High school mountain biking goes national

The Sophomore Boys race start at a NorCal High School League Division 1 race.

The Sophomore Boys race start at a NorCal High School League Division 1 race. (Image credit: NorCal High School League)

High school mountain biking will take a step toward becoming a more mainstream sport on October 1 with the new The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) forming. The organization will promote and facilitate interscholastic high school mountain biking in the US.

The national program is evolving from the already successful 10-year-old NorCal High School Mountain Bike League and its younger sibling the SoCal High School Mountain Bike League. Specialized Bicycle Components has signed on as the national founding sponsor, and Easton Sports Development has created a sponsorship match program to support NICA.

NorCal League founder Matt Fritzinger is heading the NICA, which kicks off by supporting four regional programs - two in California, one in Colorado, and one is Washington state.

By 2020, NICA's vision is to have developed high school mountain biking coast to coast by providing successful models of league development to interested regions.

"This is a tremendously exciting step not only for us, but for mountain biking in the US. Our programs provide a range of positive experiences for teenage kids, many of which would not have come to the sport if it were not for their high school team," said Fritzinger.

"This is exactly the kind of thing we need to develop not only mountain biking but all kinds of cycling in the US. If league graduates want to go onto racing activities, that's great, and they can choose which discipline inspires them," said 1990 Mountain Bike World Champion Ned Overend. "But many of these kids go on to a healthy, fulfilling life of recreational cycling - both on and off road - which they then introduce to their families. You can see how this will create growth in future generations."

NICA is currently looking for additional major corporate partners and individual supporters as well as founding board members.

Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for a related NICA feature coming soon.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.