Without racecourses NICA’s programs would not exist. NICA races take place at state parks, county parks, city parks, recreation areas, federally managed lands, and privately owned land as well. In many states, finding good racecourses can be very challenging due to the unique criteria required to provide a fun, challenging and safe experience.
Anyone can help their league find new racecourses by submitting your idea to your league director. Below is a list of the primary criteria for a NICA high school mountain bike racecourse. Only explore new trails with permission: do not trespass or ride illegal trails.
A racecourse is made up of a four to six mile loop with a mix of single track and fire trails, dirt roads, or double track. Too much single track makes it hard for racers to pass, too much dirt road is not so fun. A degree of technical challenge is great and we are looking for trails that kids of a wide range of abilities can all succeed on. High-speed descents on dirt roads should be avoided. Single-track descents are preferred. NICA races have up to 750 feet of climbing per lap.
So you have a good 4-6 mile loop? The next part is connecting that loop with a good start/finish area that has nearby parking for as many as 200 to 500 cars depending on the size of your league. Space for staging race starts is required – lining up the riders 4-6 across (on a dirt road generally, or in an open field). An uphill start is preferred (neutral start otherwise) and some amount of wide uphill dirt road is a must (to spread out riders) before the course narrows down to single track.
The finish stretch should also widen to allow for passing in the final 200 to 500 meters. We are also very strict about having uphill finishes or chicanes to slow riders down (both for safety and scoring). Lastly, we are looking for an open space near the start/finish for a pit zone where teams can set up tents, tables, chairs, mechanics, trainers, etc. (20′X25′ for each team).
Emergency vehicles should be able to access at intervals along the course. Are there sections of course where evacuation would be extremely difficult? Consideration for proximity of hospitals and/or life-flight services is also made.
We are trying hard to put the races in locations that work for the majority of the League participants (within two to three hours drive). See your leagues Neighborhood Map to see where your league’s teams are located.
Altitude, availability, lack of dangerous exposure to cliffs or other hazards, intersections with roads that have fast moving and/or heavy traffic.
Access to water, electricity, restrooms, and nearby camping are bonuses but not required.