National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) is kicking off the inaugural season this weekend with a race on September 29th at McDowell Mountain Regional Park on the Pemberton Trail System. The distance of the race will depend on what class the kids are in. Freshman will be completing one 8 mile loop, Soph 2 laps and Varsity 24 miles over three laps.
The first race was supposed to be in Tucson. Why the change? I think it is best to say that we are all excited that NICA is finally in Arizona and that many of the glitches, bumps, kickers, ruts, should be excused this first season and instead we can focus on building a sport that so many in Arizona cherish and want to see flourish.
The NICA website says the following about its races “NICA -sanctioned races provide student athletes an arena in which to set and accomplish competitive goals, do achieve their personal best. Most NICA leagues have a 4- or 5-race schedule, held in the Spring or Fall depending on the regional climate. Professional race promotion, timing, course preparation and risk management guarantee every participating student athlete is given a fun and fast environment.”
Tucson is going to be well represented. Two teams that I know of are participating. A Northwest team that I expect will be representing either Ironwood Hills or Canyon Del Oro. I look forward to filling in the details in the post race blog. Of course, El Grupo will be representing as well. A few of the kids will be sporting their school colors. Tucson High has a team that is made up of El Grupo kids. The other student athletes will be racing under the El Grupo colors with new sponsor free kits ( No the kits are not free and it is big $$$ to participate).
El Grupo is heading up on Saturday to camp and pre-ride the course. Ignacio likes to say we are a road team that are new to Mountain Biking. It will be very interesting to see how the well conditioned “roadies” do on the single track. We have been told the course is not very technical and that may be a bonus for our athletes. Samuel will be competing in the 8 mile Freshman race.
Hopefully, many other schools and teams will also be camping so we can start to build lasting friendships with the other riders across the state.
Check back here at BikePilgrim.com early next week for a follow up and look for photos that will be posted to The Damion Alexander Team on Facebook.