Like his wheels, Hoke stays true to his path
Whether it’s riding them or repairing them, Mitchell Hoke’s life revolves around bikes.The 2006 Colorado Rocky Mountain School graduate spent four years on the CRMS cycling team, first learned how to repair bikes during a middle school internship, and then sharpened his repair skills working at the bike shop on CRMS’ campus.So it was only fitting that for his senior project, an independent, three-week project CRMS requires students to complete before graduation, Hoke found a way to incorporate bikes.While thinking of what to focus his project on, Hoke found out about The New Orleans Community Bike Project, an organization with a program called Plan B that focuses on repairing banged-up, donated bikes and inexpensively reselling them to try and get people to commute in New Orleans on bikes instead of cars. After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Plan B continued with its original mission, but also started giving bikes to hurricane victims who lost their vehicles in the storm.
“I really wanted to do something with bikes and I had already gone down to Mississippi to help with relief work earlier in the year,” said Hoke, an Evergreen native. “So I went down there for two-and-a-half weeks and repaired bikes.”During his stay in New Orleans from May 12-30, Hoke fixed up 20-30 bikes and helped people become more reliant on riding instead of driving. He also saw the devastation remaining in the city.”Everything was still really destroyed and there is not as much relief work as I’d hoped,” Hoke said. “It was frustrating.”When Hoke returned to Carbondale, he gave a presentation to his peers and CRMS facility members including his four-year CRMS cycling coach Andrew Gardner. While Gardner was impressed with Hoke’s project, he wasn’t surprised by his eagerness to get involved and help others – something he did frequently during his tenure at CRMS.”I don’t know many students (who are) student class president, wilderness leader, dorm leader, 24-hour rider, bike mechanic, philanthropist, snowboarder and philosopher without a ton of ego baggage and with a huge amount of charisma,” Gardner said of Hoke.
As his cycling coach, Gardner enjoyed instructing Hoke and admires his love for cycling. “Mitch’s greatest strength as a rider is that he is comfortable in his own skin as a person,” Gardner said. “Cycling is a sport filled with neurosis. Heart rate monitors, watt meters, blood tests and vanity are the norm in this sport. There’s a lot of posturing. Mitch doesn’t posture. He just loves to ride his bike.”Competing on that bike, Hoke recently turned in a men’s junior expert division championship performance at the Blast the Mass Big Burn Cross Country race in Snowmass on July 15. The win at Blast the Mass was Hoke’s highest placement in the 2006 Mountain States Cup Series.”It was a great race,” Hoke said. “It was my best finish of the summer.”
The race consisted of two loops, one 12-mile loop with a 2,300-foot climb and a 7-mile loop with a 1,400-foot climb. Hoke cruised through the course with a time of 1 hour, 49 minutes and 39 seconds.Hoke has raced in five out of seven MSCS races this summer and currently sits in sixth place in the men’s junior expert cross country category with three races remaining on the schedule. Just like he wasn’t surprised by Hoke’s senior project, Gardner wasn’t surprised by his recent win. “As an athlete, Mitch was the kid that would get done what needed to happen,” Gardner said. “He’d suffer through tough workouts. He’d ride in the rain. He didn’t gripe. He just got after it.”While Gardner left CRMS earlier this month and is now the head coach of the Nordic skiing team at Middlebury College in Vermont and Hoke will be riding for Colorado College’s club cycling team when he starts school there in January, Gardner will never forget Hoke.”There are students or athletes that strike a chord with you. Mitch was that kid for me,” Gardner said. “I know that he will be around in my life for a long time and I’m grateful for that.”
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