Racing on trails, prior to 2020 (Photo Credit: Rubber Down Photography)

What schools are part of the West Madison Area Mountain Bike Teams?

Our group of schools includes Madison West, Madison Memorial, Verona, Edgewood, Oregon, Belleville and New Glarus, the middle schools that feed into these high schools, and all private schools in these areas. Home schooled athletes may join the team that corresponds to their home neighborhood. If you need more information on which team is right for your athlete, check the Wisconsin League website. (You can also contact a coach to help get you to the right team).

What is NICA? 

NICA is the National Interscholastic Cycling Association. NICA is the national organization that helps to create great infrastructure around insurance, training, racing, practices, and so much more for our local teams. You can learn more about NICA here.

What is the Wisconsin League?

The Wisconsin League (Wisconsin High School Cycling League) is the statewide affiliate of NICA and supports middle and high school mountain biking teams across Wisconsin. The League organizes summer clinics, a fall race series, adventure weekends, and training and certification courses for Wisconsin coaches.  

When do we practice (and where)?

Wisconsin Mountain Biking is a summer-fall sport, starting the first week of July and ending near the end of October. Practice times and locations vary based on the school you attend. 

  • Students in the West High School district meet Tuesdays and Thursdays 4:30 – 6:30 PM.
  • Students in the Memorial, Verona, Oregon, Belleville and New Glarus school districts meet Mondays and Wednesdays 4:30-6:30 PM.

Early season practices in July are at local schools or parks (exact locations for 2021 TBD) for a few weeks, until all riders have practiced the skills needed to safely ride trails. We are fortunate to have two great mountain bike trail systems located off of bicycle commuter paths, so most riders are able to ride with the team to practice. 

How old do you have to be to join the team?

Students entering 6th-12th grade in the fall can join the team.

Can I miss practice?

Yep. We appreciate a heads up to your coach.

How big is the team?

In the 2020 season, we had over 150 athletes and 70 coaches/parent volunteers from all of our teams (Madison West/Memorial, Edgewood, Verona, Belleville, and Oregon). We had 20 female-identifying athletes and 12 female-identifying coaches.

How do I learn how to ride trails safely?

Early season practice (first 2-3 weeks) is all done on the grass at local schools or parks. This is a great time to review key bike handling skills and learn new ones. We practice in groups on the grass, so we can all learn the fundamentals of safely riding a bike before we head to the trails. Many of the skills we practice are via games.

We also spend 1-2 practices learning bike path etiquette. Riding to the trails with 50 new mountain bike riders is one of the biggest safety challenges we face!

How much does it cost?

The total fees to join the team are $165, which includes the $100 team fee, the $40 Wisconsin League fee, and the $25 NICA (national organization) fee. Wisconsin League and NICA fees are paid via PitZone during registration. The $100 team fees are paid via PayPal or check (payable to “West Madison NICA MTB Teams”) directly to the head coach or team director. Scholarships are available, and we encourage you to ask about them. We are committed to supporting any athlete interested in having a blast on a bike.

Racing is a separate fee, if you choose to participate. It’s either $40/race, or you can purchase a bundle pack of all races for a discount. Scholarships are available!

Do I need a $5,000 mountain bike?

No. Many athletes are riding entry level mountain bikes as they get started. These bikes tend to cost around $500-700 new. We see a lot of athletes riding Trek Marlin or Giant Talon mountain bikes (for example).

We generally suggest a mountain bike with 2″ wide or larger tires, hydraulic disk brakes which are easier for small hands to pull. A front suspension shock is recommended, but full suspension is not necessary for the trails that we ride. Sorry, a hybrid bike or BMX bike is not a good bike for the mountain bike team.

Families can also check with Dream Bikes – they work closely with the team and are sometimes able to rent a bike for the season when they have bikes in stock. The WI NICA league also has a private buy/sell facebook group for athletes that can be helpful in finding a quality secondhand bike.

2021 Season Important Note: Due to the impacts of COVID, all bikes are in extremely short supply. Please shop NOW if your athlete needs a new bike! Local bike shops can help guide you towards which bike to purchase, but delivery times vary and can be long. If you have a bike to sell, we are happy to list it in the team communications to help athletes who need bikes find them (we don’t handle the transaction, and there is no fee to list a bike)

What other equipment do I need?

Helmet, shoes, gloves: We require a proper fitting bike helmet to be strapped on at all times. We also require close-toed shoes–tennis/athletic shoes are fine, as long as they are relatively sturdy. Full-finger bike gloves are nice to have because they provide better grip for sweaty hands and some protection from bushes and falls. Please let us know if you need assistance finding any of these items and if you need to access scholarship funds to do so.

Water bottle or water backpack: Always bring water to practice. Some riders choose to use Camelbak water backpacks, which make it easier to take quick drinks without reaching for a water bottle and to carry more water on a hot day. Again, please let us know if you need assistance finding or funding these items. Scholarship funds are available.

Can parents ride at practice?

Yes, and we encourage it. We absolutely need parents to help out at practices, and you do not need to be an experienced mountain biker. You do need to become certified as a NICA Level 1 volunteer, which is a relatively simple process. You just need to complete a background check; online training courses on safety, concussions, and risk management; and pay a coach license fee in PitZone. Coach Scholarships are available! Level 1 volunteers can ride with the team all year and even help with the team pre-ride at races. There is a $65 fee to register as a coach to cover the costs, scholarships are available for coach fees.

We are looking for a variety of skill levels, so even if you are relatively new to mountain biking, but love being around bikes and have lots of positive energy, we welcome you. Please drop us a line if you have questions about how to get involved.

Do I have to race?

Nope. There are many ways to participate! We offer weekend or day trip adventure rides and trail building events for those who want a non-race oriented adventure. We encourage athletes to attend race weekends, even if they aren’t racing, to cheer on their teammates and pre-ride the course with the team, but it’s not required. Athletes can choose to simply attend practices and build their skills if that is how they’d like to participate.

Where are the races?

The race schedule changes from year to year. In the last few year, we have raced in Waukesha, Eau Claire, Mt. Morris and Wausau. Our State Final is always held at Trek Trails in Waterloo, WI.

I’m an enthusiastic lover of bikes; can I still help the team?

Absolutely! We have many people who help at practice or take on volunteer roles with the team. We are also looking for sustaining financial backers to help with scholarships, so that money isn’t a barrier to riding or being on the team. Contact us for more information!

How can I contact a coach?

Didn’t find what you are looking for here? Drop us a line.

A mountain bike race, prior to 2020