Tour de CMC bike ride links Colorado Mountain College campuses together
As Colorado Mountain College celebrates its 50th anniversary year, communities and campuses have been hosting special events throughout the college’s mountainous service area with the intent of bringing together community members, early pioneers, students, past students and employees to remind them all that the college is here “Because of You.”
The most physically demanding event in the lineup, a bicycle tour called the Tour de CMC, took place without any fanfare. As many as 20 riders, plus some joiners along the way, rode from one Colorado Mountain College campus to the next.
All told, during the course of five days in June, the group covered 260 miles within the college’s district: climbing, spinning, drafting and occasionally descending on their way to six of the college’s 11 locations.
Mark McCabe, Colorado Mountain College assistant vice president of student affairs from 2005 to 2013, based at the college’s Central Services office in Glenwood Springs, was one of the Tour de CMC riders.
“When you’re on a bike, you connect,” McCabe said. “You connect with the college’s communities, and you connect with each other.”
For cyclists who crave hill climbing and steep descents, Colorado Mountain College’s bike route was ideal. The tour began at CMC Steamboat Springs on June 19 and headed south 80 miles to CMC Edwards through nearly 5,000 feet of climbing and 4,500 feet of descents.
The second day, riders climbed to Vail Pass’ 10,623 summit, spending the night at the CMC campus in Breckenridge. Fremont Pass was the next pass to summit on the third day on the way to CMC Leadville, followed by Independence Pass at more than 12,000 feet on Day 4, descending into CMC Aspen. The fifth and final day ended at CMC Spring Valley outside of Glenwood Springs.
“You needed to be physically fit,” said J.C. Norling, acting campus dean at CMC Steamboat Springs.
The tour brought together college administrators, faculty and a few spouses from throughout Colorado Mountain College’s 12,000-square-mile service area and from nearly every campus. College employees from Steamboat Springs were well represented, as were those from Summit County, Leadville, Aspen and the lower Roaring Fork Valley.
“I’d never done a tour like this before,” McCabe said. “It wasn’t a competition. We were all in it together. It’s like the college. We’re all connected.”
This was a quieter, lower-key event than many of the more public 50th anniversary celebrations, such as art openings and barbecues. In the spirit of the adventurous college, it was a way to push limits, connect the campuses, create bonds and ride through some of the most demanding and spectacular scenery in the country — and all in Colorado Mountain College’s backyard.
“Some of the people on the ride I’d never met,” Norling said. During the ride, professors transformed into cyclists and office colleagues turned into friends. “Maybe I’d seen their names on emails, but by sharing this ride together, we connected.”
Jon Asper flashes a million-watt smile as he empties a clip on the machine gun some friends helped him fire at a local gun range.