Spring Break is a great time to ride bikes and meet new people. For my spring break, I went to San Diego, California. My dad and I wanted to ride with some fellow National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) members from the SoCal league, which races in the spring. We began by contacting Bruce Martens, the league’s National Coaching and Licensing Manager. He connected us with the SoCal League Director, who asked if any San Diego teams would be willing to host a couple Minnesota riders for a ride or two.  After connecting with a couple different coaches, we were able to join the NorthCounty Composite team and coach Ben Wojcik for one of their practices.  They welcomed us with open arms and took us on the Lake Hodges trail in Escondido CA. 

Riding the San Diego trails 

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Ellie Hedlund and her new friend and fellow Crank Sister Paige Mitchell.

The Lake Hodges trail was very different from Minnesota riding. It was very rocky and dusty with a lot of scrubs and boulders compared to what I’m used to- trees, dirt, roots, and tight singletrack. Many North County Composite riders were downhill riders too compared to almost all cross-country riders in Minnesota. It was cool to see the differences between the California and Minnesota trails. 

The best part was that I got to meet a fellow Crank Sister from a different state! I rode with Paige Mitchell, one of four girls on North County Composite team who raced as a freshman this spring. She showed me what California riding is all about. It was great to connect with another female rider in the NICA league. 

 NICA’s not just about racing

I learned that NICA is not just a league to compete in, but also a place to meet new people and have a good time riding together. When we contacted the SoCal league, we did not know there would be much interest in riding with us, but we were invited into the North County Composite team as family. My dad and I also got to ride Mount Laguna and Los Penasquitos Canyon which were great trails, but it was extra special to be able to meet another team and become part of their community. Riding with North County Composite and learning what its like to race in California was definitely a highlight of our trip! Mountain biking is a competitive sport, but the best part about it is the community. The NICA league is place to race bikes, but more importantly a place to get to know other riders and have a blast doing it.