The Rules Rule!
A NorCal race day experience is generally a great one. Their races are some of the best run productions in the amateur bike racing world. The competition gets intense at the top, but they keep it clean and we have found the overall atmosphere very positive, supportive, and fun. Within that environment, we see our team members making friends with their main competitors over the course of the season, and we value the character that it builds into the students.
A lot of this great stuff comes about because of the league's adherence to the NICA rules and the core principles they embody. Even though we like to poke at some of them (ask us about the "two wheels on the ground" rule that they used to have), we generally love the rules and strive to follow them. This page will cover some of the more commonly talked about rules. It is well worth taking the time to carefully read the sections that cover racing rules for yourself in the NICA Rules & Guidelines.
This is covered in Section 4, and is a must read. You need to wear a helmet, no cyclocross or single speed bikes. bar ends are out, and make sure you have your number plate.
Another critical equipment rule is that you need to finish on the bike you started with, and you can't get outside assistance without a penalty. This rule goes back to the invention of mountain bike racing on Repack Road in the 70's, and is intended to prevent wealthier racers from having an unfair advantage since most of us can't afford backup bikes and support crews.
Because you have 4 rider categories racing at the same time separated by only 5 minute gaps, passing is a significant part of just about everyone's race. For example, the fast riders in the Freshman D2 category will have to work their way through the slower riders in Freshman D1, Sophomore D2, and Sophomore D1 during the course of their race. Slow riders in Freshman D2 will be passed by the fast riders in Sophomore D1 and D2. Passing and being passed is the number one area to show your good sportsmanship as well as your riding skill and smart strategy. The passing basics are:
- clearly call out your passes
- pass wisely and safely
- yield the trail to faster riders
Every racer should read sections 6.15 - 6.20 (about 1 page) for themselves.
Not cutting the course is an obvious part of good sportsmanship, and I haven't heard of anyone doing it intentionally. It's worth bringing up because many racers will do it unknowingly and be unpleasantly surprised with a 5 minute penalty when it gets enforced. When you've fought hard to move up 20 seconds, 5 minutes is a nasty blow. For this reason, Section 6.21 is a must read.
NICA has a strict No Caffeine rule for racers on race day. Even if you didn't know that what you ate or drank had caffeine, you can still be penalized. Get a good night's sleep and give your parents their coffee and all will be well. See section 2.17 - 2.19 for details and for other banned substances.
You're not allowed to give riders anything outside the feed zone, and how you can interact with them in the feed zone is regulated and monitored to keep it orderly and fair. We will teach the riders how to use the feed zone properly, that part is easy. Any volunteers working in the feed zone will need to read the full details in Section 10.