NICA News 03/30/2010


I am traveling back from a unique trip to SoCal, unique because the SoCal crew has fully taken over, so this is my final visit for the 2010 season. The Warner Springs race was awesome and a big congratulations goes to Matt Gunnell who has a firm hand on the helm of this new league, which has more then doubled since it’s first season last year (now 185 riders on 19 teams). It’s just astonishing at how quickly the league has formed – not just in size but in its coaching sophistication, quality of leadership and volunteerism. We thank everyone for their contributions. We’ve learned much from our SoCal experiences and now we’re more excited for the first Colorado League season. I already miss the folks from SoCal, but we’ll see you at the California state champs in May.


In the past few months, folks from over a dozen states have expressed interest in starting a new league in their state. Our original goal was to build a fourth league in 2011. We are now considering just how many new projects to take on in 2011 and contemplating two or three new leagues. To assist us in our decision making, we have drafted a bid process. Submitting a bid to bring a league to your state is decidedly easier than the Olympic City bid process, but it does entail some organizational horsepower and gathering pledges for a host of resources. Please contact for the 2011 bid process document. Bids are due by July 31st, 2010.

Meanwhile it’s back to NorCal where we have three massive races still to go and a big problem to solve: How do we split up a league that is out growing its race venues? 550 riders strong, what a great problem to have . . .

Thanks for reading.

Matt Fritzinger
NICA Director

Fast Times with SRAM’s John Dawson

NICA NEWS spoke with SRAM’s longtime North American Race Manager John Dawson about high school mountain biking and SRAM’s commitment to supporting the sport.

John: First off, thanks to SRAM for stepping up to support NICA. What does high school mountain bike racing mean to SRAM?
I feel organized nationwide high school racing has been a long time coming, and I truly believe that NICA and their hard work deserve support from SRAM and the rest of the bicycle industry. I started my career back in the mid 1990s as mechanic with the SRAM/RockShox Development Team, and saw firsthand what a great impact mountain bike racing had on the kids back then. Now I look at SRAM’s new relationship with NICA as way to continue where we left off and help to create future champions and show kids that mountain biking is a fun and healthy sport they can enjoy during high school and beyond.

SRAM is coming off its most successful year to date, taking all three podium spots in several major race events last year, including the Tour de France, world downhill championships, and world cross-country championships. How important is mountain bike racing to SRAM? (Read more…)

Student Spotlight on…


NICA director Matt Fritzinger asked NorCal coaches to submit short ‘profiles of courage’ about student athletes racing in 2010. A good reminder of what we value here at NICA: students with drive and determination to participate and grow as individuals.

Orinda Academy’s Aubrey Love, a senior in his second year of racing, hasn’t let a difficult family situation hold him back from his true potential. Living with his aunts and grandmother in Oakland, Aubrey is a hard worker, having been recently accepted into the UCLA pre-med program while being a talented saxophone player. Coach Steven Fong reports Aubrey is the most charming teenager he’s ever coached, with an engaging personality to boot. Aubrey has finished 24th in the first two races of the JV Boy’s Division 2 category. (Read more…)

Team Talk with NorCal’s Trojan Composite


NICA NEWS spoke with coach Mark Ferry about the new NorCal team, now lying a close second overall in the Division 2 Team Standings.

Mark, tell us about the team: how many students, boys/girls, and who are the coaches?
Currently there are 15 riders on the team (3 girls and 12 boys). I have four assistant coaches who are all die-hard mountain bikers. None of them have any children in the League; they are all there to help grow the sport and give back to the community (plus it’s a great workout chasing high school kids on bikes!).

How did the team come to fruition?
Well, I was just about to start working with the high school kids at my church when a good friend of mine sent me over an email about NICA. He’s a friend that I mountain bike with and he has heard me complain in the past when we would ride by a Folsom High School rider on our local trails. I would say “I can’t believe our high school does not have a mountain bike team”. Well that got me to call Jason McMillen (head coach of Folsom Cycling); Jason has been an incredible resource for our team and I am very thankful for all the help he has provided for our coaches.

After reaching out to Jason I just decided to do it. It has been a ton of work but the e-mails of appreciation have made it all worth while.

Where do most of the students go to school? (Read more…)

Inside Look At Colorado with Freddy Maxwell

Recently, Colorado mountain biker Freddy Maxwell convened 30 interested volunteers for a meeting about high school mountain bike racing in Salida. Here’s a progress report…

Tell us about the genesis for getting involved in high school mountain bike racing in Colorado. What’s your background and interest in the sport?
I have ridden bikes since I was in high school and I have realized what riding bikes can do for a young adult. It helps them travel, meet people, challenge themselves, and stay in shape. I taught at a wilderness boarding school in Oregon where I designed and implemented a mountain biking curriculum. We took students on extended 10-day biking trips were we learned about the sport as well as ourselves through the metaphors of biking.

I’ve also competed in several 24-hour races and three 100-mile endurance events.

How’s your progress since your first meeting in Salida? (Read more…)

Trailblazer interview: Kozo Shimano


NICA board member Kozo Shimano not only brings considerable experience to the organization, he brings a healthy perspective of youth sport. Here the SoCal resident shares his love for hockey and cycling, and how his friend Lance might get involved in high school mountain bike racing.

Kozo: Why is high school mountain bike racing important to you?
I believe that high school students should be exposed to as much as possible, to expand their horizons. They should be able to explore opportunities in athletics, arts, education, sciences, etc. I truly believe in the saying, “a sound mind in a sound body” – which happens to be what the acronym ASICS (shoe company) stands for in Latin (Anima Sani In Corpore Sano).

I participated in Track (sprints and long jump) and Cross Country when I was in high school.

As a member of the Lance Armstrong Foundation Endowment board of trustees and former president of the Bikes Belong board of directors, you bring considerable experience to NICA. What attracted you to NICA? (Read more…)

SRAM Neutral Support Zone: Disc brakes

While we had Dawson’s attention, we asked about the benefits of disc versus standard linear-pull/caliper brakes.

John, what are the benefits/pitfalls for student athletes using hydraulic disc brakes versus standard linear-pull/caliper brakes?

Disc brakes offer clear advantages over caliper/rim brakes:

Disc brakes in general are going to offer more braking power at the wheel with less effort at the lever. So for younger riders with less hand strength, this would be an advantage.

The ability to modulate the braking power is more controlled in a disc brake setup.

Especially in wet conditions where caliper style brakes can feel grabby and inconsistent, the disc brake will feel more controlled during light to hard braking.

Another would be the ease of maintenance; caliper brakes use cables which can be contaminated in wet/muddy conditions and will have to be changed regularly to keep the same feel at the lever.

Disc brakes using hydraulic lines are much less susceptible to contamination and in the course of a season will require much less maintenance to keep a consistent feel.
What about mechanical disc brakes? Seems like the best solution… (Read more…)

NICA at Sea Otter Classic

NICA has partnered with SRAM, Specialized, Trek and Clif Bar & Co. to bring high school riders a neutral support tent at the upcoming Sea Otter Classic.

If you’re in a NICA League (this includes the NorCal, SoCal and Colorado Leagues), come by to fill up on water, load up on Clif Product, warm up on trainers, get your bike tuned by professional mechanics and leave your gear during your race. It’s a great chance to meet racers from other schools and even other Leagues. Professional cyclists Conrad Stoltz, Rebecca Rusch, Adam Craig, and Dave Wiens will also be leading skills clinics for high school racers. Stay tuned for more details.

Neutral Support Times:
Friday, 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Saturday, 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday, 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM

About the author: Gregg Kato

Gregg Kato studied journalism and broadcasting in college while working many different jobs including deejaying, driving a forklift and building web sites (not all at the same time). Kato enjoys riding local Santa Cruz trails. Besides being an avid mountain biker, he is also a motorcycle fanatic. Two wheels, one Passion.

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