By Carrie Click

During 2017, Colorado Mountain College’s 50th anniversary year, the community and campus celebrations and special events throughout the college’s mountainous service area have been – and continue to be – both plentiful and well-promoted. The college has been intent on bringing together community members, early pioneers, students, and past students and employees, to remind them all that the spunky college is here “Because of You.”

Riders draft each other between Oak Creek and Yampa as they make their way from Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs to CMC Edwards. From back to front, Luke Murphy, husband of CMC Spring Valley Student Support Services coordinator Kearstin Cameron; J.C. Norling, CMC Steamboat Springs acting campus dean; Rod Taylor, CMC Spring Valley associate professor of biology/chemistry; and Rod’s wife Janis Taylor leading the pack.

Clearly the most physically demanding event – a bicycle tour called the Tour de CMC – took place without any fanfare. Up to 20 riders, plus some joiners along the way, rode from one Colorado Mountain College campus to the next. All told, over five days in June the group covered 260 miles within the college’s extensive district: climbing, spinning, drafting and occasionally descending on their way to six of the college’s 11 locations.

“When you’re on a bike, you connect,” said Tour de CMC rider and college retiree Mark McCabe. “You connect with the college’s communities, and you connect with each other.” From 2005 to 2013 McCabe was Colorado Mountain College’s assistant vice president of student affairs, based at the college’s Central Services office in Glenwood Springs.

Demanding route

For cyclists who crave hill climbing and steep descents, Colorado Mountain College’s bike route couldn’t prove to be more 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’s 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 over 12,000 feet on day four, 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, clearly understating the obvious.

Team building

Taking a break at the top of Vail Pass on day two of the Tour de CMC next to Colorado Mountain College’s official 50th anniversary “sag wagon,” from left, are Luke Murphy, whose wife Kearstin Cameron is the Student Support Services coordinator at CMC Spring Valley and was a fellow Tour de CMC rider; Rod Taylor, associate professor of biology and chemistry at CMC Spring Valley; and J.C. Norling, the acting campus dean at CMC Steamboat Springs.

The tour brought 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,” said McCabe. “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,” said Norling. During the ride, professors transformed into impressive cyclists, and office colleagues turned into friends. “Maybe I’d seen their names on emails, but by sharing this ride together, we connected.”

For more Tour de CMC photos, go to