|Message from the NICA Director
Last week was an epic one for NICA. Thanks to Colorado League director Kate Rau and the supportive role of so many Coloradans, we saw a record field at the opening race in Nathrop, Colorado. Our operations manager, Chris Spencer, caught a defining moment in this video, making the start of the first race simply electric.
A few days later we announced three new NICA Leagues at Interbike alongside our talented new founders from Minnesota, Texas and Washington. Things are looking good for high school mountain biking and I'm looking forward to our next round of opening races!
Recently, we also quietly launched a new NICA website. A BIG thanks to Curtis Design, Foraker and Lee McCormack for all the hard work. The content here will grow, starting with information about the NICA coaches license program. Thanks for your support!
New NICA Leagues!
It’s with great pleasure that we introduce three new Leagues into the NICA family: Texas, Washington and Minnesota. Thanks to the hard work of Vance McMurry, Lisa Miller and Gary Sjoquist, student athletes in three key states will click in and enjoy competitive racing in 2012.
Project League status has been awarded to Texas and Washington, while Minnesota is now an Emerging League, with plans to advance to Project League status in 2011. For more information on what this means, click here.
Colorado League racing has begun!
On Sunday, September 19, 144 high school student athletes competed in the first Colorado NICA race at Chalk Creek Ranch in Nathrop. League director Kate Rau was joined by NICA director Matt Fritzinger on a historic day for the Centennial State athletes.
After an initial double track climb from the ranch’s flat grazing area, riders rode single track along a picturesque plateau with a few short climbs. Some rocky sections offered intermediate challenges, and a technical descent dropped riders onto a fast railroad grade. Before the long and fast finishing ranch road stretch, riders negotiated a challenging single track trail in the riverside woods. With approximately 500 climbing feet per lap, it was a good opening course for first-time racers.
Congratulations to all the students, coaches, volunteers and parents! Second race is scheduled for October 3 at Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Fraser. Click here for a complete race report with photos.
Upcoming Leadership Summits in California
The NorCal High School Mountain Bike League’s annual Leaders’ Summit brings together coaches, assistant coaches, ride leaders, and parent volunteers—both new and experienced—to develop skills and knowledge, share strategies, and build community. This conference will promote a holistic approach to coaching that creates an environment in which young people can grow and thrive. This is a great opportunity to spend a weekend in the company of peers and energize for the upcoming season. Register here today. Also, a SoCal Leader’s Summit convenes Oct. 23-24 in Riverside, CA. Click here for more information. Highly recommended for current and future league founders!
Quick Spin with Clif Bar’s Eric Russell
NICA board member Eric Russell heads Clif Bar & Company’s sales efforts in the foodservice, vending and internet channels. He first met NICA director Matt Fritzinger several years ago when he worked in the athlete sponsorship group, when Fritz was coaching the Berkeley High team. Eleven years ago Clif Bar had only 60 employees: the company now employs 250 and has expanded into a bigger facility in Emeryville.
How and when did you get involved with bicycling?
I started out riding my bike to school with a friend back in grade school, and it was no easy stroll looking back at it! It was a good 5 miles each way with a good, I'd even say maybe a cat 4, climb on the way. I stuck with it in high school and even tried out my legs racing for a local bike shop for a couple of years. I didn't think much of it then, but looking back I think it's pretty cool that I got into it so early. I remember crashing riding no handed (while descending and looking for my friend behind me) in middle school, biking through rain, cold, and snow, dealing with traffic, all on my ride to and from school. Maybe that's why I like cyclo-cross so much?
Why is high school mountain biking important to you?
There are so many benefits from it: bicycling gets kids out in nature and not only teaches them all that the outdoors offers us but also that we have to take care of the places we play. It's a low impact endurance sport, and with the way the obesity rate in kids is going now it's a much needed sport to throw into the mix for kids to choose from. It teaches independence while also having a team aspect; the skills and interest can go beyond high school and college and really be integrated into peoples lives.
You and your wife Rochelle just moved into house in Marin County. Tell me about the riding scene in your area.
It's unreal here! There are dirt and road group rides a couple times per day, every day. And it's so ingrained in the culture here, from the retailers, coffee shops of course, families with little kids out on technical singletrack, Safe Routes To Schools, community artwork, government agencies, it's everywhere. It's awesome to see! We are probably bringing down the average with our 9 bikes in the garage!
Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day October 2
NICA partners with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), which is organizing its sixth annual Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day on the first Saturday of October.
IMBA's International Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day celebrates the life of Jack Doub, an avid teenage mountain biker from North Carolina who had a true passion for the sport from an early age but passed away in 2002. Click here for more information.
Off the bike is still Game On!
By Dario Fredrick, NICA Physiological Advisor
While many riders take time off the bike during this part of the year, it doesn’t mean you can’t improve your riding in other ways. Cross training activities can help maintain or build fitness, balance and focus, all of which translate to better riding.
Fitness can be maintained through a variety of ways. Choose an activity that is both fun and challenging so that you can gain training benefit. A few examples include running, hiking, swimming, soccer, ultimate Frisbee, and snow shoeing or cross country skiing for those in snow climates. Each of these activities helps build fitness and endurance, or the body’s ability to produce work continuously over a period of time. Once you get back on the bike, the engine will be already pre-tuned and the legs will follow suit soon after.
Balance is clearly important when it comes to bike handling skills. Activities that combine dynamic balance and coordination are excellent such as yoga, cross country running, skiing or snowboarding. Combining an increased sense of balance with consistent technical practice when you get back on the bike will help bring your skills to another level.
Focus is a key element to performing well in any activity, and particularly in mountain bike racing. It is easy to become distracted with so many things happening in a race. But with sharp focus it’s easier to find the “flow”, a state where you and the bike are one operating as a single, coordinated unit. Activities that sharpen focus can include movement practices in which your attention is fully engaged. Examples include yoga, Pilates, core exercises or strength training.
Incorporating cross training into your off season means that time off the bike can help improve your time on the bike. Maintain fitness with fun activities, develop balance in creative ways and practice focus on body movements. Combining these three elements in the off season will translate to improvements when the season is on.