Numerology: Youth Movement

For the past 10 years, the Colorado High School Cycling league has been bringing kids into the sport of mountain biking in a way that makes it accessible and fun, but still competitive. Here are the numbers behind that unprecedented success.

Celebrating a decade of racing this year, the Colorado High School Cycling League has succeeded in its mission to get #morekidsonbikes in the state. In 2009, the league launched with 20 teams in 17 school districts. The next year, it grew to 75 teams in 51 school districts. Now in 2019, high school mountain bike team participation rivals high school football participation (and mountain biking includes women), with some schools ending their football programs altogether. And thanks to the Colorado League, an affiliate of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, and leagues in states across the country, high school kids now have a non-traditional sporting outlet that delivers all the scientifically proven benefits of exercising outdoors—plus it’s a fun way to score a sports scholarship to college. Here’s the stats on the league’s success. 


Number of kids who participated in Colorado High School Cycling League teams in 2010. That number jumped to 323 in 2011 (a 65 percent increase) and 866 five years later. The total number of riders in 2018 is the most staggering, though. A whopping 1,383 kids—a 10 percent gain on the 1,262 in 2017—rode bikes on trails in races across our state last year. 


Number of Colorado schools currently represented, including regional homeschoolers. 


Average participants, per race weekend, in 2018. 


Percentage of girls who raced in the 2018 Colorado League championships, held in Durango, Colorado. 


Number of league races each year, with a culminating state championships held roughly on the third weekend in October, when the temperatures can be quite chilly. 


Morning temperature, for example, in Eagle, Colorado, where the state championships were held in 2016. 


Number of spectators and participants who braved all kinds of weather conditions—from blazing sun to frosty mornings—to watch kids race in 2017. 


Estimated direct economic impact (i.e. aggregate attendee spending) for 2017’s five races. According to the Colorado League, funding support provided by the host towns and organizations was estimated at about $37,000 (including in-kind contributions), resulting in an an economic impact ratio of $34.24. Put another way, each dollar of funding was estimated to generate about $34 in positive economic impact, according to RRC Associates, who conducted the survey.  


Estimated percentage of families who camp during Colorado League events.


Number of coaches volunteering for the Colorado League this past season. 


Approximate number of coaches who have coached every year since 2010.


Donation amount from an anonymous Colorado League parent who wrote that this amount equaled what he or she would have paid for his or her son’s therapy session “when he struggled with debilitating OCD.” He beat OCD with counseling and the help of The Castle Rock Crankers his sophomore year of high school, the parent wrote. “Now a student at CMU in Grand Junction, he’s riding every day, works in the Outdoor Program fixing bikes and is leading student rides, besides studying.” 


Miles of new singletrack trail that the town of Eagle, Colorado, built specifically for the State Championships in 2013. The trail is now open to and enjoyed by the public. 


Miles of new trail Durango, Colorado, built for the 2018 Championships—it’s not open to the public yet but will be. 


Hours of volunteer trail work performed by Colorado League teams in 2017. 


Number of times Colorado League kids have spoken at public hearings and meetings about the importance of mountain bike-related issues. 

“I don’t count. Fortunately, I don’t have to fill out a time sheet.”

Kate Rau’s response to how many hours she puts in each year as executive director of the Colorado High School Cycling League. 


Number of volunteers (“Plus race crew and production staff of 25,” says Rau) needed to put on each race. 


Projected percentage growth over the next five years of Colorado League riders, should current trends continue. 


Number of times my own Colorado League rider said he didn’t want to go to practice but came back saying he couldn’t wait until the next practice. 

Uncountable But Important

“More outdoor healthy opportunities for kids and families,” says Rau. 


Percentage of respondents to a 2017 survey who said they were “extremely likely” or (very close) to recommending high school mountain biking to a friend or family, according to RRC Associates. 


Percent of respondents in a 2017 survey who said they were planning to ride again in 2018.  

3.1 million

Number of adolescents aged 12 to 17 who reported a major depressive episode (lasting two weeks or longer), according to the National Institute of Mental Health in 2016. 


Hours a day the average American kid spends indoors in front of a screen (versus four to seven minutes a day in unstructured outdoor play). 


Rough average of hours per week, between training, weekend rides, and races during the season that Colorado High School Cycling League kids spend engaged in outdoor activity. 


The value Rau puts on her 10-year involvement in the Colorado League. 

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