This year I’ve had the great pleasure of getting to know Kate Rau, founding chair of the Colorado High School Cycling League, longtime SMBA kids mountain bike coach and stellar advocate for youth and women’s cycling.
I first met Kate when she accompanied Max Bradley on a visit to my workplace in an effort to gain our support for the league. Speaking with Kate you can’t help but catch the fever of high school cycling. I was enamored. Her enthusiasm for bringing the gift of cycling to high-schoolers is unending.
Supported by NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association) Colorado is the 2nd state to start a high school cycling league. Spearheaded by Matt Fritzinger, the Executive Director, NICA has a 2020 goal of seeing leagues in every state from coast to coast. NorCal, started in 2001, was the very first cycling league. Colorado is joined by Southern California, Texas, Washington and Minnesota in forming new leagues. If you are like me, you remember the days of high school sports and wish there had been a place for cycling. What took us so long to get here?
As my meeting with Kate and Max, acting President for the league, wrapped up it was clear that not only were we on board with the program but that Kate and I had made a lifelong connection. I don’t believe I’ve ever met another woman that is so totally consumed by cycling and determined to share the excitement with every last person on the planet. You can imagine that such a mission can be a little time consuming, its nice to have a comrade. I remember when Kate was leaving and she invited me out for a mountain bike ride… I was decidedly honored, thrilled and intimidated all at the same time.
Well, that was almost one year ago and not only have I had the opportunity to ride and learn from Kate but I’ve gotten to watch the Colorado High School Cycling League grow into a living, breathing, pedaling force of kids on mountain bikes! It is my honor to be the “official” race reporter for the Colorado High School Cycling League’s first season.
Race #1 at Chalk Creek…
NATHROP, Colo.—Sunday morning Chalk Creek Ranch was buzzing with high school mountain bike racers from all over the state for the Colorado High School Cycling League opener. Over a year of planning was rewarded with the smiles of 144 racers from 17 teams, and a handful of independent riders. The turnout was overwhelming.
Kate Rau, the executive director of the Colorado High School Cycling League, said it was clear that the first race surpassed all expectations. “I’m over-joyed by the support from the cycling community, coaches, parents, and volunteers. I’m thrilled to be spreading high school mountain biking.” said Rau who has been working for this day since October of 2008.
At 10 am close to 20 girls rolled out on the dirt to the cheers of organizers, volunteers, coaches, parents and spectators. The Varsity girls rode 3 laps of 6 miles. They tackled the loose dirt and rocks like seasoned athletes. Laurel Rathbun, racing in the Freshman/Sophmore class and an Independent rider had a lap time of just over 30 minutes, finishing her 2 laps in 1:03:25. It was clear that girls had been training hard for their first race.
As they climbed the first hill course marshals and racers mixed. Even with the tough terrain spirits were high. Ellie Atkins of Boulder High School placed first in the Varsity girls category with a time of 1:33:50. Lindsay Dye another Independent rider was hot on her heals and finished less than a minute back.
Varsity boys started at 11:40 with a lead out from Colorado legend Dave Wiens and Animas High Coach, Chad Cheeney. They climbed the “sandy hill of pain” with speed and efficiency. Spectators cheered and racers thanked them with huge smiles. Skyler Truijillo from Fort Collins Composite team had a stunning 24:15 lap time placing him in first and finishing his 3 laps in 1:14:20. He was closely followed by Garrett Lundberg (Salida-BV Composite) and Luke Falcone (CO Rocky Mountain School).
Angel Huerta, a student at Douglas County HS, had spoken a few months earlier at the Cyclefest fund raiser for the Colorado High School Cycling League. He was so excited to race he could barely stand still. “I’ve been waiting for this ever since the Cyclefest!” he exclaimed. Huerta (Douglas County HS) was joined by 46 other Junior Varsity Boys, a huge field for the first league race.
While this was an historic day for Colorado mountain biking, history of another sort played out when Christian Kloser (Vail Valley Composite), the son of 1988 world mountain bike champion, Mike Kloser, topped out the JV boys. He was followed by James Lipe (CO Rocky Mountain School) and Joe Christiansen (Lyons Composite).
In the JV girls race, Kelsey Phinney (Boulder High School), younger sister of the newly-crowned national time trial pro champion, Taylor Phinney, continued the winning ways of her sibling and both her parents.
Despite the presence of high athletic pedigree, the event was mainly about school kids getting out on mountain bikes and having a blast with their peers. Parents cheered louder and harder than ever as they watched their high-schoolers compete, many in their first ever mountain bike race. Cow bells rang from start to finish. Max Bradley, acting president of the Colorado League, commented, “It’s nice to see the hard work come to fruition. We would have been happy with 100 kids. The sport is so popular in this state, we really needed a program like this. NICA has given us a solid foundation to build on.”
The second race in the series is on October 3rd in Fraser, Colorado, at Devils Thumb Ranch.
Full race results: http://coloradomtb.org/race/2010/RiderResults1.html (abbreviated results below)
Photo gallery: http://coloradomtb.org/chalkcreek/index.html
The future of the Colorado High School Cycling League
Cheers all around
A solid team
Skylar Trajillo who rides for Cyclismo out of Ft. Collins, CO
teamwork off the course!
The girls were killing it!
Of course it doesn’t hurt to have the mountains in the background
lots of smiles and thank you’s for trailside cheerleaders
that was no small hill to climb!
but they tackled it like pros
My dear friend Kate getting a much deserved hug and
“Congratulations Kate, you did it!”
About the Colorado High School Cycling League
The Colorado High School Cycling League promotes personal development and teamwork through bicycle racing, and encourages the formation of teams at public and private high schools. With the cooperation of local race promoters and our sponsors, the League organizes a first class series of races designed for high school aged riders. The League makes high school racing the easiest route for juniors to get involved in the challenging and exciting world of competitive cycling. The Colorado League was kick-started with a generous grant from the founding SoCal sponsor, Easton Foundations, and is also generously supported by founding national sponsor, Specialized Bicycle Components, as well as SRAM, Trek Bicycles, Clif Bar and Co., Primal Wear, Yeti Bicycles, Wheat Ridge Cyclery, GU Sports, Shimano, Mellow Johnny’s, Fox Racing Shox, CamelBak, Dirt Rag, Feedback Sports and Mountain Bike Action.. For more information on the League, visit http://www.coloradomtb.org.
Editorial assistance provided by Paul Skilbeck