Team Lost Coast Brewery rider Emma Worldpeace was among 17 cyclists recently honored at a ceremony attended by many of the nation’s cycling industry leaders at the new Clif Bar and Co. headquarters in Emeryville, California on Saturday, January 8th.

The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) presented awards to 17 of the individuals that the Association considers to be the most outstanding athletes, most dedicated coaches, and most passionate volunteers to have supported the high school mountain biking revolution.

Matt Fritzinger, executive director of NICA, said,“Most of the time you don’t hear about these people. Normally it’s me being quoted in the press releases and giving interviews on behalf of NICA, but the truth is most of the work is done by a large network of prodigiously talented volunteers, and we consider it important that at least some of these individuals get some public recognition. They are as much in the fabric of NICA as anybody is. What’s more, they are key contacts for mountain biking development in the areas where they live.”

The award winners are as follows:

  • Specialized – Student Athlete Leadership Will Curtis, San Anselmo, CA
  • Specialized – Student Athlete Leadership Sofia Hamilton, San Anselmo,CA
  • Trek – All Star Athlete Zach Valdez, Hemet, CA
  • Trek – All Star Athlete Lindsay Dye, Broomfield , CO
  • Fort Lewis College – Distinguished Alumni Emma Worldpeace, Berkeley, CA
  • SRAM – Coach of the Year Ben Boyer, Boulder, CO
  • SRAM – Coach of the Year Lee Bird, Pasadena, CA
  • SRAM – Coach of the Year Paul Chourre, Fairfax, CA
  • Clif Bar and Co. – Volunteer Service Mark Kintz, Monterey, CA
  • Clif Bar and Co. – Volunteer Service Donna Woods, Monterey, CA
  • Clif Bar and Co. – Volunteer Service Paul Goesling, Berkeley, CA
  • Shimano – Community Impact Austin McInerny, Berkeley, CA
  • Specialized – League Founder Quintin Reich, Newport Beach, CA
  • GU Energy – Innovator Francis Chapman, Berkeley, CA
  • QBP – Race Production Partner Keith DeFiebre, Monterey, CA
  • Primal Wear – Digital Media Albert Reinhardt, Albany, CA
  • Legacy Award Jim Easton, Van Nuys, CA

Emma spoke at the event, sharing the story of how she got involved in competive cycling through the Nor Cal High School Mountain Bike racing league when she was a junior at South Fork High School in Southern Humboldt County. Her speech is summarized here:

“I grew up in rural Southern Humboldt County and until 2003, had never participated in school sports. I was a self described theater nerd and straight- A student. That all changed when a friend and I heard about high school mountain biking on MTBR and decided to start our own team. We pieced together bikes, sent in paperwork, and drove ourselves to the races. My first season wasn’t very impressive in terms of results, but I immediately fell in love with the spirit of the league races- the smiles and cheering, the camaraderie with other riders, the gorgeous mountain scenery, and the thrilling rush of endorphins.

My senior year I took over as the team “coach” and president. I recruited riders, taught skills clinics, and led training rides. I lost ten pounds and had never felt stronger or healthier. That season I raced in the Varsity Girls category and was astonished to finish on the podium at every race. Due to my consistency, I finished the season as the overall leader. Winning the State Championship was the first time I would experience athletic success and it completely changed the way I thought about myself- I began to eat, sleep, and think like an athlete. My self confidence was boosted ten-fold.

At UC Berkeley, I quickly joined the cycling team and made it my mission to recruit more riders, especially women, to the mountain biking team. As Team Captain, I held beginner skills clinics, team training camps, and scheduled weekly rides. My love for the sport and my passion for cycling was a defining part of my experience at Berkeley and provided necessary release from the stress of being a student.

The crowning highlight of my collegiate cycling experience was the first time our team won the overall omnium in 2006, unseating Cal Poly San Luis Obispo from their near decade long reign. It was pure bliss to share that hard-earned moment with all my team mates and to know UC Berkeley would be forever etched on the trophy.

In 2007, I helped create a grassroots team to support up and coming riders with professional aspirations. With the generous support of Lost Coast Brewery and Marin Bikes, my team mates and I were able to attend races across the country. I raced competitively in the expert women’s category and was proud to cheer my team mates onto State Champion titles and podiums in Pro races.

Seven years after graduating from the high school mountain biking league, cycling is a defining part of who I am. I wake up every morning dreaming of my next ride, my living room is scattered with issues of Velonews and Bike magazine, the garage is full of bikes, the tan lines never fully fade, even in the middle of winter, and many of my closest friends, including my partner, know me through biking. I am so grateful to the league for lighting that spark in me, and to many of you in this room for individually supporting me over the years. I am currently living in Chico where my boyfriend and I are very passionate about starting a high school mountain biking team. For me, that would be the ultimate way to show my gratitude, to return to the league and cheer alongside the dedicated, caring, and self-less coaches who help to ensure that high school mountain bike racing can be a part of every kid’s life, even the self- described theater nerds.Thank you.”

For more info on NICA, please visit http://www.nationalmtb.org/ and support the movement!