Racing on trails (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? 

National Interscholastic Cycling Association. NICA is the national organization that helps to create great infrastructure for 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 Interscholastic Cycling League) is the statewide affiliate of NICA that 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. West High district middle school groups may have slightly edited practice times in 2023, if their late dismissal time of 4:17pm continues.
  • 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 2023 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?

Yes, missing a few practices is okay. However, we expect consistent attendance to ensure rider safety. If you believe you will miss more than 3 practices in June/July or 5+ practices the rest of the season, please contact the head coach before registration.

How big is the team?

In the 2021 season, we had over 200 athletes and 100 coaches/parent volunteers from all of our teams (Madison West/Memorial, Edgewood, Verona, Belleville, and Oregon). Approximately 1/3 of our team is female-identifying (athletes and coaches).

How do I learn how to ride trails safely?

Early season practice (first 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. Being safe on the bike path when riding to the trails is extremely important, and we take it very seriously.

How much does it cost?

The total fees to join the team are $238, which includes the $150 team fee, the $48 Wisconsin League fee, and the $40 NICA (national organization) fee. Wisconsin League and NICA fees are paid via PitZone during registration, and team fees are paid to the team directors through TeamSnap. We are committed to supporting any athlete interested in having a blast on a bike, and financial assistance is available by completing a simple form during registration.

Racing is a separate fee, if you choose to participate. It’s either $45/race, or you can purchase a bundle pack of all races for a discount. Again, scholarships are available!

What type of mountain bike do I need?

Many athletes are riding entry level mountain bikes as they get started. These bikes tend to cost around $500-700 new. For example, we see a lot of athletes riding Trek Marlin or Giant Talon mountain bikes. We generally suggest a mountain bike with 2″ wide or larger tires and hydraulic disk brakes, which are easier for smaller 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 fit for the mountain bike team.

Dream Bikes works closely with the team and can sometimes rent a bike for the season, and the team has a very limited number of bikes available for scholarship athletes. The WI NICA league also has a private buy/sell facebook group. Pandemic supply chain issues have impacted the bike industry, too, so be sure to shop early if you know your athlete needs a new bike. If you have a bike to sell, we are happy to list it in the team communications to help athletes who need bikes (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 properly-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 $65 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.

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 years, 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