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  1. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by asphalt_jesus View Post
    Inside the bike industry, they are proud that cycling has become more expensive than skiing. More dollars for them. If you look at who is running NICA, it's all bike industry folks. They aren't particularly interested in a low-cost sport. The same is true for USA Cycling too, so nothing new on either front.
    I would be very interested to hear how you come to such conclusions as this could be revealing. However, if all you have are citations from the analysis you have made, then you are on shaky ground. So, please elaborate.
    Last edited by Berkeley Mike; 10-05-2012 at 09:58 PM.
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  2. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeT View Post
    ...it's too damn expensive for what you get. $210 in fees for four races!
    Oh that's cute...

    My first triathlon was $120. My first marathon was $110. My first 24 hour race was $150. Hell I've raced duathlons and relay triathlons that cost upwards of 60 to 90 dollars a piece.

    Road racing in general is more expensive than dirt racing.

    $210/4 = ~$52 a race.

    But if you think it's too expensive, simply don't do it. Vote with your wallet. I get what you're trying to say, but it does come off as a bit whiney.

  3. #28
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    What this all demonstrates is the PeT's preferred situation is:

    1) below market.
    2) lacks the value-added by the NICA cultivation of riders, teams, and communties.
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  4. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    What this all demonstrates is the PeT's preferred situation is:
    My preferred situation is to have a reasonable discussion about how best to serve adolescents in our communities with respect to cycling and personal growth. I don't prefer a situation where people tell me that I need to spend more time with my kid (how the hell do they know if I do or not?), that I'm a cheapskate (do I wonder why things cost what they do when something comparable costs less? Sure I do), and be responded to with hostility when I raise legitimate questions. But the internet seems to settle to the lowest common denominator, and that's been proven here again...

    I presented observations that led me to question the value of NICA in my community -- it costs more than other races locally, fewer of our local kids are doing NICA events then do our less expensive local races and the reason they're not doing them is 'cause it's prohibitively expensive. I see no evidence that NICA does anything in the Rocky Mountains that cycling clubs haven't done with respect to building communities.

    Apparently NICA provided something that was missing in other parts of the country -- I'm fine with that and glad you've found something that works. A number of you are not fine with someone else having something different that works and the fact that it costs less and was here before NICA seems particularly irritating. Get over it! NICA has a lot of momentum here in Colorado and isn't going anywhere. One thing NICA in Colorado has going for it are truly cool organizers and coaches. If your "real-life persona" is anything like your internet presence, I'm at a loss to understand how you ever got anything off the ground...so I must conclude you are not as pretentious and sanctimonious in real-life you are on-line.
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  5. #30
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    PeT, most here would be delighted to have a reasoned discussion. It does seem to me, however, that you have been pretty thin-skinned and whiney (your word) so far, despite the fact that much of what you say is extremely reasonable and you otherwise sound like a good guy who, if you were nearby, I would like to get to know. For example, I can't imagine how anyone could be irritated or resentful about the great situation you seem to have in Colorado. If anything, I wish that we had the same here -- and am thrilled that NICA is filling the void for us. That's just my opinion. This format can lend itself to misunderstandings, so better to let it go and don't take it personally.

  6. #31
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    I see both sides of the argument and it all boils down to a value judgement call. I think it's very similar to:
    I'm riding my bike in the mountains, why does my bike have to be 10 sp and carbon with the latest suspension technology or
    I press the button and it plays music, why does it have to be an Apple
    So let me attempt to crudely overanalyze this.
    Much has been said about the fees. Here's my take.
    It would seem that NICA puts a premium on the race fees (tools, startup costs etc.) The true cost is somewhere between $5 and $52. We won't know exactly until books are opened and Ernst and Young are brought in. For the sake of argument, let's throw a number out there, like $20 per race. That's $80 total and in the grand scheme of things - $1500 out of pocket - it's small. Is that $1500 with $5 gas?

    The reason you're driving so much is so some other kids will drive 30 mins to the race venue. Would those same kids be racing with your kid in the local races?
    As has already been pointed out, if your league grows and more kids participate, things will change ie become more cost effective.
    Do you want your kid to miss out on the NICA experience because of the reasons you brought up? And did you bring up your reasons to him? What did he say? Why does he elect to participate? What price do you put on those reasons? Did you tell him that white earbuds get dirtier faster
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  7. #32
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    So it is a culture clash and different economic climates.

    That the model doesn't work for you, financially, is clear. No one ever said you were cheap, PeT, but you were clearly missing an understanding of the basics of NICA/NorCal. Fair enough?

    You seem to continue in this, though, as you suggest that we have "found" something that works for us. I don't know if you are reading what has been written or ignoring it. We didn't find anything: we built it from the ground up and it is succeeding across the nation.

    While seem you understand the cost you don't appreciate the value. You have a different system that works for you and many in your community. However, you mistake long investment, personal pride, depth of understanding, and clarity for sanctimony; there is a barrier there but not of my making.
    Last edited by Berkeley Mike; 10-12-2012 at 11:54 AM.
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  8. #33
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    I that there are valid points on both sides, nothing new to add except that I have more concerns on the admin side than being a parent of a rider. This may be what Pete is alluding to, but I am not sure. My memory is a little fuzzy since I have not been in the loop since our bid was submitted. I remember the feeling that there are some significant expenses, certain limitations, and a few unnecessary expectations for proposed chapters, and teams. As a whole, I think that NICA works, but there are a few areas that need attention.

  9. #34
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    Interesting view...

    I am a founder of the Arizona NICA League and couldn't disagree more. The national level funding for this has come from large companies in cycling. I would agree that part of that decision was for business as they are building future customers. However the benefits that come from a cycling lifestyle for the individual high school rider and their family far out way any business model. Nobody is making anybody pay $10k for a bike. Individuals choose to do that.

    As for the folks who are running NICA and the specific leagues, we are all avid mountain bikers. We all want to see positive youth development through cycling. We all want to build something positive for high school athletes that don't necessarily fit the "stick and ball" sports.

    Try going to a race and feel the vibe and watch kids race that may have never ridden a mountain bike 6 months ago. You see incredibly talented racer and very inspiring racers. I can't seem to find anything negative in that!


    Quote Originally Posted by asphalt_jesus View Post
    You and others have the money and spend it gladly. IMHO, cycling is on the same trajectory as golf was many years ago. How much is/was spent on greens fees, carbon clubs and all the rest is what matters, not the activity itself and making it available to many

    Inside the bike industry, they are proud that cycling has become more expensive than skiing. More dollars for them. If you look at who is running NICA, it's all bike industry folks. They aren't particularly interested in a low-cost sport. The same is true for USA Cycling too, so nothing new on either front.
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  10. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by penn_rider View Post
    I remember the feeling that there are some significant expenses, certain limitations, and a few unnecessary expectations for proposed chapters, and teams.
    This is exactly where PeT was. Expenses, limitations, uneccesary expectation compared to what? This, elaborated as a a critique, would be invaluable.
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  11. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by stew View Post
    The national level funding for this has come from large companies in cycling.
    I will re-word it more specifically. Without bike consumers with $10,000+ of gear, Shimano/Merida/OEM XYZ is not giving the concept a dime.

    On the one hand, the budget at the top is a huge step up from 25 years ago. On the other, how much does the gear cost the family to get started in season one, no race gear? How much does season two cost?

    -If you want to pretend there's some kind of firewall between the adult gear culture and what the kids are doing, then I'd say you are half right. You and others running the programs probably have and act with the best intentions.

    -If you want to deny the bike industry is recruiting for consumers willing to invest another $10,000 NPV by funding these programs, then try. The logic will be serpentine and ridiculous.

    If it is only about the life lessons of sport, then sell your gear and ride what the kids whose parents spend the least on the sport ride. Go for it. Or, like most of these threads where I'm modded down, you can make stuff up justifying the $10,00-20,000 in gear.
    Last edited by asphalt_jesus; 11-04-2012 at 12:03 AM.

  12. #37
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    Fact Check

    Quote Originally Posted by Jfloren View Post
    You are dead wrong and obviously have no idea what you are talking about.
    Uhhh. Well, your board of directors has 9 members and 5 of them are from the bike industry. At least 2 are international bike companies, SIDI, Shimano a third board member works/worked for Specialized and they are international. So, the industry rules by majority unless the NICA by-laws limit their influence. Board of Directors – NICA

    What is your agenda denying the industry's role in NICA?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jfloren View Post
    What is your agenda in making such a ridiculous statement?
    How about a more accessible sport? How about a little honesty from the competitive bike riding culture about what they value? Hint: the sport is not about participation for many.

  13. #38
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    Open to all?

    I have no idea who runs the league but I have seen some big industry people at the events.

    I don't think the original body of people were trying to push any industry agenda but as with all sports the industry saw a chance to hook more life long customers. I believe the founders original idea was nothing more then getting kids out on trails to experience the outdoors. Racing is a competitive sport period and with all competitive sports everyone looks for an advantage especially as they get better. From the hopeful want to be a pro teen with parents that have money to the industry seeing a chance to grab life long customers. Just the nature of sports and business.

    I think if the league placed a cap on the bike kids race it might make it open to more kids but who knows... Maybe only HT's and nothing under total weight of 20 some pounds. If not I see the sport for only those that can afford it.

    I am not negative towards the league at all as I believe their events are run really well and have the best competition but I just don't see it as a sport that all can participate due to cost at least not as its set up.

  14. #39
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    Fact check on your "fact check"

    Quote Originally Posted by asphalt_jesus View Post
    Inside the bike industry, they are proud that cycling has become more expensive than skiing. More dollars for them. If you look at who is running NICA, it's all bike industry folks.
    So your thesis is that NICA is run by those who seek to extract money for the bike industry. In fact, NICA was established only a few years ago, in 2009, and is still run by people who began as mountain bike-crazy volunteers and seek to plant and grow the same seeds across the nation that have successful in creating strong high school racing leagues in NorCal and SoCal -- now joined by others and spreading around the country. NICA was indeed helped by substantial donations from NorCal/SoCal league sponsors including various bike companies. And you find something wrong with that?

    NICA is now run by Austin McInerny, former head coach of the Berkeley High MTB team. He spent the last several years developing from scratch a truly awesome educational and coaching certification program for the NorCal league and then NICA along with people like Lee McCormack. He just took over as Executive Director from Matt Fritzinger, who founded the Berkeley team, then Norcal, then NICA (and was a high school math teacher before all that). The rest of NICA management are all committed mountain bikers. See Management Team – NICA

    Because those facts don't fit your theory, you argue about the NICA board:

    Quote Originally Posted by asphalt_jesus View Post
    Uhhh. Well, your board of directors has 9 members and 5 of them are from the bike industry. At least 2 are international bike companies, SIDI, Shimano a third board member works/worked for Specialized and they are international. So, the industry rules by majority unless the NICA by-laws limit their influence. Board of Directors – NICA
    You are right about one thing: the NICA board has 9 members. T
    1. The president of the Board specializes in growing and organizing outdoor-oriented non-profits, most recently the Bay Area Outdoor Recreation Program and earlier Cal Adventures.
    2. The VP is also the national sales manager for Clif Bar (which, as you may know, was started by a cyclist making homemade energy bars). He has been working with league teams since 1999.
    3. The Secretary is a family law attorney, bike nut, and former road racer.
    4. The Tresurer is an independent financial consultant.
    The other board members are:
    5. Kozo Shimano. He was once the president of Shimano American Corp. and was the original XTR product manager. But the family-owned company forced him out in 2008 in some kind of internal disagreement. That was before he joined NICA. He is an expert in the bike industry but not of it.
    6. David Curtis, a brand consultant to an environmental company and coach of one of the top NorCal teams.
    7. Forrest Arakawa, mountain bike racer, photographer, and MTBR employee.
    8. Sara Ecclesine, longtime racer, formerly employed at Specialized and now brand manager for SIDI America.
    9. Ben Capron, former longtime Specialized employee, where he was a product developer, marketing director and eventually chief brand officer. He left Specialized in 2011 to become NICA's development director, and recently started his own sports nutrition drink company, Osmo.

    In short, your thesis that NICA is controlled by the bike industry is bunk.

    Quote Originally Posted by asphalt_jesus View Post
    What is your agenda denying the industry's role in NICA?
    I've been pretty clear about my agenda to support and grow oranized youth cycling. I and many others are glad the industry has jumped on the bandwagon and supports NICA with dollars, promotions, freebies, bike raffles, etc., and NICA is happy to take their support. I have met only a few of the NICA people, all at bike races or at community park planning meetings where they showed up to advocate for expanding trail access for mountain bikes (a major problem in Northern California), but my son and our family have benefited greatly from what they do.

    Quote Originally Posted by asphalt_jesus View Post
    How about a more accessible sport? How about a little honesty from the competitive bike riding culture about what they value? Hint: the sport is not about participation for many.
    The sport will become even more accessible if it continues to spread. Yes, there will always be some racers whose parents spring for $10,000 bikes, but not most of them. Last year my kid raced on a $350 bike.

    For mountain biking, you need a bike. For high school team-oriented racing, you need coaches, programs, insurance, race marshals and officials, safety workers, permits, infrastructure, and coordination with the schools. It's not like pick-up basketball. Of course it can be made more accessible, and NICA leagues focus a good deal of time and money on precisely that. I am aware of several racers who don't even own bikes, and would be unable to ride at all if the leagues and teams didn't find loaner bikes for them. The "corporate" money to which you object helps with that, as it helps get kids on bikes.

    Convincing you appears to be a lost cause, but I have responded to your remarks lest others be misled by them.
    Last edited by J-Flo; 11-04-2012 at 01:09 PM.

  15. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTB Dad View Post
    I don't think the original body of people were trying to push any industry agenda but as with all sports the industry saw a chance to hook more life long customers. I believe the founders original idea was nothing more then getting kids out on trails to experience the outdoors. Racing is a competitive sport period and with all competitive sports everyone looks for an advantage especially as they get better. From the hopeful want to be a pro teen with parents that have money to the industry seeing a chance to grab life long customers. Just the nature of sports and business.

    I think if the league placed a cap on the bike kids race it might make it open to more kids but who knows... Maybe only HT's and nothing under total weight of 20 some pounds. If not I see the sport for only those that can afford it.

    I am not negative towards the league at all as I believe their events are run really well and have the best competition but I just don't see it as a sport that all can participate due to cost at least not as its set up.
    I agree with most of your comments but believe it would be a bad idea to exclude the kids with the lightest and most expensive bikes. They do include many (not all) of the race winners, but those kids are winning because they are great racers who have reached the level of competition where grams usually count. (I've also seen kids on very expensive bikes come in last place.) Excluding the great young racers would marginalize the league and make the races less inspiring to the mass of kids who don't train anywhere near as hard. I suppose it does promote the equivalent of an arms race, but that's just life, and any kid who is serious about racing knows that the engine matters much, much more than the bike. When kids are racing in big fields, 30-60 kids per division, the fact is that very few of them are going to make the podium.

    A better idea, I think, is to use the money that the sponsors and wealthier folks can contribute to pay for the poorest kids to have bikes to ride. That has worked here and has brought in some kids who otherwise never would have been able to ride -- a life-changing experience for some of them.

  16. #41
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    I agree it's the motor not the bike but when a kid gets better grams do count. I think the racers would still show if all were limited to HT's and a weight because in the end it would be skill,talent and the motor that would stand out. I don't think the great racers would no show because the field sizes at these events are much better. They would still race their non league races on their big $$$ rigs. Most have multiple bikes anyway.

    I raced myself years ago and my son has raced the last 4 yrs in both the league and in non league events. He is a much better athlete then I ever was and he excelled every year but as he started cracking the top 10 in races it became clear his used 4yr old 26'er was holding him back. I sold my motorcycle to buy him a solid HT race bike (29'er) and it made a huge difference. I doubt from what I have seen that any of the first 20 finishers in any of the classes is riding a bike under 1k and that is what holds the league back IMO from attracting kids with parents that don't ride themselves. I am not rich by any means but I know what it takes equipment wise to excel and for most at least in my area they could not fathom spending an amount anywhere near what I have.

    My son is independent because his school has no other riders. We tried to gain interested kids but the initial cost is the factor and they have no idea how much the sport can cost once you are putting 100 miles a week on a bike between parts and maintenance.

    I like the league this is not a post to knock it. I believe it provides the best organized races for teens and I would hate to see it fail. I just think for the long term it might be something they should look at. Sorry for such a long post.

  17. #42
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    I am hearing about top racers and high-dollar investments. This represents a small minorty of participants. And, frankly, it misses the real value of the work, regardless of what racers think the goals outght to be.

    I'll let you all in on something; as it really ends up, the only reason we are racing is to create focus. A la-de-da let's go for fun riding group will not bring riders together for very long nor build riders much. A strict hard-core racign team does about as well. In the NorCal/NICA veryone in the organization gerts regular training and build themselves into cyclists to their best abilities. Very few race, even the ones on the podium, after high school.

    The idea of actally winning a race for 90% of the riders is rediculous. The idea of becoming a fine rider for the rest of one's life; now there's a really high probability. Racer parents, old racer coaches, or firmly dedicated athletes have areally hard time with this. All you have to do is read the kinds of threads in XC Racing and Training and compare them to General or Passion or any Forum where people just ride and not race. The difference is real.

    That said, a moderate and cost effective-approach makes much more sense. It broadens the nature of potential athletes and demands the sohistacted understanding of individual goals, often lost on those dedicated to the Podium. The huge monetary investments have little place there.

    You have to understand that the NorCal/NICA model may have been instigated by racers but evolved from an appreciation of mtb skills, the talent of educators, those with the special skills It takes to work with teen boys and girls, and deep insights into social/financial challenges. From that comes the priority of the grooming of individual greatness, no matter where one finishes.

    This is something that very few people seem to understand, or even realize exists. It can be a real wake-up to those who only see victory in this whole thing. Yet it represents the richest achievement of NICA. Oh sure, you'll see NICA riders at the top in all of the local open races but for every one of those you will find 10-20 young cyclists who, for the rest of their lives, will show up at trailheads, bikes ready, well fed and hydrated, properly clothed, to join others for a day on the dirt. They won't bonk, they'll make repairs for others, and do it with a grace to help everyone have a great time.

    And when it comes time for their own kids, guess what they'll be doing? They sure won't be Little League Parents.
    I don't rattle.

  18. #43
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    This is why we are doing this. The young lady is pushing her bike up the last hill toward the finish. The other racer in the background has finished but came back down the hill to cheer the others racers on. All of the Michigan students have shown great sportsmanship and camaraderie before, during, and after the races. They are having so much fun that the exercise and health benefits they are getting is lost on them. Which is how it should be.


  19. #44
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    I have a huge lump in my throat from this story. This is the real gold.
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  20. #45
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    Those of you that have kids riding as independents how can I get my kid going that way? The school has told me to get lost as far as starting a team, they won't even allow her to post flyers to generate interest in such a thing since it won't be sanctioned by the school district, and she doesn't have any friends that ride mtb or parents willing to make the effort to get them racing, even those who are riders themselves. My daughter races on the middle school XC team and loves the training and competition, she is a strong rider but would benefit greatly from group rides with other kids rather than just me on Sunday mornings. She has already decided that whatever college she ends up at must have an mtb team and the idea of getting into pro racing is very enticing to her.

    Unfortunately I work in the bike industry (60 miles from home) so can't be there to ride and train with her often enough. I can certainly help her have the right equipment but that's not all there is to helping you become a better rider. There is one other school in our area that I know of getting a team together but since we don't live in that town she's not able to be on that team.

    I'm more than willing to incur the costs associated with the racing and more than happy to take the time to get her to races (as long as they're not on Saturday because I would have to leave my job to do that) so that's not the problem. Getting her on a team would just be so much better than what I can achieve with her on my own.

  21. #46
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    The rules do allow what's called a Composite Team. That's a team that's not associated with a single school. Its intended as kind of an incubator program, with the idea that after a few years the program would spin off into school-anchored programs, so there's some limits on how long a composite team can function. I'd just call NICA directly and talk it over with them.

  22. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by gravitylover View Post
    Those of you that have kids riding as independents how can I get my kid going that way?
    What state/league would she race in?

  23. #48
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    gravity lover- I am in the SF Bay Area, Eastbay to be exact, and my sons school does not have a team. There is neutral support at races for Independants but as you and I both know its training that makes race day fun rather then torture. I rode with my son all thru middle school to prep him then he got too fast for me. Thankfully we have found older racers in our area that have allowed him to ride with them and one even wrote him up a training program. He has followed that program every year and has improved every year. Our NICA races are on Sundays here. I have tried to help with finding a sponsor as he is now doing non NICA races as well and it's a draw on my spare cash,but have had no luck.
    He wants to continue once in college but I doubt I can offord racing and his schooling.

    I can tell you that from our experience you will meet lots of other racers at the NICA races and you may connect with someone close enough for her to train with. I had lots of people offer to hook up unfortunately they didn't Iive close enough to make it work. Sign up and enjoy. Once he did a couple NICA races he felt no stress doing the non league races and that is where he has met several older racers. It all worked out.

  24. #49
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    Finding community outside of your school is one of the benefits of NorCal/NICA. This organization builds racing communities where none existed before, even where mtb'ers existed in limited numbers. Built into the method is welcome, support, and sharing. All you have to do is show up.
    I don't rattle.

  25. #50
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    In general I've found the friendliest people at the mountain bike races as compared to when I did road events years ago. The NICA races are even a notch above non league races. Event staff, other team leaders, the kids and parents are wonderful. The vibe at the NICA events is a great. It is a great way for any teen wanting to start racing, I would recommend doing NICA races before doing any other racing.
    Once you do a few NICA races then try non league events. Plus, at least here in NorCal, the NICA races attract the best racers so it is a great way to gauge your own progress. It is not intimidating though because there are kids at all levels of talent in each category.

    My son has met other racers at NICA events from all over NorCal and a few from SoCal that he regularly talks too and sees at non league events. He went to the league camps they put on and made lots of life long friends. It has been a great experience.

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