What if, as part of your education, you organized a top-notch cycling event, and did it for college credit? Or, if part of your college experience included travel to Banff, Alberta to participate in what is touted as the most difficult mountain bike race in the world? What if your job description as cyclist on the Great Divide Mountain Bike route also included collecting scientific data along the spine of the continental Divide?
Central Wyoming College students Amanda Dyer, Aaron Strubhar, Zac Giffin, Sara Schroeder, Tobias Osborne and Paul Stuckey, are making the most of their college experience through the outdoor education and expedition science program. These six students had a common goal to have their college education include more than the typical classroom experience. All six students are enrolled in either the outdoor education program or completing a degree in expedition science.
To add to their experience at CWC, this spring they will go well outside the norms of what is associated with a college degree and will aid in the Fremont Area Road Tour with local businesses and clubs. They start this week working with the Lander Cycling Club and Lander’s top quality bicycle shops: the Bike Mill and Gannett Peak Sports, to help oversee the coordination of the Fremont Area Road Tour.
The Fremont Area Road event takes place June 9 and is partnered with the Lander Brewfest. The Road Tour is a long standing community event and is expected to attract between 150 and 200 road cyclists from around the state and county. Members of the Lander Cycling Club receive a discount for their registration in the Road Tour.
In exchange for providing a key leadership role for the tour, students will earn college credit. They will also be raising funds for the CWC Cycling Club. Profits from this year’s event will be used to support transportation costs for these same students to travel to Canada to ride the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route from Banff, Alberta to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. Students will travel to Alberta in early June, and will commence their ride on June 9.
“My role is primarily as events coordinator and cycling enthusiast,” Road Tour project lead Dyer said. “This is an incredible opportunity for me to utilize skills gained in my past professional life, and to establish a presence in the Lander community. I actually have a pretty expansive professional history, but I returned to school at CWC to study Outdoor Education and Leadership to help broaden my skill set more. I hope to use the background I am gaining from my time at CWC to enhance my overall professional portfolio. This event gives me an opportunity to demonstrate my skills and abilities to the local community while increasing interest in a sport I really enjoy, cycling.”
Giffin who has been Dyer’s right hand man in launching the Fremont Area Road Tour is in a similar position. He worked in the recreation industry for several years, but spent the past few years honing his wilderness travel and leadership skills and gaining more professional certifications. Like Dyer, and in fact all of the organizing members of this year’s Fremont Area Road Tour, have certificates as professional Wilderness Interpretive Guides, Wilderness First Responders, and have received formal training in expedition trip planning, scientific research and leadership.
A long-time road and mountain cyclist, Griffin hopes to complete all 2700 miles of the Great Divide Mountain Bike route this summer.
Strubhar’s role this spring has several aspects of participation. He too will help organize the Road Tour and fundraise for The Great Divide Mountain Bike Ride, and will then propel his bike 1400 miles from Banff to Lander. Strubhar is also actively involved in the research component of the ride.
“I am already a member of CWC’s Field Expedition, the Interdisciplinary Climate Change Expedition, but it is exciting to help launch something new,” Strubhar said. “In addition to riding, myself and some other students are developing a couple of really intriguing research projects. We will present our results at undergraduate research day at the University of Wyoming next year.”
“The research arm of this is actually called BioPEAK,” Schroeder said. “For me, I think it was the research as much as the riding that attracted me to this group. We selected the name for our research based on the terrain, and on the type of data we will be collecting. We hope to be collecting data from two fields of research: the impacts of extreme physical endurance events on human health and an environmental investigation into air quality. There is a lot of evidence highlighting the impact of air quality on the environment, and on human health both. The two are highly interconnected.” Schroeder has been giving a lot of thought to her training and is working with a local coach to help her be at her best when the event launches.
For Osborne, who has been interested in traveling the world since a young age, this project is a perfect fit. Tobias is invested in both science, and the state of the planet.
“What motivates me is being a part of something bigger than my own reality,” Osborne said. For him, this ride, and the student involvement in planning and executing the research are both equally intriguing. He hopes to finish all 2700 miles of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route this summer.
“I love to live and learn. I am not focused on getting to the finish line but rather learning from the journey I am about to embark on,” Osborne said.
The real draw for the fifth member of the team, Stuckey, it was the adventure.
“I’m riding the Divide, to challenge myself and use all of the skills that I have learned in the outdoors,” Stuckey said. “In the past when I was younger, I use to run marathons and Tough Mudder competitions. Riding the Divide is a step up to the next level and I am 100 percent committed and ready to do it. One of my favorite quotes is from John J. Bingham, ‘The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.’ I’ll see you at the finish.”