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Bainbridge Gear Grinders break away in season debut | SPRING SPORTS PREVIEW
Last weekend was the beginning of competition season for one of the island’s perhaps least-known youth athletic organizations.
The Bainbridge Island Gear Grinders, founded in 2011, is a youth mountain bike racing club with both high school and middle school-aged teams competing in race events around the region.
Originally operated under the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, last year saw the team align with the separate and locally based league, the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, under whose regulations they were finally able to offer a middle school team for the first time this season.
The response was immediate.
“We’ve got about 18 kids on the middle school team,” explained Gear Grinders middle school team Head Coach Jay Abbott. “We practice for about one-and-a-half hours on Wednesday after school, and we have a longer ride off island on Saturday.”
Even being a relatively new team, the high school team finished second in the state last year, said Abbott.
Students who attend school on Bainbridge Island are eligible to join the Gear Grinders, regardless of previous mountain bike experience. The team is co-ed, and students are free to decide their own level of involvement as to whether they’d like to simply attend training rides and practice events or take part in the competition events in the spring.
The first such competition event took place last weekend at Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood.
“[More than] 140 racers from all over the state rode in warm sunshine on Sunday,” said Abbott. “The Gear Grinders had 10 riders, five from the high school team and five from the middle school team. Three varsity riders are veterans from last year and two are first-timers. This is the first year for the middle school team, so all five were racing for the first time.”
Several Bainbridge riders broke the top 10 in their respective racing categories including Anika Vroom (fourth place in High School Intermediate Girls), Tessa Vroom (fourth place in High School Beginner Girls) and Seb Hagman (ninth place in Middle School Beginner Boys).
At the Steilacoom race, as in all youth competitive mountain bike events, the course was run in laps by riders divided into age groups. The older varsity racers must complete more laps, sometimes as many as four or five, totaling up to 25 miles total.
The Bainbridge team is governed by a group of dedicated and experienced adult mountain bikers, including many parents of student racers.
For more information about the Gear Grinders, and to discover volunteer opportunities with the group, visit www.geargrinders.org.
Fort Steilacoom Park Mountain Bike Race Results
Racer, Category, Laps, Time, Place
Edward Wilson, HS Intermediate Boys, 2, 52:13.287, 16th
Albert Ragsdale, HS Intermediate Boys, 2, 59:25.500, 20th
Anika Vroom, HS Intermediate Girls, 2, 59:28.773, Fourth
Tessa Vroom, HS Beginner Girls, 1, 33:20.753, Fourth
Finn Mander, HS Beginner Boys, 1, 30:56.157, 26th
Seb Hagman, MS Boys, 1, 28:58.503, Ninth
Connor Lacroix, MS Boys, 1, 31:42.500, 28th
Mac Schelbert, MS Boys, 1, 33:17.533, 29th
Max Hale, MS Boys, 1, 34:16.757, 31st
Gabe Fradkin, MS Boys, 1, 35:05.747, 34th