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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

From sea to shining sea

 
 

Summer at Texas A&M can be a time for some of the 50,000 students and 2,800 faculty to relax for several months after the school year.
For Jose Bermudez the summer season is entirely the opposite.
Bermudez is the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at A&M and considers his hobby of cycling a job in itself.
Bermudez isn’t your afternoon rider around the neighborhood. On Tuesday he will compete in the 3,000-mile Race Across America that includes more 170,000 feet of climbing from Oceanside, Calif., to Annapolis, Md.
Bermudez trains in Bryan-College Station and the surrounding cities, riding 20-30 hours a week. He noticed some poverty-stricken areas during his rides that inspired him to make a difference.
“I think that all of us working in Bryan-College Station and at A&M need to be very sensitive to the news in our community, and it’s not as wealthy of a community as you might think,” Bermudez said. “I cycle around and see all ends of the income spectrum. I think Habitat for Humanity is an organization that really works affectively to relieve some of the problems that families have when trying to make a fresh start.”
Bermudez set out to raise the amount of money it would cost to build one Habitat home, $40,000, through sponsorships that includes per-mile donations and milestones along the ride.
“He decided he wanted to make this bike ride that he’s doing benefit somebody,” said Ryan Pierce, director of volunteer experience and communications at B-CS Habitat for Humanity. “He did some research mostly online and found Habitat and decided it was a good organization to support. He actually contacted us so it was all on his own ambition.”
Bermudez got his start cycling after moving to the United States from Britain, where he enjoyed extreme sports such as mountaineering and ice climbing. His adventures took him to the Swiss Alps and the Himalayas.
Upon moving to St. Louis, Mo., in 2003, those hobbies became a little less accessible so he took to cycling – eventually, the long-distance type. Two years ago Bermudez competed in the Race Across the West, an 860-mile bike race from Oceanside, Calif., to Durango, Colo., which helped prepare him for the 12-day Race Across America, something he calls the “next step.”
“It’s a nonstop race so most people will not sleep more than three hours in every 24-hour period, at the maximum,” Bermudez said. “In order to finish you need to finish within 12 days. That means averaging 250 miles a day. The winner will probably finish in eight and a half days, if not less, so he’s averaging more like 350 miles a day. That’s a lot of miles.”
A lot of miles indeed for a man whose time is normally devoted to helping decide the future of college students. But he won’t embark on the 3,000-mile journey alone.
One member of his six-person crew is Jeremiah Newton, shop manager of Aggieland Cycling, who is no stranger to Bermudez’ long bike rides.
“When [Bermudez] moved to College Station he was already a pretty big cyclist, so I was working on his bike,” Newton said. “The first time he did [Race Across the West] he had me come along and now I’ve been through half of the races already so what’s another couple hundred miles.”
His crew will not only include Newton but a host of others dedicated to making sure Bermudez is hydrated and full of energy. Aside from Newton as the mechanic, four drivers will stay with Bermudez during the race along with a medic.
“The support crew is incredibly important,” Bermudez said. “When you do something like this you put your body through incredibly testing conditions and you need people to make sure that you are fed, that you are safe, that you are not dehydrated and falling asleep on your bike, and make sure you aren’t going into some sort of heat exhaustion or stroke.”
It’s all a large operation for Bermudez, who is setting his goals for finishing the race instead of winning it.
“I believe that I am going to finish but there are a lot of people in this race that are essentially full-time athletes that do nothing apart from train. And I have other obligations,” Bermudez said with a chuckle.
Apart from being the dean of a college of more than 7,200 students, Bermudez’ “other obligations” have included authoring more than 100 publications, including five single-authored books and five edited volumes.
“I’m blown away that in his position as a dean he has a ton of responsibility,” Pierce said. “I’m sure it’s not a nine-to-five job, it’s an all-the-time job. First of all, the fact that he can do this training and even think about doing this bike race across America for 12 days, then that he wants to do it to help people in need – It says a lot about his character and his goals. I think it’s extremely admirable and quite a good example for the rest of us.”
For Bermudez though, the race and the money is about being something bigger than himself.
“It’s not about me,” he said. “I’d like to do my best and raise some money for a very worthwhile cause.”

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