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Evergreen native making name for self in cycling circles

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By Joe Vaccarelli

Mitch Hoke describes himself as a pretty average college kid. He might be right, except for the fact that he has chance to be an international mountain biking champion.

Hoke will be one of 50 mountain bikers representing the United States in the Mountain Biking World Championships in Quebec, Canada, from Sept. 1-5. The 22-year-old Evergreen native, who attends Colorado College in Colorado Springs, will be one of five Americans competing in the Under-23 cross country race that is expected to have close to 80 competitors.

The four-day event will feature events such as downhill and cross country races at Mont-Sainte-Anne just outside of Quebec City.

“The competition will be really stiff. There’s gonna be a lot of people from Europe there and this style really suits them well,” Hoke said.

Hoke was invited to the race by posting qualifying times in a series of European races with the national team. He submitted them on the recommendation of his coaches. Hoke also finished fourth in the Under-23 national championships in Granby.

Hoke, who said he thinks a top-25 finish is realistic and would satisfy him, goes back to his roots in Evergreen when identifying where his love for mountain biking began.

“Me and my friends used to watch the mountain bikers hit the trail run back in fifth grade,” said Hoke, who started biking seriously around that time and built his skills on the trails around Evergreen Mountain and Elk Meadow.

“The riding in Evergreen is really good and living next to Elk Meadow made it easy to get into the sport,” he said.

Hoke hasn’t lived in Evergreen regularly since his freshman year in high school, but he still spends his summers here and works part-time at the Evergreen Bicycle Outfitters. He is majoring in environmental science at Colorado College and is scheduled to graduate in December.

Although, he will likely continue his racing career, Hoke would also like to go to graduate school and continue his studies. But mostly he wants to be a positive example to younger riders, much like some of the veterans were to him when he was growing up.

“This is something I’ve definitely always loved. I liked seeing guys race professionally and having fun. They were super nice guys and I always wanted to be like that. They were inspirational and set a good example, so I try and do that for others when I get a chance,” he said.