The 2017 school year began in a new, exciting way for Physical Education students thanks to gym teacher, Andrew Pulling. This year, a new bicycling unit was added into the Portland High School’s P.E. 9 and Recreational Sports class curriculums. Growing up, Pulling loved to ride bicycles. He was inspired to bring the same feeling that he experienced to his students in the high school. “I want everyone to feel the same sense of freedom as I do when riding bikes,” said Pulling.
In order to bring the new unit to the high school, Pulling had to become certified and have training in California to understand the liability issues that may arise. This past summer, Specialized Bikes paid for his flight to and from their headquarters in Morgan Hill, California. Specialized Bikes also paid for a weeks stay in a hotel and for his food, which included 5 star restaurants. While there, he attended professional development classes on how to teach Central Michigan University's bike curriculum and how to correctly assess student cycling skills. He then attended Stanford University for a conference where he was part of a conference with world renowned brain researchers and motor development experts to discuss how bike riding can reduce ADHD symptoms in school aged children. During the week, Specialized Bikes also took Pulling on group rides on their local roads, mountain bike trails, skate park and pump track. He had an amazing opportunity to ride with Specialized Bikes' CEO, Mike Synard on bikes worth more than $10,000. “For a bike guy who teaches, this was a trip of a lifetime,” said Pulling.
In school, Pulling’s students went through a certification process in the class, which explained step by step how to properly ride a bicycle to prevent injuries. After that, they were able to ride. Students rode around the school parking lot at first to practice the basics and become more comfortable. The classes were able to take trips around Portland and go to places such as the West Side Party Store, Portland Middle School, as well as The Portland Party Store and other local restaurants. “It was a great experience,” said freshman Trevor Williams, “my favorite part was riding to the Portland Party Store.”
Pulling hopes to leave a positive mark on the lives of students and teach them that riding can be an amazing hobby. Although the unit only lasts three weeks, he hopes to continue having students on the bikes two to three times a week after those three weeks are up. Pulling has many goals in sight for this new unit, and next year he hopes to have a mountain biking course at the high school. In the future, he would like to obtain a second set of bicycles and create a bike club or team.
Keirstyn Blaschka and Kailen Brennan are seniors at Portland High School and are yearbook staff members. They were assigned this story as a part of the yearbook's community connection project.