It can be intimidating to transition away from racing in NICA leagues and progress towards the higher levels of competition. But racing doesn’t have to be frightening or intense. If you are young athlete wondering how you’re going to make it in the MTB community, don’t worry! We’ve all been there before.
Like a lot of Summit athletes, I started mountain biking through NICA. High school racing was an incredible gateway into the mountain biking community, but what does it mean to be racing outside the high school season? Here are some tips for the transition outside of NICA:
- Work on technical skills. Many races, especially ProXCT’s or international events, are very technical. Steep climbs, rock gardens, and wet roots are intimidating for a lot of riders. Don’t let the challenge deter you from racing, even if you have to walk some sections. It takes a lot of time and lot of practice to build up technical ability.
- Try different disciplines. Not only is it fun, but it makes for well-rounded cyclists. I’ve dabbled in everything from downhill to track cycling to trials. For those who are a little older, the collegiate season is really unique in that you can race dual slalom, downhill, and XC events in a single, low-stakes race weekend. Enduro is a rising discipline that a lot of NICA athletes have found their niche in, as well.
- Have fun & don’t be afraid to fail. In the grand scheme of things, bike racing is just bike racing. No matter what level you’re on, biking shouldn’t turn into a chore. Races outside of NICA can be daunting, but don’t be afraid to throw yourself into the fire once in a while; you’ll only be smarter and better for it.
For young athletes looking for a comfortable, welcoming environment, Summit’s own ProXCT race at Soldier Hollow on May 5-6 would be an awesome transition from NICA to national-level races. Come and try it out!