Early in the morning, as the sun was starting to rise, the sound of bike bells interrupted the birds near Eagle River High School as approximately 20 students, faculty members and graduates of the school came together to ride their bikes to celebrate the weather.
On May 10, ERHS participated in the annual national “Ride your Bike to School Day” as an activity to promote physical activity as well as appreciate the budding springtime. Students and staff chose to participate by riding their bikes to school instead of drive or ride the bus on Wednesday.
There was a brisk but not overpowering breeze in the air, but its slight chill did not damper the spirits of local participants in the annual national event.
“It’s a nationwide bike to school,” Kirby Senden, an ERHS physical education teacher, said as explanation for the presence of a larger number of two-wheeled modes of transportation at the school. He enthusiastically added, “Last year the Anchorage School District was number two in the nation for the number of participants!”
Senden was outside of ERHS at the early hour of 6:40 a.m. on the morning of Wed., May 10 along with fellow faculty member and gym teacher Lisa Kelzenberg in support of the students and staff participating in the event. The two handed out bottled water and sports drinks to the participants, encouraging them to continue to stay active and enjoy the outdoors.
“We promote the event to get more people outdoors to enjoy the fresh air, especially after the long winter months. It’s also a great form of exercise,” Senden said.
Eagle River High School Principal Martin Lang is a major supporter of the event, and said he was excited to see so many attend the event. Although he himself did not participate in the bike ride this year, the variety of bikes on campus impressed him.
“There were so many bikes there. From $2,000 new ones to ones with flat tires and even BMX bikes, everyone is welcome and furthermore everyone is encouraged to participate,” he said.
The variety of bikes that are found in the bike racks of the school, from beaters to shiny, fresh out of the store bikes, show the diversity of students involved in the activity. The bikers are all different and unique, and their bikes show a different side of them.
“I ride a blue and white Cannondale Mountain Bike that has a jumbo frame which is nice because I’m tall,” Logan Platz, an ERHS junior, said. “The cool thing about my bike is that it used to belong to a US soldier in Afghanistan, which I think is super awesome because I plan on joining the military myself when I graduate next year.”
This year’s event at ERHS drew some Wolves’ alumni – Logan’s older brother.
Daiton Platz, a recent graduate from Eagle River High who is now attending the University of Alaska Anchorage, rode his fat tire bike to the high school with his younger brother in support of the event. Participating because he loves the outdoors and biking, Daiton plans to return next year for the event.
“I absolutely loved riding to school, it was fun and it was a great workout!”, Logan said. “Also, it is something I get to do with my brother.”
Although Logan does not usually ride his bike to school, as a result of the event, he said he would like to begin riding more regularly.
That is an approved idea in the mind of Principal Lang.
“We have all kinds of people participating,” Lang said, who said he valued the connection the event brought between the school’s staff, students and teachers. “About 4-6 faculty members and near 15 students were present. It really is great to see so many students and teachers getting out as the weather is much more pleasant.”
The “Ride your Bike to School Day” event has also encouraged students and staff to look at the ASD goal for a healthier lifestyle.
“Getting exercise every day is an extremely important part of staying healthy, and these students that ride to school are getting lots of exercise every day,” Senden said.
Editor’s Note: Alina Cook is a junior at Eagle River High School. She plays varsity softball and this editor is encouraging her to consider covering the sport for the ECHO News (of course without interfering with her game play). Her parents are Christy and Jim Cook of Eagle River. The ECHO News is told that Alpenglow and Eagle River Elementary Schools also participated. We have a strong hunch that Mirror Lake Middle School also saw some biking to school with the presence of Travis Harrington there.