Florida Interscholastic Cycling League Race Series
Our definition of “race”
Language is important. When we first launched this league, we noticed the reaction we got from people when we said that middle and high schoolers will “race” and can say it had varying effects. To a new rider, even the words “mountain biking” can bring up images that don’t really represent what our version of mountain biking is, as explained in this article.
The Oregon Interscholastic Cycling League came up with a great acronym for what a race is and we wanted to share it with you here: Really Awesome Challenging Event – because that’s exactly what it is. A race will be a timed event on a closed course and the rider can choose what they want to accomplish out there. That may be getting on the podium or just finishing one lap without getting off the bike, but whatever it is, it’s gonna be rad and we’ll be there to root and cheer each and every rider that comes out.
What sets us apart
One of the great things about a NICA League, which separates us from other youth cycling development programs, is we produce our own youth-specific events. This means we pick out race venues and work directly with landowners and managers to produce the highest quality youth development race courses and events. Our student-athletes get a stage of their own, away from adult competitions, and we strive for safety and fun above all other factors.
We have already begun the process of reviewing prospective Spring 2022 venues around our state to ensure that our events will meet NICA standards, for the sake of our participants’ experiences as well as our own risk management. If you have a suggestion for a venue we would love to hear it, please send your ideas to us.
A great event venue is nothing without a great team putting the event on, and we are a 100% volunteer run organization. We are actively seeking volunteers for all aspects of event production, from helping us form great partnerships with land managers, set our courses, lay out pit zone, mark the routes, and assist in various other “day of” roles such as registration, course marshals, parking, and more. Whether you’re interested in a 2-hour shift so you can see your child race, or a spot on an event committee, Florida Interscholastic Cycling League would be delighted to have your involvement! Please send an email to email@example.com to inquire about volunteer opportunities.
A note about our Middle School Program
While the FL League does hold a race series, our philosophy is to balance competitive and noncompetitive mountain biking pursuits. At the middle school level, we want to de-emphasize the competitive aspects of the sport even more. We prefer to introduce the younger riders to competition slowly. Though some kids relish competition, many do not. The goal of the middle school program is to ease our student-athletes into racing: the primary focus should be on having a blast while riding bikes in the dirt with your friends and enjoying the overall atmosphere and experience of NICA; racing should very much be a secondary focus. See HERE for more information and details about our middle school program.
A note about our SPRING race season
We’ve had some questions about why we’ve chosen to do a spring race season, so here’s a little bit on our logic:
- The Florida League facilitates youth development through the sport of mountain biking, with about 90% of our student-athletes being new to racing and 75% of them riding trails for the first time upon joining our program. We really do want to get more kids on bikes – not create a development program for high-end athletes (although we do see a lot of talent throughout NICA participation). There are juniors already racing in other programs during the fall and spring, and that’s great! They’re already in the cycling community, and chances are really dang good that their family is, too! And while we invite them to join us, we know there are thousands of others who don’t know what this is about. We’re ready to share what we’re doing with both new and experienced riders.
- The weather we get from February through early May is best for our racers. If we were a fall league, which really starts in July, we’d be up against the extreme heat and humidity, a plethora of nasty plants and insects to deal with as well as the occasional hurricane. These are not the conditions we want to expose our new riders and their families to.
- A spring race season means student-athletes can start training and practicing in December. In order to create a positive experience into the sport, getting new riders out on trails with mild to warm days, some wildflowers, and birds chirping makes way more sense than getting them out in the heat of summer with all of the mosquitoes, lightning and humidity. We’re not saying that all of that doesn’t create character, but we have other ideas of how to do that which include way less resistance from new riders.