Honorary Board

Since the beginning of high school mountain biking, NICA student-athletes and coast-to-coast growth have been supported in meaningful ways by a wide range of influencers. The NICA Honorary Board formalizes this relationship with our most devoted influencers by setting annual goals to support the NICA mission and, as NICA Booster Club members, make annual contributions. Don’t be surprised if you see any one of these individuals at a NICA race, camp, conference or special event, and be sure to thank them for their support!


Ned Overend, Co-Chair, Pro Athlete, Specialized MTB Team

Ned has been racing mountain bikes for four decades. He was the first UCI Mountain Bike XC World Champion, six-time National XC Champion, and two-time Xterra Triathlon World Champion.

Ned has been inducted into several halls of fame, including the U.S. Mountain Bike, U.S. Bicycling, and Xterra Halls. His contributions to trail advocacy in his hometown of Durango, Colorado have been recognized with the naming of Overend Mountain Park.

Ned is a board member of Bicycle Colorado, honorary board member of IMBA and works at Specialized Bicycles in sports marketing and product development. Nicknames include ‘The Captain’, ‘The Lung’, and ‘Deadly Nedly’. He continues to race in several disciplines, striking fear into the hearts of master’s racers across the country and around the world.


Sara Eccelsine, Co-Chair, Brand Manager, SIDI America

Now the US brand manager for SIDI America, Sara has had a 20-year career in the cycling industry that includes working for a global manufacturer, distributor, subsidiary, and at retail as a buyer and fit specialist. While at Specialized she was central to the development of the women’s bicycle line. A persistent focus of hers has been to make cycling more accessible to more people. She raced for 10 years on the road, mountain bike, cyclo-cross, and track. Additionally, Sara has taught beginning mountain biking, run weekly women’s rides, taught bike maintenance classes, participated in and organized trail work days, and promoted a mountain bike race. She is currently involved in trail running and ran her first ultra in July 2009.

“I want to see NICA bring more girls into the sport, and I want NICA to give kids that are typically under-served by high school athletics (whether it’s scrawny climbers or beefy descenders) a place where they can benefit from the physical and emotional development of team sports,” she says. A former participant in the National Collegiate Cycling Association, Sara also sees some potential parallels for NICA at the high school level. “Kids who learn mountain biking in high school grow up to ride centuries or do 24 hour races or commute by bike. NICA can start them on that journey.”

Gary Boulanger, Sales Guy/Writer, Dirt Rag Magazine

Gary’s used Schwinn Sting-Ray became his mountain bike on the trails of Kellogg’s Woods in Green Bay, Wisconsin in the 1970s. In the `80s, his athletic output in high school and college was soccer, with the bike relegated to pure transportation. After college, cycling became Gary’s vocation, and he was smitten at 23, pursuing a dream of becoming a full-time writer. He honed his off-road chops at the Kettle Moraine trails in southeastern Wisconsin near his alma mater, and raced the Chequamegon 40 several times before switching to singlespeeds. After interviewing Matt Fritzinger for Cyclingnews.com in late 2008, Gary attended his first CycleFest, and a year later assisted Fritzinger with developing a board of directors and laying the foundation of NICA, having fun along the way and enjoying the ride. Gary is a regular contributor to Dirt Rag, PAVED and other publications, and enjoys the trails on and around th Santa Cruz Mountains. “It’s my pleasure to evangelize high school mountain biking, bringing me back to the thrill I had on my Sting-Ray in grade school.”


Jeremiah Bishop, Pro Athlete, Sho-Air/Cannondale MTB Race Team

Bishop is quite possibly the most versatile mountain bike racer in North America. He represented Team USA 12 times for cross country racing, and was two- time USA Cycling National Cross Country and Marathon Champion. In 2012 Jeremiah won the National Ultra Endurance 100 series. Between 2010 and 2012 with Cannondale Factory Racing, Jeremiah extended his reign as the most dominant mountain bike stage racer in the US, with 11 consecutive victories in all of the country’s major stage races: TransSylvania Mountain Bike Stage Race, Breck Epic and Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race.

Bishop is also an athlete ambassador to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), an active member and contributor to IMBA, and hosts www.alpineloopgranfondo.com to benefit bicycle infrastructure and prostate cancer awareness foundation.

“Mountain biking was a driving force in taking charge of my young life, he said. “As a student at risk, my good behavior, discipline, and work ethic paid off, on and off the track. It’s for this reason I am honored to contribute to NICA so that other kids can find the freedom inspiration and fun that I found in mountain biking too.”

Ben Capron

The inventor of the first ‘direct routed’ brake, later popularized by Shimano as the ‘V Brake’, Ben Capron has been in the bike industry since he was 17.  Ben is no stranger to knobby tires: he was born and raised at the foot of Mount Tam. “I’m fortunate that my passion for riding has led to a career in the bike industry – I feel like I’ve been gleefully avoiding a real job my entire adult life!” he jokes. The growth of high school mountain bike racing through the NorCal League caught Ben’s attention, and he was instrumental in getting Specialized to be a founding sponsor of NICA. As a parent of three, his vision is for student athletes across the country is to learn the life-long joy and power of riding through NICA.


Chris Cocalis, CEO, Pivot Cycles

Chris, the CEO of Pivot Cycles, started out as a bike shop rat when he was nine years old, taking out the garbage and changing inner tubes in exchange for stickers. At 12 he got into BMX racing and was always the guy who worked on everyone’s bikes around the neighborhood. He designed his first frame at 16, as he’d outgrown the ‘pro XL’ length bikes of the time and had the creation welded up for him.

Mountain biking took his interest once he moved to Arizona and he studied engineering for three years at college. In 1988 he brazed together his first steel MTB frame in cohorts with the guy who started NORBA (North American Off Road Bicycle Association). Going under the Sun Eagle brand name, their elevated chainstay Talon hardtail appeared in Mountain Bike Action in a ‘Bike’s of the Future’ feature alongside the Mantis and Nishiki Alien (a few names that will bring back the memories for the old school types).

At 20, he started Titus Bicycles, a company that held its own amongst other U.S.-based boutique brands for the 17 years. Chris started Pivot Cycles in 2007. It was his opportunity to take everything he’d learned with Titus and designing bikes for other companies (Univega, Diamondback, Dean, Slingshot, etc.) and put it into practice. He’s the ideas man behind Pivot: he rides hard, tests his own products and refines them based on his own perceptions. He also works closely with dw-link developer Dave Weagle. Chris is based in Tempe, Arizona, where a new League has launched.


Lea Davison, Pro Athlete, Specialized MTB Team

Lea first got on a mountain bike when a boyfriend convinced her to stop running in circles around the track. She quit the track and field team and joined her high school mountain bike team. With her sister Sabra, Lea and six guys rode the local trails twice a week and competed in two grassroots high school races against one other high school in Vermont. She was hooked on the sport when she rode singletrack for the first time. The descents harnessed her skills from downhill ski racing and the fitness capitalized on her cross-country running prowess.

After spring riding with the Mount Mansfield High School mountain bike club in Vermont, she started racing the local Catamount Wednesday race series and then her first NORBA at Mount Snow. A win at this race qualified her for the Junior World Championships in Vail, CO where she notched seventh place. From there, she was determined to make mountain bike racing a career and reach the highest level. Last summer, she notched one of her biggest achievements to date by representing the United States in the 2012 London Olympics racing to an 11th place. Other career highlights include 7th at the 2012 World Championships, a 2012 World Cup podium, and short track, U23, and collegiate national championships.

In 2007, Lea founded Little Bellas, a non-profit, with her sister Sabra. This program has grown exponentially since its inception with five different national camps around the country and expanding options in its Vermont home base. Lea is extremely passionate about getting more women on bikes and thrilled to bring this energy to NICA. She graduated in 2005 from Middlebury College with a BA in environmental studies.


Lucas Euser, Pro Athlete, UnitedHealthcare Cycling Team (NorCal League alum.)

Team United Healthcare professional road racer Lucas Euser was born, raised, and found his love for the bicycle in beautiful Napa, CA. He took to the mountain bike as his extra curricular activity in high school in the early 2000s; just so happened the NorCal League was forming at the same time, and he was able to use the League as a pathway to both his collegiate and professional cycling career. Lucas spent his college years balancing studies, training, and a part time job. His work ethic landed him a spot on the U23 US National Team in the summer of 2005 which kickstarted his career in the international peloton. After graduating from the Cal Poly State University SLO, Lucas packed up and moved to Europe to race for the Slipstream Sports organization, which is currently known as the Garmin Sharp Pro Cycling Team.

His career was derailed in 2009 when he was hit by a car in Girona, Spain, shattering his right kneecap. His road to recovery turned out to be an eye opening experience into his own self-evolution. A three-year stint with Team SpiderTech brought him back to the competitive level to compete on a global scale. He is a partner in the IceDOT Helmet Crash Sensor, a project he became part of soon after his accident. He also sits on the board of the Napa Valley Vine Trail and is very active in his home community of Napa and his newly adopted home of Boulder, CO.


Gary Fisher, Mountain Biking Evangelist, Trek Bicycles

Gary exemplifies visionary leadership. Considered by many to be one of the godfathers of the modern mountain bike, it wasn’t until he attended the California State Championships in 2004 that he had an epiphany about high school mountain biking. Here in his home county, high school kids were competing on mountain bikes for their schools, and acting like that was a normal thing to do. From that point forward, when speaking at events nationwide, Gary always described the NorCal League when speaking about the future of the sport. Matt Fritzinger has stated “Early on, even I chuckled about Gary’s vision; I felt what we had in NorCal was very special and wasn’t sure it would work elsewhere.” Gary’s outspoken belief in his vision for the success and impact of NICA helped pave the way for the creation of new leagues and NICA.


Jimena Florit-Dolzadelli, Mountain Biking Olympian (2000 and 2004)

Jimena twice represented her native Argentina at the Summer Olympics (2000 and 2004), where she finished in 20th and 12th place, respectively. In 2003 she claimed the gold medal at the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, defeating USA’s Mary McConneloug and Chile’s Francisca Campos. During her 10-year career as a professional mountain biker, Jimena twice won the NORBA cross-country overall title, as well as a pair of overall short-track championships. She retired after racing for the LUNA Pro Team in 2007, and is a cycling coach in Hartford, Connecticut.


Mari Holden, Road Cycling Olympic Medalist

Mari began cycling with a club in high school as part of a fitness program centered on triathlon, and did not make competitive cycling her focus until 1992 when she moved to Colorado Springs and began training with the U.S. cycling team to improve her triathlon. She also transferred to University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, where she majored in philosophy.

Mari won the UCI World Time Trial championship in 2000 after winning a silver medal in the Sydney Olympics time trial. She also won six U.S. championships, becoming the first American woman to win three consecutive U.S. time trial championships (1998–2000) and scoring a double by winning the U.S. time trial and road championships in 1999.

Mari was also elected to the board of directors of USA Cycling and re-elected in 2004. She formerly served on the athletic advisory committee to the U.S. Olympic Committee and was athlete ambassador to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). She coaches and holds cycling clinics and cycling camps as well as serves as a consultant on women’s cycling issues and products. She was called one of the “greatest ambassadors in the sport of cycling” by Ride Magazine in March, 2008.


Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (aka JHK), Pro Athlete, Trek Factory Racing

Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski began racing mountain bikes in 8th grade and hasn’t looked back since. His passion for all things mountain bikes began with a school trip in the foothills outside Denver, CO, and continues today as he races throughout North America and the world for Trek Factory Racing. Jeremy attended the college of Engineering at the University of Colorado where he won four collegiate titles and got a degree in Applied Mathematics. He went on to win 15 national championships in multiple disciplines as a professional and represent the United States at the Olympics in 2004 in Athens, Greece.

2013 marks JHK’s 20th full season of racing, and the beginning of a new chapter in competition. After more than a decade of World Cup racing around the globe, he will return to the roots of the sport that drew him in 20 years ago – doing a new mix of events and taking in many of North America’s best trails. Along with teammate and spouse Heather Irmiger, they will travel the United States and Canada in their Airstream Safari sharing their love for riding fast, great singletrack, and mountain bike culture.

“As one who experienced every aspect of racing and development as a junior, I’m thrilled to see the potential in exposing a new generation of riders to a sport that is healthy, fun, and filled with great people and role models,” he said of his role with NICA.


Heather Irmiger, Pro Athlete, Trek Factory Racing

Heather grew up and currently lives in Boulder, CO. With regular family trips to Moab and Winter Park as a teenager she quickly fell in love with the sport of mountain biking. At 15, Heather signed up for the first ever summer camp provided by the local organization, Singletrack Mountain Bike Adventures (SMBA) where she eventually became a coach. Through SMBA and a job at the local bike shop, her passion for riding and curiosity for racing grew. She entered her first mountain bike race when she was 17 – there were no junior women racers so she competed and placed 3rd among the beginner women – with the fire stoked, her racing career took off.

After a successful collegiate career with the University of Colorado and regional racing teams, Heather now races with the support of the Trek Factory Racing Team and has become one of the top competitors in the World. She is a 2009 U.S. National XC Champion, 2009 and 2010 Marathon National Champion, 2009 Single Speed World Champion, and 2011 Pan American Games Gold Medalist.

”Today’s kids now have the opportunity to gain quick access to such a network through high school racing,” she said. “Riding and competing just before and throughout college taught me to be disciplined and how to keep life fun. I enjoy exposing people to the elements of mountain biking that have brought me so much, and feel that supporting the growth of the high school mountain bike league is an essential part of this goal.”


Ashley Korenblat, CEO, Western Spirit Cycling Adventures

Ashley is CEO of Western Spirit Cycling, a national bicycle outfitter and one of the largest holders of recreation permits on the public land system. She formerly ran Merlin Metalworks, a titanium bicycle manufacturer. Ashley served on the Utah BLM Resource Advisory Council for two terms, as well as the Utah Outdoor Recreation Economic Ecosystem Taskforce. She has testified before Congress on the recreation economy and served on the Get Out West Committee for the Western Governor’s Association. Ashley is a past president of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), and recently created the Public Lands Initiative at IMBA, representing the bicycle industry in over 30 Wilderness and land protection bills around the country. She has an MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth and was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 2003.


Eddie O’Dea, Director of Guest Experience, Endurance House Atlanta, Pro Athlete, Siren Cycles

In high school Eddie played soccer and rode bikes recreationally. He wasn’t even aware of the sport of mountain biking until his early 20s. Once he was exposed though, bicycles came to have a central role in his life and later his career.

Eddie has raced every distance and format available to a cross country racer, but his heart is in the long distance adventures. From 100 milers to 24-hour lap races to multi-day, self supported epics in the backcountry, he is at his best when others want to sleep. Eddie has podiumed around the country, including the 24-Hour National Championships, and is now focused on chasing course records for backcountry epics.

Eddie resides in Roswell, GA and is the Director of Guest Experience and Head Bike Fitter at Endurance House Atlanta, a multi-sport retailer. He is also a cofounder and mountain bike skills coach for Georgia High School Cycling League.


Namrita O’Dea, Owner, 55nine Performance, Pro Athlete, Topeak-Ergon MTB Team

Namrita is an endurance mountain bike athlete specializing in 6- to 24-hour solo and team events, 100 milers, and off-road multi-sport events. In 2012, her first year racing off-road triathlon, she earned the title of XTERRA Regional Champion. She is one of the six US racers on the Topeak-Ergon mountain bike team and based in Atlanta, GA with her husband and teammate Eddie and their two German Shorthaired Pointers.

Namrita is a sports nutritionist and co-owner of 55nine Performance based in Atlanta, GA. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan, a Masters degree in Nutrition from Georgia State University, and is currently pursuing her PhD in Applied Physiology at Georgia Tech.

“I got a late intro to mountain biking, and it wasn’t until I started doing some adventure racing when I was 27 that I discovered my love for the mountain bike. I really think I would have been happier and healthier throughout high school if I had the opportunity to race mountain bikes at that time. That’s why I really believe in NICA and its programs!”


Nat Ross, Lizard Skins/International Marketing Executive

Nat grew up in Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado, a small town on the Colorado River between Winter Park and Steamboat where he ran track and skied as a child. His specialty was the 400- and 800-meter along with the mile relay. He was the 1990 Colorado State Champion and a two-time All-American NCAA Division I XC ski racer.

In his role at Lizard Skins, Ross manages sales to European distributors and OEMs, while also working closely with IBDs in his home base of Colorado. Ross holds a biochemistry degree from Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado. After college, he pulled a five-year stint as high school teacher and coach. In 2005, he even took a swing at mountain-bike race promotion; designing the course for Sleepless in the Saddle.

As a professional cyclist, Ross earned four World Championship titles, three National Championships, won Race Across America (RAAM) twice, and was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 2008. Ross is also the founder and CEO of the Pro Bike Center in Golden, Colorado.


Rebecca Rusch, Pro Athlete, Specialized MTB Team

Rebecca Rusch has achieved accolades in a number of sports on her road to being one of the world’s top endurance athletes. Her national and world titles in whitewater rafting, adventure racing, orienteering, and cross-country skiing certainly impress, but they only set the stage; it’s the two-wheeled victories that really lengthen her resume. Rusch’s mountain bike include national wins across multiple off-road formats top the list, as well as record-setting victories at storied ultra endurance races like the Leadville Trail 100, Dirty Kanza 200, and 24 Hour MTB World Championships. Rusch also claimed the record on the 142-mile Kokopelli Trail, coming in more than an hour and a half faster than the previous champion. Known as the “The Queen Of Pain”, Rusch is constantly challenging herself and redefining limits.

Off of the podium, she is the driving force behind the SRAM Gold Rusch Tour, a series of events across North America to help get more women in the saddle and riding their bikes through skills clinics, social events, and group rides. She also created Rebecca’s Private Idaho, a grueling gravel road event in her hometown of Ketchum that attracts hundreds of riders to her backyard every year, all for charity. Organizations like the International Mountain Bike Association, World Bicycle Relief, PeopleForBikes.org, the National Interscholastic Mountain Bike Association, and the Wood River Bicycle Coalition can count her as an official ambassador and, in some cases, board member.

Rusch recently was able to add the title of author to her list with the release of her highly anticipated autobiography, Rusch to Glory, which tells her story of transformation from ordinary to extraordinary and will inspire anyone to discover their own greatness. All that and she’s still a firefighter and EMT with the Ketchum Fire Department and walks her dog Diesel, just about every day.

To learn more about Rebecca visit: www.rebeccarusch.com

To learn more about Rebecca’s SRAM Gold Rusch Tour: www.goldruschtour.com

To learn more about her fundraising for non-profits: www.rebeccasprivateidaho.com


Mike Sinyard, CEO, Specialized Bicycle Components

Mike is the founder and chairman of Specialized Bicycle Components, based in Morgan Hill, California, and one of the largest bicycle companies in the world. His passion for bicycles developed at San Jose State University, where he cycled to class. After graduating in 1974, Mike began importing European components, supplying them to West Coast bike shops and frame builders. He continued to sell these parts out of a trailer in San Jose, California, and developed a network of shops that provided him with input as to what was needed to make their customer’s riding experiences more enjoyable. Through this insight and his own passion for cycling performance, Mike recognized the need for better tires than those that were being developed in Europe. With this mission, he created the first Specialized touring tire: Specialized Bicycle Components was born.

For 39 years, Specialized has helped to grow mountain and road cycling and has become one of the top manufacturers in the international bicycling industry. Following the introduction of the touring tires, Mike moved on to develop custom components which, in turn, led to the production of complete bikes. Combining the comfort and durability of cruiser bikes and the lightweight performance of road bike components, small frame builders created a new ride known today as the mountain bike. Specialized’s 1982 introduction of the StumpJumper ushered in the international boom in off-road biking.

Mike was inducted to the U.S. Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 1988. The StumpJumper mountain bike was added to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s collection in 1994. Mike was also profiled in the 2007 documentary film Klunkerz: A Film About Mountain Bikes. Specialized is also a founding sponsor of NICA.


Marla Streb, Media Liaison/Coach, Team LUNA Chix

Marla is a retired professional mountain bike racer of 16 years, with accolades such as World, U.S. National and X-Games Champion. During her racing career, Streb wrote and published two books, The Life Story of a Gravity Goddess, and The Road Century Book. Currently, Marla works with the all-female Team LUNA Chix as a media liaison and coach, the same world class LUNA Pro Team on which she raced from 2002-2010.

A Baltimore native, Streb earned a Master of Science degree from the University of Maryland in 1990. She is now a League of American Cyclists Certified Instructor and works for the non-profit advocacy organization Bike Maryland, where she teaches cycling safety to underprivileged youth.

The proud mom of two young girls, Kiki and Nicoya with her husband Mark Fitzgerald, they happily travel together by bicycle, skateboard or foot on 90 percent of their trips. Marla’s life goal is to encourage others to safely ride, and enjoy the journey even more than the destination.


Kimber Tedro, Amateur Athlete, Sho-Air/Cannondale MTB Race Team

Kimber has been competing on bikes since age 3, on a big wheel! This was just a normal way of life, riding and running out on the trails every day with her brothers. There was not an option to be on a high school mountain bike team in her day, but she did compete in track from junior high through college. As an adult she road raced and competed in triathlons, but nothing compared to racing out on the beautiful trails. Coming full circle with mountain biking, as a mother of a little bike-riding girl named Kinsey, who will have the opportunity to be a part of NICA when she’s older. Her husband Scott, owner of Sho-Air International, is also dedicated to mountain biking, so it’s all in the family. Kimber studied nutrition but also has the experience of owning a children’s sports and fitness company and knows what is required to grow an organization.


Brian Vaughan, CEO/Co-founder, GU Energy

Brian is president of GU Sports, based in Berkeley, California, down the street from the NICA headquarters. An avid mountain biker who has participated in 24-hour solo mountain bikes races, Vaughan was a high school and college track and cross-country runner. He left a New York City gig consulting in finance and management to become the chief GU operations guy in 1995 as general manager. His father, a UC Berkeley bio-physicist, started the company to develop a nutrition gel to give endurance athletes like his ultra runner daughter, Laura, a competitive edge after she struggled through the grueling Western States 100.