Every few months we tell a story from within our NICA family that exemplifies the meaningful impact our programs have for all involved. We want to hear your stories!
This month’s story comes from Adam, a Student-Athlete on Georgia’s Old Capital Racing Team.
Adam is an Eagle Scout and a Sophomore in the GA League. There’s nothing better than a day on the bike to Adam! His love for cycling and his team shines through in his positive attitude and great sportsmanship! -Kenny Griffin, Georgia League Director
We recently caught up with Adam to ask him a few questions about his experiences with NICA and racing mountain bikes
How did you first get involved with the Old Capital Racing Team?
I was first introduced to the Old Capital Racing Team through an Introduction to Mountain Biking class. My Mom and I had taken my bike to the local bike shop to get it ready to take to Boy Scout Summer Camp. We saw a flyer at the shop announcing the Mountain Biking class for that upcoming weekend.
We got my bike tuned up and I took it to the Mountain Biking class that Saturday. It turned out my bike was not appropriate for mountain bike competition because the wheel diameter was too small . The coach, Tom Glover, had several loaner bikes available, so I was able to participate using one of his bikes. It was great. I learned a lot during the class and I met several other kids my age.
I have always been homeschooled and there have not been many opportunities locally for me to participate in competitive team sports. When I was little, I played soccer and baseball on church affiliated leagues, but once I got older, there was not an opportunity to participate in public or private school sports teams in my community. When we realized OCR was a composite sports team that allowed homeschoolers to compete too, my mom suggested I try it out.
What’s your favorite thing about training and racing with the Old Capital Racing Team?
I’m not really crazy about the endurance aspect of training, but I sure do love to ride new trails with the team. It’s great when we can take a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and drive someplace new and explore a trail system together. Riding with friends and talking while out on the trail is so much more fun than riding by yourself.
Your mom has become involved in a lot of riding, and now coaching for the team – what role did NICA play in helping to draw her in?
The first season I participated in OCR, my mom only drove me to and from team practices and races. Some of our practices were far away from our home, close to nowhere, and there wasn’t anything for her to do when we took off on the trails.
Sometimes, she would bring a book and sit in the car or bring her watercolors and paint, but I think she got bored pretty fast. We’d all come back from our rides laughing and talking about the trails; she thought it sounded like something she might like to try. I thought she should too. She was able to use one of the OCR loaner bikes until my dad bought her a bike for Christmas.
At the start of last season, she began riding more, improving her skills and confidence as a rider. She helped with team practices and skills clinics. She helped out at the races. Then in the spring of this year, she went to the Georgia Leaders’ Summit to get her license and training to help coach the team.
How has the NICA program positively influenced you off the bike?
I’ve never been super athletic or physically active for that matter, preferring video gaming and the like. The process of becoming physically fit and active has been hard work mentally and physically. I’ve grumbled and complained a lot through the process. At times, I’ve slacked off and cut practices short when I got tired or discouraged.
I have not always been the model athlete. But the coaches have taught me that I need to be persistent and consistent in my work outs. Participating in the NICA program has helped me realize the need for regular physical activity and exercise throughout my life, and biking is the perfect avenue in which to do that.
They’ve helped me set personal goals for the season, and given me opportunities and team leadership roles that demonstrate their belief and confidence in me.
That support has helped me set and achieve goals for myself outside of mountain biking too, such as earning my Eagle Scout rank in Boy Scouts this past spring. I learned and used leadership skills while building a bridge on the local trail system where we regularly practice. The bridge has been used by day hikers and mountain bikers alike and has increased the length of the trail system available for our team.
As a veteran student-athlete – what advice would you give new riders embarking on their first season with NICA?
Don’t be afraid to get off and walk/run your bike through a challenging section of trail you’re not comfortable with or prepared for. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t feel like you need to prove anything to anyone by riding on sections above your level.
Make sure you are familiar with basic bike maintenance, like changing your own bike tubes in case you have a flat during a race. Also remember to do an ABC quick check before every ride.
While riding and racing can be competitive, it doesn’t have to be. It’s a very flexible sport. It allows you to ride your own ride. So you can make it your own and customize it whatever way suits your goals and desires. You can have fun either with the competitive racing aspect of NICA or come out and ride at a more leisurely pace.
Can you speak to how your coaches have influenced you?
Throughout the past few seasons, my coaches have never given up on me. Even when I have thrown in the towel and have been pretty discouraged with biking, they have given me supportive words, advice and encouragement.
My coaches have also shown a personal interest in me, outside of biking too. They’ve asked, what’s been going on, what have I been up to lately, and how’s my day been? They have shown me what it’s like to be a part of a team and to work collectively as a group.
Even when we don’t have riders in a particular race category, my coaches have expected me and my team to be out on the course, cheering the other riders on. So, it’s more than just my race or my team’s race; it’s all of us trying to do the best we personally can and acknowledging others doing the same.
So, I guess my coaches have influenced me tremendously through their example of positive support and encouragement.
What was one favorite team experience or moment and why?
I remember last season right before a race, we had driven several hours to the event site. It had been raining hard and the ground was all wet. We rode the course for a pre-ride and everyone came back muddy and wet. We changed clothes, headed back to the camp sites and hung out under the pop up canopies in the pouring rain. We waited for the spaghetti supper the coaches were cooking for us to eat.
It was the most delicious dinner. I don’t know why that’s a favorite team experience for me, because the race ended up being cancelled due to the course conditions. But, I had a great time that night just hanging out, talking and eating spaghetti.
I also remember our bike trailer got stuck in the mud, either that race or another one. The parking area was perched on the side of this really steep hill and due to all the rain, the ground was very saturated. Lots of vehicles were stuck. We had to unhitch the trailer and all of us together literally lifted and pulled that thing up the hill, so it could be hitched back to the coach’s car. There must have been 12 or 15 of us, but we did it. It was amazing.
These team memories are just so spontaneous and random, not really anything spectacular, but just ordinary moments I remember where I had a good time with some really fun people.
Thanks Adam! Best of luck to you, your Old Capital Racing Teammates and the rest of the Georgia League this season!