Inside Look with Kate Rau, Colorado League Director

Kate Rau has been busy preparing for the Colorado League’s Fall racing series.  Teams start practicing on August 1st.  We caught up with her while during her preparations to see how things are going.

The League is entering its second season. What has been keeping you busy this summer?
I have been doing lots of outreach events this year, connecting student-athletes, parents and coaches from the Denver Metro area and on the Western Slope (areas west of the Continental Divide). Both of these areas have the potential to be a hotbed of high school cycling and I’m excited to see teams taking shape.
One of the highlites this summer was the exceptional turnout at the Bailey Hundo. Colorado League coaches, supporting shops, regional clubs, and individual supporters raced and raised funds for the Colorado League, Trips for Kids Denver/Boulder, Colorado Mountain Bike Association, and Kids on Bikes.
I have also been working hard to secure new race venues. The opportunity to scope out new trails and venues has reinforced my deep appreciation for the diverse natural beauty of the state. My copy of Roadside Geology of Colorado is getting lots of use!

Have you noticed any changes in the way people respond to the idea of a high school mountain bike League in Colorado?
With a season under our belt and the success of other NICA leagues, people know that the format is successful and sustainable.  Folks have been embracing the League with great support, whether it’s allowing a race on their land, sponsoring a local team, or volunteering, the support has been tremendous.

Last year the Colorado League saw 183 riders participate in the race series.  What are you anticipating this year?Last year exceeded most everyone’s predictions.  If 230 student athletes race this season, which is looking likely at this point, it would be a 25% increase. We have six teams registered as Division I with 12 or more riders, indicating growth from existing teams and strong participation among some new teams.

What has been the most challenging aspect of preparing for a high school racing series?
Finding a race location with the best balance of trails, venue infrastructure, and availability.  A venue may be ideal yet is not available the date we need.  Another location has fantastic trails, yet little or no room for the Pit Zone, parking, or finish area. Altitude and weather are additional considerations. It is an interesting conundrum but I’m confident we will have a great racing season.

You have put together a great selection of race venues for the upcoming racing series.  Which are you most excited about?
It’s so hard to choose a favorite because each venue reflects a unique aspect of Colorado’s diverse geography. The McMurry Ranch in Nathrop has the spectacular background of Mount Princeton and the course is a time-honored Colorado racing tradition. The 2010 State Championship course at Peaceful Valley Scout Camp in Elbert is the site of Race #3 in 2011, and a new course is in the works. The Ridgeline trails in Castle Rock flow down ravines lined with Gambel Oak and climb up mesas with views of both the plains and the Rockies.  This relatively new trail system seems ideal for the 2011 State Championships.
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