WELCOME TO THE 2011 SOCAL RACING SERIES Coaches. We have come to that point of the season that everything has been building toward. Race #1 is this w

Coaches. We have come to that point of the season that everything has been building toward. Race #1 is this weekend. For returning coaches there is a fair amount of anxiety as people wonder if their training sessions were enough, if their equipment will work, if they will be able to get everyone to staging in time, if all of the riders will meet their personal goals, and myriad other worries. For new coaches, all of those items are piled on top of the unknown as (in some cases) they've never guided riders and families into a race weekend and (in other cases) they've never been to a high school race themselves. With the reality that these worries will go through our minds no matter what, I encourage you to take time to simply relish the joy you will be a part of with riders and families out riding bikes, sharing stories, and just plain old having a great time. This is a fantastic sport we are all passionate about and your passion has helped your clubs and the League grow with so many great student-athletes. You should all be proud of the huge amount of work you've put in to get to this point in the season!

Online Race Registration closes tonight (March 2) at midnight. If you have rider who do not register but plan on racing, they can register at the race. However, race day registration comes with a $10 late race registration fee and a $10 late League registration fee, making it $20 extra to register on the day of the race. We can take cash and checks on race day. No credit cards. You can help us by making sure that you get all of your riders to registration when they open at 8:00 AM Sunday. If a rider is already "race ready," it will simply be a matter of picking up a number plate.

Riders are not ready to race until they have registered online, paid for the race, filled out the forms and returned them to the NICA office. They may fax their forms to the NICA office at (510) 743-4207 but, if they don't already show as race ready online, please have them bring the signed forms with them to registration Sunday morning.

The SoCal League is instituting two important changes this year and, with enough people currently registered, we are able to announce the official fields and waves for the SoCal League season. The first is that we are competing in three waves with all girls' fields in wave 1, Sophmore and Freshman boys' fields competing in wave 2, and Varsity and JV boys' fields competing in wave 3.

Our teams are now split into two divisions; division 1 and division 2 (D1/D2). D1 teams are returning single school clubs with at least 12 riders on their rosters. D2 teams are all other teams. Divisions are primarily based on club size with D1 clubs scoring more riders for team scoring. A complete list of clubs with which division they are competing in is on the TEAMS page of the website.

Due to large numbers of male riders we are splitting Freshman boys, Sophmore boys, and JV boys into two fields each. This is primarily along division lines except that all independent riders will be racing in division 1 fields. Each individual field will receive a podium ceremony, medals, and a Leaders jersey. Riders will compete in the same field the entire season unless they petition to race in a different category (ie: mover from JV to Varsity).

Please download and review the updated Vail Lake Challenge flyer and confirm your riders' fields and start times!

There will be no call ups for race #1. All subsequent races will have call ups that will be communicated ahead of time. This means you must be diligent about having your riders arrive at staging when their field is called. We have staging officials assigned. Please pay attention to their instructions. No cutting in line or ducking under course tape is allowed. Riders caught cutting into a field will be sent to the back of the field.

Coaches. You can help this process by having your riders ready to report to staging WHEN they are called. They should not crowd the staging area ahead of their call ups. You can also have discussions with riders regarding their goals. Newer riders with less skill and strength whose primary goal is just to finish the race may not be well served by staging at the front row of a large field. Conversely, a rider who is gung ho and very strong and skilled, might feel frustration starting at the back end of a field. You know your riders best and are in the best position to counsel them.

We appreciate greatly all of the coaches who have helped round up volunteers from clubs assigned to the race! We also appreciate all those who have answered the call either as a season volunteer or as a race volunteer even though their club is not assigned. That said, we could still use some extra folks for Sunday. Especially for course marshaling. It's a long day but it's a critical job! If you have anyone else on your clubs who just wants to work, send their names and emails to matt@socaldirt.org ASAP. The big volunteer information email will go out tomorrow afternoon.

The Pit Zone will be available for tent and equipment drop off by early Saturday afternoon at the latest. Pit Zone spots are first come first serve however all spots are good! Only one car per club may drop off in the Pit Zone at a time. Pit Zone drop offs may also be made early Sunday morning beginning at 8:00 AM. Please be patient and drive carefully if you have a vehicle moving into or out of the Pit Zone. Spots are approximately 10'x20' or the equivalent area.

We will have a large podium ceremony at the conclusion of racing. This will happen as soon as the infield area is wrapped up which can not begin until the last rider is in. We understand we have both an extra wave and additional fields so the day will be longer than in years past. We will do what we can to expedite the ceremony but absolutely want to make sure everyone earning awards is fully appreciated. You can help us by letting your club members and parents know that ALL are welcome to help with infield takedown (we did it in record time last year when everyone pitched in) once the signal to begin is given. You can also help us by having your riders and parents come to the ceremony as quickly as possible once it is announced. Finally, if you have racers who place on the podium, it's always a great idea to have them wear a team jersey for the photographs!

The course will be open for pre-ride Saturday between 1:00-5:00 PM and Sunday between 8:00-9:30 AM. We strongly encourage all racers and coaches to pre-ride the course.

League Director Matt Gunnell will be acting in the capacity of Chief Referee on race day.

With great thanks to several donors at CycleFest we have funding available to assist riders in financial difficulty with their race registration fees. We know that several resourceful clubs have set up internal race scholarship programs and we applaud this initiative. However, if you are a club or independent rider in need of assistance you can find a link to the scholarship form in the "Rules and Forms" section of the "Coaches Resource" page of the website.

The SoCal League recently launched a coach and staff only facebook group. Since the launch, coaches have been sharing ideas and information and the League has used the group to put timely information out to coaches. If you facebook, the group can be found HERE. Please feel free to use this group as a touchstone to share coaching ideas, coaching questions, and equipment and clothing exchanges.

4 of the 5 races the SoCal League is promoting this year have course and venue maps live at the Race page of the SoCal website. Take a look. We reserve the right to modify race course and venue to fit conditions.

There are several important dates to add to your coaching calendar. More information will be forthcoming but dates and locations (unless noted as tentative) are firm at this time:

• March 6. Race #1 at Vail Lake, Temecula.
SoCal Series opener.

• March 27. Race #2 at Keysville.

• April 10. Race #3 at Lake Arrowhead.

• May 1. Race #4 at Vail Lake, Temecula
SoCal Series finale on more challenging course.

• May 15. State Championships at Los Olivos.**

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