CHESTER, NJ - Katie DeBello of Berkeley Heights participated in the inaugural race of the NJ NICA Mountain Bike Series in Chester, NJ on Sunday, April 23. Riding for the CMS Trailblazers Composite Team, Katie won the 6th grade girls class, and finished 4th overall racing with the Middle School girls. Katie has been riding with her dad in parks and trails for years, and was very excited when she first heard about the series for Middle and High School athletes coming to NJ.

With the weather looking grim earlier in the week, the series organizers, volunteers, parents and especially the student athletes, crossed their fingers and were rewarded with a great day of racing in Chester. Dozens of volunteers and staff from NICA arrived the day before to set up the course and infield for the racers to experience a first class event. Around 150 racers from teams all over New Jersey enjoyed the great weather, fun and challenging course.

The next race is Sunday, May 7 at Lewis-Morris Park in Morristown, NJ, where Katie is excited to compete again, hopefully for another win. Visit www.newjerseymtb.org for more information on how to sign up, become a volunteer, and experience youth cycling in NJ.

About National Interscholastic Cycling Association(NICA): NICA has 19 leagues around the country. After two years of hard work by the organizers of the New Jersey league ( www.newjerseymtb.org ), they were able to bring the dream of an Interscholastic Mountain Bike series to NJ a reality. Their goal is to promote the sport of mountain biking among the youth of NJ, and to bring mountain bike racing to the NJ high schools. There are currently 15 teams and over 220 kids signed up for the series in NJ. In the NJ NICA series, student athletes from grade 6 to 12 compete on Cross Country mountain bike courses of around 3.5 miles in distance. Middle school racers completed 1 lap, with the older athletes completing multiple laps depending on grade level, up to 4 for the Varsity Boys at the course in Chester. Student athletes represent composite teams from multiple towns and schools. The athletes also put in the hard work and effort, with organized practices with their teams at parks and trails around the state. There were smiles and pride all around, knowing all of the hard work and effort paid off for a great first weekend of racing for the kids of New Jersey.