This turned out to be a smart investment of time in more ways than one. Years ago, Sodus Central School District Athletic Director/Director of Health and Physical Education Mike Magin and physical education teacher Justin Stenglein put their time and effort into applying for a Specialized Bicycle Components Grant.
What they didn’t know was that the 40 Specialized brand mountain bikes the grant paid for would not only serve as an educational experiment, but years later would spawn a new club. Another year down the road, staff members would take advantage of riding them.
It’s the grant that keeps on granting.
Magin, who has been hooked on mountain biking since his college days at SUNY Cortland in the early- to mid-1990s, had Sodus High School underclassmen participate in a fact-finding physical education academic mission
“We took part in an experiment where students in ninth and 10th grades took part in riding mountain bikes prior to taking state exams,” Magin says. “We looked at the scores to see if there was a correlation between biking and exercising and test scores.
“It was pretty cool. The kids went through the process and we had some pretty decent results with the scores. It was pretty interesting because the test scores were higher than they were in the past. Their brains were stimulated. There was increased brain activity due to the exercise.’’
The bikes have not gone to waste after the experiment. All 40 of them are used by people of varying ages in the district.
“They are great bikes and we created an outdoor club where the students fix up the bikes and they go mountain biking with them,” Magin says. “We also have an agreement with the staff, and the staff members go on rides during lunch or after school. We have some trails around the school and they take advantage of that.”
Speaking of trails, Sodus students and members of the New York State Parks Department had grand plans to tag-team building mountain bike trails at Beechwood State Park. The hope was that they would have a good chunk of the project completed by this fall.
But in the spring, major floods did some serious damage to parts of the community. This caused both state- and federal-level political fighting and finger-pointing. Magin knows the manpower dedicated to the damage cleanup is much more important than a bike trail and is patiently waiting for a window of opportunity to get the project started.
“We’re on hold because of the high levels of water,” he says. “In December we talked to (Sodus Town Supervisor) Steve LeRoy and he definitely supports the project and wants to link the community and the school together with the creation of the new trails. But with everything that happened in the spring, we’re set back.
“We don’t know for sure when we will be able to start it. We need some of the highway workers to cut through the dense area. Obviously they have been busy since early spring. But once they are available, we have a plan. We have looked over the land and we have an idea of what we want to do.’’
Magin would like to expose as many residents as he can to the activity he loves.
“I like the cardiovascular workout that you get,’’ he says. “I’m not a huge runner so this is a great outlet for those who don’t like to run. You take pressure off the knees and lower back. And getting outside and enjoying the nature is a big push for me.’’