Pedaling toward graduation

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
Aspen High School senior Kevin Callahan has totaled more than 1,600 round trips and 5,500 miles to and from school.
Jeremy Wallace / The Aspen Times |

Rain, snow, sleet or shine, Aspen High School senior Kevin Callahan has pedaled his bicycle from his home on Third Street to school every day since he was in second grade.

Since 2005, the 18-year-old has totaled more than 1,600 round trips and 5,500 miles to and from school.

Kevin, who will bike to school for the last time Friday, said he started riding to school because that’s what his older brother, Hunter, did.

Kevin said Hunter and their father, John, would bike to the Aspen school campus together in the mornings, as John worked next to the school at Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club.

By the spring of second grade, when 7-year-old Kevin was deemed old enough to bike to school, he joined his brother — an experience that Kevin recalls as “awesome.”

“I’d love getting up in the morning and just talking about what we were excited for or what was happening in our day,” Kevin said. “It was nice to get to talk to him.”

After commuting to and from school for several years, Kevin started biking competitively around age 15.

John, a former competitive Nordic skier and member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Cross Country Ski Team, took it upon himself to coach his son.

John said he drew from his cross-country knowledge and experience, as both Nordic skiing and cycling are endurance sports, and read up on cycling as much as he could.

During Kevin’s sophomore year, the high school started a mountain-bike club sport team that met from August through October.

Kevin joined the team, and John became a coach.

Kevin quickly excelled at the sport, ranking high in races and events throughout the state.

Kevin won the Aspen Cycling Club road race last summer and is the current Junior Colorado State Champion in the hill-climb and time-trial events.

He also is ranked third in the state for racers younger than 20.

John said he is proud of Kevin not only for his cycling successes but also for his determination to bike to and from school every day.

“I know there’s been days when it hasn’t been easy to climb on the bike and ride to school,” John said. “Either the weather’s lousy or he’s either not feeling well. But he just does it because he loves it.”

Kevin, who aspires to race professionally, will attend Fort Lewis College in the fall, where he will compete on the cycling team.