High school MTB leagues rebuild U.S. cycling’s base- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    High school MTB leagues rebuild U.S. cycling’s base

    https://www.velonews.com/2018/08/fro...gs-base_477418

    Great article by Velonews. Huge participation here in Colorado where some of the local high schools have more kids in cycling then football, baseball, and soccer combined.

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    Seeing kids wrapped in Spandex makes me sad.

    On a side note they better start building more trails cause those big teams will smother your trail system fast. Bit of a double edge sword but cool to see kids biking with friends. I think part of the migration is that the traditional sports have gotten REDICULOUS in how they take over a kids life and the parents life just to be able to play competitively. It's like they have to be single sport kids so soon. So stupid and I'm a big hoops player but now it's a different animal.

    I will say this, Id much rather go to my kids bike race at the gravity park for the weekend and have fun and race instead of going to the kids basketball tourney and sit in a dang gym all weekend long.

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    If they are riding during prime-time (Sat morning or after work in the fall or spring) they will clog up the trails a bit - but there are a lot of trails here in Colorado (and also several hundred thousand bikers). But you are right, I much rather take my kid to a bike race or ride then sit in a gym or hockey arena. I can go ride with them or do my own ride - no one is going to let me jump in the pool during swim practice or tackle 10 year olds.

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    The high school scene here in NorCal is strong too. It's pretty awesome. Heck last weekend someone was trying to convince me to sign my 9yr olds up for the middle-school team. You can trace this groundswell back to Trips For Kids. Which was the original youth mtb program. Which stemmed into High School Teams. And here we are! It's nothing but good for the sport overall. And the cycling industry is supporting it in a big way. They understand they are grooming customers for life.

    Funny how regional terrain will drive perception within cycling tribes. Around here it's all spandex, all the time. Not many kids down here may be able to tail whip. But they will SMOKE the NW kids from point to point.

    Trail access can be an issue for sure. You guys have no idea how strong the trail use battles are in California. I moved here from Idaho. And I thought it was bad there. That's nothing compared to Cali. It's a dirty, ugly, political cutthroat ordeal. But if the goal is to get more trail access. Mobilizing more adults advocating for their kids is a good way to light a political fire. Because in the past the MTB community was a fringe sport of hooligans tearing up the trails for the groups which outnumbered them. The equestrians and the hikers. Now, locally, it's becoming more of a fair fight. Also, a big part of the high school mtb prorgram is trail work days. Mandatory. FREE LABOR! Try getting a large number of MTB enthusiasts to put in trail work. It's difficult.

    The local MTB kids are taught to be considerate and polite on the trails. Good stewardship is a big part of the curriculum. I have yet to encounter a local High School team on the trail who is anything but positive and polite.

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    Check out this setup at one of the NorCal high school races - CyclingDev is one of the local teams.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/Bhjlj3_n...-by=cyclingdev

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    Dude that is a hot setup right there. Strong program! Someone explain to me the allure of Spandex for MTBing? I don't have experience here to lean on. Does it make you faster or something? No way it can be a comfort or looks thing (it's like a roadie convention).

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by svinyard View Post
    Dude that is a hot setup right there. Strong program! Someone explain to me the allure of Spandex for MTBing? I don't have experience here to lean on. Does it make you faster or something? No way it can be a comfort or looks thing (it's like a roadie convention).

    LOL! Well yes it is far more comfortable and allows arguably better mobility. I understand how the gravity tribe wouldn't see an advantage and with extra gear/pads, it would be silly. But for the endurance side of cycling, there's no comparison to a snug fitting jersey and a comfy chamois. Think about it. Roadies, Cyclocross (heck those guys wear skinsuits) and XC MTB all wear spandex. Because it suits their needs better. The gravity guys came up with what amounts to surfers "board shorts" and loose fitting shirts like the MotoX folks. Because they are padded up and need the space in their clothing. Also, some people are too self conscious to wear spandex. And some people, well they just shouldn't wear spandex. So that alternative was devised. On a personal note, those big baggy jerseys look pretty funny and uncomfortable. Don't get me started on the graphics. No comparison between a clean looking roadie or CX "kit" (that's outfit to you) and the ordinary MTB getup you see on the trail. One exception would be what POC makes/sells. They're trying to change the look with cleaner designs.

    Oh and I understand the MTB tribe disdain for "roadies". Heck I am a road racer and I get it. The MTB folks are generally just more laid back and easy going. The roadie side can be a bit elitist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SactoGeoff View Post
    Check out this setup at one of the NorCal high school races - CyclingDev is one of the local teams.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/Bhjlj3_n...-by=cyclingdev
    This... lol. Some of the teams are so over the top flush with cash and support. When the ms/hs team arrives with trailers and trailers, you know its on!

    Quote Originally Posted by svinyard View Post
    Dude that is a hot setup right there. Strong program! Someone explain to me the allure of Spandex for MTBing? I don't have experience here to lean on. Does it make you faster or something? No way it can be a comfort or looks thing (it's like a roadie convention).
    You don't xc race?

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    Quote Originally Posted by svinyard View Post
    Someone explain to me the allure of Spandex for MTBing? I don't have experience here to lean on. Does it make you faster or something? No way it can be a comfort or looks thing (it's like a roadie convention).
    All you do is enduro, bro, eh?

    For XC racing Spandex is cooler (wicks moisture better), improves circulation, doesn't snag on saddles like baggies might, and is more aerodynamic. But all of this is debatable.

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    Good to know, thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Porkchop_Power View Post
    If they are riding during prime-time (Sat morning or after work in the fall or spring) they will clog up the trails a bit - but there are a lot of trails here in Colorado (and also several hundred thousand bikers). But you are right, I much rather take my kid to a bike race or ride then sit in a gym or hockey arena. I can go ride with them or do my own ride - no one is going to let me jump in the pool during swim practice or tackle 10 year olds.
    But if they did let me tackle that 10 year old, those kids would learn some respect. And as far as swim practice goes, CANNONBALL!

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    Quote Originally Posted by GSJ1973 View Post
    All you do is enduro, bro, eh?

    For XC racing Spandex is cooler (wicks moisture better), improves circulation, doesn't snag on saddles like baggies might, and is more aerodynamic. But all of this is debatable.
    Not specific to you but I find the perceived reasons for non-spandex a bit amusing.
    Most of it is I think down to the poor afterthought "let's sell a MTB baggy but not actually bother putting any thought into design" by many bike clothing manufacturers... that might be people's first experience. Then the well designed stuff is a big $$$ leap and not stocked in many places because of this...so there is a bit of a gap... (IMHO)


    Lycra is banned as an external material for DH by the UTC.... so no top DH riders to make lycra for... and the rest of us to copy... but either way I think this would only ever be worn racing as it just disintegrates in a crash. Perhaps if it wasn't banned in DH they would have developed a kevlar reinforced suit?

    However ... most of us wear lycra UNDER anyway... If you are wearing full body armour quite likely more than a roady... (for all the reasons except aero)

    "Proper" baggy shorts don't foul on saddles and have zip pockets (or no pockets). its not exactly normal to have your knee on the saddle ... what does foul are roady jerseys with back pockets...


    Wearing a layer over the top doesn't prevent the spandex below improving circulation.... and you can certainly debate which is cooler on a sunny day... where the outer layer keeps the direct sun off the spandex...

    Aerodynamics are pretty marginal with tailored kit... whereas not peeling embedded lycra out of skin at the end of a ride is a big benefit as is not having to replace kit because its full of holes.

    Nearly all the time I'm trail riding in baggies I've got lycra chamois underneath.... and theoretically I could just take off the baggy shorts... I'd bet many XC riders trying properly designed ones would be the same and only get rid of the baggies when actually racing????

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve-XtC View Post
    I'd bet many XC riders trying properly designed ones would be the same and only get rid of the baggies when actually racing????
    That depends. Some are hardcore xc racers who wear lycra everywhere. They're basically roadies who bunnyhop. They go faster going up vs going down. Don't ask me to explain that one. Jokes aside, one of the xc coaches on my son's team really does wear his team kit every ride, in season or out of season. I never thought about it before till now lol.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thesmokingman View Post
    That depends. Some are hardcore xc racers who wear lycra everywhere. They're basically roadies who bunnyhop. They go faster going up vs going down. Don't ask me to explain that one. Jokes aside, one of the xc coaches on my son's team really does wear his team kit every ride, in season or out of season. I never thought about it before till now lol.


    Yeah, I just find it amusing ...

  15. #15
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    Some of the schools here in Austin have teams as well. They let middle school kids practice with them which I think is a great idea since it gets kids racing earlier.
    WTB: Med Bontrager Ti Lite, PM Me...

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    Not sure if this is on the radar of anyone here. But this result is directly related to NICA and the evolution of High School MTB racing in the US. Kate Courtney broke a 17yr dry spell of American riders taking a World Championship this past weekend. It's a huge deal.

    https://www.velonews.com/2018/09/new...zerland_478270

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    Yea its big news in the nica circles. Congrats to Courtney!

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    Quote Originally Posted by jestep View Post
    Some of the schools here in Austin have teams as well. They let middle school kids practice with them which I think is a great idea since it gets kids racing earlier.
    Our local Nica team (Duluth Composite Team -not school affiliated) lets 7th graders and up join.
    Then we run a Devo program for 4th graders and up, and we just started an pilot Explorers program for 2nd and 3rd grade(girls only this year).

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    From that article:
    “Growth in junior mountain biking participation is not guaranteed when a NICA chapter begins. Don Edberg, director for Wisconsin’s off-road series, says participation numbers in the junior 15-18 age group has been flat since Wisconsin’s NICA league started in 2012.”

    That makes total sense:
    Why would kids who have a full calendar of NICA racing, also start doing a state XC race series?

    But what I do know, is that they enter other races and events. For example, my friends’ teenage son had done several other races this year in the region, but they were typically the long distance, single ride events, not that XC lap style State series races.
    Other teens have been enetering the local enduro races, again because it’s something different than the NICA races they are already doing.

  20. #20
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    Velo News article

    What I don’t like about that Velonews article is the heavy focus on racing and elite performance.

    It’s great if a former NICA athlete ends up as a pro racer, but the whole point here is to get more kids on bikes.
    Get them doing something they can enjoy, get them doing something they can keep doing for the rest of their life!

    Otherwise we are no better than football: millions of fans, many of whom played in school, now they watch it on tv. Is that where we want to end up? With a few elite athletes providing entertainment for the rest of us on the couch?

    The goal should be (and NICA does well with this, it’s just the article that’s badly focused) to show them a fun way to be active outdoors in nature. If you want to race, great, if not, that’s fine too, as long as you get out and ride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tjaard View Post
    What I don’t like about that Velonews article is the heavy focus on racing and elite performance.

    It’s great if a former NICA athlete ends up as a pro racer, but the whole point here is to get more kids on bikes.
    Get them doing something they can enjoy, get them doing something they can keep doing for the rest of their life!

    Otherwise we are no better than football: millions of fans, many of whom played in school, now they watch it on tv. Is that where we want to end up? With a few elite athletes providing entertainment for the rest of us on the couch?

    The goal should be (and NICA does well with this, it’s just the article that’s badly focused) to show them a fun way to be active outdoors in nature. If you want to race, great, if not, that’s fine too, as long as you get out and ride.
    I hear what you're saying. However I think you may be overlooking the idea that more kids on bikes, breeds more adults on bikes, which creates more cycling fans who understand the sport. Which means a bigger base for cycling. And more support for it. Also bear in mind VeloNews is a bike racing publication. Not focused on recreation at all. Of course they are going to focus on the competitive elements. That particular article is the canary in the coal mine for the US bike racing scene. Saying there is a shift coming. That shift, away from riding the coat tails of the "Armstrong effect" on US Cycling. And has officially taken hold of the youth. There's a new wave coming.

    A big part of the reason many parents don't see value in cycling (less kids on bikes) is because historically, there's no future there. They a kids bike as a "toy" and not as a piece of "sports equipment". I run into this ALL THE TIME with fellow non-cycling parents who scoff at my favorite recreational activity with my kids. By no future, I mean no college programs or scholarships. That is starting to shift. I personally don't care about that element. But if it were there, the sport would become more mainstream and more accepted as a "real sport". Which means....more kids on bikes.

    This win by Kate officially made youth bike racing legitimate in the USA. And it's nothing but a good thing for the sport.

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    I perhaps wasn’t clear, I do know that NICA does a very good job focusing on the “lifetime sport” and “everyone rides” vs the top-performing athlete, it was just the article that had that focus.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tjaard View Post
    What I don’t like about that Velonews article is the heavy focus on racing and elite performance.

    It’s great if a former NICA athlete ends up as a pro racer, but the whole point here is to get more kids on bikes.
    Get them doing something they can enjoy, get them doing something they can keep doing for the rest of their life!

    Otherwise we are no better than football: millions of fans, many of whom played in school, now they watch it on tv. Is that where we want to end up? With a few elite athletes providing entertainment for the rest of us on the couch?

    The goal should be (and NICA does well with this, it’s just the article that’s badly focused) to show them a fun way to be active outdoors in nature. If you want to race, great, if not, that’s fine too, as long as you get out and ride.
    That's a tough one though. You call out organized team sports and yes there is a huge drop off due to lack of opportunity as an adult. However with individual team sports, like NICA, that drop off is not nearly as large. Many runners still run, swimmers still swim, etc. There's also the aspect that some people, kids included, are inherently competitive and an outlet needs to be provided for that. The mission of more kids on bikes is important and not making competition a focus helps with that for some, competing helps with others but for the majority I'm exposed to they do not care either way. One way to achieve a balance is to let the kids self select.

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