IMBA and NICA Launch Youth-Facing Trail Etiquette Program

NICA Contact: Paul Skilbeck 415.516.1444 www.nationalmtb.orgNICA spirit of howdy
IMBA Contact: Mark Eller 303.545.9011

IMBA and the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) are pleased to introduce “The Spirit of Howdy,” a new program designed to teach good trail etiquette and instill the value of public land stewardship.

A website,, offers mountain bike coaches tools for working with young athletes to engender responsible and respectful trail use practices.

The initiative kicks off with the screening of ‘Singletrack High’ at the Golden State Theater in Monterey, Calif. at 7:30 p.m., on April 20. Board and staff members of both IMBA and NICA will be on hand to talk about the success of the program in its pilot phase.

NICA’s Executive Director, Austin McInerny, said, “Teaching young student-athletes that their behavior and riding style on the trail directly affects other trail user and the natural environment and, ultimately, the support from their schools, has always been central in our philosophy. Recently NICA student-athletes coined the phrase “spirit of howdy,” and I’m thrilled to work with IMBA to launch the Spirit of Howdy website as the site effectively advances our community values.”

IMBA Executive Director, Mike Van Abel, said, “The Spirit of Howdy campaign represents the values that both IMBA and NICA wish to teach our youth. The Spirit of Howdy is more than being friendly to other trail users — it’s also about caring for the trails and our environment, stewarding our parks and natural resources, and giving back to our communities.”

The idea behind Spirit of Howdy began back in the late 1990s when NICA founder, Matt Fritzinger, then a math teacher and coach, came up with a simple trail-use code for riders on his Berkeley High School team.

Fritzinger explained the rule as, “‘Slow down enough so you can say hello, and they can say hello back. Work to have a friendly interaction. Add to their day with kindness, don’t take away from it. The kids got it, and that became a league-wide rule in Northern California.”

Featured on are NICA’s code of conduct, IMBA’s trail maintenance and building information, and also a form for other trail users to give feedback on mountain bikers. NICA coaches, who have a good track record of working with hikers and equestrians, can now hand over a “how’s my riding?” card with the URL for the Spirit of Howdy feedback page.

The trail maintenance and building section of provides criteria to help coaches, student-athletes and land managers help identify and work to construct new racecourses.

NICA’s high school mountain bike races take place in state parks, county parks, city parks, recreation areas, federally managed lands and privately owned land. Without these race sites NICA’s programs would not exist.

‘Singletrack High’ Monterey Screening and Spirit of Howdy Launch Info:

Who: NICA staff and board members
What: Spirit of Howdy launch
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 20th
Where: Golden State Theater, Monterey, California
Why: Engender responsible and respectful trail use practice in young
mountain bikers and develop them as future park stewards