Dear NICA student athletes,
First off, I'm sorry. This wasn't the way your 2020 was supposed to go. For those of you who participate in leagues where high school mountain bike racing is a Spring sport (like Southern California) you lost the entire season you had been preparing for.
My calendar says May 24, which reminds me that this very weekend should have been the SoCal chapter's final race of the season. Sad trombone.
For a certain segment of you, it's even worse - this was your senior year, so in addition to a lost season of racing you'll never get back, you're also missing a graduation ceremony, prom, and other major life events.
This hit home for me recently while I was out on a ride and happened to roll past Los Osos High School. The campus is, of course, closed. So I was wondering what the cause of all the car traffic was. Turns out they were having some sort of drive-thru ceremony.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. Sitting in the passenger seat of a car while someone in gloves and a masks hands you a diploma is not what you earned. What has happened to you is unfair.
I wanted to let you know it's going to get better, and there is hope. For you, I hope that future involves cycling.
Participating in high school mountain bike racing has given you a foundation of fitness, bike handling skills, teamwork, and life experiences that will serve you well. Some of you will go on to race at the Olympic level. Others will race at the amateur level. Don't be afraid to keep growing.
For others, racing ends here and you'll never pin on a number again. I hope that isn't the case, but if it is, remember that racing isn't the only valid form of cycling. Unlike running or football, you can probably ride bicycles for the rest of your life if you want. You can ride bikes for transportation, for fitness, for recreation even if you never race again. Or you can continue to make contributions and keep learning through coaching, mechanics certifications, or mentorship.
Cross-country mountain bike racing can be very intimidating for new riders. That's why NICA courses are designed with accessibility in mind, so that students at all experience and skill levels can take part.
You know what other sport is accessible, family, and spectator friendly? Cyclocross. What you loved about NICA is still available. When cyclocross racing resumes, we would love to have you. Please come to a clinic or sign up for a beginner race.
At my age, I have seen a lot of trends in cycling come and go. Everything old eventually becomes new again. Please be aware that the "old guard" is rooting for you, and we're here to help as you step into a lifetime of cycling.
See you out there!