OCT 2015 - BICYCLING
Local Teams Seek Middle and High School Mountain Bikers
By Rich Tortorici
For parents out there that are avid cyclists, this is something that would be wonderful to share with your student-athlete at home. For middle school and high school athletes with a sense of adventure, or a love of cycling, this is for you! It’s easy too. Locally, you can contact either R-Cubed or HRRT composite teams and get started. Just being a part of interscholastic cycling and watching athletes compete has been one of the most gratifying things I have ever been a part of, and I wish to share it with you. Come join us for the 2016 National Interscholastic Cycling Association season.
“Don’t you wish this existed when you were in school?” What a slogan! It could not be any more spot on! NICA! For those who don’t know what NICA is, pay close attention to the picture I’m about to paint.
National Interscholastic Cycling Association is a program for all middle school and high school students. NICA is for the kid that loves riding bikes, has adventure coursing through his or her veins, may just be looking for excitement on all types of terrain in the woods, and doesn’t mind getting a little dirty! This is where NICA fits in.
Kids from all over the country are getting together to race mountain bikes. That’s right! Middle school and high school kids now have an outlet to be on a team, local to them, and race mountain bikes.
WHERE WAS THIS WHEN I WAS A KID!? Ha! Knowing full well that hitting the trails is a passion of mine, and that there already is an outlet for the local adults, it was all but too obvious that an R-Cubed NICA team needed to exist. After picking the brain of the manager of the local HRRT NICA team, Andrew Rizzi, we started forming what would become the best sort of team you could imagine. This isn’t about winning. This isn’t about being the best. Nope! This is about personal development as a young adult, and good old fashion fun. The R-Cubed NICA Composite team was born!
NICA was formed in 2009 looking to develop an interscholastic mountain bike program for student-athletes across the United States, with an end goal of developing interscholastic mountain biking coast-to-coast by 2020. As of 2014, five years into the mission, there are 15 leagues in 14 states across the country, totaling more than 5,000 student-athletes.
Unlike traditional school sports, NICA is proud to provide the opportunity for student-athletes, both girls and boys of all skill levels and socioeconomic backgrounds, the chance to compete – and, better yet, be part of something larger.
There are no tryouts to join the team. Any athlete who wants to be a part is welcome to join one of our local teams. And, as stated before, fortunately for us in the Capital Region, we have not one, but TWO great local NICA teams to join. Student-athletes can join either R-Cubed or HRRT NICA composite teams, and are greatly encouraged to do so.
The New York NICA season spans from December to June, with five races taking place all over New York between the months of April, May and June. One of those races right in our own backyard hosted by the local HRRT NICA team in Schenectady’s Central Park.
The trails are a mix of single-track and double-track with some sections of trail that will test your skill and bravery. At one of the first races of the season, the athletes have the chance to ride through a limestone cave at Williams Lake in Rosendale (Ulster County). It doesn’t get any better!
If you’re ever curious what one of the courses looks like, it’s as easy as taking a trip to Central Park in Schenectady, and follow the green arrows through the trails. It will take you meandering through an amazing network of single-track that is non-stop twist and turns with the occasional technical feature. It’s a fast and furious course that is all about bike handling and getting on the power.
While some of the race courses may seem like a bit too much at first, by the end of the season the student-athletes will find themselves to be completely different riders with a whole new set of skills they never imagined possible. The NICA season will truly carve you out of stone and better you as a rider.
During the winter months, when trail conditions or weather is less than optimal, practices will be held indoors. On occasion this may mean taking a day trip to CranX Indoor Bike Park in Syracuse for a skills lesson.
We aren’t talking about something grassroots here either. With sponsorships that span the industry, some of the largest and best known companies are backing this movement. Companies such as Easton, Trek, Specialized, SRAM and Cannondale, just to name a few. Local shops such as CK Cycles and Freeman’s Bridge Sports, are pitching in to make certain that NICA is as successful as possible. Offering the athletes and coaches discounts on parts, labor and accessories, these companies know what it takes to maintain a team.
So, this just begs the question… what are you waiting for?
For more information contact:
- R-Cubed Composite NICA – Facebook: R-Cubed Composite NICA Cycling Team, or email: email@example.com.
- HRRT Composite NICA – Facebook: HRRT, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or website: hrrtonline.com
Rich Tortorici (email@example.com) is the cofounder, chief cook and bottle washer of R-Cubed of the R-Cubed Composite Team and a local individual with a passion for cycling.