Reflections on an Inaugural NICA Season

It's no easy task to found a NICA League and successfully complete an inaugural race season. We are thrilled to have seen three new leagues successfully launch this fall. We caught up with our no longer rookie League Directors of West VirginiaMaryland, and Oregon to find out their take on their inaugural seasons!
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West Virginia student-athletes having some fun as they wrap up their inaugural season. Photo: Kyle Mandler


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Cassie Smith //  West Virginia Interscholastic Cycling League

What was your favorite race of the season and why? North Bend Race #4 was amazing, because the skies were blue, and we raced on a trail that was build specifically for our NICA student-athletes. The kids really loved the course, and it was a great end to a rainy, muddy season.

What has been the best part (so far!) of being a League Director?  Seeing more families getting out on bikes has been the BEST reward. The kids crossing the finish line with big smiles on their faces was pretty awesome as well!

Describe your inaugural season in 10 words or lessEmotional Roller Coaster.

What are you looking forward to in 2019? National Conference, working with my awesome team of dedicated staff, and getting more kids on bikes!

Now that you've finished your inaugural season - what are you going to do? Ride my bike and enjoy my family!

Fred Powell // Maryland Interscholastic Cycling League

What was your favorite race of the season and why? Race #4 (finals) - the team was dialed, the weather was outstanding, the host town rolled out the red carpet, and it was a nice compact infield, which gave it a very intimate feel.

What has been the best part (so far!) of being a League Director?  The pride of seeing the core staff come together and begin working seamlessly, watching them take on challenges and work through them without a hitch.

Describe your inaugural season in 10 words or lessEmotionally overwhelming.

What are you looking forward to in 2019? More school-based teams.

Now that you've finished your inaugural season - what are you going to do? Ride my bike more for starters, then start shopping for a more reliable vehicle to tow our trailer 🙂

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Fred with mountain biking legend, Tinker Juarez at the Maryland League's MoCo Madness race.

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Jon Posner // Maryland Interscholastic Cycling League

What was your favorite race of the season and why? Race #1, it was that feeling of realization that everything our team had been working towards for well over a year was finally actually happening. Having so many staff there from NICA National to share the weekend made it extra special. I'll agree with Fred that we got even tighter as a team on each successive race, but that first one ... starting that very first wave of Maryland 8th grade boys - I will never forget that.

What has been the best part (so far!) of being a League Director?  Being connected to every team and getting to hear about so many kids' experiences, but also getting to know a lot of the coaches and team directors who are the ones really bringing the magic to the student-athletes.

Describe your inaugural season in 10 words or lessInspiring. Consuming. Gratifying. Exhausting. Challenging. Up-lifting. Instructive. Impactful. Successful. Humbling

What are you looking forward to in 2019? Digging into more non-competitive programming like a bike-packing weekend, some camp days and more GRiT activities. We also want to make sure camping is available at more of our venues for 2019 - the weekend camping experience makes SUCH a great addition to a NICA race.

Now that you've finished your inaugural season - what are you going to do? Start hunting for 2019 venues, courting sponsors & partners, lining up a dirt tour, planning some leaders summits, build a bike-packing pilot proposal, recruit more core staff members, work on seeding inner city teams in Baltimore and D.C., help Fred shop for a truck, maybe ride by bike some.

Heather Wolfgang // Oregon Interscholastic Cycling League

What was your favorite race of the season and why? Hard to pick just one, but I'm going to go with the first race of the season. I will never forget the look on people's faces when they showed up. They realized how real it was and how many other people are part of this community, and saw the standard the league holds itself to for these events. Even though the race crew was learning how to put on the race and figuring out each component of their roles, they did fantastic and we pulled it off almost seamlessly.

What has been the best part (so far!) of being a League Director?  It's been so fun meeting riders, coaches, and families from all over the state that have come together to be part of this, and to know that they trust us and believe that we're going to deliver a top-notch series is really special. I've also enjoyed exploring all the nooks of Oregon to find mountain biking trails that are suitable for our races. 

What are you looking forward to in 2019? I'm looking forward to starting programming outside of races, like overnight camps, trail maintenance camps and GRiT events.

Now that you've finished your inaugural season - what are you going to do? I wish I could say that I'll be riding my bike and not thinking about where the start/finish, feed zone, and EMT access points should be, but honestly, I'm already thinking about our next race season's venues. Stoked!

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The Oregon Race Crew

Congratulations Cassie, Fred, Jon, Heather and congratulations to your race crews! Enjoy the off-season!
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