Mountain biking has become more popular in Marblehead since the pandemic, and a new bike park is expected to open this spring at the corner of Green and Beacon streets.
Now, a group of parents and kids is launching a mountain bike racing team, called the Sprocket Rockets, and is looking for more kids to join.
“As a family, we’ve been getting more and more interested in mountain biking the last couple of years,” said Geoff Duckworth, coach for the Sprocket Rockets. “When my son found out there was mountain bike racing, he was like, ‘Woah, this is awesome.’”
The Sprocket Rockets will compete in the New England Youth Cycling League, which is for girls and boys in grades 5-12. Races are held across southern New England.
“There are about 700 kids at some of these races,” Duckworth said. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm for it. The races are on terrain like Lynn Woods. There’s no steep or gnarly stuff.”
He added, “The kids are going to breathe hard and sweat.”
Foster Goodall, 11, of Marblehead is on the team. He has always loved to bike and started mountain bike racing about a year ago, competing in New Hampshire.
“I get to be outdoors. It’s really fun. You get to meet all kinds of people and challenge yourself,” he said.
Starting in April, the Sprocket Rockets will practice twice during the week, with occasional longer rides on Saturdays. They’ll practice “in the woods in the Marblehead area, in friendly spaces,” Duckworth said.
“We’re not looking to ride on the roads,” he noted.
Practices will move to the bike park once it opens.
Duckworth is aware that the Conservation Commission banned teens from riding on conservation land during the pandemic.
“We want to teach kids skills and racing stuff, but also outdoor stewardship and how to get along with other trail users,” Duckworth said.
Mountain bike racing is especially good for kids who don’t enjoy team sports, according to Duckworth.
“There are a lot of kids who don’t fit in the traditional baseball, hockey, football kinds of sports world,” he said. “My kids are some of them. They didn’t really connect with those kinds of sports. This is an adventure sport. We’re out in the woods. It’s individual, but it has a team element because you work with your team and get skills and get strong.”
Foster Goodall’s father, Rob, is excited for the upcoming season.
“It’s great for him to challenge himself,” Rob Goodall said. “Anytime you’re in an organized sport, it allows you to become more competitive and allows you to build that drive and manage relationships, which is important as you get older.”
To learn more about the Sprocket Rockets or to sign up, contact Duckworth at email@example.com.
Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.