Executive Director's Note
With visits and rides this past month in the midwest at Trek, SRAM and QBP, Singletrack High screenings in both Salt Lake C
Pbville Pedalers High School Mountain Bike Team ride with GU Energy's Brian Vaughan, NICA's Austin McInerny and Singletrack High producer Jacob Seigel-Boettner
Executive Director's Note
With visits and rides this past month in the midwest at Trek, SRAM and QBP, Singletrack High screenings in both Salt Lake City and at the Leadville 100, I have been fortunate to travel far and wide in support of the growing high school cycling movement. No matter where I might be, the student-athletes, coaches and NICA supporters that I speak with all share a similar positive outlook for the future of youth cycling! With the generous support of many organizations and individuals, NICA has inspired thousands of adolescents and a growing legion of volunteer coaches to work within their communities to develop and grow school based cycling teams. The movement is stronger than ever and all of us at NICA are pleased to provide this month’s edition of the NICA News.
With the summer winding down and schools about to resume session, the fall NICA leagues have begun practices and are eagerly looking forward to their racing season. With registration still underway, we are beyond excited with the growth in our programs and look forward to more kids riding and racing this coming year than ever before! Both Utah and Minnesota will double in size from their first year while Arizona and Tennessee are gearing up for their inaugural race seasons. Meanwhile, Colorado League begins their 4th season stronger than ever and I am excited to announce that we are also piloting a new middle school program in Minnesota and look forward to reporting on this effort in the future.
In continuance of our focus on youth development, I am very honored to announce our new partnership with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Utilizing USADA’s excellent educational materials, we are providing our coaches with the best available tools to help inform participating student-athletes on issues of serious importance. I am also thrilled to announce that Optic Nerve has stepped-up as a Bronze Level sponsor and will be providing eyewear to all League Directors and key staff as well as supporting educational efforts concerning the importance of eye protection. Both of these partnerships are strongly rooted in our focus to educate youth.
Our Booster Club is growing steadily as more and more individuals step forward to help us grow our youth programs which are having dramatic results. Providing scenic routes and delicious meals, our Gran Corsa rides are growing in popularity and we encourage you to join one of the upcoming rides. These special events generate funds for NICA’s scholarship program and are a great way to meet new friends and learn more the great results from our efforts.
Speaking of which, I am very happy to end my note by congratulating the seven student-athletes from the NorCal, SoCal, and Colorado Leagues who have been selected to represent the USA at the Mountain Bike World Championships in South Africa. Best wishes to them as they travel to the far side of the globe to represent Team USA on their bikes!
Appreciatively, Austin McInerny
TrueSport: helping young athletes make healthy decisions
U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) Partnership
NICA recently established a partnership with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and TrueSport®, an arm of the USADA that empowers athletes and sports enthusiasts to love the game and not the trophy. Through this partnership, NICA licensed coaches will have access to significantly discounted TrueSport Coaching education courses to help expand their knowledge base. Self-guided online course modules covering topics such as: Developing a Coaching Philosophy and Ethics; Understanding Supplements and Energy Drinks; and Navigating Performance-Enhancing Substances will be available.
Travis T. Tygart, USADA's chief executive officer, said, “This type of grassroots impact is exactly what USADA envisioned in creating the TrueSport initiative. Reaching out to young athletes such as NICA league cyclists at an early phase in their lives, providing them with tools and skills for healthy decision-making and values-system development, and providing key education on nutrition, the wild world of supplements, and performance-enhancing substances, helps shape a future culture for sport that sets the next generations up for real success.”
We look forward to implementing various initiatives in collaboration with TrueSport® that will help shape the culture for this generation of student-athlete and those to come!
Riders from the Minnesota League at last year's race in Eastwood
Fall League's Practices Underway
With the Fall racing season a few weeks away, Utah, Minnesota and Colorado are anticipating significant growth. Meanwhile, Arizona and Tennessee are ramping up and preparing for their inaugural seasons. With such explosive growth and expansion, it is sure to be another exciting race season for these leagues!
Minnesota to Launch Middle School Pilot Program this Fall
We caught up with Minnesota League Director Gary Sjoquist and asked him about the upcoming season. “With 3 weeks to go before our Season Opener on Sept. 8th, we've got nearly 350 racers signed up and haven't even announced our Middle School Pilot Program yet. It's going to be a great second season in Minnesota,” said Gary.
Gary is excited to be working with NICA this fall to undertake a Middle School Pilot Program, which will give 7th and 8th grade students the opportunity to train and ride with high school teams, and will also feature the younger mountain bikers in their very own race. The goal of this pilot program is to learn what works best to engage younger students and, hopefully, inspire them to want to participate on their high school cycling team. We look forward to reporting on this program in the upcoming months!
Jordan Pope of the Utah League at the Finish Line - Photo by Christopher See
Explosive Utah League Growth
When the Utah League launched in 2012, it exploded onto the high school mountain biking scene with an amazing 292 riders in its first season. Lori Harward’s dedication and efforts have generated buzz and interest within the community, including recent television coverage, and has inspired even more kids to join the high school mountain biking movement. Utah is anticipated to double it’s ridership this Fall and is in store for an exciting season.
When asked about their upcoming season, Utah League Director Lori Harward replied, "the Utah League is gearing up for it's second race season. We have added a 5th race in Moab. But, the big news is how many student athletes are finding the fantastic sport of cycling in Utah and we are about double in size. Going from 235 to around 450 students racing is a big jump and we couldn't have done it without NICA, who's experience, guidance, and support is incredible; or without our fantastic people here in Utah - coaches, race crew, and many volunteers." It looks to be another fantastic race season!
Student-athletes from the Texas League enjoying Durango Trip.
To start the week off, the student-athletes received instruction from Tom Nebb, a former mechanic on the Giant Mountain Bike Team, on how to clean and maintain their bikes. From that point forward, nearly all of the student-athletes were cleaning and maintaining their bikes daily.
Vance McMurry, Texas League Director stated, “We are fortunate to have such a wonderful sponsor at Ft. Lewis College. Everyday of the camp, our student-athletes were able to ride some of the SWEETEST single track right from the door of their dorms. They even were able to ride the infamous Colorado Trail! By the middle of camp everyone was asking if they could stay another week or a month! Be sure to check out the blog from camp, which has some great interviews and pictures. Everyone is stoked about next summer’s camp!
The NICA crew at last year's NICA Conference
This September, the NICA staff will be holding the yearly NICA Conference in Las Vegas prior to Interbike, to discuss community building, education, as well as share knowledge and best practices with our League Directors and Board Members. The close of the conference will lead into Interbike, the largest annual gathering of the bicycle industry in North America. NICA will be hosting a booth, and will be holding a press conference to announce upcoming news, including the newest league to join the NICA family! Stay tuned for more announcements and be sure to find our booth at Interbike. We look forward to seeing you in Vegas!
Kate Courtney currently the #1 ranked junior woman in the world - Photo by cyclingnews.com
NICA student-athletes win at USAC National Championships and head to World Championships
Congratulations to all of the NICA alumni who competed in the USAC National Championships and to those who will be representing the United States at the World Championships in South Africa! Lucas Newcomb (17-18 men), Kate Courtney (17-18 women), Haley Batten (15-16 women) and Shayna Powless (U23 women) all won their respective national titles and all but young Haley will be heading to Pietermaritzburg, South Africa this week. Joining this talented crew on the trip to Worlds are Neilson Powless and Sean Bennett from the NorCal League, Kaylee Blevins from the Colorado League and Cole Picchiottino from SoCal League. We are very excited to watch these young riders compete on the international stage and hope you will join us in extending them a HUGE congratulations! For more details on the riders and their successes this year, click here.
Gran Corsa Risibisi
Gran Corsa Risibisi (Saturday, August 24, Petaluma, Calif.)
Risibisi Restaurant in downtown Petaluma serves healthy, fresh, authentic Italian cuisine featuring the finest local ingredients found in Sonoma County, transporting you to the rustic elegance of an Italian Trattoria. This ride starts with espressos and pastries at the restaurant before pedaling on scenic country roads to the coast and back, followed by a family style feast. Choose a 45- or 35-mile road ride to support youth cycling. The event is limited to 50 guests and offered at $35 for Booster Club members and returning Risibisi Riders, $45 for non-Members. Register today and save as prices go up $10 on August 22nd. Price includes lunch.) Click here to register.
Olympian Alison Dunlop hosting ride with USADA in Colorado Springs
Gran Corsa Ivywild (Saturday, August 31, Colorado Springs, Colorado)
NICA and our newly formed partners at the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA), along with Olympian, Alison Dunlop, are hosting a culinary road ride out of the Ivywild School in Colorado Springs on Saturday, August 31st.
Ivywild School is a 100-year-old former schoolhouse that has been redeveloped into restaurants and a brewery, as well as the Old School Bakery and a coffee shop. Participants choose an approximately 45- or 35-mile road ride.
This culinary ride starts with espressos and pastries at the restaurant before pedaling the course at a leisurely pace and is followed by a buffet style feast. The event is limited to 60 guests and proceeds go to the NICA Booster Fund providing student-athlete scholarships, team grants and coach stipends to increase access to the high school mountain biking in the USA. We are very pleased to be working with TrueSport®, USADA’s initiative to provide educational opportunities and implement programs for the NICA community that aim to help students develop as athletes while fostering a culture of clean competition and integrity in cycling.
Pre-regsitration highly recommended-- click here for more information.
NICA Executive Director, Austin McInerny with the Optic Nerve Team
Optic Nerve joins as Bronze Level Sponsor
Building on their support of the Colorado League, Optic Nerve is stepping up their involvement and recently signed on as a national level supporter of high school cycling! For nearly 25 years, Optic Nerve has been a leader in the sport sunglass industry. Countless years have been spent in the mountains of Colorado testing and refining their products to deliver only the finest sunglasses on the market. It all comes down to what Optic Nerve stands for - intelligence, awareness, and style. Intelligence in the way they build eyewear; with only the finest, durable frame material and highest quality lenses. Awareness in what the stand for and the non-profit youth organizations they associate ourselves with. As for style, the product line speaks for itself. We look forward to working with our newest sponsor!
GU Energy Co-Founder/CEO Brian Vaughan before the big ride!
GU Energy CEO Completes Ride Across Colorado Mountains in Support of Youth
GU Energy co-founder/CEO Brian Vaughan has been a great proponent of the high school mountain biking movement as a parent, cyclist, past NICA board member and enthusiastic sponsor for the past seven years. Throughout those years, Brian has helped the movement grow and has promoted healthy exercise and daily movement. Last month, Brian demonstrated his dedication to the movement and support of the NICA Booster club by riding the Colorado Trail Race, 485 high country miles between Durango and Denver, reaching heights of nearly 70,000 vertical feet! He set a goal to simply finish and support the kids and the movement; all without the support of SAG vehicles or the convenience of hotels.
Brian invites you to join the NICA Booster Club to ensure that all students have access (with scholarships for students in need, and grants to support teams from low-income regions) and help jump-start leagues where they do not already exist. Now through the end of the August, you will also receive some very generous gifts from both GU Energy and NICA for joining. You can also purchase a special GU package, and receive a copy of Singletrack High, a sticker and various GU Energy products. Click here to learn more and check out Brian’s journey on the NICA Facebook page here.
Right to left: Sean Bell (306, El Toro HS), Daniel Johnson (342, South Orange County Composite), and James Pflughaupt (309, Corona Del Mar)
The ‘Three Amigos’
Daniel Johnson, Varsity Rider for the South Orange County Composite team, talks about his experiences in the SoCal league, the highly competitive race series this past year, and what it took to win the state champs jersey. Read more about Daniel and his successful season here.
“I started racing BMX but had a bad crash and was in the hospital for two weeks. After that I decided to switch to mountain bikes and my 8th grade year my Mom found out about the NICA league. It was so exciting to know I would be able to ride, race and be hanging out with people my own age. Before that I felt like I was the only person I knew who liked to ride bikes.”
-Daniel Johnson, Varsity, South Orange County Composite