High schools have a variety of sport options to offer their students to participate with. Between soccer, swimming, basketball and many other well known choices, there seems to be something for anyone. One sport that may not come to mind is mountain biking. However, Central High senior, Vince Orsi competes competitively in this sport.
“I’ve done it with my dad for probably 3 or 4 years, but I just started doing it competitively in the last two,” states Orsi when asked about his experience with mountain biking. “The league is called NICA, and it stands for Nebraska Interscholastic Cycling League, I believe. They organize about 5, 6 races a year, and so we have practices twice a week.”
Orsi continued to explain the purpose behind the biking league he is part of, stating, “It’s meant to get more kids into the biking scene.” One issue that he brought up was the fact that Nebraska has no actual mountains to bike on.
“It’s obviously not crazy, but there’s Lewis and Clark Park in Council Bluffs. There’s Tranquility Park where the soccer fields are out West. Yeah, there’s Swanson Park which is our home field. That’s down off, I think, Cornhusker in Bellevue. There’s a couple more, but there’s really not much selection in Omaha,” says Orsi.
Despite this, the team continues to practice, and even competes with other teams across the Omaha area. Orsi explained that there are about ten to fifteen teams within the singular league.
“I think there’s a Prep team, a Westside team, a Millard team, so like all the Millard schools together, all the Elkhorn schools together, and we are the Southeast Metro team.”
While Covid did not allow these teams to have a race all at one time. Orsi said that they would instead do a time trial to compete. However, this year, with restrictions permitting, the league wants to do a mass start, where all the bikers race at one time to determine the winner. In order to prepare for this, Orsi and his team must meet weekly to stay sharp on their skills.
“Officially, we meet for four hours all together each week, but obviously I go more than just two times a week because that’s not enough to get you in shape for a race. But we alternate between Walnut Creek and Swanson park for our group practices,” says Orsi.
For Orsi, being in nature and living it up with the outdoors is what he enjoys the most about mountain biking. “I know it sounds corny, but you’re one with nature and I don’t know how else to say it.”
In the future, Orsi said that he would like to continue working on his mountain biking skills. However, where he chooses to attend college will dictate that.
“Like right now I’m looking at a college in Floria, where there are even less hills, so if I go somewhere like that then I probably won’t put as much time into it. But I mean if I go to college in Colorado, then yeah, I’ll definitely get more serious about it.”
Orsi wants to recommend mountain biking for anyone who is interested in taking their biking to the next level. His final comment explained that it is not as easy as it may look, and if someone is looking to participate, they have to be prepared with safety measures taken.
“Get comfortable on your bike, and get ready to get scraped up.”