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High School Mountain Bike League Goes Far Beyond Racing

For Immediate Release 10-13-2010
Contact: Mark Eller
IMBA Communications Director
markeller [at] imba [dot] com
303-545-9011 ext. 115

In 2009, IMBA announced a partnership agreement with the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA). In the months that followed, NICA has notched many impressive successes, including the successful debut of a high school mountain biking league in Colorado, plans for new leagues in Texas and Washington in 2011, as well as continued support for more than 600 riders in the California leagues.  

Since the IMBA/NICA partnership was announced, IMBA has promoted high school mountain biking amongst the clubs, chapters and patrols that make up the associaion's network. Some members were curious, however, if the NICA programs were compatible with IMBA's mission to "create, enhance and preserve great trail experiences for mountain bikers worldwide."

"IMBA's work aligns perfectly with the values we teach young mountain bike racers," says NICA executive director Matt Fritzinger. "If you look into the curriculum and training we provide for all of our coaches, you'll see that there's a strong emphasis on safety, trail etiquette and a commitment to volunteerism. Racing is fun, but it's really just the beginning of what the kids get out of their involvement with our leagues." A tour of the NICA website reveals that all coaches are required to undergo extensive training and education in areas far beyond competition.  

There's also considerable potential for the IMBA/NICA partnership to help ensure continued access and create new bike opportunities on public lands. "With all the emphasis we're seeing on programs to get kids outdoors and recreating, it's great for IMBA to work closely with NICA," says Mike Van Abel, IMBA's executive director. "Every year, our clubs build and maintain hundreds of trail miles for everyone to enjoy. Getting the NICA racers, families and coaches involved with our grassroots efforts will help bring new energy — and hopefully future members — into IMBA's ranks."

"Trail stewardship is incredibly important to our success," agrees Fritzinger. "Land managers love to see young people lending a hand with maintenance, and when we have a chance to build new trails in partnership with IMBA clubs and land managers, we can make sure that one of the uses they consider is the possibility for racing. Even if a venue is not suitable for races, our kids still need access to high-quality, sustainably built singletrack so they can ride in safe, enjoyable settings."

NICA has added new options for racers and their families to join IMBA when they sign on with a high school league, and is expanding its relationships with land managers and IMBA clubs. "We will continue working to create the next generation of trail advocates," says Fritzinger. Visit the NICA website for more information on how to get involved with high school mountain biking.