Shire Shredders scavenging for activity amid virus outbreak

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PITTSFIELD — Staying active, while remaining socially distant, can be a tough task. Gyms are closed, forcing instructors to take to the internet to share home workouts. On the other hand, some are escaping to Berkshire County's different hills and trails to exercise.

The Shire Shredders, a youth mountain bike team for girls and boys in grades five through 12, has implemented scavenger hunts, encouraging bikers to hit the trails and avoid large crowds.

"With everybody being held up in their house, I wanted to find something to keep the kids engaged," said Kevin Delaney, the founder and coach of the Shredders.

Inspired by Airline Cycles in East Hampton, Conn., Delaney has sent his bikers on "scavenger hunts" to some of the more aesthetically pleasing spots that Berkshire County has to offer, including "The Dragon" at Greylock Glen and the "Broke Spoke" at October Mountain. Riders who visit the locations are entered to win prizes.

"I thought it would be a great idea to adopt," Delaney said. "Out on the trail you might come across a neat overlook, or some sort of memorable feature in the woods.

"Some we have ridden and others may be new, but we wanted to get the kids out on an adventure."

The Shredders were waiting for the snow to melt before taking their first ride, but the season was delayed after the recent suspensions and bans in order to counter the coronavirus.

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"The New England High School Cycling Association suspended all activities," Delaney said. "We started to push back our rides as soon as school started getting cancelled, at that point the league didn't have an official stance, but I felt that was the most responsible thing to do at that point."

NEHSCA announced the suspension all activities, including team practices, until April 5, but wrote in a recent announcement that they will continue to monitor the situation and restart the season as soon as the coronavirus threat has receded. Currently, the first race is still on track for May 9 at Leydens Tree Farm in West Greenwich, R.I.

"I set this up for the kids on our team, but our Facebook page (Shire Shredders - Berkshire NEHSCA MTB Team) has all the information for people interested who aren't on the team," Delaney said. "Mountain biking is all about community and that is what keeps me coming back. Just riding with a group of your friends."

The Shredder community has seen a bit of growth in just one year, jumping from 10 kids to 34 kids registered to become Shredders.

"Part of the fun is working with the diverse range of ages, skills and abilities," Delaney said. "We'll be teaching the new kids some of the basics and find different ways to challenge the returning kids.

"I'll be pumped when I see the season get going, I know the kids are missing their friends and riding buddies."

Jake Mendel can be reached at jmendel@berkshireeagle.com, at @JMendel94 on Twitter and 413-496-6252.


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