• MEET KATE RAU

Founder of the Colorado Moun­tain Bike League and ad­vo­cate for get­ting teenagers on bikes.

Mountain Bike for Her - - Front Page - By Jen Char­rette

In 2009, Kate Rau merged her love of moun­tain bik­ing and work­ing with kids and founded the Colorado High School Cy­cling League, which brings to­gether teenage moun­tain bik­ers from across the state to ride and race sev­eral times a year as they rep­re­sent their schools. The Colorado league is the first league out­side Cal­i­for­nia and has sparked a move­ment with 10 other states join­ing to­gether to make up the Na­tional In­ter­scholas­tic Cy­cling As­so­ci­a­tion (NICA). Kate’s job as the Direc­tor of the Colorado League is an ex­am­ple of craft­ing your life around your pas­sion. In 2008, Kate met Gary Fisher and they had a brief dis­cus­sion about start­ing a league in Colorado. He told her, “Oh, that’s easy,” and sent her a doc­u­men­tary about the North­ern Cal­i­for­nia League. From there, Rau took the ini­tia­tive and made high school rac­ing in Colorado a re­al­ity just one year later. In her own words, Kate tells us about her dream job and how moun­tain bike rac­ing can help young girls find con­fi­dence and pas­sion.

Tell me about how you came to start the Colorado Moun­tain Bike League.

Many paths led me to start­ing the Colorado League. My pri­mary mo­ti­va­tion is to pro­vide pos­i­tive op­por­tu­ni­ties for youth to shine. My back­ground is var­ied from en­vi­ron­men­tal con­sult­ing to youth in­ter­ven­tion pro­grams to out­door ed­u­ca­tion as a ski/snow­board and moun­tain bike coach. I have a Masters in Ed­u­ca­tion and be­lieve that high school can be a very chal­leng­ing time. We en­counter so much phys­i­cal, in­tel­lec­tual, and emo­tional changes from age 14 to 18 it seems like four decades of devel­op­ment crammed into four short years that are in­stru­men­tal in es­tab­lish­ing our be­hav­iours and life­style choices.

Ado­les­cence is a fas­ci­nat­ing time pe­riod where you change so much and many kids get lost or derailed. The more op­por­tu­ni­ties we have for youth to de­velop pas­sion, be­come self-suf­fi­cient, set goals, cre­ate a strong sense of af­fil­i­a­tion and be­long­ing, while main­tain­ing and ex­pand­ing their unique in­di­vid­u­al­ity the bet­ter - whether it is play­ing the sax­o­phone, build­ing ro­bots, gar­den­ing, photography, etc. Im­me­di­ately prior to start­ing the Colorado League, I was the train­ing co­or­di­na­tor at El­dora Moun­tain Re­sort and pro­gram manager of the Sin­gle­track Moun­tain Bike Ad­ven­tures (SMBA), a ju­nior moun­tain bike pro­gram that is cel­e­brat­ing 21 years! I worked there for 15 years. My ex­pe­ri­ence in the men­tal health arena guiding teens, young adults, and fam­i­lies in var­i­ous stages of tran­si­tion pro­vided me with a lot of in­sight. I be­lieve that be­ing in na­ture while en­gaged in pos­i­tive healthy ac­tiv­i­ties sur­rounded by great role mod­els (coaches and peers) where your par­ents may choose to get in­volved is a fan­tas­tic method to build a strong foun­da­tion dur­ing a tu­mul­tuous time pe­riod. One of the most re­ward­ing com­ments I heard was from a par­ent who said, “The Colorado League se­ries guar­an­tees that I will spend 4 week­ends in the fall camp­ing and rid­ing with my teenage son.”

What is the per­cent­age of boys/girls?

80/20 and chang­ing to­ward more par­ity .

I saw in a re­cent press re­lease that NICA has grown 30 per­cent since last year. Is par­tic­i­pa­tion by girls grow­ing?

Par­tic­i­pa­tion from girls is steadily in­creas­ing. In 2013, we hit a solid 20

per­cent with 120 girls rac­ing. Ob­vi­ously, I want to see this in­crease and more teams are ac­tively re­cruit­ing girls. The team scor­ing for­mula re­quires that both gen­ders are rep­re­sented, if not you for­feit points. For ex­am­ple, if you are a Di­vi­sion 2 team of 15 or less rid­ers and you do not have any girls, your team only earns points for three of the pos­si­ble four rid­ers who can score.

How can moun­tain bik­ing help high school stu­dents?

I am biased, of course, and I think there are in­fi­nite ways in­ter­scholas­tic moun­tain bik­ing pos­i­tively im­pacts youth. First and fore­most you are out­side hav­ing fun! Oxy­genat­ing your brain is crit­i­cal to healthy func­tion­ing. Three books that strongly in­flu­enced my path are: “Emo­tional In­tel­li­gence” by Daniel Gole­man, “Spark: The Rev­o­lu­tion­ary New Science of Ex­er­cise and the Brain” by John J. Ratey, and “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv. The the­o­ries and ob­ser­va­tions demon­strated by th­ese au­thors re­flect the im­por­tance of es­tab­lish­ing a strong sense of self, ex­er­cis­ing, and be­ing out­side for healthy hu­man devel­op­ment. Many stu­dent ath­letes and par­ents state how be­ing in­volved in the Colorado League helped them with a va­ri­ety of is­sues from los­ing weight, be­ing more fo­cused, be­com­ing more self-con­fi­dent, find­ing a wel­com­ing com­mu­nity of friends, to over­com­ing de­pres­sion.

What is the fam­ily dy­namic for train­ing and races? Is it sim­i­lar to soc­cer or dif­fer­ent? How?

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