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  1. #1
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    New Rulebook Bans Caffeine For High School Athletes

    The NorCal High School Mountain Bike League (the League), which recently released a new rulebook for its 2008 racing season, is banning the consumption of caffeine at their competitions. This progressive stance is motivated by concerns for high school athletes’ health, as well as in response to a tremendous surge of new caffeinated energy products and related marketing seen thus far in the 2000’s.

    Caffeine is a dependency-forming stimulant that is being marketed as if it is totally harmless; it is also being marketed for its performance enhancing qualities. Much of this marketing is directed towards teens and young adults. Over the past few years, the League has seen an increase in caffeine usage amongst its athletes; some even strategizing with timed consumption of caffeinated products on the final lap of the race. As an organization dedicated to positive youth development and the promotion of cycling as a sport, this is a performance-enhancement-based mentality the League would like to nip in the bud.

    There are also health-related concerns associated with teenagers’ caffeine consumption. Dr. Richard Stein, director of preventative cardiology at New York's Beth Israel Medical Center and a representative for the American Heart Association. said, "What five years ago was considered outrageous doses of caffeine is now well within the range of expected doses. We will soon find out the effects of prolonged usage in high doses starting at an early age. In the past, that's always been a formula for poor health and mental outcomes." The bottom line is that research has yet to demonstrate that a high amount of caffeine intake is safe for young people.

    For Matt Fritzinger, League founder and director, “the conversation began when I was approached for the second time by ‘Brand X’. ‘Brand X’ said themselves that youth, originally, were not in their marketing plan – but that ‘Brand Y’ (a leading coffee shop franchise) changed their minds. The marketing representative made it clear, they wanted “product in hand.” I realized this is a lot like the cigarette industry was; they get the free samples out there, and then they can count on a percentage of life-long addicts. Though less harmful than cigarettes, the strategy is the same.”

    “Over the next couple years I spoke with many high school athletes and coaches. Some athletes admitted they were already ‘addicted’ to certain energy drinks, and I found that coaches were supportive of the ban. At the 2007 coaches conference we brought up the idea and found that we had tremendous support, and since then other audiences have met the idea with standing ovations.”

    “There have been questions about enforcement. It’s true that we do not have a test, but nor can we afford a test for steroids or EPO. However, we have a 3-to-1 ratio of dedicated adults working with the athletes and with good coaching and education kids usually make the right decisions. On the other hand, those who try to get a boost, might get penalized if we find the wrong products during our random pocket-checks.”

    Gurana Root, Taurine and Creatine have also been banned. Text of the entire rulebook is available at www.norcalmtb.org/race/rules.htm

    The League’s 2008 race season commences March 2nd near Monterey. League events include a Coaches Training Conference, winter and summer riding camps, and the six-race series. Matt Fritzinger founded The NorCal High School Mountain Bike Racing League in 2001. The League is a non-profit organization open to students from both public and private schools. The League has turned mountain biking into a high school sport which currently has 40 participating high schools and has provided coaching and camaraderie to over 800 students.

  2. #2
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    The definition of irony:


  3. #3
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    Awesome!

  4. #4
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    So if creatine is also banned, in a sense they will not be allowed to eat meat either?

    "3. How can I get creatine naturally?

    In one form or another, creatine is normally obtained from the foods we eat.

    Dietary Creatine: Creatine can be directly obtained by eating sources of skeletal muscle, i.e. meat and fish. During the digestive process the creatine contained within meat and fish is directly released into the blood stream where it is transported to skeletal muscle."

  5. #5
    EastBaySteez
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    No Monsters before the races?!
    BULLSH!T

    How about you take away the coaches coffee, caffeinated soda's and their energy drinks.
    See how they like that.
    Gamut
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  6. #6
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    This is stupid. Kids are going to be pulled from competition for drinking a Coke?

    And we wonder why kids grow up with no respect for rules or authority...we are teaching them that rules are arbitrary, unenforceable things created by self-important moralists, not constraints that let us live together and keep us safe -- and, therefore, the only crime is getting caught.

    If the problem is marketing to kids, by all means pull the soda machines from the school, don't serve it for lunch, and don't let them sponsor schools or school activities. But that's a different problem.

  7. #7
    sunnyside up
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    That IS ironic

    Quote Originally Posted by jschwart73
    The definition of irony:
    Did the sidebar really serve up an ad for that beverage?



    I have to admit to mixed feelings about this ban. I think the point was more about product placement, spiked sugar water, and sportsmanship, but the whole enforcement thing has me really confused.

    Patty
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  8. #8
    sunnyside up
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    And, about those rules. . . http://www.norcalmtb.org/race/rules.pdf#page=4

    Why are there no consequences for failing to obey traffic laws? Of all the unhealthy behaviors, running a red light or stop sign seems pretty high up there in terms of risk of serious injury to self or others.
    "...So forget all your duties, oh yeah! Fat bottomed girls, they'll be riding today..." Freddie Mercury

  9. #9
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    It is meant to address an attitude toward the use

    of substances and materials used specifically for performance enhancement. The League choose to restrict the most obvious offending sorts of products. Meat or a piece of chocolate are not really issues. Food and nutrition are a different matter. A family's customs and diet are a different matter. What adults choose to drink is up to them. They are adults.

    What this confronts is the idea that taking something to enhance performance is not honored in this context. Train hard, eat well, hydrate, rest, race hard. There are no short cuts. There is no place for the substances at issue in minors, especially when used as tools in competition.

  10. #10
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    If you drink Coke because you like the taste then there is no problem... BUT when teenagers start saying stuff like "I need my morning Red Bull" than I would say we have a problem.

    And yes I believe with some kids (and they are kids) we are at that point.


    I hate to say that I agree with anymore rules telling us what to do or not to do, but... I do with this one.

  11. #11
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    What's a "pocket check"? I'm guessing looking through an athlete's possessions for some labeled container.

    With all the budget cuts to education, I doubt there will funds available to test the contents of water bottles.

    Maybe I can invent a test kit with cool light and orange safety glasses (ala CSI) to screen any suspicious substances..caffeinated or otherwise.

    Enough rules already.

    Educate and let Darwin sort it out.
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  12. #12
    Fat Guy Riding
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    Quote Originally Posted by knobbyknees
    Did the sidebar really serve up an ad for that beverage?



    I have to admit to mixed feelings about this ban. I think the point was more about product placement, spiked sugar water, and sportsmanship, but the whole enforcement thing has me really confused.

    Patty
    Yup, I laughed out loud and my wife looked at me funny.

  13. #13
    Fat Guy Riding
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    Oh, and this rule is exceptionally misguided. How about educating the athletes on the dangers of using too much caffeine instead of placing draconian rules that the kids are simply going to circumvent by pouring their Monster or Rockstar into a cup or opaque bottle and then run around behind coaches backs to drink.

    Are you banning Hammer Gel that has caffeine in it? A legitimate nutrition supplement that I bet a number of your racers use?

    One of the above posters got it right when they said "we are teaching them that rules are arbitrary, unenforceable things created by self-important moralists"

    I couldn't have said it better myself.

  14. #14
    JMH
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike
    of substances and materials used specifically for performance enhancement. The League choose to restrict the most obvious offending sorts of products. Meat or a piece of chocolate are not really issues. Food and nutrition are a different matter. A family's customs and diet are a different matter. What adults choose to drink is up to them. They are adults.

    What this confronts is the idea that taking something to enhance performance is not honored in this context. Train hard, eat well, hydrate, rest, race hard. There are no short cuts. There is no place for the substances at issue in minors, especially when used as tools in competition.
    Mike- I posted in the XC forum about this before I saw it here...

    I still support your efforts with this program, but I strongly disagree with you. There are many banned substances in the rulebook that actually enhance performance. Kids can still learn training and racing ethics by avoiding those substances. "Tools in competition?" Kids EVERYWHERE drink this crap regardless of whether the afternoon holds a MTB race or a gruelling 5 hour TV session.

    But by prohibiting Coke and RedBull, you are arbitrarily banning a non performance-enhancing substance and sending a HUGE mixed message to the kids. Roll models drink coffee and RedBull. Are they cheating? Is JHK less worthy of respect if you see him drink a Coke before a race? And if it's illegal at practice, does that make it "cheating" if the rider drinks a Coke at lunch?

    I think you have unfairly dumped yet another confusing and unfair WWJD moment on kids that don't need it.

    JMH

  15. #15
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    Can't agree with this one.

    So these things are only banned for the kids that actually get out and exercise? The fat lazy kids can drink all they want? Is it bad or isn't it? Seems pretty grey to me.

    Caffeine may have questionable value (though I have read studies that are pretty supportive of limited caffeine), but in my mind, Just Say No moralism has zero value. Rather than teaching the smart kids to take care of themselves and learn to moderate, this rule assumes that all kids are stupid and gives none of them the skill set they will need to make smart choices later.

    The temptation to dope/cheat does exist in the real world and to send young adults out into this, without the ability to intelligently evaluate their options, is the real sin. Educate, don't mandate.
    I only attempt to change the world in the appropriate World-Changing venues and forums.

  16. #16
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    I ride with a kid (High School racer) who slams a Red Bull on his last lap fairly often. Can't say I'd do it, but that's his call, he knows his body. I don't think it's good for 15 yr olds to be slugging liquid crank and pumping their hearts through thier chests.
    But, they're athletes, and they will try to get around the rule. Let's hope the coaches and parents are going to help enforce this.
    On a side note, One of my high school friends died our senior year during a lacrossee game, he OD'd on caffeine and Ritalin. In front of his Mom and younger brother, just collapsed.
    Obviously the ban doesn't include ritalin, and I'm bringing something in from outside the conversation, but I'm making the point that young athletes are willing to put themselves (unknowingly) in harm's way just to keep the legs going.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by fritzaholic
    I ride with a kid (High School racer) who slams a Red Bull on his last lap fairly often. Can't say I'd do it, but that's his call, he knows his body. I don't think it's good for 15 yr olds to be slugging liquid crank and pumping their hearts through thier chests.
    But, they're athletes, and they will try to get around the rule. Let's hope the coaches and parents are going to help enforce this.
    On a side note, One of my high school friends died our senior year during a lacrossee game, he OD'd on caffeine and Ritalin. In front of his Mom and younger brother, just collapsed.
    Obviously the ban doesn't include ritalin, and I'm bringing something in from outside the conversation, but I'm making the point that young athletes are willing to put themselves (unknowingly) in harm's way just to keep the legs going.
    Liquid crank? Seriously?

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    I don't know that it is a bad idea to ban it. Excessive consumption of caffeine is not good, and it sets a precedence to not using drugs to enhance performance. At the end of the day caffeine is a drug and is being used as one by many people. Just because it is legal doesn't mean it should be used and abused. Would be be having this discussion if the ban concerned psuedrophedrine?

    It appears that a lot of the responses here are in part reactions that people based on their own addiction to caffeine, whether through soda, coffee, or the new caffeine drinks. I know I used to worship my mocha but had to stop as part of loosing weight.
    Riding slowly since 1977.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jschwart73
    Liquid crank? Seriously?
    I would like to clarify...
    Liquid Crank referring to Redbull, Monster, RockStar, G Unit Energy drink, Jagermeister, and anything else that heps you up.

  20. #20
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    Haha that Pepsi ad is on my page right now, showing up right next to the attached picture of the Pepsi ad. Hillarious. I hate Pepsi anyway, their stuff is complete crap.

    I dont think banning the stuff will really work. However, NOT letting large soda companies influence children at school in a closed environment where they have no choice but to consume should be persued. I think there was a documentary made about corporations buying exclusive rights to have their products (soda vending machines, for example) sold at a school. Thats when it really goes too far.

    Kids should have the right to drink highly sugar-ated and caffeinated drinks if that is what they want to do. Its up to the parents to properly educate them on the risks involved. Coaches may be able to make rules about what type of substance should be avoided at sporting events but unless these are illegal products it will be difficult to enforce.

  21. #21
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    I'm not up on the state of the art of HS sports. Is it banned in other sports?

    In general it's legal, so you shouldn't be able to ban it. I might quit the league over it if I were affected. Caffeine is a human right, as far as I'm concerned.

    I'm not advocating it in any way and I know a 40 of Rockstar isn't good for anyone, let alone a HS athlete, but there's nothing wrong with getting an iced mocha at Starby's or a Coke at McD's on the way to an event.

    OTOH, when someone accuses the race winner of drinking a glass of iced tea out of spite, it's going to suck for everyone.

    Banning without a solid testing method will leave you open to all kinds of trouble.

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    Defining a limit is hardly arbitrary.

    to suggest that is to fail to appreciate that a line must be drawn SOMEWHERE. This has been done thoughtfully by a panel of coaches with many years of experience in sports and managing teens and teen programs.

    Part of the challenge here is that you only see the end result. There is nothing posted here so far that the panel did not say out loud numerous times in far more elaborate and colorful ways. That they are accurate, well informed, or applicable to the issue did not exclude them from discussion; are all valid perspectives.

    It might be worth noting that a prominent support of the League and numerous teams is Clif Bar and they will not sell or donate any products with Caffeine. As a major sports food producer such a statement is hard to ignore. If you have ever had dealings with Clif or spent time with Gary Peterson or his staff they are truly great people.

    What other kids do one their sofas is not important. What our participants do in their own lives, as long as it is not detrimental to our other members is up to them. However, what they do when they are within the League and at League events is at issue and is being clearly defined. There is nothing confusing about it. It is just like house rules when my son's friends visit.

    Enforcement is a problematic issue. As is said about the internet it is only a matter of time when people disagree that one side accuses the other of being a nazi. We got to draconian already but I'll let that impassioned volley pass. What it reveals is a general lack of familiarity with the personality of the NorCal League.

    What the League is asked to manage is competition within an adolescent population where physical and emotional behaviors are in rapid flux and development. What is always kept in mind is that this is work with kids and kids make mistakes. How one manages this sort of event is critical. Mistakes are opportunities to shape behavior through education and support. As such, complications and difficulties are handled with a pretty deft, generous, and gracious hand. That does not mean that it is not firm when needed.

    A League of this size is unique as its it's character. The growth over the last years has been phenomenal ; from 78 in 2002 to nearly 500 in 2008. As such the intensity of the experience with teens in competition is hard to appreciate from the outside. New participants usually take some time to appreciate the gracious nature of the League hand. The greatest challenges tend to come from athletes and coaches and parents who have come from NORBA type environments. They have found that only the most aggressive and persistent presence will guarantee their kids a fair shake in a gray area in that venue. You can see them lingering and looming around the League tent at races like Little League parents (or Hockey parents if you are Canadian.) Usually by about the 3rd race they are relaxed and smiling with the rest of us. They have learned how much the League cares and how careful the League is.

    These rules give us a framework. The League doesn't have spies, or sophisticated screening. We have only the honor and goodwill we have created and worked hard to maintain. Spot checks will be done only if only to remind us all that we have a standard or something really looks out of whack. Somehow in all of this reaction to the totalitarian nature of restricting food this was lost:
    "However, we have a 3-to-1 ratio of dedicated adults working with the athletes and with good coaching and education kids usually make the right decisions."

    I am not worried about this at all. There will be problems but they will be met with the customary grace and patience shown thus far.
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  23. #23
    Rb
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    This is pretty stupid.

    Isn't there also a rule that states any kid found to be riding illegal trails in their own free time, is subject to removal from their team?

    And now, if you're caught drinking a Red Bull before a race, you're banned from competition?

    Puh-lease.

    For a lot of these kids, riding their bikes is a way for them to obtain some form of 'freedom' (using the term loosely here...). Why not take the glass-is-half-full approach and think of all the 'drugs' they could be abusing, but aren't? Just let the kids ride their bikes. That's what it's all about. Cut the crap.

    Quote Originally Posted by NorCal-Saint
    If you drink Coke because you like the taste then there is no problem... BUT when teenagers start saying stuff like "I need my morning Red Bull" than I would say we have a problem.

    And yes I believe with some kids (and they are kids) we are at that point.


    I hate to say that I agree with anymore rules telling us what to do or not to do, but... I do with this one.


    Kid: "Coach, you look kinda down. What's wrong?"
    Coach: "Well Jonny, I didn't have my coffee this morning."

    Stop sending mixed messages.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike
    There is no place for the substances at issue in minors, especially when used as tools in competition.
    Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back for protecting those helpless, helpless kids that you've decided are simply too dumb to make their own decisions, and therefore need your benevolent guidance to survive childhood. Your desire to feel good about yourself causes every one of those kids to simultaneously laugh at you behind your back and resent you terribly.

    Besides, are you willing to take the coffee machine out of the teachers' lounge? Then you're a hypocrite too.

    I support a ban on commercial sponsorship of school activities of any type, whether they sell caffeinated beverages or not. But this is just stupid.

  25. #25
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    All I can say is that I'm glad I no longer have to abide by the league's rules. I agree that chugging a redbull is bad for you and won't actually increase your performance unless you haven't slept in days, but I think there should be an exception for the varsity category. I feel (and told Matt this in November) that varsity athletes should know (by virtue of the work taken to become a varsity racer) what is good for them, what is bad for them, and what will actually make them faster vs what companies say will make them faster. This goes for both the caffeine rule and the gear ratio rule, and possibly others.
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  26. #26
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    I hope they don't ban caffeine for high school teachers.....




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  27. #27
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    The norcal league is bs. I would race it, but the rules, and membership are not what I want to support. Banning caffeine is crazy any way I can look at it. I hope their stupid rules and thoughts like "a bike wheel should never leave the ground" will greatly affect their rider turnout. If anything I think the league makes cycling look bad.
    For example, I help start a mtb team at my school which I am not now on. I got a lot of kids to join for the freeride/fun aspect of riding, but most quit(including myself) after these so called nor-cal rules. I really hope norcal can take a broader definition of what mtb is and not make a bunch of stupid crap.

  28. #28
    RJG
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    Whatever

    Who cares? You can't chew gum in class. You can't have a Coke before a race. Then you grow up a little and do whatever substances you want, legal or otherwise.

    Sounds more like a liability thing in case some kids heart blows up at a race after pounding some "Long Island Ice Tea" of energy drinks.

    I think I read in Ned Overend's book that he said the either he or some racers will drink a bit of flat Coke for a pick me up toward the end of a race.
    R

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    I find it humorous that the advertisement on the right of my screen is for diet pepsi max. But really, the rules of the league are way whack. I'm glad here in washington the schools haven't taken over mountain biking. I might have some "yellow" and "orange" level consequences from my riding. Also, I find it funny because gu is a sponsor of the series. That's like banning carbon fiber components from a xc race sponsored by easton and scott.
    Just my dos centavos.
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    Man it looks like rip on Mike day. I have already posted my thoughts about the rule, but want to note that Mike is a incredibly nice guy that has spent literally years helping to develop this program. While you may disagree with the rule, some of the posts have gone a bit toward the personal side IMHO.
    Riding slowly since 1977.

  31. #31
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    Good thing I don't have kids!!
    My Dad taught P.E. in High School for 42 years and is retired. My mom was a teacher also.
    They taught me to always question everything.

    Seems this is a knee-jerk reaction of an administration that fails to deal with the real issues.
    Much like banning red or blue at school instead of handling the real issue of gang violence.

    When the school ban tobacco, caffeinated drinks and sugar from ALL their events, cafeterias and property then I'll take 'em seriously. Oh, yeah lets ban smelling like cigarettes too. That means no colas, coffee or smoking at the football games too.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rb

    Kid: "Coach, you look kinda down. What's wrong?"
    Coach: "Well Jonny, I didn't have my coffee this morning."

    Stop sending mixed messages.
    I would agree that there is a double standard out there, BUT we are still talking about kids -vs- adults. As a father of a 9 year old mountain biker I send only one message. Caffeine IS an addictive substance, stick with the natural consistent energy that comes from eating right, exercise, and sleep...

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoovermd
    Good thing I don't have kids!!
    My Dad taught P.E. in High School for 42 years and is retired. My mom was a teacher also.
    They taught me to always question everything.

    Seems this is a knee-jerk reaction of an administration that fails to deal with the real issues.
    Much like banning red or blue at school instead of handling the real issue of gang violence.

    When the school ban tobacco, caffeinated drinks and sugar from ALL their events, cafeterias and property then I'll take 'em seriously. Oh, yeah lets ban smelling like cigarettes too. That means no colas, coffee or smoking at the football games too.
    WOW - What are these things you call "mom" and "dad?"
    And you mean to tell me you grew up without the tutelage of the Nanny State telling you what to do? I didn't think this was possible!

  34. #34
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    I really, really, really hated rules when I was a kid. Can you say "rebel"?

    Huh. now that I think about it, I STILL HATE RULES!

    I took up riding horses on trails and through pastures when I was about 10 years old. I was psyched when I could get PE credit without having to participate in team sports. Although it wasn't competitive, I had to be responsible for my horse's well-being.

    What a concept. Physical activity, outdoors, in nature, without having to prove who is best.

    Not everyone is a team player. I think the NorCal league is a bit like trying to push square pegs in round holes. Mountain biking is an individual sport WAY more than a team sport. Thats why so many of us don't play well with others.

    I would love to see an informal high school program for kids on bikes that wasn't competitive but that still counted for PE credits. Yeah, and with jumping and crashing and getting lost and coming home WAY too late. Now, we're talking consequences.

    Just my random 20 cents tonight.

    patty
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    Quote Originally Posted by knobbyknees
    I really, really, really hated rules when I was a kid. Can you say "rebel"?

    Huh. now that I think about it, I STILL HATE RULES!

    I took up riding horses on trails and through pastures when I was about 10 years old. I was psyched when I could get PE credit without having to participate in team sports. Although it wasn't competitive, I had to be responsible for my horse's well-being.

    What a concept. Physical activity, outdoors, in nature, without having to prove who is best.

    Not everyone is a team player. I think the NorCal league is a bit like trying to push square pegs in round holes. Mountain biking is an individual sport WAY more than a team sport. Thats why so many of us don't play well with others.

    I would love to see an informal high school program for kids on bikes that wasn't competitive but that still counted for PE credits. Yeah, and with jumping and crashing and getting lost and coming home WAY too late. Now, we're talking consequences.

    Just my random 20 cents tonight.

    patty
    I raced the high school league last year, it is not really set up like a "team" sport like you are thinking. Teams train and ride together but all racing is individual.
    That said I could have had a better time last year, I showed up in an undershirt, cotton shorts, BMX lid, and a SS. On more than one occasion I got harassed from random adults about my helmet not being appropriate (its a snell approved helmet with a back retention device like a normal lid) as well as being lectured about the clothing I was wearing. I know that my clothes aren't the best, and I guess my lid is a little hot and heavy. But I never did anything unsafe or against the rules. As for the SS I got all kinds of lectured from people about how it will hurt my knees bla bla bla.
    Good thing about protecting my knees, single speeds have since been banned, as well as double and having your easiest cog being no smaller than 28.
    The caffeine thing is a bit nuts. I can see peoples concern with kids drinking to much caffeine, hell I can even see banning energy drinks, but banning all caffeine is way overboard.
    The people running the league have great intentions and run a great program, but they have gone way to far with the rules
    Pump Tracks Are Rad!!!!

  36. #36
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    what a pathetic set of rules...........

  37. #37
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    I am really pleased to hear all of these responses.

    This is incredibly valuable input. I count on this from the forum. I take no offense from anything anyone has said because these are all opinions from people who are invested in their sport.

    Athletes are people motivated by individual drives to do what they do. They have to understand what works for them to keep them going. As a subset mountain bikers are even more independent and driven. As such their opinions on things that will limit them or ask them to limit themselves will be negative. The gut level reaction really has the power. The arguments are secondary. On the other hand mountain bikers are incredibly generous and supportive of each other and the mountain biking experience. They recognize that the experience is a very special thing and defend it as they see fit.

    What ends up happening is that the league will have to find a way to manage all of this kind of energy. People within the League will come around whether the people on this forum will or not. (DH-ers, Dirt Jumpers, and Freeriders tend to not succeed within the League as that is not what the league does. This is common in start-ups.) How we manage that process is key. The League keeps growing every year. Even Menso said that he wished that he had joined the League earlier than he did. There is a reason for that growth and appreciation; the same people who have been shaping and guiding the League for years are the people who made this rule. They represent the largest and most successful teen teams in the country. Rail and cajole all you want, it is hard to argue with success.

    Thank you all.

  38. #38
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    Alright, so no coffee, and no singlespeeds? These kids are going to grow up to be a bunch of sissies!

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev1n
    Alright, so no coffee, and no singlespeeds? These kids are going to grow up to be a bunch of sissies!
    Yea, that and tires aren't suppose to leave the ground? If I can, I'm going to pass you on one wheel thank you very much!

  40. #40
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    One of the functions of rules

    is to define what an organization is all about. This allows any prospective participant to vet the organization and make an informed choice about being involved. What one learns in managing an organization to engage a population is that not everyone can participate.

    Busy schedules, varied motivations, competing interests, family considerations or simply not liking to do the XC thing are all factors which put people outside our program. Our rules have considerations for managing illegal substances and drugs which support the ethos of schools and municipalities which is only prudent. I doubt that will drive many riders away. That the League has banned caffeine will hardly cause an exodus, either.

    Opportunities exist for people to create their own organizations where they can balance the myriad stresses and considerations in their own fashion. Sponsorships for "downhill, XC," are largely serving adult populations. These organizations have done what they feel works best for them. The presence of teens is not the major percentage of these overall populations.

    The Corral Hollow DH #1 last year drew 256 racers, 68 of which were Juniors. In #2 out of 253 racers 87 were Juniors. CCCX DH is remarkably similar. Those are really impressive numbers and describe a population of teens really interested in this sport.

    The CCCX Series Race #1 drew 252 racers of which 42 were teens. #2 drew 224 and 40 were teens. These races are dominated by NorCal racers who aren't even up to speed as their season doesn't start until March 2 at this very venue but called the Central Coast Invitational. NorCal will put nearly 500 racers on the starting line, 100% teens. They have seen the rules and signed up anyhow and paid their $30 to race. Go figure.
    Last edited by Berkeley Mike; 02-29-2008 at 12:40 PM.

  41. #41
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    A lot of the ridicule here is misguided. I see this as just another symptom of a litigious society and its manifestations here in NorCal, where the people who do the incredibly difficult work of teaching and coaching our kids also have to be concerned with potential accusations of misconduct and even lawsuits. An overabundance of caution? Yes. The fault of the individuals making these rules? No.

    From the KidsHealth website of the Nemours Foundation (started by Alfred duPont, which raises some questions about bias & special interests I can't even begin to untangle):

    "In addition to being more susceptible to the effects of caffeine based on size, small children are more sensitive to caffeine because they haven't been exposed to it as much as older children or adults. ... Caffeine can aggravate heart problems or nervous disorders, and some children may not be aware that they're at risk."

    After reading this (duPont conspiracy theories aside), if I were a coach I'd want to cover my ass too. (Not saying that this was/is the primary motivation of Mike or any other coach ... just something I'd be concerned about were I in their shoes.)
    Last edited by budgie; 02-29-2008 at 01:08 PM.

  42. #42
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    This all hits home in another way for many.

    It can touch a nerve where ones history of treatment as a teen was questionably managed by adults in authority. I know that there is a lot of information on this thread but I will repost this bit, yet again:

    These rules give us a framework. The League doesn't have spies, or sophisticated screening. We have only the honor and goodwill we have created and worked hard to maintain. Spot checks will be done only if only to remind us all that we have a standard or something really looks out of whack. Somehow in all of this reaction to the totalitarian nature of restricting food this was lost:
    "However, we have a 3-to-1 ratio of dedicated adults working with the athletes and with good coaching and education kids usually make the right decisions."

    We have laws in this country dealing with murder but that doesn't mean we have to grill every citizen at every moment about their involvement in mayhem. More effort, though,is spent on certain cases. And that is where the law really has it's effect. Seeing my mother-in-law standing barefoot at the airport in service of national security is ridiculous. More effort is spend on a guy with TNT strapped to his chest.

    Somewhere in our method, unless thoughtless or over exuberant, the League will have to moderate it's intrusion into the behaviors of it's charges. More effort will end up being used in a very few cases. At the other end our community will have to depend upon faith in the League to be reasonable and gracious. That can be hard for some people and they must be considered. In a curious way the input from this whole thread serves to illuminate such a need for consideration. That doesn't mean changing the rule though, but appreciating the need for sensitivity and decency.

  43. #43
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    We are only exchanging information.

    That is what makes civil discussion possible. I gave up long ago trying to convince people of things. Ideas either resonate with internal values or they don't. So we come to a point where I can see clearly where there is disagreement and it is base in a clearly stated negative experience. Fair enough. That does not invalidate a point; we all have lives and history and that is what shapes how we think, emote, and behave.

    A clear point of disagreement is this; the difference in rules has EVERYTHING to do with being a teen, a minor, and an organization which acts a majority of the time, in the absence of parents.

    What adult riders choose to do, mature, developed, or otherwise, and the consequences for what they do and how they manage them are a very different thing. That is what being an adult is about.

    People will choose to support or not support for many reasons and, again, there is I little can do about that. I doubt the idea that I welcome a variety of thoughts and invest my thoughts to relate to them and understand them and make mistakes in the process will cause a loss of support. I have more faith in people than that. Perhaps faith in the authority involved is another point of disagreement. That, too, is fair enough.
    Last edited by Berkeley Mike; 02-29-2008 at 06:04 PM.

  44. #44
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    I did say I wish I had joined the league earlier, but the reason I never did was because I didn't want to submit to the rules and regulations. I had to jump through hoops and send forceful sounding emails just to be able to race varsity when I did join. This was as a Jr X racer. Thankfully they let me race and you guys know the results.

    This isn't so much about caffeine as it is about asinine rules being followed to letter. For example: last year Nate Byrom, a very good rider who I'm betting on to win the series this year, was penalized five minutes for "cutting the course" at Toro. Apparently he was cutting a sharp DH corner on each lap. This corner wasn't taped off, and if it was he wouldn't have gain more than 2 seconds per lap. That's less than 10 in the whole race. But some well meaning volunteer course marshal inflated with self importance decided to report this heinous violation, resulting in the penalty.

    Nate grudgingly accepted it and continued with the series, mostly since he was a sophomore and wanted to keep racing for the next two years. If such ridiculousness had happened to me, a senior, with MUCH bigger fish to fry (NMBS, Sea Otter, Nationals), the race officials would have received an extremely public torrent of obscenities resulting in me quitting the league right there and bad mouthing it to anyone who wanted to listen.

    The league needs to get over itself and realize that NOBODY cares who wins these races. I received no official recognition for winning the races I did--no call ups at NMBS races, nobody at Nationals recognized me from them, and sponsors didn't care. You'd the guy who won the league "State" championship race would at least get a call up at Nationals. Nope.

    This is the kind of situation we're complaining about. The way the rules are written, an athlete could be penalized for having a coke before their race, which is even more absurd than Nate's penalty.
    ye' old trailblog: www.most-excellent-adventures.com THE BAY AREA... WHERE IF IT'S FUN, IT'S ILLEGAL

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by stripes
    Thanks Menso. That was the point I was trying to make all along.

    I'm glad to hear you're still racing and stupid rules didn't kill your passion for it!
    Well, now I'm just dealing with it on the collegiate road scene. I had to beg and plead just to race the "B" race since I've not done many road events, and then they were "nice" and bent the rules to let me race A's after winning the first B race. People are too focused on the letter of the law and not on the spirit, which in this case is good competition.

    edit: as for passion, well, my stoke comes from riding the amazing (but somewhat illegal) SLO trails, many of which would get me kicked out of the Norcal league. The thing is, nobody here cares if we ride the trails, except maybe the cows. But technically they are illegal, and following the letter not the spirit I would be gone from the league.

    edit #2: I just realized the problem as I see it--Norcal enforces the letter of the while claiming to represent the spirit of youth mountain biking. NORBA/NMBS/USAcycling enforces the letter of the law too, but they run a series and other races of actual consequence to those competing.
    ye' old trailblog: www.most-excellent-adventures.com THE BAY AREA... WHERE IF IT'S FUN, IT'S ILLEGAL

  46. #46
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    Clearly there are athletes of exceptional quality

    and athletes of exceptional character. However, just as in any group ride, that is the last person one uses to set the pace if you are concerned for the whole group.

    Recognition by Norba and such has never been the goal of NorCal. In fact the USAC model turned out to be inappropriate for teens in such large numbers though fine for adults, hence the new rule book. That a few fine athletes find this model to their liking is no proof of it's validity for the huge sample we have. The League is, however, indebted to USAC for its' general framework and the support it has received for the last 8 years.

    Integrating developed talent from outside the League is something we have worked hard to understand. The small fields and variable levels of competition bear review in order for placement in the ranks to be challenging and appropriate. That it seems byzantine and plodding to a 16 year old is no surprise. Later participation in a camp made the process a lot easier and a decision pretty straightforward. Boosting riders upward from within the League is very much easier as the value of their work is well known. This season the League accomplished this for 5 riders to much satisfaction.

    As an official involved in the determination of the Rider and Course Marshal story I find the recounting of the story in conflict with the facts as I know them. I will not discuss this further and do not suggest that there is one truth to any version. I find the comments about the volunteer to be disappointingly ungracious from a source I believed I knew.

    I can recall discussions here on MTBR where race promoters are criticized for any number of behaviors. Much like Race promotion I suggest that a point of view is much altered when one is actually doing it. The very best racers seem to keep that in mind.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike
    Rider and Course Marshal story I find the recounting of the story in conflict with the facts as I know them. I will not discuss this further and do not suggest that there is one truth to any version. I find the comments about the volunteer to be disappointingly ungracious from a source I believed I knew.
    Sorry about that. This is just what an understandably upset Nate told me, and I'm inclined to believe him because I know him fairly well and know he would not cut a course with the intent of gaining an unfair advantage. The point is that the intent is much more important than the infraction.
    ye' old trailblog: www.most-excellent-adventures.com THE BAY AREA... WHERE IF IT'S FUN, IT'S ILLEGAL

  48. #48
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    That sounds about right.

    Intent in all of these cases is huge. That is where a certain amount of trust and faith and sportsmanship are so important. At the same time we are challenged to manage athletes and coaches and parents who will be upset and get them past it just as with any other type of challenge. We clearly do more to serve that need than any other organization.

  49. #49
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    Keep fighting the good fight Mike. Curbing the use of caffeine within racing at this level is appropriate, well thought out, and in the best interest of the kids involved. You want kids hooked on cycling not hooked on substances so they can go cycling!! Good luck with enforcement though and please use lots of grace with infractions. A yellow card and then a red one perhaps? Speaking into their lives is ultimately what is most important, but you already know that. It's a good rule.

  50. #50
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    Way to many rules.

    It seems to me that you should be talking with the kids about the other drugs, alcohol
    (A colorless and inflammable liquid produced by fermentation) Drug (A substance used as medicine,esp. A nacrcotic preparation. To dose with drugs; to stupefy with, or as if with, a nacrcotic, as drugged with sleep.
    Next, it will be you can not start dating till your 18 if you are on a NORCAL high school MTB team ( Dating, love, freindship,) may influence you to race faster than others, in return getting back to see you girl friend and having a great time) That rule is as dump as war, there's no place for it. How many rights can we keep taking way. This rule follows under the word (Stupefy).

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