Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 50 of 61
  1. #1
    Occasionally engaged…
    Reputation: Ptor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,512

    Why are we doing this?

    My son is taking part as a freshman in the Colorado High School MTB series (NICA). I've been whining locally about this since it started here and since there's a forum for it, I figure to continue my whine here -- it's too damn expensive for what you get. $210 in fees for four races! Travel to venues no closer than 3 hours drive, either camping or hotel fees, ugly jersey to purchase -- I figure it will all amount to something on the order of $1500 out of pocket for the "season". And in the end, the kid will probably end up riding less 'cause all the weekend travel time this is taking. We'll be spending less on a season of downhill skiing for the two of us, something I didn't think was possible.

    Okay, that part was about me and my family's situation. We are all committed cyclists (daughter is in her third year running her collegiate cycling team) and we ride and race in much the same way we breathe. But with expenses like that, it's no wonder the local team is floundering -- we're the exception around here, rather than the rule. Places like Boulder and Durango have no problem filling out a team, but growing cycling among youngsters as a sport in places other than the hotbeds needs another mechanism. Several of my son's friends expressed an interest in doing the high school mtb team but that was shut down in a hurry when the costs came to light. And some high school kids that were regulars at the summer $5/race summer series aren't taking part in the high school team because of costs and travel. The local organizers of our team are great and eager to see that kids that want to do it can afford it through scholarships/loaner bikes/whatever, but that doesn't seem to get through to families (or doesn't set will with them to take a handout).

    I've been on the inside of race promotion and know the effort and costs involved, but this seems like an expensive way to get kids on bikes and involved in mountain biking. I'm not saying I have a alternative in mind, but I don't think the NICA model does anything then milk more out of the same group. I'm grudgingly going along as cycling is our "thing" and the people organizing and coaching are friends, but if one of those things wasn't true -- we'd be riding and racing locally for a lot less money and a lot less hassle...
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  2. #2
    J-Flo
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    1,327

    Here's why we are doing this

    Here in Nor Cal, the high school mountain bike races provide really special and irreplaceable benefits. Extremely well-organized races, with about 500 racers on average (and more than 600 at several races) at all skill levels, from those who are competing for national championships to beginners learning how to be atheletes, all in a very safe (and insured) kid-friendly environment with well-planned courses and 50 or more marshals and sweeps. Our team has four dedicated coaches (three of them volunteers) who ride with the kids at least two-three times per week during season and provide tremendous support on race days, together with a group of supportive parents. And the cameraderie of the team is terrific -- the kids are actively recruiting new riders now and taking every spare moment they can to go on rides together. I am sure I am leaving out many of the great aspects of the team and league.

    Here in the Bay Area, there aren't any nearby mountain bike races, so traveling is always necessary to race (in fact, I don't think there has been a USAC XC race within 50 miles for more than two years; the last one is being reorganized and will be done again later this month). But most of our races have been within 100 miles.

    It sounds to me as though your major issue is simply that the Colorado league is very young and hasn't yet achieved the critical mass that would support more and closer races and dividing up the state into separate leagues. The solution is to recruit more riders and build your teams!

    I suppose that, if your kid already has ample opportunities to compete in terrific nearby mountain bike races, and doesn't care about having coaches or teammates to train and ride with, then I might be able to understand why you are complaining. If your kid isn't benefiting from being part of a team and is getting only an "ugly kit" and a lot of unnecessary travel, then why do it? (By the way, the solution to an ugly kit is to find out which of the parents or their friends has some graphic design talent, and get them to make a cool kit. It works!) You really can't complain about a $55 per race fee, if your races are anything like ours in terms of safety and quality of organization. I can only assume that the level of travel you mention is required because your league is still small and the races have to be spread out to cover the state. That won't be a problem for long. High school mountain biking is the wave of the future.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    4,126
    Time and money - I think those are challenges for parents of kids involved in any competitive sport. And the more rural your location, the more time and money involved, as travel becomes more of a factor. School sports are also challenging because kids still have to get homework done. In that regard, cycling isn't any different than softball or baseball or soccer.

    I'm lucky enough to live in the only school district in my county where kids don't pay for competitive sports. The key is parent and kid involvement in the schools. The parents and kids do car washes, rummage sales, sell snacks and drinks at all the home events. I've worked a few: you can sell a lot of Gatorade at a xc or track meet. Maybe there are some local opportunities that kids from your area could help with by providing labor and services: shovel snow, deliver and stack firewoood, etc.

    Scholarships are not handouts; they are based on merit and work. But how you get that across to parents is something you need to brainstorm on; what I might say to people in my community might not resonate in your area. But maybe a service commitment could be tied to the scholarships - scholarship athletes do team laundry or clean bikes or paint bleachers at the school ball fields. Like I said, depends on what works in your area.

    Lastly, the way to control travel costs is to coordinate as much as possible, both with other team parents and the host venue. Carpool, bring ice chests, arrange for group rates at hotels.

  4. #4
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    1,908
    Seems to me like supporting a high school racer is pretty light duty compared to a lot of other sports like football and soccer.

    There's less than 1/2 a dozen race weekends while soccer players go every weekend for months. I look at the commitment of baseball parents and feel like a slug in comparison.

    Most clubs only practice a few days a week, but as a parent "practice" is a lot more palatable when you can ride along and get your own work out in rather than just sitting your arse on a cold bleacher seat.

    As far as the travel goes.....get the "f" over it and try enjoying your life. Its a chance to camp with the kids, travel, eat out, talk in the car, ride some new terrain, work together towards the goal of making your racer successful, and see new things. If you treat it like grievous burden it certainly will be. If you treat it like an opportunity to get out of your rut and create memories with your family, then that is what it will be.

  5. #5
    Occasionally engaged…
    Reputation: Ptor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,512
    Quote Originally Posted by Metamorphic View Post
    As far as the travel goes.....get the "f" over it and try enjoying your life.
    [Edit: Removed my less than witty, poor form response to what I still see as a less than witty, judgmental, off-topic response. I apologize for that. Back to the topic at hand: is NICA the best way to allocate scarce resources?]

    It seems yet again that my poor writing skills masked the point I was trying to make – here’s another try. In my opinion, NICA gives less in return for the money they take in than what folks in the Rocky Mountain region can get from existing local promoters and similarly focused organizing efforts. My home race series in Laramie is one example, the Boulder Racing Cyclocross series is another -- more racing for a fraction of the fees that NICA races cost. Get this -- the promoter for the Stone Temple 8 at Curt Gowdy Park is putting on in conjunction with the 8 hours race, a race for middle and high school kids -- it costs $12 and it includes lunch! No $50 league registration fee, and less than 1/3 the fee for a NICA race. I'm just not understanding the economics of the NICA model.

    And yes, these "NICA alternative" events are safe, insured, well organized, and offer a supportive, all-inclusive environment. I’m not saying high school racing as promoted by NICA is without value, but I am willing to say it’s has a lot less value on a per dollar and time basis than other avenues for racing. I’ve seen no evidence that more kids are being introduced into the joys of mountain bike racing or drawn into fellowship of like minded individuals by this league than other established cycling related events. Twice as many high school aged kids (and younger) took part in the Laramie MTB Series races than are on the local NICA team. Just on a numbers game alone, our local events are bringing more kids into the sport than the more costly NICA gambit, and it wouldn't surprise me a bit if that was true elsewhere. It's an "Emperor's new clothes" thing, a developing "sacred-cow", above criticism 'cause it's "for the kids". Because it's "for the kids" we probably should be getting it right.

    And then maybe my disappointment is really with myself for not having come up with the idea of creating a national sanctioning body that has to be pulling in excess of $100,000 in league registration fees/year. Talk about a missed business opportunity…

    And because every thread is worthless without pictures, here's one of the boy riding a trail at Gowdy this past weekend. Hope your weekend ride was as good as ours. For that matter, I hope your Tuesday night ride was as good as ours...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Why are we doing this?-gowdy.jpg  

    Last edited by Ptor; 09-19-2012 at 07:08 AM.
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  6. #6
    On wuss patrol
    Reputation: Glide the Clyde's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    4,891
    Sounds like the value is outweighed by the downside for you. Sounds like you should move on and stick with other ride and race opportunities.
    Sometimes, you need to go fast enough that the trail is a blur to find clarity. -- Wild Bill

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    4,126
    PeT,

    I think you are plenty eloquent. I see the point you are making about those two other race series and value per dollar. So maybe the high school racing doesn't make financial sense in your situation.

    But I think comparing the number of kids involved in the local race series versus the school team is pretty much an apples to oranges comparison - like comparing how many kids play in the town little league versus are on the middle or high school baseball team, and concluding the latter aren't cost effective.

  8. #8
    <100%
    Reputation: JackJr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    675
    Hopefully you are all doing it because your kids want to do it. I would be thirilled if my son or daughter wanted to get out there and race bikes. Unfortunately for me and the Mrs., that gene must be recessive or skip a generation. Have Fun!

  9. #9
    It's about showing up.
    Reputation: Berkeley Mike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    12,731
    First off, a $5 race is unrealistic and can only happen if someone else is paying the bill in some way. That said....

    Key to this is exant resources It sounds like some places have a race culture in place which supports kids, even if it piggybacks off of adult-funded and well-established races. Both factors reduce and defray costs. So in some sense you guys are spoiled. It's a good thing.

    However, the training and support generated by the NorCal model we developed, which NICA is subsequently expressing throughout the nation, supports and developes a much wider range of potential athletes than the racer-family some of you seem to represent. Racer-families bring something special to the League experience, often in a value-added sense, but in the larger picture their model doesn't have a broad benefit. One of my boys was converted from baseball and by the time he was a Jr. he was killing everyone, even kids from racer-families.

    To put it plainly, and no offense meant, the racer-family can be a disturbance, unless these folks step up to lead or coach on an overall program, as their sense of resources and goals is very narrow and, in a funny way, very old-school. You can hear it in the initial post. Keep in mind that I respect the fact that such a deternination comes from a great deal of expertise.

    Having founded, shaped, lead, structured financially, developed 2 teams over 10 seasons, and had my own son a part of these teams I get the stresses. I have watched race families come into the league and wrestle with its values; the teams don't do it right, my kid needs more, my kid needs more of this and less of that. It is hard to watch other folk coach your kid.

    In the overall the racer family kids are not the most successful racers but that is not the point of these High School teams. The point is the shared experience, the growth, the individual excellence, and lastly, the Podium. The Podium is for the Racer Heads who can understand nothing else. Most important is the chance to spend time with your kids while they recreate and spend time with their peers, not to seperate them from the rest.

    Cycling is a lifelong experience which is so much broader than racing and so much more fun. If that is not a value one can embrace then this experience is not for you.

    The cost? Well, folks, it is a lot like advocacy; no one can just sit back and expect trails to be created, transformed, or converted just for your own pleasure. (BTW do racers do much advocacy or trail building? Just askin'.) It's not like the folks who put on these races are rolling in dough. Come on, you know better; no one in cycling makes much money. This is about building a new community for the future. Maybe you have your race already; well good for you. Don't let the door....

    Don't like the costs? You need to go out and find sponsors; as seasoned racers you may know more about this than other folk. Build new financial community resources to offset costs. Be creative. We started form nothing but the tools in my truck and a box of Clif bars. In a few years we had scholarships, provided bikes, and reduce fees. Full kit of SS jersey, bibs, long sleeve jersey, vest, windjacket was only $125.

    Think in terms of sharing. Or you and your kin can all pile into your race vehicle and do it your way. The Leagues will live without you and you will see each other at the Nationals. Yes, there are always the families who do nothing but there are families who do so much. Which one do you want to be? Need a hand? ; the teams will never say no.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Why are we doing this?-etent2004.jpg  

    Why are we doing this?-e5boys2010.jpg  

    Why are we doing this?-newsss20100961.jpg  

    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Berkeley Mike; 09-21-2012 at 11:39 PM.
    I don't rattle.

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    231
    My son has raced the past 3 yrs in the league here in NorCal and will again this year. Yes I agree it's expensive but here it provides the best competition. My son does other events but the fields tend to be much smaller. I find the league races are by far the best organized but on the negative side the venues are not always the best because the venues have to be able to handle the large fields. Unfortunately where we live there is not a school team so we are independent.
    My son used to play club soccer and overall the costs are not that far apart in the end, plus I enjoy cycling myself so its a win all around.
    The League is truly not focused toward the individual racer as stated in Berkeley Mike's post above but rather the experience and to provide exposure to riding. Racers can and do benefit because at least here in NorCal you will find the best competition at the League races, but the league's focus is for everyone from the serious racer on down. In fact IMO the league is less focused on serious racers and more on the overall experience of training,improving and growing.
    My only complaint is that kids that don't have access to a school or composite team miss out on a lot of what the league provides. My son does all his training alone, since I'm too slow to help him improve and it's not always easy to go up against teams that have multiple riders in a race that work for each other. Plus many of the school teams or composites get additional breaks due to sponsorships they have formed. Finding sponsorship help for an independent rider isn't easy.
    Last edited by MTB Dad; 09-21-2012 at 11:50 PM.

  11. #11
    It's about showing up.
    Reputation: Berkeley Mike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    12,731
    Independants and Composite teams have it so very hard. Solo training or trying to organize training with riders from multiple schools is a real challenge. I hope you are able to get closer to another racer. Maybe you can find a circuit wher you can work him while you time him or something, for some part of your ride. Yeah, you give up your rride but...its for your kid. Besides, you might wear him down a bit so you can stay with him. Remember to keep it fun.

    Also, see if you can build a relationship with an established team and hook up for a Saturday workout a couple times a month. It is a nice change and he gets to ride with other guys and gals. If he enjoys the riding everyone will enjoy him. It will be that way no matter where he rides in the world throughout his life. Check with the League and make a call; I am sure he will be welcome. And since you ride, too, your contribution to the team will be appreciated as well.

    As far as staying with your son on a ride; I last saw my son's skinny butt when he was 14. He raced Varsity as a Jr.
    Last edited by Berkeley Mike; 09-22-2012 at 09:24 AM.
    I don't rattle.

  12. #12
    Occasionally engaged…
    Reputation: Ptor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,512
    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    First off, a $5 race is unrealistic and can only happen if someone else is paying the bill in some way. That said....

    Key to this is exant resources It sounds like some places have a race culture in place which supports kids, even if it piggybacks off of adult-funded and well-established races. Both factors reduce and defray costs. So in some sense you guys are spoiled. It's a good thing.
    Or, it could just be the culture here and elsewhere has grown-up the right way in support of our cycling youngsters. It's true that the guys promoting our local $5-a-race-series take nothing in return, but they do buy insurance and have had to accumulate the supplies necessary to mark a course and they're not paying for that out of pocket. I will try to encourage them to share with others how they can put on such a good series for so little money. Speaking with a VERY experienced promoter, he did think the NICA fees were a bit high but reminded me of significant start up costs (posts, fencing, course markers, timing and PA equipment, administration) and certainly wasn't indignant about the fees and did make me feel better about the appropriateness of the fee structure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    However, the training and support generated by the NorCal model we developed, which NICA is subsequently expressing throughout the nation, supports and developes a much wider range of potential athletes than the racer-family some of you seem to represent.
    This is the crux of the argument I'm apparently having with others in this thread -- I don't see this as being true nor has there been any evidence in support of this claim presented by NICA or its supporters. Since this discussion is current, I paid particular attention at the 2nd race of the Colorado series held this weekend -- about 400 racers and I counted less than ten kids equipped and performing in such a way as I would conclude they were not from a "racer family". There's half that many kids from "non-racer families" in our small town alone that raced this summer but aren't on the team because of the expense and travel involved. So I'm calling "bull" on this claim until presented evidence otherwise (or discover it myself). There are many ways to encourage cycling among the youth, but an expensive (to some) and involved racing team wouldn't seem to be the best way under any circumstance. I honestly believe I'd be all in if I felt that claim had any merit, but I'm just not seeing it -- you may not believe me when I say it, but I want to be convinced. And in the end it wouldn't be so wrong to admit straight up that there was a market for another teen-centric activity that has the benefit of promoting good health and friendly competition, and NICA filled that niche -- there's a lot worse ways to have parents spend money on their kids (IMO). That might just be a good enough "greater good".

    It was a stunningly beautiful day at the race in Granby (Snow Mountain Ranch) yesterday -- great course, good weather, and the organization was much better than the first race. That's something the Colorado group has going for it -- truly nice, enthusiastic organizers.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Why are we doing this?-photo-sep-23-12-05-55-pm.jpg  

    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  13. #13
    J-Flo
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    1,327
    Quote Originally Posted by PeT View Post
    So I'm calling "bull" on this claim until presented evidence otherwise (or discover it myself). There are many ways to encourage cycling among the youth, but an expensive (to some) and involved racing team wouldn't seem to be the best way under any circumstance. I honestly believe I'd be all in if I felt that claim had any merit, but I'm just not seeing it -- you may not believe me when I say it, but I want to be convinced.
    Cycling is both an individual and a team sport. You seem to be looking at this only from the individual perspective, and I suppose that there are plenty of kids out there who are focused primarily upon themselves and their families and find their motivation from somewhere other than a team -- from their racer parents, maybe, or friends, or within themselves (or even from Strava, I suppose). But I've been incredibly inspired by the positive way that team-oriented high school mountain bike racing has transformed my 14-year old son's life. In less than 12 months, he has lost almost 20 lbs. while growing 4 inches. He now is the athlete in the family and I am learning from him and inspired to start riding heavily myself. He started from ground zero, attracted to the team by a friend and because he knew mountain biking is fun (he was just a dabbler before), crew practice was too inconvenient and difficult, and he needed to do something to replace P.E.

    This is only the beginning of my second year at it, and Berkeley Mike and many others here have far more experience as rider parents and coaches, but so far I have observed the following benefits, which I think are :

    1. Team racing promotes both individual drive and collective motivation. There's nothing like a group ride to make these kids want to perform against and with each other. Unfortunately I can't keep up with them so I don't get to experience it, but my kid always prefers the group rides and practices to riding on his own (or with me, which forces him to stop and wait at the top of the hill). Kids who start out finishing at the bottom of their classes are brought along in a very constructive way and encouraged to keep at it rather than giving up; whereas kids who start out slowly in other sports are cut from the team, in high school mountain biking everyone can participate and it can only help, never hurt, the team's score to have more riders.

    2. Team coaches and other teammates provide excellent teaching training for kids on the essentials of riding technique, fitness training, healthy diet, trail behavior, and caring for the trails. Sure, they learn some or all of this from their parents, but it is reinforced so much more strongly when it comes from a peer group -- especially the fitness and diet aspects. The

    3. It's just fun as can be to watch kids incorporate mountain biking into their high school experience, with school rivalries and ability to make friends with riders from other schools who they otherwise would likely not meet. Team training rides (as well as the other, unofficial practices organized by the more involved kids) are generally open, and kids from other schools that might not have a team, or even those that do, are welcome to join in.

  14. #14
    Occasionally engaged…
    Reputation: Ptor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,512
    Quote Originally Posted by Jfloren View Post
    Cycling is both an individual and a team sport. You seem to be looking at this only from the individual perspective, and I suppose that there are plenty of kids out there who are focused primarily upon themselves and their families and find their motivation from somewhere other than a team -- from their racer parents, maybe, or friends, or within themselves (or even from Strava, I suppose).
    Hmmm... I'm not sure how my suggesting that scarce resources (time, money, volunteer efforts) might be better spent in ways than those promoted by NICA to get more kids introduced to the sport comes off sounding as if it's coming from the "individual perspective". I'm glad it's worked out well for you and your kid from your individual standpoint. My observation has been (okay, all of two races and one small town) that the NICA program is "preaching to the choir". I had hoped I might spur a conversation about how to be effective evangelicals with young athletes who aren't coming from a cycling family, but others don't seem to see the weakness in the NICA model that I perceive -- I'll relent and put my argument to bed. I hope you all have a good fall riding season.
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  15. #15
    It's about showing up.
    Reputation: Berkeley Mike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    12,731
    I found this a curiosity:

    "The local organizers of our team are great and eager to see that kids that want to do it can afford it through scholarships/loaner bikes/whatever, but that doesn't seem to get through to families (or doesn't set will with them to take a handout)."

    What makes a $5 race possible? How is that different? Anyhow....

    In my many seasons participating in developing this model I have watched resources siphoned off of our NorCal League (which evoked/created a racing community where it was only marginal) to pay for the expansion of the method to SoCal and Colorado and then to develope NICA. It is a method of athletic development, devised at great cost, superior to any in the country which has and will ultimately displace regional and idiosyncratic old-school methods. It creates smart, powerful, and gracious athletes adn characters, within a team in a solitary sport, as matter of course because the techniques are refined, customized, adaptable, tested, and proven in life and on Podiums.

    The unique resources extant in the SF Bay area evoked a synergy which exploded into a community ready to embrace it and support it; the maturing mountain bike community in the birthplace of the sport. This cultivation took advantage of special skills, ingenuity, flexibility, creativity, and heart. It took athletes who understood teens, the sport, how to engage communities to support it, academics who extracted the esence of mountain biking and how to spread it to a general audience to express power and safety at the same time. And not scare mom. And bring girls to the sport... in droves.

    Each time these people, as a resource, were pressed to grow the model to other states we had to infill to keep NorCal going. New suitable people had to be found and developed. Financial resources were expressed in that fashion as well. That came from our race fees and our League fees. So money had to be found to address that and it sure wasn't going to come out of my pocket. Smart ways of managing volunteers had to be devised, and the right people added, otherwise it all came out of my end, too. That was the price of exporting the model across the country. All while keeping the kids on the trail and coming back for more.

    When I moved on from my teams they were well-funded, volunteers were well-trained, and families knew how to support the team. We had scholarships, were able to reduce costs, and bing kids in who might not otherwise have had the resources to ride mtb. They were left with a model which kept them viable and fertile. Both of my teams continue to function well and grow. The lives of people are changed forever. Over the years families have come to understand the value of what we created. My former athletes come back from college with a new understanding of what we shared.

    Racing seems to work for you and your friends the way it does for some very good reasons. Your system has emerged from its own community for its own ends through great people and many have become accustomed to it. Remember, there was nothing here when we started, either, and through our resources it has gone nationwide; that has a cost. The model continues to spread; that has a cost. Your local races are not spreading; they are an end in themselves serving a homogenous community with a certain definition of success. They can be less costly.

    Costs being what they are for whatever reason, I still think the answer is to find other ways to pay for it.
    I don't rattle.

  16. #16
    Occasionally engaged…
    Reputation: Ptor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,512
    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    It is a method of athletic development, devised at great cost, superior to any in the country which has and will ultimately displace regional and idiosyncratic old-school methods. It creates smart, powerful, and gracious athletes adn characters, within a team in a solitary sport, as matter of course because the techniques are refined, customized, adaptable, tested, and proven in life and on Podiums
    Wow. Just wow...

    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    Costs being what they are for whatever reason, I still think the answer is to find other ways to pay for it.
    Oh...after the passage above, this was such a let down.

    You're clearly invested in this organization and it can be tough to see its motivations or value questioned. I appreciate that NICA filled a void experienced by some and is valued by many. But being who I am (and strangely enough, formed in part by spending many years in Berkeley), I always end up asking questions about why something is the way it is and how it might be done differently. I apologize if you found my questioning impertinent. I'll seek information elsewhere.
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  17. #17
    It's about showing up.
    Reputation: Berkeley Mike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    12,731
    Quote Originally Posted by PeT View Post
    Wow. Just wow...


    Oh...after the passage above, this was such a let down.

    You're clearly invested in this organization and it can be tough to see its motivations or value questioned. I appreciate that NICA filled a void experienced by some and is valued by many. But being who I am (and strangely enough, formed in part by spending many years in Berkeley), I always end up asking questions about why something is the way it is and how it might be done differently. I apologize if you found my questioning impertinent. I'll seek information elsewhere.
    No apology is necessary. You had pertinent questions about value. You just got a lot of info about value and cost which can relate to your area where values and costs are different. This is also a cultural impact.

    I just found a local race series set up for HS mountain bikers in California. 5 races in as many weeks. $25 a pop. It is not piggybacking on a pre-existing adult race but does utilize/access course materials from another series. It also takes advantage of pre-existing NorCal teams which fills the starting lines and increases the safety and integrity of the race experience. This model is not growing/spreading either. This keeps costs down.
    I don't rattle.

  18. #18
    J-Flo
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    1,327
    Quote Originally Posted by PeT View Post
    Hmmm... I'm not sure how my suggesting that scarce resources (time, money, volunteer efforts) might be better spent in ways than those promoted by NICA to get more kids introduced to the sport comes off sounding as if it's coming from the "individual perspective". I'm glad it's worked out well for you and your kid from your individual standpoint. My observation has been (okay, all of two races and one small town) that the NICA program is "preaching to the choir". I had hoped I might spur a conversation about how to be effective evangelicals with young athletes who aren't coming from a cycling family, but others don't seem to see the weakness in the NICA model that I perceive -- I'll relent and put my argument to bed. I hope you all have a good fall riding season.
    I'm having some difficulty understanding your concern. Are you questioning the value of of team-oriented high school mountain biking (as it seems), or just the way NICA leagues do it and how much they charge? If you think that time and money and evangelical effort focused on kids is better spent in some other way than high school mountain biking, then how else can they get this kind of team-oriented experience? I think the value is priceless.

    I suppose we could focus on organizing teams apart from schools, but that seems much less likely to attract new kids into the sport, because it requires so much more effort to find riders and bring them together and the ones you find will likely already be committed riders. Our team has brought many new riders in to the sport through loaner bikes and scholarships.

    Working through the high schools requires an increased focus on safety (the NICA races are, from what I have seen, much safer than most USA Cycling sanctioned races -- they have better course marking, safer routes, more marshals, more medical personnel on site), insurance, as well as a real standard-setting organization for teams and coaches, and from what I can tell NICA has done that extremely well. NICA has a training program for coaches and makes sure all of the leagues are up to snuff; the leagues in turn make sure the individual teams and coaches are in good shape, and help find good, well trained coaches when the need arises. I think that most high school athletic programs would want nothing to do with an interscholastic racing program that did not have this kind of organization.

    All of this costs a lot more money than a more loosely organized semi-local racing league. Our league (Norcal) is pretty good about finding ways to increase access for kids with no bike and no money. The Colorado league is still very new and will I am sure get better at this. And NICA has been putting a lot of resources into establishing the new leagues across the country. Fees largely from Norcal and Socal went to pay for the effort to create the Colorado league (and this year the Utah league, which is off to a good start. All the training clinics for coaches and organizers cost money but pay off because they create a professional-style race environment from scratch. NICA is growing at a furious pace, which seems to me in 5-10 years or less will have a dramatic effect on bringing more World Cup racing into the US. Nobody is making a fortune doing this; NICA's board (and the league boards) are all committed volunteers, only a handful of key people receive any pay (allegedly they are part-time employees, but many of them work nearly full-time at it).

    So, what do you mean about being concerned NICA is "preaching to the choir?" Who is the choir? What are they preaching, and is there something about it that can be improved?

    I am sure there are ways that NICA can be made more efficient and less expensive, but I don't know what they are. Not that I am an expert in this; I am still learning and have never been a coach. But I tend to agree with Berkeley Mike, that doing high school racing right is inherently more expensive than other kinds of races (which in your area sounds like they are very well done -- you are fortunate), and our best solution is to find other ways to pay for it. Those will take time but they will come. Parents and alumni will donate time and money to their leagues as they grow older and can afford it, more foundations will get involved, and we are very slowly inching our way towards funding from the school athletic programs (already a reality at many private schools and I think at a few public schools).

  19. #19
    mtbr member
    Reputation: rsullivan's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    822
    Look into BMX racing at a National level... Competitive kids and parents travel a lot and all over the country. For a parent who supports their child and funds their racing it can run $5000-$12000 for the year for race fees and travel/lodging. And the fact BMX is starting to hit the colleges now firms up the future for that side of bicycle racing. Average race fees for a national weekend is $175-$350 depending on how many riders and how many days to be raced on any given weekend. That doesn't include the local races attended during the year. I have been there and done that with 3 kids plus raced them at local tracks for years. Alot of money was spent but you know what..... Would do it all over again to have those times and memories with my children. I now travel with my oldest daughter for MTB races and enjoying every minute of it. I guess I am trying to say...... ENJOY YOUR TIME WITH YOUR KIDS!!! You will regret it not doing so if something were to happen to them or yourself....

    Ride and be happy
    The Bike Doc LLC
    Official Midwest Canfield Brothers Demo Center
    www.mrpbikes.com
    www.dvosuspension.com
    www.atomikcarbon.com
    www.mtbparks.com
    www.canfieldbrothers.com

  20. #20
    mtbr member
    Reputation: chiito's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    35
    I find all of this banter very interesting. As a parent of a young mountain biker (12) in a state that has just joined NICA (AZ), I am thoroughly excited to have something for him to look forward to in the next two years. He enjoys riding with me most of the time, but he has few friends that even own a mountain bike. I think nothing but good can come of high school mountain bike racing in AZ. There aren't many races he can do at this time. He rode his first race in Flagstaff and even though he complained about the technical climbing, he had a huge grin on his face when he crossed the finish and the crowd was cheering him on. Amazing how quickly he forgot the pain. I look forward to attending NICA events with him in 2013 (he won't be in HS yet) just to see how they are run and the quality of the courses. It's all good in my eyes.

  21. #21
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    1,908
    Chiito,

    Now is the time you should be finding or starting a youth racing club. Most clubs are looking for middle-school riders and racers as part of a development squad. NICA level competition can be very fierce, even in the Freshman class. A successful racing team will be identifying, training, and conditioning 7th and 8th graders to have competitive high-schoolers. The best way to get fast freshmen is to have 7th and 8th graders training with the high-school kids.

  22. #22
    mtbr member
    Reputation: chiito's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    35
    I have been thinking about that. He goes to a school that is unlikely to have a team. I have already volunteered, but may do what you suggested.

  23. #23
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    596
    Quote Originally Posted by PeT View Post
    I figure it will all amount to something on the order of $1500 out of pocket for the "season". And in the end, the kid will probably end up riding less 'cause all the weekend travel time this is taking. We'll be spending less on a season of downhill skiing for the two of us, something I didn't think was possible..
    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.

  24. #24
    J-Flo
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    1,327
    Quote Originally Posted by asphalt_jesus View Post
    If you look at who is running NICA, it's all bike industry folks. They aren't particularly interested in a low-cost sport.
    You are dead wrong and obviously have no idea what you are talking about. The only thing the "bike industry" has to do with NICA is that many industry members (including many small companies and LBS's) have jumped on the bandwagon with sponsorships and support for leagues and individual teams. They are followers and have never been the leaders of NICA. What is your agenda in making such a ridiculous statement?

    Go bury your head in the sand somewhere else, please.

  25. #25
    mtbr member
    Reputation: chiito's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    35
    Well said. The people who I have met in AZ NICA have nothing to do with the bike industry. They are people like you and me. Well, like me. They are enthusiasts who want to see the sport flourish. The only way that will happen is to get new blood involved. In case you are wondering that would be the young people.

  26. #26
    It's about showing up.
    Reputation: Berkeley Mike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    12,731
    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 10:58 PM.
    I don't rattle.

  27. #27
    Wrench
    Reputation: FNFAL's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    769
    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.

  28. #28
    It's about showing up.
    Reputation: Berkeley Mike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    12,731
    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.
    I don't rattle.

  29. #29
    Occasionally engaged…
    Reputation: Ptor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,512
    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...

  30. #30
    J-Flo
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    1,327
    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.

  31. #31
    FriendlyNeighborhoodMTBer
    Reputation: kabayan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    195
    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
    If you can't play, display.

  32. #32
    It's about showing up.
    Reputation: Berkeley Mike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    12,731
    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 12:54 PM.
    I don't rattle.

  33. #33
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    70
    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.

  34. #34
    Az HS Cycling League
    Reputation: stew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    325

    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.
    Support Arizona High School Cycling League
    www.arizonamtb.org

  35. #35
    It's about showing up.
    Reputation: Berkeley Mike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    12,731
    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.
    I don't rattle.

  36. #36
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    596
    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 01:03 AM.

  37. #37
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    596

    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.

  38. #38
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    231

    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.

  39. #39
    J-Flo
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    1,327

    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 02:09 PM.

  40. #40
    J-Flo
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    1,327
    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.

  41. #41
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    231
    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.

  42. #42
    It's about showing up.
    Reputation: Berkeley Mike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    12,731
    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.

  43. #43
    mtbr member
    Reputation: skinl19's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    648
    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.


  44. #44
    It's about showing up.
    Reputation: Berkeley Mike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    12,731
    I have a huge lump in my throat from this story. This is the real gold.
    I don't rattle.

  45. #45
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    1,124
    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.

  46. #46
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    1,908
    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.

  47. #47
    Hairshirt Rider
    Reputation: Loudpawlz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,860
    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?

  48. #48
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    231
    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.

  49. #49
    It's about showing up.
    Reputation: Berkeley Mike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    12,731
    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.

  50. #50
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    231
    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.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •