For the past nine years, Hunter Callahan has biked to and from school, through rain, snow and ice, logging more than 4,500 miles over 1,500 roundtrips. This month, he’ll take his last ride to Aspen High School to graduate with the class of 2014.
“At first, it started because it was something easy and fun to do,” he said, adding that the trips exclude absences from. “As time went on, it became, ‘Well, I might as well go to the end of the month, or the end of the quarter, or the end of the semester until winter break, or the end of the year.’ Then I did it for one year — might as well do another one. After the first couple years, it was like, ‘I guess I’m just doing this forever now.’”
Callahan admits that there have been a lot of days when he didn’t feel like biking. In October, his family’s house, at Third Street and Hopkins Avenue, was being remodeled, which meant relocating to Snowmass. For three months, Callahan made the 15-mile roundtrip to Aspen High School.
He has three bikes to choose from: a road bike that he rides in races, a mountain bike also used for competition and a junker road bike that he uses for short trips. It was around the age of 12 when his parents, Kathleen and John, dragged him to his first race.
“I hated starting it, but once I was out there, I had an awesome time,” he said. “That was when I started riding my bike a lot more.”
This past fall, Callahan joined the Aspen High School mountain-biking team for its first season, which included races in Eagle, Leadville, Colorado Springs and Granby. He plans to continue training with the team this summer before he heads to Fort Lewis College in Durango.
At Fort Lewis, his first and only school choice, he’ll vie for a roster spot in some of the more competitive racing categories. His tentative plan is to study history, with a secondary education option, so he can teach at the high school level.
Following Callahan’s lead is his 16-year-old brother, Kevin, who has been making round trips to school since second grade. But the hobby doesn’t stop with those two. Their older sister, Tiffany, used to compete in the area, and two other siblings, who make up a set of triplets with Kevin, also ride. The family has made the trip from Arizona through northern New Mexico to Texas. More recently, they rode from Crater Lake, Oregon, to San Francisco, a 600-mile trip.
“I was hurting by the end of that one,” Callahan said.
Callahan said that once or twice a year, he would take a spill on ice while biking to school. If you can see the ice, he said, you can ride over it without a problem. It’s when there is a thin layer of snow on top of the ice that you fall. His worst spill happened at the back of Aspen High School.
“I come into this corner way too fast and just slide out and take all the skin off my elbow in front of all these people,” he said. “And then I neglected to do anything about the gaping hole in my arm all day. Not a good idea.”