This mountain-biking thing may finally catch on.
The National Interscholastic Cycling Association recently announced the formation of three new high-school mountain-biking leagues, bringing its total to 10 leagues in nine states. (California has northern and southern divisions).
The new programs were launched in Arizona, Tennessee and New York. The additions mark a major step toward NICA’s hope to have leagues coast to coast by 2020. Progress has been swift for the young organization; the national program launched in 2009, and has added leagues quickly.
“We’re using cross country high school mountain bike racing as our tool to develop our youth,” said Rick Splitter, president of NICA’s board of directors. “Our core values are building a strong mind, a strong body, a strong character. And we’re going to do that in the most equal and inclusive environment that we can. Every decision, every policy that we do, we ask ourselves, how does it support those values?
Doug Selee has been NICA’s executive director for three months. He said the organization hopes to build on the new leagues and plans to diversify its fundraising options outside of the bike industry, which has been instrumental in NICA’s success.
“It’s a matter of time. It’s a matter of funding. And it’s a matter of being able to scale what we do,” Selee said. “Most of the group’s funding comes from (bike industry) sponsorships. … But we need to reach outside of that.”
The New York and Tennessee leagues provide crucial footprints on the East Coast, and the Arizona league adds to a vibrant scene in the Southwest.
“Our state affords diverse venue opportunities, from Sonoran desert landscapes to forested regions, all with ample infrastructure to support racing,” said Mike Perry, director of the Arizona league.
Jason Cairo, director of the New York league, described himself as “passionate about getting kids on bikes.”
“So the opportunity to partner with NICA is huge for us in New York,” he said. “The journey is already beginning for our coaches and we will be on fire and ready for our spring 2013 races.”
Katherine Williams, who runs the Tennessee league, added: “When living in California, some of my favorite memories are coaching with the NorCal league. After moving back to Tennessee to open a bicycle shop, I was thrilled to learn that Tennessee could have a program just like NorCal and that others here had a similar goal. High school cycling is truly becoming a national movement.”
NICA exists by virtue of donors and sponsors, including the founding national sponsor, Specialized Bicycle Components, as well as Easton Foundations, Jeep, SRAM, Trek Bicycles, Clif Bar & Company, Primal Wear, QBP, GU Sports, Kinetic, Maxxis, Adidas Eyewear, CamelBak, Dirt Rag, Feedback Sports, Fort Lewis College, Fox Racing Shox, Mountain Bike Action, Ritchey Designs, Sidi America and WTB. For more information on NICA visit www.nationalmtb.org.