After months of preparation, the New Jersey Interscholastic Cycling League (NJICL) kicked off its Try It Out program on Sunday, March 4th at Camp Edge in Alloway. The event was hosted by NJICL League Director Ken Seebeck, League Staff and Gloucester County Coach John Williams Sr., and Mike & Cathy Fraser, Head Coach & Team Director of the Salem County Reactors NICA Team. Mike and Cathy are also the owners of Sneaker’s & Spokes in nearby Woodstown. Coaches Jon Lewis, John DiGregorio and Josh Dougan rounded out the staff as ride leaders. Varsity Salem team rider Kyle Koering was also on hand to answer questions from fellow students and join in on the ride.
Coaches were greeted by brisk temperatures and cloudy skies during setup, where the bikes were checked and prepped for the ride, the tent set up, and paperwork prepared. After the months of planning, building and loading the trailer, it was a wonderful feeling to unpack!
The event began at noon with a crew of 10 high school students from St. Augustine Preparatory School, and soon after parents and students from the surrounding towns arrived.
After signing in, the first order of business was to fit all students with a helmet. NICA’s helmet policy is to ensure helmets are secured properly on the rider’s head at any time they put a leg over a bicycle. The rule extends to parents, coaches and students equally.
After a brief welcome and history lesson on NICA and the New Jersey League from Ken, students were introduced to the coaching staff. Students were fit to properly sized bikes and trained on setting the proper seat post height. Coach Mike then led them through the basics of riding a mountain bike, such as mounting techniques, braking, shifting, body position and pedaling cadence.
Soon after the group was riding through the camp’s grassy field to get a feel for the bikes and riding with a group. Once comfortable, the riders were led into the twisty and fun single-track trails throughout the Camp Edge property. Riders were shown various riding techniques while navigating the trails, but the focus of the ride was fun!
Riders exited the woods sporting wide smiles and sense of accomplishment. Rides progressed throughout the afternoon, often splitting into smaller groups to explore different areas of camp. The afternoon ended with one last “fun ride” with the coaches and league staff.
Aimed at introducing beginners to mountain biking and the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) program, New Jersey’s Try It Out program is designed to introduce students in grades 6 through 12 to mountain biking.
Special thanks to the generous support from the Tina and Richard V. Carolan Foundation, without whom none of this would be possible!