On April 27, NICA made another milestone when the fledgling New York League held its inaugural event at Sprain Ridge Park, Yonkers, New York. Hopes are high that this league will grow to rival NorCal for participation figures. There were so many applications for spots in the first Leaders' Summit for coaches, ride leaders and volunteers, a second one has been scheduled for June 2013.
Sea Otter ranks with Interbike as the organization's largest outreach event of the year, and NICA staff said they felt honored to speak at the BRAINY and Bicycling Magazine awards.
NICA held events of its own at Sea Otter, including launches of the Spirit of Howdy program, in partnership with the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA); a red carpet screening of "Singletrack High", the highly successful documentary about a range of different participants in the NorCal League’s 2012 season, and the launch of the NICA Booster Club.
Almost 500 people showed up at the Golden State Theatre in Monterey for the film. Following the screening came the launch of the Booster Club, which enables any cyclist to contribute financially to building cycling as a high school sport. Led by NICA board member Ben Capron, a lively impromtu fundraiser saw dozens of public and industry members in the audience pull out their checkbooks in solid vote of support for student-athletes who wish to access the NICA program but lack the means to do it.
Capron said of the event, "It was wild, I think once all these cyclists watched the film and actually realized all the different and super-important things that NICA does in building strong bodies, minds and characters, and how all that looks in practice, they quickly saw why we need financial support and they didn’t hesitate to contribute."
The aim of the NICA Booster Club is to have every cyclist in America become a member, and with membership starting as low as $1 per year, NICA is confident that the cycling public will step up to support the continued growth of high school cycling.
Many members of the audience went home with these cards in their pocket. Expect to see NICA coaches and student-athletes handing these to other trail users in states where NICA leagues are active.
Sea Otter has a special place in NICA history as the venue of the first NorCal League race in 2001. Since then, student-athletes from several NICA leagues have competed at Sea Otter, usually with considerable success and this year was no exception.
NICA athletes dominated the junior expert events, with Pan-American champion Kate Courtney taking yet another win, and experienced Sea Otter goers commented that all the junior fields looked larger than ever before. With the NorCal League having to split into two this year to accommodate the 25 percent year on year growth of student-athletes in the league.
Other NICA events at Sea Otter included skills clinics with top pro riders, co-management of the Team Luna essay contest, a "meet and greet" with NICA board members, the inaugural convention of NICA's new Honorary Board, and filming of more than 20 interviews with NICA sponsors.
NICA's honorary board members
NICA's executive director summed up the weekend, saying, "The overriding feedback repeatedly heard from the industry and others that have learned a little about NICA is: 'You are creating the future of cycling.' That's quite a responsibility, but we have done our homework and a great deal of careful planning, and we are ready to play our part."