Kate Rau, center, waits to load another bike onto a van roof before leading a group of young riders on a mountain bike ride Tuesday. From left are Jackson Martin, 11, Storm Klomhaus, 11, and Ksenia Lepikhina, 12. Rau, a coach with Boulder s Singletrack Mountain Bike Adventures, is now heading up the Colorado Mountain Bike Racing League, which will oversee structured programs and racing for high school students.

If you go

What: CycleFest Colorado

When: Saturday and Sunday

Where: Saturday dinner and auction at Palettes, Denver Art Museum; Sunday road ride and lunch at Bacaro, Boulder

Cost: $100 or $150 Saturday; $75 Sunday

More info:

On Sunday, you’ll be guaranteed to keep up with some mountain-biking stars who might normally blow past you on the trail or road. You’ll just have to help out Colorado’s new high school mountain-biking league to get your no-drop kicks.

“It’ll be a casually paced ride, so no worries about keeping up with Dave Wiens or Susan DeMattei,” said Max Bradley, one of the organizers of CycleFest 2010 and an adviser to the new high-school league.

The weekend fundraiser starts with a Saturday-night dinner and auction at Palettes Restaurant in the Denver Art Museum. On Sunday, Bacaro Venetian Taverna in Boulder will host lunch after a road ride with Wiens, DeMattei and other cycling celebs.

CycleFest benefits the Colorado Mountain Bike Racing League, which started last year to back the formation of mountain-biking teams at Colorado’s high schools and serve as their governing body.

The first season for high school mountain biking starts this fall; the league has organized four races around the state.

Kate Rau, the league’s founding committee chair, said after attending California’s high school mountain-bike championships in 2009, she had to get behind an effort to start a league in Colorado.

“Colorado is a no-brainer,” said Rau, who is also a coach for Singletrack Mountain Bike Adventures, a Boulder junior development program. “Of the 45 mountain bikers that represented the U.S. at Worlds in 2009, 15 of them call Colorado home. That’s a third of the team. And no one else comes close to that except California.”

Until now, high schoolers who wanted to race mountain bikes did so independent of the school; the league enables kids to start teams at their schools, which builds camaraderie within the school and a culture of mountain biking, Rau said.

“In the past, I haven’t known anybody at school who was into biking,” said Alex Willie, 14, who will be a freshman at Lyons High School in the fall. “It’s going to be nice to have kids to ride with after school.”

Training alone is tough, Alex said, and Rau echoed his sentiments about how helpful it can be to have friends to consult with for training, nutrition and goals.

“And we can expose this to kids who haven’t thought of mountain biking as an activity,” she added.

League rules let any kid race for their school, not just a certain number at the top.

Dessa Willie, Alex’s mom, said she loves that the league is building inclusive teams.

“It’s co-ed. You don’t need to try out. It’s a no-drop sport,” she said. “The option for these kids to ride a bike and race and be part of that high school team, the inclusivity of it is so positive in so many ways.”

“For guys to have respect for girls and vice versa, that’s a neat thing that differentiates mountain biking from other high school sports.”

Boulder High, Monarch and Lyons all have faculty sponsors for teams now, Rau said, and she’s waiting on formal answers from a few other Boulder County schools with interested students.

“It will be a club sport, which requires students to drive the process,” Rau said.

Bradley’s son, Austin, is a freshman at Niwot High and is starting his first season of racing. Niwot doesn’t have a formal agreement with the league yet, but Bradley said Austin is excited about the possibility of riding for a school team in the fall.

“He and I do a lot of riding together, which is great, but it’s not the same as going out to ride with your high school teammates,” he said.

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