Alabama was announced as the newest state in a nationwide school cycling program run by the the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), a youth development organization governing interscholastic mountain biking in the United States.
NICA executive director Austin McInerny, making the announcement during the Sea Otter Classic cycling event, in California, Saturday April 12, said, “Alabama has become a role model for outdoor education in the USA. The Alabama State Parks are to be commended for their forward-thinking approach, and their constructive relationship with the high school cycling league is something we hope will be noticed by other states. This is a great way for state governmental organizations to actively promote healthy lifestyles, productivity and community awareness among youth populations.”
Eddie Freyer, director of the Alabama League, said, “Creating the Alabama High School Cycling League in 2014 is doing something in the right place at the right time, and I know it will catch on fast. The first day at my first high school race was the clincher, I knew I had to be part of this. The atmosphere is totally different (from other school sports). It’s hard to fully appreciate how powerful this movement is until you’ve stood there at the start line. Some of these kids, you can see a transformation occur right before your eyes.”
Founding sponsors of the new Alabama league include: Tree-Line Expeditions,
Birmingham Bicycle Company, Bike Link, Cahaba Cycles and Bob’s Bikes.
The state of Alabama contains a great diversity of mountain biking terrain. In the north of the state are the Apalachians. Central state trails comprise butter-smooth singletrack among pine and hardwood forests. In the south on the Gulf Coast there are sandy lowlands and flat trails among cypress groves. Student-athletes will learn a variety of riding skills on these widely differing race courses, as well as expand their geographical knowledge and trail management awareness.
Venues shortlisted for races in the coming two years include:
Oak Mountain State Park in Shelby County
Tannehill State Park, Tuscaloosa County
Chewacla State Park, Auburn
Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville
Munny Sokol Park, Tuscaloosa County
De Soto State Park, Fort Payne
The first of the coach training sessions is at a Leader’s Summit scheduled for August 2014. Coaches and interested volunteers are requested to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The addition of Alabama to the NICA network makes southeastern USA a significant area for high school cycling. NICA is building its network in regional clusters, which now include: Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama; New York and Virginia; Texas; Minnesota and Wisconsin; Utah and Colorado; Northern California, Southern California and Arizona.
NICA has over 1,300 licensed coaches who are working with approximately 3,500 student-athletes in the USA, giving a very favorable overall supervision ratio of one adult to three student-athletes.