West Virginia League Partners with State Agencies to Develop Mountain Biking Trails in Local Parks

North Bend State Park is a popular recreation destination near Cairo, West Virginia, sitting on over 2,400 acres on the North Fork of the Hughes River. North Bend State Park is also home to one of the West Virginia League’s Races. The park wasn’t always the perfect location for a NICA race, but thanks to a collaboration between the West Virginia Interscholastic Cycling League (WVICL) and the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources (WVDNR) there are new NICA-approved trails for everyone to use at North Bend State Park (NBSP).

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North Bend State Park in Cairo, West Virginia. Photo: Stephen Worden

In March 2018, Steve Jones, Superintendent of North Bend State Park, attended WVICL’s Leaders Summit, which was hosted at North Bend. The father of three teenage boys, Superintendent Jones understood the benefits of NICA’s youth development programs. He quickly earned his Level 1 Coaching license and then began to educate his fellow administrators and park superintendents on the benefits of developing a relationship with WVICL to promote NICA’s values throughout West Virginia’s State Parks. Superintendent Jones was so impressed with NICA’s values and programs that he set out on a mission to build NICA-approved trails at North Bend State Park.

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West Virginia Student-Athletes racing at North Bend State Park. Photo:Kyle Mandler

Working closely with state park administrators at their main offices in Charleston, West Virginia, Superintendent Jones was able to secure additional funding to build a NICA-approved course at NBSP. The timeline to secure the funding and build the trails was tight leading up to the race scheduled for October 21, 2018, at NBSP, but with a call for volunteers, over 30 volunteers showed up the weekend before the race to put the finishing touches on the trail. Volunteers poured in from WVICL, the West Virginia Mountain Bike Association, the River Valley Mountain Bike Association, and the North Bend State Park Foundation. Superintendent Jones was on hand as well to help complete the trail. After five hours of teamwork, the trail contractor gave the thumbs up that the trail was ready for NICA student-athletes to race the following weekend!

Race weekend arrived a little rainy, but the student-athletes still had a fantastic time and many said the new course at NBSP was the best course all season.

Lessons learned? First, never underestimate the power of NICA’s core values and principles and how they can impact people. Second, never overlook the value of your coaches, parents, and athletes to assist in promoting NICA and utilize their help!

Following the success of the trails at NBSP, Cassie Smith, WVICL League Director, and Stephen Worden, WVICL League Treasurer, were invited to present  about NICA, its core values, and how NICA and the state parks can promote each others missions at the West Virginia State Parks Superintendent Annual Conference.

Since the presentation, WVICL has been contacted by several state parks wanting to assist in hosting league events at their parks. Currently, WVICL is working with NBSP to develop a Memorandum of Understanding to continue their work in the future. On the success of the collaboration, Superintendent Jones put it best when he stated “It’s obvious, our missions are intertwined. By working together, we can fulfill our mission and improve the quality of life within our communities. Collaborating with WVICL hits the sweet spot, everyone wins!”

For more information on the West Virginia Interscholastic Cycling League, please visit: www.westvirginiamtb.org

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West Virginia student-athletes race at North Bend State Park. Photo: Kyle Mandler

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