We’re on a mission to get trails closer to more kids! This mission relies heavily on our partnership with land owners, land managers and the local mountain bike clubs across the state who help develop and sustain our thousands of miles of Texas trails.
While one of our most visible partnerships for trail development is race venue development, we are also working hard to develop trails appropriate for non-racing events.
Mountain Bike Races
Saturday venue set-up and coach led course inspection
Sunday Race Day
- Team Practices (2-3x per week)
- Teen Trail Corps (advocacy, trail maintenance)
- Girls Riding Together (GRiT)
- NICA Adventure
- NICA Coach Training
For Trail Builders
NICA has partnered with the University of Utah to study which trail features present the highest injury risk to student athletes. Our courses are designed around these recommendations.
Ideal NICA Trail Network
- 10-15 miles of beginner-friendly mixed trail.
- Numerous access points and connectors for variable route lengths.
- No mandatory advanced trail features
- Mixed trail widths for easy passing and stopping.
- No open sided bridges > 3 ft high.
Ideal Race Course Specs
- 3.5 – 5 miles of singletrack
- 0.5 – 1 mi, 20′ wide uphill start/finish (grass, doubletrack)
- Passing areas every 0.5 mi (> 6 ft wide) Complete loop with > 2 access points to the infield (no 2-way traffic)
- Minimize road crossings
- Max speed < 20 mph
- Closed to other trail users
- EMS access to the entire course
|Course length||4 – 5 mile loop 15 – 18 minute laps ideal for varsity||3 miles minimum; 6 miles maximum Any two-way traffic < 50’|
|Passing||Available every ¼ mile (flat or uphill)4 At least 50 – 60% of course ¼ mile of passing at end||Passing possible every ½ mile|
|Speed||< 18 mph||< 20 mph|
|Trail descents||24” – 48” wide 0%-6% average grade||Double track or fireroad ≤ 10% for ≤ 200’; ≤ 15% for ≤ 100’|
|Trail flats and climbs||double track or fire road for passing 0% – 6% average grade||15% maximum grade for < 100’ Maintain ≤ 4 inclusivity points per lap5|
|Elevation gain||≤ 100’ – 200’ per mile Similar to league practice and race areas||600’ maximum per lap6|
|Vehicular road crossings||No crossings||Limited crossings; crossing traffic < 30 MPH|
|Access points||As many as possible||Every ¼ – ½ mile|
|Public trail access||Trail access on the course itself closed to public during race day||May request the public avoid trails.|
|Obstacles||Unavoidable obstacles 2” or less. Avoidable obstacles may be present.||Unavoidable obstacles 8” or less. Avoidable obstacles may be present. Maintain ≤ 4 inclusivity points per lap|
|Technical Trail Features (TTF)||Bypass routes available so race can tape off features||Bypass routes available so race can tape off features|
|Bridges||Railings with top rails angled away from handlebars; rub rail; entrance and exit should be straight onto and off bridge||≥ 18” tall must have railings with rub rails7|
|Water crossings||≤ 2” deep Easy to cross; Predictable water level||≤ 8” deep Maintain ≤ 4 inclusivity points per lap|
Infield is what we call the area with our sponsors, registration tent and start/finish.
Our races have 100+ athletes out on the course at a time with some waves of racers starting at the same time others are finishing. We’ve developed a few guidelines that help ensure this size of race runs smoothly.
|Parking1||1.5 cars per expected racer 9’ x 20’ per vehicle for field parking 20’ lanes for driving between spaces||League dependant 1.5 acres minimum for small new league 5 – 10 acres for larger leagues|
|Finish line||16’ – 20’ wide 100’ – 200’ straight shot into finish Uphill, flat okay with grass surface||16’ minimum width 100’ minimum straight into finish < 18 mph|
|Finish exit chute||90’ – 150’ after finish line||≤ 90’ for slow speed finish|
|Start line||15’ – 20’ wide 400’ straight chute from start line maintaining width ¼ mile or 2 min ride time before funneling into singletrack||12’ wide minimum 200’ minimum straight chute from start line maintaining width ¼ mile or 1 min ride time minimum before funneling into singletrack|
|Staging||Same width as start line 200’ – 400’ deep depending on QTY of racers||Same width as start line Minimum space required dependant on QTY of racers|
|Feed zone||50’ – 90’ long 10’ – 24’ deep Uphill or slow flat terrain||50’ minimum for slower speed terrain 10’ deep minimum|
|Pit zone||40 ft2 per racer minimum||20 ft2 per racer minimum|
|Reg/Vol/Merch/Misc||≥ 60’ x 30’ – 40’||60’ x 30’ – 40’|
|Porta Potties||1:30 per racer2||1 porta potty (or existing toilet) per 40 participants|
|Course Marshal and EMS||20’ x 30’ Two 10’x10’s plus 1-2 vehicles||20’ x 20’ One 10’x10’ plus one vehicle|
|Camping||Depends on league estimates and needs, plus venue allowance|
1 Most common limiting factor for leagues outgrowing their venues
2 Depends on event attendance and whether used for camping
3 Course specifications align with IMBA’s green and blue trail designation, but also include other NICA specifics
4 Passing zones can be spread out more if the zones themselves are longer
5 Each moment that a new rider needs to put a foot down or dismount
6 Shorter laps should have smaller total elevation gains which will also be evident in average trail grades
7 Unless the bridge width is wider than its length and at least 4’ wide. See bridge addendum for more.
We’ve built a culture around community of mountain biking. Part of this culture building has included our teams camping together at the race venues. This can look different for many teams – some teams are primarily tent camping and some have families with large RVs.
- ~15 acres of camp-able space.
- The league coordinates restroom and shower facilities if they are not already on premise.
- Mowed grass or dirt is preferred.