President’s Update on COVID-19 and NICA’s Response
Student-athletes cheer on a teammate at a Maryland League Race. Photo: Kerri Isenstadt
Dear NICA Community:
As most of you are aware, due to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic we have made the difficult, but necessary decision to suspend all in-person NICA activities. This is especially hard on our spring leagues that have had to suspend their seasons and their senior student-athletes, finishing up their time at NICA. We are immensely appreciative of the time, dedication, sportsmanship, mentorship, and fun the seniors of the Class of 2020 have contributed to NICA and truly hope we will ride together again soon!
Thank you to all of our individual donors, sponsors and boosters who are continuing their support of NICA through these challenges. We are extremely grateful for your continued support and belief in our mission to build strong minds, bodies, character and community through cycling. Several states consider bike shops as essential businesses – and we couldn’t agree more! Mountain biking and cycling is an essential part of a strong and healthy community. Being outside and getting exercise is critical for your mental, emotional and physical health. As we get beyond the current crisis our team practices, league events and your students participation will be part of a healthy, long term recovery for you, them and our communities across the USA. Please continue to think of NICA and support us as we move through this together.
We would also like to highlight examples of our sponsors and partners who are taking an extra step to help support the community during these challenging times. CLIF Bar and Company, while continuing to support NICA, has been working with food banks to ensure their shelves remain stocked. Podiumwear‘s sewing team is hard at work making masks and gowns for the medical industry. Industry Nine– a new NICA booster is using its engineering and manufacturing services to assist with the production of medical equipment. Across the cycling industry, many companies are shifting production to support the needs of medical professionals as they respond to this pandemic and on behalf of NICA, we applaud and support their efforts!
While medical professionals and essential employees such as grocery store workers, delivery drivers, and manufacturers are hard at work fighting the pandemic either on the front lines or ensuring communities have everything they need to stay safe, we encourage you to do your part to make their jobs easier. If you do choose to spend time outdoors and on your bike, we encourage you to stay safe and ride within your limits so you avoid adding any unnecessary strain to our medical system during this time.
Please continue to check with your league for league specific events, updates, and more detailed regional guidance, as they are your best source of information for your region.
Our community is strong and resilient and will help us all to weather this storm as we look forward to our country and the entire world returning to health and strength in the days ahead.
Best Regards, Steve
The Goodness that is High School Mountain Biking
Special Note from NorCal League Director – Vanessa Hauswald
NorCal League Director Vanessa Hauswald and NorCal Race Crew welcome students to the first race of their 2020 season. Photo: Pamela Palma
Greetings NICA family,
Wow! What a crazy time it is, indeed. For the past 13+ years, in late March, I have been knee deep in the planning, execution, and excitement of our high school mountain bike racing season here in Northern California. At this time of year I am usually writing race reports, picking up shipments, fixing equipment, working on trails, communicating with sponsors, gathering photographs of incredible teens and their accomplishments, thanking volunteers, ordering more merchandise, working with our amazing coaches, and packing my bags to travel to the next venue, to name just a few things. But, as you are all painfully aware, COVID19 brought that all to a complete grinding halt, last week. So, as I [and we] adjust to this unprecedented upending of every aspect of my life and career, and am forced to slow down, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on some of the goodness that is high school mountain biking.
As I move past the sadness and frustration of having to cancel races for the first time in League history, it’s become clear that the reason I have enthusiastically stayed at the helm of this organization for so long is because of the student-athletes and coaches that I have the honor of getting to work with, and for. It has been interminably gratifying to hear from teens that being a part of their team has given them a community to belong to, to hear parents tell me time and time again that high school cycling has brought their family closer together as they are now riding, exploring, camping, and traveling together. I have had the great joy of working to bring more girls and women into the sport, and simultaneously watching their self confidence skyrocket. I’ve cheered from the sidelines as some of our alumni have gone on to have illustrious success in the pro road and mountain bike racing ranks. I’ve seen kids grow from timid to brave, unhappy to happy, weak to strong, shy to gregarious, lost to focused, careless to compassionate, and so much more. I have also seen the unbridled joy that the simple act of riding a bike can bring to people of ALL ages and backgrounds, and this is certainly reflected in our NorCal and NICA student-athletes.
And so, during this time of disruption and uncertainty it’s important to know that there will be an end to this, and that we WILL get back to the sport we all love so much. As a female NorCal League alumni, class of 2019, said in a powerful letter to us, “I guess this is my long-winded, inarticulate way of saying thanks. Thanks for making me who I am. For the pre-race pep talks, cornering lessons, ego boosts, and high fives. For the self-confidence, determination, positivity, best friends, memories, and endless stoke. Thank you for the opportunity of leadership, for teaching me to be bold, and most of all, for bringing me to believe that I am strong and capable. Thanks for being the highlight. Keep changing lives and staying stoked.” For these reasons, and so many more, we look forward to riding with y’all again, when the time comes. Until then, take good care and get out on a solo bike ride and find peace in the beauty and solace of nature. One of the many beauties of our sport is that it does not necessitate a court, a field, a team, a stadium, or a gym…it can be “played” by oneself for one’s whole life: enjoy.
In this together, Vanessa Hauswald Executive Director NorCal League
What’s New Across America
The Florida League Teams and Race Staff at their Inaugural Race. Photo: FICL
Florida Hosts Inaugural Race
Congrats to the Florida NICA League for a successful inaugural season opener at San Felasco State Park on March 1st! Perfect weather paired with a great first event venue made for a great weekend of community building, fun and student athletes challenging themselves out on the race course. From kids tossing a football around to introducing themselves on the start line to hearing them out on course thanking each of the volunteers, the Florida NICA community is overflowing with athletes displaying strong character.
NICA’s Girls Riding Together Initiative
Launched in 2018, NICA’s GRiT (Girls Riding Together) initiative is designed to increase the number of female student-athletes participating in NICA programs to 33% by 2023. GRiT’s mission is to provide fair treatment, equal access, opportunity, advancement and elimination of barriers to encourage participation for all. GRiT activities are focused on increasing girls’ awareness of NICA programs by offeringsocial and riding opportunities for female-student-athletes, moms, friends, siblings and female coaches. Learn more about how you can get involved HERE.
Patterson Park student-athlete at a Maryland League Race. Photo: Catherine Witt
Getting #moregirlsonbikes in Maryland – the Patterson Park Mountain Biking Team
In celebration of Women’s History Month – we’re proud to highlight female student-athletes and coaches across NICA who are making a positive impact to our community. Meet Coaches Cathy Witt and Becky Redett from the Maryland League and the Patterson Park team HERE!
Photo: Beth Pride Ford
Rapha Foundation Supports NICA GRiT
We are proud to have support from the Rapha Foundation to promote our GRiT initiative to recruit and retain 33% female participation by 2023. Rapha awarded NICA with a grant in June 2020, and from that grant over $50,000 has been allocated directly to 19 GRiT initiatives in 22 of our leagues across the country. These funds will enable league GRiT coordinators to implement structures, programs and strategies to recruit more female student-athletes and coaches and build a safe, supportive community for all of NICA’s female participants.
Pennsylvania student-athlete fixing their bike. Photo: Aaron Puttcamp
Bontrager Tires Keep NICA Rolling
When you’re picking out some fresh new tires this spring — check in with your local Trek Dealer as $1 from sale of every Bontrager mountain bike tire goes directly to NICA. Find out more about all the ways Trek is working with NICA to get #morekidsonbikes HERE!
NICA exists by virtue of our generous sponsors, boosters, foundation partners and individual donors. We are extremely grateful for your continued support of our mission to get build strong minds, bodies, communities and character through cycling. Consider supporting NICA or your favorite league today and help us get #morekidsonbikes and #moregirlsonbikes
Check out what’s happening across our 31 Leagues this spring!
Do you have a great photo worthy of inclusion in a future issue of NICA News? If so, please email to firstname.lastname@example.org and you may see it published! And don’t forget – when you’re posting your photos to tag @nationalmtb #morekidsonbikes for a chance to see your photo in NICA News!
ximenassilva_mtb is so proud to announce that she’s officially a SoCal GRiT Ambassador!!!
The @norcalleague’s Swansey SHRED was a huge success for @srv_mtb with lots of podium finishes and 4th place team!
It was a great first race for @alex.ander.li in the NorCal League – ended up 10th and had fun with friends!
The @burkebearcats had a great 1st Race at Browns Creek with the North Carolina League!
The @southmetrocyclones had fun racing with friends at the Texas League’s Wrangle in Warda.