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7th grade girls starting strong at the Herron Hustle Photo: Seth Neilson

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Photo: Seth Neilson

More Cowbell – MT NICA Race Day Report

Herron Hustle, Kalispell Montana - The second race of the inaugural Montana NICA season was held at the scenic Herron Park in Kalispell, MT with hints of Fall slipping into the last warm weather of summer. Among the picturesque stables of the equestrian center host site you’d find dozens of Montana riders, parents, campers, tents and even a few horses getting exercise among the NICA racers – MTB racing true Montana style!

The shorter race trail increased the laps and course length for the middle school and some high school categories with Rylie, 6th grade girl’s points-leader from Bozeman, describing the course as, “More ups and downs consistently and the longest course ride so far this season.” Megan, a JV rider from home team Kalispell noted, “With this course you need an extra kick to get you past that second lap and onto the third.” Bozeman middle school rider, Maggie, summed up the additional course length, “I thought the uphill was really tiring, especially for two laps, and it was a good time to use that motivation that everybody has taught us at NICA.”

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Missoula Team has the Pitzone figured out Photo: Holly Alastra

As the MT NICA season progresses, confidence grew amongst riders and teams as they began to get the feel for the exciting fledgling program. Melinda, a 7th grade rider from Team Helena, attended the first race in Bozeman but chose not to compete. Melinda loves mountain biking but was unsure about the racing aspect. “As I cheered my teammates on during the first race, I saw everyone finish with smiles on their faces and high-fiving,” she said. “So, I decided I wanted to race in today’s race.”

As NICA riders got the feel of the program, so did NICA parents. Kara, parent of a Missoula middle school rider, explained, “When you think of mountain biking you often think of it as an individual sport.” She continues, “But the scene with NICA and what’s happening feels like you are getting that team spirit, sportsmanship and supporting each other feeling - way more team feel than I ever expected.” Another NICA parent remarked, “Today, cheering and cowbell ringing is just as loud for the riders at the back of the pack as it is for the riders at the front of the pack.”

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GRiT Pre-ride Photo: Holly Alastra

As the MT NICA season progresses, NICA team coaches are also finding their stride. Angie, Helena coach and GRiT (Girls Riding Together) coordinator described the GRiT course pre-ride (event where all MT girl NICA racers are invited to pre-ride the course) as, “Awesome, the girls amaze me every time with those big smiles as the girls and female coaches get to know each other from other teams.” During one recent practice, Angie asked her team what they liked best about NICA and what would you say to a new girl that was interested in joining? Angie noted that her team senior rider, an avid all-around athlete, reported that everybody was cheering on everybody, not just your own team. This multi-team support meant a lot to Angie as it embodied her team philosophy. She concludes, “This is exactly the feeling we are trying to create.”

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Post race high fives Photo: Seth Neilson

When asked about preparation for Saturday’s race, NICA riders noted a variety of practice regimens and areas. Racers described practices everywhere from 2-3 times per week on a variety of trails styles. Bode, a first time 6th grade racer from Fort Peck, described the Herron Hustle race course as what he was expecting, and that he and his brother prepared for today’s race by riding the miles and miles of cow-trails near his home-town.

Harry, an 8th grade rider from Missoula, summed up the second race of the MT NICA season, “All in all It was a wonderful course…you just had to get out there and race your own race.” Well said, Harry! Next up is the Lolo Liftoff nestled in the beautiful Bitterroot Valley, MT. For race results of the Herron Hustle, click HERE. Until next time riders…more cowbell!

Terry Miller
MT NICA Race Day Reporter

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Photo: Seth Neilson

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Sponsor Shoutout!

Without the following League Sponsors and donors, none of this would be possible!

A HUGE shoutout to:

▪  Zillastate
▪  Bozeman Health
▪  Trek
▪  Owenhouse Cycling
▪  The Cycling House
▪  Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana
▪  Crowley Fleck Attorneys
▪  Lone Peak Physical Therapy and Performance
▪  Consumer Direct Care Network
▪  DCI Engineers
▪  Weyerhauser
▪  Wells Fargo
▪ Virga Sparkling Water
▪ Black Coffee Roasting Co
Bozeman Health
Owenhouse Cycling
The Cycling House
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana
Crowley Fleck Attorneys
Lone Peak Physical Therapy and Performance
Consumer Direct Care Network
DCI Engineers
Wells Fargo
Virga Sparkling Water
Black Coffee Roasting Co

And did you notice the big white Chevy Silverado 3500 we're pulling our trailer with? Shoutout to Coley Jones, Business Manager at Karl Tyler Chevrolet in Missoula for helping us get to the races in style!

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Join our Core Race Team!

Core Race Staff Opportunities!

We are looking for help with a few more positions:

Race-Ops Assistant- Assist our wonderful Ops manager Bill Schultz and help to ensure the infield is dialed. He has been putting in a ton of behind the scenes work and the least we can do is get him a helping hand.
Merchandise Manager- Did you see our sweet merchandise last weekend? Molly and Eric Bowman have tacked that on top of their existing Registration Manager and Race Director roles, and we would love to have someone come on to help share the load.
Assistant Course Setter- You might ask why we need an assistant for our seemingly tireless Chief Course Setter, Guy Mackenzie, but it never hurts to double up this key position.
Assistant Course Marshal- Young buck and NICA graduate, Jackson Melin has been doing an amazing job as Chief Course Marshal, however this is another critical position that we would love to have backed up.
Hospitality Director- Do you have a knack for taking care of people and procuring great food? If so, we would be psyched to have you on our team to help with volunteer meals, schwag, and overall contentment.

Email if you are willing to help!


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Be sure to tag posts with @montanamtb and @nationalmtb!

And check out our website!
Montana NICA
NICA National


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Kind regards,
Montana Interscholastic League

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