Friday letter: Kudos for Colorado high school mountain bike championships |

Friday letter: Kudos for Colorado high school mountain bike championships

State mtn bike event was awesome

The Colorado High School Cycling League is indebted to Colorado Mountain College for hosting the 2022 Colorado League State Championship race in October. 

The partnership with CMC began in 2013 when a race was held in Leadville. In 2016, CMC became an official sponsor and during those conversations, the dream of building a racecourse on the Spring Valley Campus was floated.

The heavy lifting to accommodate the event began in November 2018 initiated by Jeanne Golay, CMC Foundation Regional Development Officer, and local mountain bike coach. Dr. Heather Exby, Campus Dean witnessed the positive energy of a race at Snowmass and immediately became an avid advocate of the visionary project.

CMC staff embraced this endeavor and bent over backward to ensure every detail was covered. Golay wrote grants to support trail design and construction while constantly shepherding the project. Johann Aberger, CMC Professor of Outdoor Education, and local teams contributed countless hours of trail work. 

The 2022 racecourse was unveiled to rave reviews under unusual circumstances. Due to an impending winter storm, the state championship race was compressed into 1 day versus 2. CMC staff quickly pivoted with eager professionalism. In less than 72 hours after the decision to adjust the schedule, CMC and other partners accommodated the action-packed event with 820 racers, camping, parking, and an annual awards ceremony. 

This feat was possible due to the incredible CMC staff, notably Kris Hussong, Matt Koch, Natuza Olen, Brit Rasmussen, and Brian Martin, Sodexo. 

We are extremely grateful to the city of Glenwood Springs for event funding, Eric Dasko of Roaring Fork Cycling for camping, Garfield County for a grant and labor, Fox Factory Trial Trust, Roaring Fork Re-1 School District, Grand River Construction and Roaring Fork Rentals. Thanks to all the local teams, volunteers, and businesses who supported the event.

Thank you to the Roaring Fork Valley and Glenwood Springs community for a successful grand finale.

In case you didn’t get up to Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley Campus on Saturday to watch the Colorado State High School Mountain Biking Championships, put it on your calendar for next year.

The event included some 800 racers and their support teams and families in one of the most beautiful settings anywhere. The press coverage over the last few days has told the story of the event, but what happened behind the scenes to make it happen is nothing short of magic.

The largest race event of the Colorado League’s season, a two day event, had been planned for over a year at the Spring Valley Campus. Suitable existing trails were identified and new trails built by contractors and volunteers to create a challenging course which was also fair and fun to all kids with a wide spectrum of bike riding abilities. When the planners and the league realized two weeks before the event that a warmup course was needed, a warmup course was laid out and built. The CMC campus provided ample space for the pit zone and staging, parking and camping spaces were identified and prepared.

The weather looked really good for the event (if a little dry) until it didn’t, when a storm was forecast that threatened the two-day event. It wasn’t until Wednesday before the race that the League made the call to pull the entire event off in one day. The CMC campus and the League hadn’t even been able to experience the normal growing pains of hosting this type of event for the first time over two days and suddenly they were faced with executing it in one. 

The resilience and creativity of the CMC staff, the League staff, and the volunteers was impressive. The schedule was tightened and each of the four race categories was able to race, with the end of the year awards held in the comfort of CMC’s spectacular Spring Valley field house.

The venue has been tested, the growing pains experienced and the lessons learned. A legacy of new trails is available to our valley community. Hopefully we’ll see you there next October.

Hamilton Thorpe, Glenwood Springs

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