Thanks guys. I think we're going to go ahead and get her registered and do what we can to get her to as many races as we can in the spring. She's really pushing us to do this for/with her.
Ahh, here we go... the slippery slope of race bike, race gear, etc. :thumbsup:
Slippery slope, indeed. Yet because you are already in the sport your expenditures will be more on-target and bang-for-buck than most.
Best wishes. Keep it fun.
My kids (11 and 14 year old girls) and me started racing mtb's here in AZ last year in the local MBAA series. It is a great family oriented well organized XC series. Unfortunately there aren't many other kids at the races. Typically 2-5 girls in each of my daughter's categories and often fewer in the boys categories with 400+ racers in all categories. (BTW Jr.s race for $20.) For this sport to survive and grow we need to get more young people involved.
We typically travel 200+ miles round trip for 6 races and for the next race it will be more like 500+ miles. We turn each trip into a nice little vacation and usually get in a little extra riding as well. Yes, it is a significant expense for our family but it is worth it. We like the racing but love the camaraderie. We were really pleased to find the MBAA and have made lots of new friends. I've watched my daughters really grow and improve as riders, racers and in their character. My kids go out and race their lungs and legs off against the other kids then spend the rest of the day running around the venue with their competition just being kids in a safe healthy wholesome environment. They aren't worried about who won they are just having fun. It is awesome. They are healthy and happy and hanging out with other kids like them. My kids are the typical NICA kids (if there is such a thing.) Not into ball and stick sports, don't necessarily fit in with the "in crowd" at school but are good kids and don't hang out with the "out crowd" either. Both have run XC and loved the combination of individual/team competition.
When we heard that AZ was getting a NICA league we were so excited to have the opportunity to share mtb riding/racing with the schools we that jumped right in. My wife has already started a mtb club at the local HS (the only one in our small town) and put together a good group of adults to get the team off the ground. We have a team budget and fundraising goals on paper and a long list of businesses to approach for sponsorship/donations. Our goal is to raise enough money to pay for entry fees, kits, team registration, bike parts, other supplies and even maybe get some team bikes for kids that can't afford a decent bike. Our biggest hurdle is getting more kids on the team in a rural town where kids probably learn how to ride a horse before they ride a bike.
My wife and I and another parent have already participated in two very informative NICA webinars and plan to attend the AZ Leaders Summit. We are amazed how well organized and professional NICA is. NICA provides so much support for leagues, teams and coaches we aren't about to complain about it being expensive. We are so exited to share our love of cycling with the kids in our area it is worth it.
We are not wealthy people but I'd rather put my money and effort into my kids racing mtb's than being on a soccer or softball team where they may not get to play much and once out of school are probably never going to play again. I believe that for the price NICA offers great value and an even better experience for kids and their families.
Just last week there was a impromptu/informal NICA clinic at a local bike shop. We were really surprised to see so many kids there that we have never seen at the MBAA races. These kids ARE coming out to race BECAUSE of NICA!
I would sure hope that there are industry people involved in NICA. We need that kind of expertise and support to grow the sport. It is a win win for everybody. Just because somebody might benefit financially from their involvement in something doesn't make their involvement sinister. We all do something for money and many of us do the same thing because we love it.
If the OP wants to complain about the cost or rules or whatever that's fine and I can totally understand where you are coming from even though I disagree. Just don't participate. Before NICA there wasn't HS mtb racing and since you have other racing opportunities not being on a NICA team is apparently not a big loss in your world. If you want to take part in NICA get involved and make it better. Do some fund raising and get some sponsors for the team to reduce the costs. If your kid wants to be on the team you should feel lucky that the opportunity is there for him.
I think the original poster's goal in starting this thread has been completely lost. This is probably because he named the thread "Why are we doing this?" Instead if it were called "How can NICA be improved?" and laid out his concerns, which I think are very valid, it would be more constructive. So enough questioning people's motives and finger pointing, let's get constructive.
Cost is a serious issue because it discourages youth participation. Any suggestions that the solution is to "vote with your wallet" and stay away from NICA, really doesn't help, the goal is to maximize youth participation and the success of NICA.
It seems to me the obvious answer is that NICA needs to partner up with local race promoters. There is no need to run a parallel race organization unless the Youth participation numbers can support it. Especially where NICA is just starting out, NICA should be a class of racers in the existing races that are already organized. When the youth numbers grow, they can support organizing their own races while keeping costs down.
NICA doesn't NEED to partner with anybody it is already wildly successful. NICA events attract 100's of high school aged racers. I've never seen more than a handful at any other events.
Extant racing communities very often resist NICA presence. Why not; they already have working model which they believe in and is supported by native talent and culture.
At least one new racing organization has sprouted up in Northern California where NorCal (the precursor and creator of NICA) had developed a fairly small teen (14-18 y/o) racing contingent of a local series into 9 teams of 50-75 riders over a 9 year period. These NorCal riders were developed by schools the collective efforts of the communities centered there support by NorCal programs. 9 of 10 were developed by NorCal and did not exist before NorCal.
The new org eschewed the NorCal model but there were HS teams who competed in both. This new group would not have had any success without the development by NorCal but have a nice following. Fees are less than NorCal by about 35%. Good folk, nice venue.
My experience with the NorCal/NICA model is that it has the capacity to evoke a mountain bike racing community where there was relatively little going on. That comes from how we developed ourselves; lessons learned, understood, and passed on. It also implants a long-view health oriented attitude, much as many of the best interscholastic athletic programs. The program also works to sustain the nascent energies and develop them further. Growth and development are expensive. Training coaches, training teams, building community relationships, providing camps and such costs money. They do a great job with all of this.
If a community already has some home grown system, especially if it piggybacks on the fringes of a much larger adult market, it can be very inexpensive. Rarely do they develop teams, the coaching, funding and such, that NorCal/NICA does. They don't have the capacity or the special talents needed to do this. NorCal comes from mountain bikers, teachers,community workers, and teen community devotes. That is why the program is so complete and adaptable. As such I doubt that home growth groups generate the numbers NorCal/NICA does.
If a community presumes upon the NorCal/NICA development for its market its costs are much lower. That is pretty simple. I have no doubt that the kids still have fun, have honor and experience excellence but I doubt that they have the kind of rich support NorCal/NICA can provide.
This is a bad idea. I know you are from Utah so let me put this in terms you most likely have seen. The Intermountain Cup is the largest series of MTB races in Utah, and there are at least 3 other weekly series. I'd guess that about 200+ people turn out for each I-cup race, I may be wrong. Of those, less than 10% are high school aged youth. Our first year as a NICA league, Utah had 240+ kids at each race, 100% of whom were in high school. I-cup has absolutely nothing to offer NICA as a way to effectively get kids racing. I encourage my racers to do an I-cup race because for us, it is "early season" riding although I also encourage them to focus on our races and not to get burned out. Also, I-cup races cost just as much as a NICA race and the production value is on an order of magnitude less.
Originally Posted by The Boz
With that said, watch what happens to the I-cup as the Utah league grows, I-cup will grow. That is one of our goals, to get the youth involved in a life long sport.
Silentfoe makes good points. Most NICA teams have scholarship programs and here in the Norcal league virtually every team wants more riders and will help kids with loaner bikes and scholarships (if they need it) to get them going. The sport can be expensive, but is not prohibitively so and NICA is deeply committed to finding ways to make sure everyone can participate. It is actually part of the core mission of NICA to enable access to kids from all income levels and walks of life.
Appending NICA to existing race series that include adults would change the whole experience for the kids, who would no longer be the "main event" at their races. And the tremendous infrastructure that a NICA race provides -- well-laid out and -marked courses, dozens of marshals and innumerable parent/volunteers, top safety precautions, insurance -- would definitely not be of the same quality for the kids. Also, at least here, it would be a much tougher sell to develop the same level of involvement if the high school racers were only part of a larger event. As a high-school-only concept, NICA-sponsored racing is a smashing success. There were about 700 riders at the Norcal race at Granite Bay last weekend, with an even larger number of parents, friends, coaches, and volunteers providing pre- and post-race support, food, trainers for warm-ups, bike checks, water bottles at the feed zone, and an overall great environment. Amateur adult races just don't have the same level of support.
I found out first hand just how valuable that infrastructure is on Sunday, when my son suffered a bad crash about 15 miles in to his race (he was racing well, in fourth place at the time and preparing to begin a sprint to the finish) and had to be taken away on a stretcher by the crew that was very quickly on the scene, even though it was on a remote part of the course not close to any road. He was very well cared for until the EMT on call arrived a few minutes later. Norcal volunteers made this happen, and helped track me down as well (I was waiting near the finish line with my camera, but without my cell phone) so that I could go with him to the hospital rather than stand there panicking because he still hadn't come through the finish despite having been close to the lead on his second lap. (Thankfully, he is OK and only battered and bruised, and will be back on his bike in a day or two to try to win back the leader's jersey that he was wearing.) Yet another volunteer made sure that his bike was separately delivered back to our team tent. The coaches and other parents on the team helped gather our stuff together and checked out his bike, and equally importantly helped me stay calm, because I knew they were there to back me up. Sure, there are safety precautions at every well-organized race, but I cannot believe the same level of care would have occurred at anything other than a professional race.
Glad to hear your son is ok. I was one of the rovers that responded and I was a little worried about that arm that he was guarding. I split to another radio call about the time the paramedics got there so I never got to hear the final diagnosis. Any poison oak? Its a bad time of year for reckless trips into the brush.
Thanks Metamorphic. He has a huge bruise on his arm and another on his hip, but somehow managed to avoid the PO this time. (It was everywhere on that course.) He wrecked but wasn't reckless.
NorCal used to include a Sea Otter race in its schedule but that didn't last. It makes everything so anonymous and diffused. Further, the quality of the NorCal racers is well toward the top of the talent range there and SE draws a lot of inexperienced and one-time racers. There is a way to do this sort of thing and absent that skill racing can be just a thrash.