FAQ – Bozeman NICA

Why NICA? Why not just have your own program for middle school and high school kids?

One of our goals from the beginning has been to grow the sport of mountain biking for middle school and high school kids. NICA is a national program with over 10 years of experience doing just this. By joining the newly formed Montana NICA League, we are able to offer a comprehensive, compelling, and fun program that in many ways mirrors the fun and team camaraderie of a school sport. In addition, NICA provides us with invaluable resources such as coaches training, risk management, and a statewide race program.

Is the Bozeman NICA Team a school sport?

The Bozeman NICA Team is not currently a recognized school sport or club within the Bozeman School District. However, that is the route we will go down. NICA National recommends the local teams to eventually be an approved school club – this helps solidify the community! This coming season (2021) we are ONE Bozeman NICA Team, however the kids will be receiving a team jersey that corresponds to the Bozeman high school district they live in. So we are 2 sub-teams within our Bozeman NICA Team (Bozeman HS and Gallatin HS).

Why can’t just anyone join the Bozeman NICA Team?

A focus of NICA is community and NICA National encourages teams to become a part of their local high school to create more community. Usually teams begin as a Composite Team – meaning anyone from an area can join in! Composite Teams are meant to only be a temporary solution until the establishment of a single-school based team. Once a Composite Team has 11 riders all from the same high school, it must become a High School Team. Only kids living within that high school district can join that specific High School Team. 

The Bozeman NICA Team is no longer a Composite Team (we exceeded 11 riders all from the same high school). The Bozeman NICA Team is now actually two High School Teams: Gallatin High School Team and Bozeman High School Team. 

Any kids going into middle school or high school who attend school within the Bozeman School District (including our homeschool families!) can join our NICA teams – there are no tryouts!

But my kid just wants to mountain bike with other kids. Isn’t NICA for racing?

Yes, NICA offers race experiences for kids that want to try it. And, yes, we encourage as many kids as possible to try racing because we think they will fall in love with the infectious, high-energy fun of the NICA race experience. But racing is, and will always be, optional and no one will be pressured to race. Every practice session will be about having fun, learning new skills, challenging ourselves, and supporting each other’s growth as riders and as humans. Did we mention having fun?

We can’t fit in three practices a week. Do you offer a one or two day a week program for a reduced fee?

There is no requirement to attend all practices, and we fully expect our participants to have busy summer schedules that include other activities as well as travel. All participants are welcome and encouraged to join practices whenever they can. However, there is no fee reduction for riding less than 2-3x/week. We strive to keep the Bozeman NICA Team program fee as low as possible so that no kids are left out, and you’ll notice that it is actually comparable to the one and two day per week in the BYC Youth Program.

Is this program for beginner mountain bike riders?

All levels of riders are welcome – from never-evers to national champions! During practices, we will split up into groups according to grade, ability, experience, and energy levels of the day. There groups are not fixed and can change around.

What equipment do I need?

It’s simple: you need a working bike, a properly-fitted helmet, water (in a bottle cage on your bike or in a hydration backpack), and enthusiasm for riding! Some kids feel better with additional protective equipment like gloves and knee-pads, these are encouraged (esp. gloves!) but not required.

*Please note that the HS riders need to have a backpack of some sort (we recommend a hydration pack specific for mountain biking) in order to carry their own spare bike tube and rain jacket.

Please note that we did NOT say you needed a $2,000 bike!! Most riders ride on used equipment. That said, we want you riding on a bike in decent condition (good brakes, working shifters).

We have an Online Bike Swap and Sale set up. You can find good bikes for under $1,000 on sites like Craigslist and PinkBike. Let us know if you need help! There will be a required bike check and helmet check before a rider can participate in practice. In addition, one of our local bike shop sponsors (Owenhouse Cycling) offers a discount on bike tunes and helmets.

My child did not get registered on-time! What do I do?

We have a high demand for the mountain bike teams in Bozeman. We are doing our best to fill the demand while also keeping a high-quality program and being the best community members we can. If your child did not get registered on-time, please add them to the WAITING LIST! They must be on the waiting list to hear of open spots on the team. Please also see CROSSCUT’s webpage for their summer mountain bike camps.

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