistics of 22 teenagers was a challenge!!

Admittedly the challenges a new team can face vary locally and regionally, but within the known variables what would you suggest a new team director should focus on?
Getting the kids excited about riding is foremost in my mind. Training them to be technically proficient and fast is great but ultimately creating a positive atmosphere where the kids can have a great time racing should be the ultimate goal.

NICA Wish Shirt

Gear up For Summer

Feeling a little bummed now that the Spring racing season is over? There’s no better way to cure your post-NICA season blues than with a new NICA shirt!

The new NICA “Wish” T-shirts feature a prominent NICA logo on the front, and the oft-repeated phrase of parents and enthusiasts alike on the back. Declare your love for youth mountain biking by proudly displaying the popular sentiment, “I wish they had this when we were in school!” Shirts are priced at $23.95 and are in-stock now!

While you’re looking at shirts, don’t forget to check out the various league specific goods available. We now have water bottles, cycling caps, and new Washington League cycling apparel. Also, take a look at our special on Maxxis tires !


Signpost: Summertime Ahead

By Dario Fredrick, NICA Physiological Advisor

Can you feel it? It’s the sign of summer ahead, warm weather, longer days and more time to ride your bike. It brings a sense of excitement and anticipation, with many opportunities to ride, race and have fun. You may have just completed the 2011 high school season or are looking ahead to the Fall season start. In either case, summertime is an excellent opportunity to train and race, and being prepared for summer conditions can make all the difference.

With summer comes plenty of sunshine and often hotter conditions. Hydration is the most important practice to consider, and the easiest rule of thumb is to drink at least one medium-sized water bottle per hour during your rides or races. It’s easy to forget about drinking, since the body’s thirst mechanism is delayed and doesn’t tell us when we need fluid until it’s too late. Start drinking at the beginning of your ride or race and keep the water coming in. Consider your training ride routes and water availability, and plan on carrying enough fluid to keep yourself hydrated, whether that means wearing a hydration pack or an extra bottle in your jersey pocket.

The main opportunity to staying hydrated actually happens off the bike. Drink water throughout the day, with the goal of approximately 2-3 liters per day. That’s the equivalent of 4-5 medium-sized cycling water bottles. Soda and energy drinks don’t count as they typically contain large amounts of caffeine, which is actually dehydrating.

What about drink mix? There are so many sports nutrition products out there, knowing what to add to your bottles can be confusing. Plain water is still the most hydrating substance for our bodies, but replenishing minerals lost through sweat can help too. Sodium is the primary mineral/ electrolyte lost during exercise and in smaller quantities potassium, calcium and magnesium as well. During rides longer than one hour, drinking a light mix with some sodium (~180 mg per small, 16 oz bottle or ~200 mg per large, 20 oz water bottle) can increase the rate of absorption of fluid. If your mix also has carbohydrate, avoid mixing in too much. Aim for about 5-6% or roughly 20 gm of carbohydrate in a 16-20 oz water bottle. If you do use drink mix, consider having some plain water as well. Be conservative with how much mix you add at first, and always practice in training with your preferred mix before using it in races to be sure it works well for you.

Post-ride or race, be sure to rehydrate. During the course of a ride, even if you did a good job of drinking, your body will have lost more fluid than you put back in. This is apparent if you weigh yourself before and after a ride in which the difference is almost entirely due to fluid loss. Keep in mind that the order of importance of post-race or post-training replenishment is water, (light) sodium, carbohydrate then protein.

Go into the summer ready to deal with the rigors of riding in hotter conditions by keeping yourself hydrated. Drink plenty of water, not only on the bike, but off the bike as well. Go into rides and races prepared to replenish fluid loss. Enjoy the summertime, beat the heat and ride well!


May 15 CA State Championships at Los Olivos
May 24-June 14 SoCal Summer Outreach Tour (PDF)
June 20-21 NICA Invitational Camp at UC Santa Cruz
June 30 2012 League bids due
June 18 Colorado League Fundraiser Ride - Bailey HUNDO
August 1-5 NICA Expedition
September 11 NorCal League Chileno Valley Cycling Classic

Full NICA Calendar

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