Our Vice President, Ben Capron, said something which really resonated with me: “There’s a lot of talk about the meaning of life, but not much talk about what it means to feel alive” (which Ben credited to a similar quote/source). Like anyone, I can spend days without any real exercise beyond clicking a mouse. And yet the days that I get out for a ride I feel so much happier, connected with the world, and alive.
We are all so glad that in a world where wifi gadgetry is taking hold of so much attention, so many kids are choosing to join their mountain bike team and race! Nearly 1000 kids are racing in NICA programs this spring. Training is a lot of hard work and the races are super tough, both in terms of the terrain and also in how we find our limits when we compete. We want to congratulate all of our spring season racers and wish them luck with the final races!
Four big NICA events this weekend, hope to see you out there!
First Annual NICA Invitational Camp
NICA will host the NICA Invitational Camp on June 20-24 at the UC Santa Cruz campus. The camp will offer riders a challenging week of skills clinics, time trials, epic rides, special guests, and group activities. In addition, camp staff will be practicing the NICA’s approach to coaching the athlete on and of the bike. At this camp, riders may also earn the opportunity to be a member of the NICA Travel Team. The NICA Travel Team will take 10 riders on a trip to the National Championships in Sun Valley, ID in July where they will get professional level treatment.
Qualification for the NICA Invitational Camp is based on a rider’s results at NICA races.
NICA Programs Manager Chris Spencer will run the camp and be assisted by SoCal League Director Matt Gunnell. Camp staff will be drawn from a group of highly experienced coaches from various NICA leagues.
The camp will be hosted at UC Santa Cruz and will cost $835. Riders will live on campus in dormitories. All food and lodging is included in the price.
For more information on the camp and qualification criteria or to register (opening soon) please go to NICA Invitational Camp.
Colorado League CycleFest, May 14th – 15th
Gary Fisher, the iconic mountain bike inventor, former international competitor, and President of The Gary Fisher Collection at TREK Bicycles, will host the Colorado High School Cycling League CycleFest dinner Saturday, May 14th in Denver, Colorado, a fundraising event which will be attended by Lt. Governor Joe Garcia in recognition of the League’s alignment with the Colorado Kids Outdoors Initiative.
The annual CycleFest Weekend includes a dinner and silent auction on Saturday, May 14th, at Palette’s Restaurant in the Denver Art Museum. Then on Sunday, May 15th, the highly entertaining Gary Fisher, will host a bike ride and lunch at Bacaro Venetian Tavern in Boulder, Colorado. Funds raised are critically important in helping the Colorado League to finance its work of providing mountain biking opportunities for high school students.
For additional details and to register, go to Colorado CycleFest.
Kristian Duft is a Senior student racing Varsity Boys in the Washington League.
Have you participated in or do you participate in any other high school sports?
I do not and have not participated in other high school sports, but this is only because this year (my senior year) is the first in an American High School. The other three were when I lived abroad in Sweden, where I played on the city junior soccer team and later the city men’s Australian (Rules) Football team.
What is the appeal of mountain biking
Mountain biking for me is not only a way to go out and have fun. It helps me release stress after long days or anxiety before big tests, etc. Also it is something I have a passion for and I wish to pursue a career in which I would be able to work with Mountain Bike companies, as well as anything related to biking, directly. It is also something that I can do with my dad and my sister and all of my friends. It is a great in the sense that it truly brings people together, and after a few good hours on the bike everyone can be smiling.
What are the things you think you will most remember about your time with the Washington League?
Things I will most remember about my time in the Washington league will be how hard Lisa Miller worked to get the league up and started so quickly and efficiently. If it wasn’t for her hard effort I would not have been able to participate before I graduate. I will also remember the smiles on everyone’s faces at practices and the races, the experience of racing for the first time and all the help and support from Coaches and parents a like.
Can you see yourself ever returning as a coach or other kind of League supporter?
I will be going up to northern Washington for college next year at Western Washington University, and without a doubt I can say that whenever I have the chance I will be more than happy to come down to the races and practices to help out or coach. And if there are any high school’s in the Bellingham area I will sign up to coach and help out any way I can.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
I would like to give a special thank you to my coaches, Kari and Kempton, for helping coach the NORTHSHORE race team, to Corpore Sano for providing us with Tents and support at races and to Bicycles West, who choose to sponsor our team. Thank you Lisa Miller for all your hard effort and thank you so much to all the friends and family that volunteer at the races and make them possible. Hopefully we will only see growth in numbers from here!! Next race is this weekend! WOOT!
We have expanded our selection of your favorite NICA goods to include new custom cycling caps and t-shirts!
Made from lightweight, water-wicking fabric, and featuring a quality foam brim, the NICA cycling caps will keep your head covered and dry whether you are on a long ride or just hanging out at a race. The thin fabric makes it a nice fit for an under-the-helmet garment, and the design will keep you looking sharp! Caps sell for $19.95, and quantities are limited!
Our new NICA “Wish” T-shirts feature an oft-quoted saying around our events: “I wish they had this when we were in school!” Show your support (and envy) for NICA programs through this limited edition shirt made from good old-fashioned 100% cotton threads. Orders placed by May 2nd qualify for the preorder price of $18.95, after that date the price will go up to $23.95.
Support NICA and/or your local league at the NICA store today!
NICA Alumni in the Pro Ranks
Many newcomers to NICA events are surprised by how fast the leading groups move. It should be of no surprise to learn that NICA alumni are filterning up into the top amateur ranks and several now race with the pros in road and mountain bike races. Recently John Bennett, riding for the Specialized California Giant development squad, won a stage and held the KOM jersey in the esteemed Redlands Classic stage race.
Riders who have progressed to elite ranks include: John Bennett, William Curtis, Cody Kaiser, Will Patterson, Garrett Gibson, Michael Hosey, Tsering Alleyne, Nitish Nag, Skyler Trujillo, Menso de Jong, Riley Predum, Tyler Brandt, Nate Byrom, Sam Bassetti, as well as NICA staffer Tyler Dibble.
Here are the accounts of three NICA alumni who are exploring life on the pro circuit.
You have already won an NRC race, a stage of the Redlands Classic. Where does racing in the pro ranks measure up to and where does it differ from what you’d expected while racing as a high school student?
Racing on the road is definitely different than racing on a mountain bike. Racing pro on a mountain bike can be easier or harder than racing pro on the road.
Racing is always hard. The faster you get, the faster the competition gets. The NorCal league and NICA are a great breeding ground for kids to develop skills and fitness to move on to the next level, wherever that level may be. Coming out of high school I was not quite ready to be racing where I am now, but I knew that. It took me a year to build to a level of fitness that allowed me to take the next step.
Looking back at your high school racing years, what role did the NorCal League play in helping you get to where you are now?
Put bluntly, The NorCal League got me on a bike. Without the NorCal league, my high school team, high school coaches, and Matt Fritzinger I would not be racing. NorCal provided the positive atmosphere that I needed to keep me engaged in a sport. Cycling allows student athletes to push themselves as hard as they can without interference from others. For me the NorCal league provided everything that I needed to give cycling my all.
What advice would you give to NICA League riders with pro aspirations?
The biggest thing that I can tell high school racers is to be patient with progression. Everyone’s body matures at a different pace. Something that I tell my younger brothers is that they need to enjoy riding their bike. That, and putting in time on the saddle; base miles are extremely important.
On a second note, enjoy racing in NICA. My memories of The NorCal HS MTB League are some of my best high school memories. Enjoy it while you’re there!
Will Patterson (Mountain Bike and road racer, Pro MTB, cat.4 road, Whole Athlete/Specialized team, Stanford University)
What role did the NorCal League play in getting you to into high level racing?
The NorCal League played an instrumental role in getting me to where I am in cycling since it was really my first exposure to xc racing and provided a great level of competition all throughout high school as I was developing my passion for bike racing.
What are your aspirations in bike racing?
This season I am looking towards U23 nationals, so far it has just been about gaining some experience racing at a super high level. I have definitely found it challenging to balance difficult workloads both in school and on the bike so I’m really taking it one year at a time at this point, but I plan on being able to go fast on a bike for as long as I possibly can.
Sam Bassetti (road racing, Cat. 1. Lombardi Sports, guesting for the Firefighters Cycling team, U.C. Davis)
How much did your NorCal League experience contribute to where you are today as a cyclist?
The Norcal mtb league was the starting point for my cycling career. The league does a great job of fostering a competitive and fun environment and is great for beginners and experienced riders. The league is what turned me on to cycling and after a couple years casual riding I took up road cycling for fitness. I was extremely lucky to get started cycling in such a great atmosphere and it is great to see it grow every year.
- May 1 NorCal Finals – Boggs Mountain Classic, near Cobb, CA
- May 1 SoCal Finals at Vail Lake, Temecula
- May 1 Washington League Race #2 – Fort Steilacoom Park (Lakewood, WA)
- May 1 Colorado League Leaders’ Summit
- May 14 Colorado League CycleFest Dinner and Silent Auction
- Mat 15 Colorado League “Ride To Eat, Eat To Ride”
- May 15 CA State Championships at Los Olivos
- June 20-21 NICA Invitational Camp at UC Santa Cruz
- June 30 2012 League bids due
Source: Matt Fritzinger, NICA