How Will NICA Racing Work During Covid-19? Here’s What Georgia is Doing

NICA student athletes and their parents are wondering what the race season will look like this fall. Here's what one chapter is doing.
photo courtesy Georgia Interscholastic Bicycling League.

With many school openings delayed across the USA due to coronavirus, NICA student athletes and their parents are wondering what the race season will look like this fall. Nationally, NICA is leaving decisions about 2020 competition to local chapters.

The decisions of when and how to return to play will be made at the league level following, as best we are able, the rules and guidance from the local state, public health and school authorities to inform decision making.

Please check with your local league for details on league specific events, updates and more detailed regional guidance. Your league is the best source of information for region-specific updates and guidance and how COVID-19 will impact local NICA activities. 

The Georgia league recently shared their plans for the upcoming season, transitioning away from mass starts and utilizing a time trial format. Teams will be given staggered start times and dedicated staging areas; individual athletes will start racing, one at a time, with the fastest riders generally starting before slower riders. From the Georgia Interscholastic Cycling League’s Return to Racing document:

  • On a race weekend your team will have a scheduled arrival time, staging time and start time. This time block will allow for warm-up prior to their start time and then race. Teams that have further to travel will have start times later in the day, while teams closer to the venue will be scheduled to arrive earlier.
  • Racers will be started in an order that minimizes the likelihood of passing on course. The order will be determined by their coaches.
  • Each Racer will race 1 lap of the course as fast as they can, within their ability. Once the rider finishes, they will have time to recover and then exit the infield area as soon as possible.
  • Racers will be evaluated against all others in their category who also race on that weekend and there will be individual race awards and series awards. These will not be held on site.
  • We are only racing one team at a time, so we will not have a typical production or pit-zone area with team tents. There will be no spectators. If you are not a coach, you will be asked to coordinate with your team and arrive together. Parents are asked to stay within the parking lot area and wait on their racer to return. Only coaches will be allowed on site with their teams following the 8:2 ratio.
  • We are hopeful that we may be able to bring spectators back to races as state COVID-19 guidelines shift. We will be watching those closely and communicating any changes.

Additionally, there will be no course pre-ride on the event weekend. Athletes may pre-ride the course on their own in the days and weeks leading up to the race.

How has your local mountain bike race scene adapted to Covid-19?