Tim Banks of the Indiana Interscholastic Cycling League is encouraging more Hoosiers to join his Indy mountain biking group for fun and exercise.
Banks says the Indiana league operates within the National Interscholastic Cycling Association [NICA], and adds that he thoroughly enjoys his job as a Level 3 coach with the organization.
“Coaching at NICA requires a certification,” Banks says. “This is in part to ensure each rider and coach receives proper training, and is properly
educated on what to train and look for when riding mountain bikes. This ensures riders are all treated fairly, are safe, ride within their means, learn, and most importantly, have fun.”
He says there are three levels of certifications.
“Level 1 teaches you all the basics of mountain biking,” Banks says. “Level 2 and Level 3 add in first aid, advanced wilderness first aid, and some additional aspects of both coaching kids and hosting a team. In the end, you will have all the tools you need to have a successful mountain bike program.”
2020 was his first official year.
“It was during the pandemic, with a mountain bike league for high schoolers and middle school kids in the state of Indiana,” Banks says. “There were a lot of challenges. Safety was number one. Each event was held outdoors, and strict guidelines were given to remain socially distant and safe while wearing masks and participating in each event. Team tents were allowed, but each were separate so that people were kept socially distant.”
Banks says with many schools shutdown, the NICA supported kids in grades 6 through 12, but it was hard to get the word out to kids about the league.
“Most schools did not want to support a mountain biking team, so we started a composite team,” Banks says. “This allowed any kid that did not have a school-sponsored program to participate. We were a club to anyone who was either home-schooled or just wanted to try. Kids wanted to try, but they either did not have bikes, did not have safe, working bikes, or did not know how to ride them safely on trails. We as a league and as coaches did our best to help with bikes, maintenance and skill development.”
Banks says the Indiana Interscholastic Cycling League helps adults become coaches, and kids become better on trails.
“We have fun, and love to hang out and ride bikes,” he says. “We do compete, but competition is not required to join. Ideally, each kid should have a bike and helmet in working order, and we will help with the skill assessment and development. We strive to have one to two coaches per six to eight riders.”
Banks adds that the league trains at Fort Harrison, Brown County, Griffin Bike Park and Southwestway Park.
“Our team is focused right here in Hamilton County,” Banks says. “We started last year with three kids and a dream.We finished with 19 kids and 11 of those kids raced, many for the first time ever. We had numerous podiums and wins, and state champions at the high school level. We have one of the largest girls mountain teams in the state of Indiana, and the girls are quite amazing at riding mountain bikes.”
Banks says the NICA leads the way in training for coaches, to ensure each kid has a proper education and support needed to grow their skills and be safe on the trails.
“We stress safety and then development,” Banks says. “We ride, train and practice within the means of the rider. It’s very important that we have well-trained adults helping to ensure all of us keep these goals and objectives in mind.”
For more information, visit indianamtb.org.