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MN High School Cycling League. Minnesota High School Cycling League (MN League) a statewide organization operating under governance of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) NICA is based in Berkeley, CA NICA oversees CA, CO, TX, UT and MN leagues

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MN High School Cycling League

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mn high school cycling league
MN High School Cycling League
  • Minnesota High School Cycling League (MN League) a statewide organization operating under governance of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA)
  • NICA is based in Berkeley, CA
  • NICA oversees CA, CO, TX, UT and MN leagues
  • New leagues in 2013 – NY, AZ, and TN
  • NICA’s vision to be nationwide by 2020
more on nica
More on NICA
  • NorCal was first mtb league, established by Berkeley High School Math teacher in 2000
  • SoCal launched 2008 based on success of NorCal
  • 2009 – NICA formally established as a nonprofit to guide new league development
  • Gary is the Founding Director for MN League
  • MN is a “Project League” of NICA
nica s influence on youth
NICA’s Influence on Youth

More than 50 high schools in CA have mountain bike racing programs (40 new teams in 2013)

More student athletes racing mountain bikes in Marin County than play football

  • 25% of the student athletes racing are girls
  • 95% of student athletes report health and fitness benefits from participation in NICA
  • 67% of students bring fathers into mountain biking/37% bring mothers in
strong sponsor support of mn league
Strong Sponsor Support of MN League

MN League Founding Sponsors:

- Penn Cycle, Pat Sorensen

- Erik’s Bikes and Boards, Erik Saltvold

Gold Sponsors:

- Mt. Borah

- Lifetime Fitness

Silver Sponsors:

- Minnesota Mountain Bike Series

- HealthPartners Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine

Bronze Sponsors:

- Park Tool

- Random Bikes

- Valley Bike and Ski

- Ipsity Marketing

mn league s 2012 inaugural season
MN League’s 2012 Inaugural Season

Season Snapshot

  • 160 racers
  • 15 teams
  • 4 – race schedule
  • 5 Try It Outs
  • 4 Race4Free
  • Awards Banquet
a word about our student athletes
A Word about our Student Athletes
  • Typically not ball and stick participants
  • If past team experience, generally not positive
  • Kids “adrift” find the league to be social and a place to build self-esteem

“I can’t tell you how happy we are with this league. We’ve tried so many things with our son that never fit. He loves this and now rides his bike every day. He can’t wait for the races. We bought mountain bikes, too!”

Mother of a Prior Lake racer

minnesota high school cycling league
Minnesota High School Cycling League

Official MN High School Cycling League site is

MN League basically a franchise of NICA

- similar web sites, standards, fees, etc.

Minnesota High School “Cycling” League – the intention is students will start with mountain biking but expand to road, cyclocross, commuting, etc.

nica provides great graphics
NICA Provides Great Graphics
  • NICA provides tents, banners, table covers, flags
  • All materials professionally done with league and NICA logos
  • Award podium banners, finish and start line banners also provided

“This is really impressive! The program is well run and looks better than national races I’ve attended. This is going to grow like crazy.”

High School Administrator, District 196

mn league timeline
MN League Timeline

Leaders Summit – April

Teams Form – Spring

Camps – Summer 2013

Racing Schedule:

Race 1 Sept. 8

Race 2 Sept. 21

Race 3 Sept. 29

Race 4 Oct. 6

Race 5 Oct. 20

Awards Banquet in November

typical race weekend snapshot
Typical Race Weekend Snapshot


- Course set up 7 am to Noon

- Pre-ride 1 to 4 pm

- Camping available on site or nearby


- Teams set up in Pit Zone

- Racing starts at 10 am

- Girls Varsity, JV, Soph, Freshmen

- Boys Varsity, JV, Soph, Freshmen

- Awards around 4 pm

race format
Race Format

Courses are between

4 and 6-mile loops,

mostly singletrack,

with passing zones

Climbing 400/600 ft.

per lap

Courses routed to provide visibility for coaches and parents

race format cont
Race Format, cont.

Other Features:

  • Uphill starts/finish spread racers out intentionally
  • Fenced through start/finish, feed zone, pit area
  • Feed Zones clearly marked
  • Onsite WiFi allows parents to check lap times
  • Will move to chip timing as league grows
race format cont1
Race Format, cont.

Race lengths:

  • Freshmen/Sophmores – two laps (30 minutes)
  • Junior Varsity – three laps (45 minutes)
  • Varsity – 4+ laps (1:45 minutes)

Racers register depending on school class

  • Must petition to race Varsity class

Opening races flatter, with fewer technical challenges

Season Championship race lots of climbing and technical elements

teams and scoring
Teams and Scoring

Students can race:

- As independents

- As part of a high school team

- On Composite team from several schools

Teams with girls score more points

Two categories of awards at each race:

- Individuals (5 deep per class)

- Team scoring (3 deep)

mn league jersey policy
MN League Jersey Policy
  • Primal a national sponsor for NICA and provides each league with jerseys
  • Leader’s Jerseys given to class leaders
  • MN League policy is to not allow company or manufacturer logos on racing jerseys
  • MN League team jerseys worn in races can only have school name or mascot (small manufacturer logo ok)

NICA has a licensing program for coaches

- Ride Leader

- Team Director

- Assistant Coach

- Head Coach

Minimum requirement of any

adult/parent working with

the team is a background

check available on

coaching cont
Coaching, cont.
  • Majority of license requirements for coaches can be met at two-day Leader’s Summit
  • Focus on coaching youth, working with girls, risk mitigation, on-the-bike skills
  • Coaches also need Wilderness First Aid and CPR certification
  • Coaches have one year to secure license requirements
quick look at fees
Quick Look at Fees

Student Athletes:

$50 to join the MN League (provides insurance)

$40 per race ($160 – scholarships available)


$25 fee to join the MN League

Team Registration:

$125 for teams under 12 racers

$250 for teams with 12 racers or more

mn league teams formed in 2012
MN League Teams Formed in 2012

Composite Teams:

Burnsville/Lakeville, Rochester, Hutchinson, East Metro

High School Teams:

Roseville, Minnetonka, Anoka, Prior Lake, Washburn, Hopkins, White Bear Lake

District 196 – includes Apple Valley, Eagan, Rosemount, and Eastview

community education a great resource
Community Education a Great Resource
  • Comm Ed departments in metro area helped form teams
    • Interviewed and hired coaches
    • Helped recruit riders via print and web presence
    • Bundled fees for single registration of all four races
    • Provided vans for transportation to races
  • Minnetonka’s Comm Ed a great resource
    • Anna Malmquist can answer questions about how they formed the Minnetonka team
ways to help with the mn league
Ways to Help with the MN League

Opportunities to help:

1. As a parent of a student athlete who wants to race on a team

2. As a member of the Race Crew (volunteers)

3. Become part of the Core Staff for the MN League

1 helping as a parent for a team
1. Helping as a Parent for a Team

Help students form a team at the high school

- Team starter kit materials on web site

Help by becoming a Team Director

- Help register racers, pay fees, track results (Pit Zone)

- On race day, help with team logistics at event

Help by becoming a Ride Leader, Team Director, Assistant Coach, or Head Coach for a team

- Attend Leaders Summit and gain license

- Minimum requirement is passing a background check

- Coaches have one year to achieve licensing

helping students start a team
Helping Students Start a Team
  • Students talk to school adminstrators and receive ok to form “mtb club team”
    • MN League has School Admin presentation to help
  • Parents help students organize an informational meeting (flyers available)
    • Helps if meeting can occur at a high school or bike shop
  • Hold first general meeting
    • Get names, addresses, email, etc. to start communication flow
  • Second meeting can outline costs, schedules, identify coaches, etc.
becoming a team director
Becoming a Team Director
  • TDs maintain teams presence in Pit Zone
  • Pit Zone is the MN League’s online database system
  • Team Directors input team and coach information
  • TDs also help individual students register for races and pay league fees through Pit Zone
  • NICA hosts webinars for Pit Zone procedures
2 helping as a race crew member
2. Helping as a Race Crew Member
  • Race Crew made up of 60 to 70 volunteers who help run the races
  • Variety of tasks (3 or 4 hours each)
  • Can sign up in advance for specific tasks and specific times at
  • Tasks include race course set up, course marshals, crowd control, starting and finishing line support, apparel sales, etc.
  • Race crew volunteers get food/drink/t-shirt
  • Tasks on both Saturdays and Sundays
3 helping as mn league core staff
3. Helping as MN League Core Staff

Core Staff positions for MN League:

  • Race Director Gary Sjoquist
  • Operations Manager Josh Kleve
  • Chief Course Setter Bruce Martens
  • Chief Course Marshal Martha Flynn
  • Registration Chief Amber Schult
  • Race Photographer Todd Bauer
  • Chief Referee Mark McCubbin
  • Timing and Scoring Chief Roger Strobel
  • Volunteer Coordinator Valerie Olheiser
  • Communications Director Libby Hurly (Merchandise)
  • Sponsor/Team Concierge Mark Hartney
core staff cont
Core Staff, cont.
  • Core Staff a significant commitment
  • Requires most of Saturday and all day Sunday
  • NICA provides guidelines/tutoring for Core Staff positions
  • Some compensation available for Core Staff
    • Mileage expenses
    • Hotels, meals
    • Modest stipend

“We are really incredibly lucky to have NICA's High School Mountain Bike League here in Minnesota.  Gary Sjoquist and his team put on a great race series, with solid coaching and a level of professionalism that rivals some national bike races.  By helping these kids today, we're building a solid youthful customer base for all bike shops to benefit from in the future.”

Pat Sorensen, President, Penn Cycles, Inc.


At Erik's, we think the NICA leagues are an awesome investment in the future of mountain biking.  Not only is it a great sport for these high school students , but we see entire families getting into the sport due to their kids involvement. It's a great combination!

Erik Saltvold, Owner and Founder, Erik’s Bikes and Boards


Gary and the NICA Team have done an outstanding job at starting up a new high school sport that I expect to thrive. I could not be more pleased with their work to provide kids with the opportunity to participate in a new and different sport that is welcoming of beginner athletes and something they can participate in for a lifetime.

Jerry Pomije, QBP Vice President

league needs sponsors and donors
League Needs Sponsors and Donors

Sponsorships provide cash and product to support league

Donors provide cash or in-kind contributions

Contributions to MN League are tax-deductible

Let Gary know if corporate sponsors might be interested

mn league teams need sponsors
MN League Teams Need Sponsors
  • Jersey policy prohibits manufacturers or company logos on racing apparel
  • Teams still need support from sponsors
  • Logo exposure available on banners and tents in team tent area, on t-shirts worn around community/school, on newsletters or team jackets, sweatshirts, etc.
action steps
Action Steps
  • Host a second meeting to see who’s interested

- student athletes who’d like to race (find the girls!)

- parents or adults who’d like to help

  • Would like to have a Duluth liaison to help start teams/coordinate future race
  • Find potential team sponsors
  • Parents interested in becoming a Ride Leader, Team Director, Assistant Coach, or Head Coach should attend Leaders Summit April 20/21
action steps cont
Action Steps, cont.
  • High school league will offer Try It Out sessions during May, June, and July
    • No cost, bikes and helmets provided, easy first ride
  • MNMBS sponsors high school league via Race4Freeevents (
    • Race4Free dates 6/2 (Mankato), 7/14 (Duluth), 8/4 (River Falls, WI)
    • Important for new racers to experience mtb racing in MNMBS to recruit other students before school starts in Sept.
  • Watch for Summer Camp announcements
  • Can I letter?
  • Do I have to quit my Fall sport?
  • Isn’t it expensive?
  • What if I don’t have a bike?
  • Is it dangerous?
duluth addendum
Duluth Addendum
  • Sjoquist will try to help with expenses to form Duluth team(s)
  • Could provide MN League jerseys to teams
  • May be able to provide scholarships/lodging for coaches to attend Leaders Summit April 20/21
  • Scholarships will be available for racers
  • Will try to schedule Duluth Leaders Summit
  • July 14 Great Hawk Chase (MNMBS) will be a MN League Race4Free event
  • Goal for 2014 will be for Duluth to host a MN League high school race

Please check our web site for more info

Advocate map – shows interested people in your area

Try It Out sessions listed on web site

Call or email Founding Director Gary Sjoquist

with questions 612 386-9630