This season we will not have a race series.
Ever since our 2020 season was suspended and subsequently cancelled due to COVID we have been working hard to determine how we would be able to hold races in a safe way that aligns with our current state restrictions on large groups. While we have seen some progress across our state in regards to COVID restrictions, we are far from being able to host the community focused race weekends we have all come to know and love from NCICL.
While we have seen other NICA leagues host time trials in place of traditional races, we do not feel that this is a viable option for North Carolina. First, our restrictions here in North Carolina would not allow for us to host a time trial series that would allow for our entire league to participate in an entire series. More importantly, a time trial format (where there would be no spectators, no preride, and would truly be a show up – race – and leave type of event) does not provide the community and feel of a NCICL event.
In addition, it takes months of preparation to hold an NCICL race event and not knowing if or when the large gathering limits will be lifted or removed makes it very hard to commit to a race series. Particularly so when a lot of costs associated with a race series are paid out in advance. Awards alone are ordered months in advance and make up a significant expense. As it stands, we are not willing to ask our families to register for the 2021 season on the hope that we might race while running the very real risk of not being able to hold large scale events yet again. It’s just not the right thing to do.
Our race series is a unique opportunity that many of our families look forward to each season, and while providing an inclusive and fun race experience is part of our DNA, it is merely part of the magic that is NCICL. The real magic of mountain biking and NCICL is the sense of community that we experience at our league events, and even more-so at the team level.
Our main goal is to create life-long cyclists, and we do this through the sense of community that families find within their team culture. While racing can provide amazing learning opportunities for our student-athletes, the great majority of mountain-bikers do not race. Mountain biking is an awesome vehicle for exploration and growth – and our student-athletes have the ability to learn so much about themselves and the world around them by riding with their coaches and teammates.
While we may not be able to get together as an entire league this season, we are very grateful that our teams can continue to provide the opportunity and community for the youth and families of North Carolina in what we are calling our “Season of Adventure!”
Season of Adventure
NCICL is working to support teams with both team level and league level initiatives, challenges, and activities to ensure that new and returning student-athletes have a safe and fun season with their teams.
- Explore NC is a league initiative that encourages our teams and student-athletes to explore the amazing trails of North Carolina, and find themselves in the process! Explore NC is executed at both the league and team level, and is designed to provide a progression of experiences to prepare our student-athletes with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to plan, prepare for, and enjoy Destination Rides
- GRiT Working towards our goal of increasing female participation (coaches and student-athletes each) in mountain biking to 33% by 2023 we will have regional GRiT rides to bring together female student-athletes and coaches.
- Teen Trail Corps (TTC) Our student-athletes are the future of the mountain bike community, and as such it is important that they grow as trail stewards and advocates. We will continue to support teams as they get their student-athletes involved with local efforts through trail maintenance, advocacy, and development.
- Team and League Challenges While we will not have a race series, a little friendly competition never hurt anyone! We plan to have fun and friendly competitions (social media challenges, scavenger hunts, etc) that teams can participate in within their teams and across the league.
The obvious question is “what if everything changes by X date? Can we then race?” The honest answer is we don’t know and rather than continue to tie all of us up in knots over it we think the more productive course of action is understand where we are right now and commit to doing all we can to create a positive experience for our families.
While this season will be different than seasons past, we are excited for what it will bring to our student-athletes and families across North Carolina. We hope that being part of your team community and culture will help bring some sense of “normalcy” to you and your family as we continue to navigate COVID.