September 8, 2023 | SPORTS | By Pierce Sullivan
Mountain biking has a shockingly high cost of entry. The most important piece of gear in the sport, the bike, generally costs upward of a thousand dollars – and that’s for a rather rudimentary bicycle.
A high-end bike can easily break the $10,000 mark. Renting a bike is always an option, albeit an arguably worse one. Renting a standard mountain bike from Routes Outfitter in Colorado Springs costs $95 per day. Consistently renting a bike to get into the sport is simply not realistic.
The sport is not financially accessible to newcomers. So how can people get involved?
The Cycling Team at Colorado College has been facing this issue over recent years. Mountain Bike Team Co-Captain Eli Zamore ’24 explained how, every year at the Activities Fair, the Cycling Team table typically gets approached by 10-15 students, inquiring if the team supplies bikes.
The team has historically not had access to loaner mountain bikes, so even though there is lots of interest in the sport, it is nearly impossible to bring in new members and cyclists.
The Ahlberg Gear House at CC Outdoor Education has rented mountain bikes in the past, but only fat tire mountain bikes. These bikes do have suspension, in addition to very large tires that are more suited to floating through snow than the dry dirt that Colorado Springs has nearly year-round.
The fat tire bikes came from Borealis Fat Bikes, a Colorado Springs-based company founded by CC alumnus Steve Kaczmarek ’87. As a result, Outdoor Education was able to get a much better deal on these bikes, which was part of the decision for purchasing these fat tire bikes over a traditional mountain bike.
Rachael Abler, Associate Director of Outdoor Education, explained how there was “less interest in the non-snowy months for the fat bikes,” and that there had been significant interest from students and the Cycling Team to bring traditional mountain bikes to the Gear House.
This past summer, Outdoor Education purchased nine new mountain bikes – Commencal Meta HT AM Origins with dropper posts, for the bike nerds out there. Nine bikes in total were purchased in different sizes: three smalls, four mediums, and two larges. Outdoor Education paid $1,400 each for these bikes, which retail for $1,800 dollars from Commencal.
These are highly capable and versatile bikes. “If you are a good enough rider, you can ride anything on it comfortably, if you are a beginner rider, you can ride anything that a beginner rider would want to ride as well,” Zamore said.
Another Mountain Bike Team Co-Captain, Jonathan Cox ’25, explained that “You could ride these bikes in Red Rocks Open space, or lots of places in North Cheyenne Canyon.”
Outdoor Education and the Cycling Team are hoping to work together in the future, and this new purchase aligns with a sizable shift within the bike team. Formerly associated with Club Sports, the Cycling Team has switched affiliations to the Colorado College Student Government Association.
“When we were a club sport, there was more pressure from the school to go to races and be competitive,” said Will Myers ’26, the Road Cycling Team Captain.
Under CCSGA, the team can focus less on filling the roster for races and allow more time to be spent on bringing beginners into the sport, lowering the bar for entry.
“These bikes are another way in which we can help get new people into the sport.” Myers said.
The bikes are also available to those unaffiliated with the bike team. I spoke with Cecilia Timberg ’24, who recently rode from Leadville to Salida, and rented everything needed for the “bikepacking” journey from the Gear House.
“Bikepacking is very different from backpacking, because you can stay within society.” Timberg went on to explain how she went even to a concert in Buena Vista one night. Bikepacking provides yet another more accessible way to access the outdoors – when the bikes and gear are reasonably priced, that is.
The bikes are available for rent from the Ahlberg Gear House for $12 for the first day and $8 for the following days. That’s significantly less expensive than a rental anywhere else in Colorado Springs.