High School: St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School
Team: St. Andrews Sewanee
League: Tennessee High School Cycling League
Years Riding: 8 years
Years Racing: 1 year
I sat down to talk on the phone with one of our student-athletes from the brand-shiny-penny-new Tennessee High School Mountain Bike League, Andrew Bachman, a few weeks ago about his first time with the League. Andrew is a freshman at St. Andrews-Sewanee School in Sewanee, TN and took time out of his busy schedule to have a chat with me about his experience with the new Tennessee League.
It all started when Andrew heard from a friend about a mountain bike team starting up at school. They already had a biking program in place but the high school racing league was new and he was excited. He had already been riding since the age of five, learning to ride on a “little, little” department store bike. It was blue. And no sooner than he began riding did the training wheels cease to be useful. Though not a pro at first, he remembers how he almost killed himself while riding as he crashed into a ditch off the side of the road that had a big ol’ drainpipe in it.
But he wasn’t deterred and kept riding his bike enjoying the freedom and opportunity for adventure it provided him. Andrew says he has found an activity that he can do whenever he wants. He can go for a ride or hang out with friends, all while biking. And since mountain biking is now a sport offered at his high school, he delights in the fact that it’s “one of those sports that isn’t divided and everyone gets a chance to play and you compete with and against your friends and teammates at the same time” unlike say baseball or soccer.
But don’t misunderstand, Andrew is not a single-sport type of kid, he likes to play sports like soccer, and swim in the summer but he affirmed to me that mountain biking is his favorite sport. Of course, I believe him.
I asked Andrew if he had any advice for kids who might be curious about mountain biking at his school but were unsure of it and he said he would tell them: “Don’t be nervous! You go out, have fun and do your best. You’re gonna have fun!” Andrew’s mountain bike mentors, team coach Speed Baranco and his Dad, would be proud to read these lines. As Andrew says they both are “teaching him how to ride and always do his best.” I’m sure Andrew looks up to Speed and his Dad for many reasons but he says mostly because he can really feel that they care.”
Andrew’s favorite mountain biking memory is from a team practice one day, going for and landing a tricky rock drop that seems to be a sort of rite of passage for members of the St. Andrews-Sewanee team. Andrew is super lucky and goes to a school that has great trails on campus at St. Andrews-Sewanee where they practice. On these trails there’s a rock drop formation that leads into a complicated twist of roots and lines and if you practiced the drop before, you know to take the left line with more roots (tricky!) where the line is more offset and it seems like you could slide off the rock if you weren’t careful with your speed. Of course lots of people have “superman-ed” trying to stick the drop, he said but after trying a couple times, he was able to stick it and say, “yeah, I did it” with pride.
Andrew’s favorite race was the third of the four race series at Herb Parsons Lake in Memphis, TN where the trails were so smooth and flowing and the trail design encouraged him to use the good handling skills he had been practicing hard on.
In addition to mountain biking, Andrew really, really likes to cook. His gourmet menu includes such dishes as patsa carbonara, pad thai, and pretty much anything that is protein based. (Full disclosure, I can’t even cook pad thai.) And he’s well informed when it comes to race nutrition as well, He makes sure to eat a protein rich breakfast before races and keeps some mozzarella string-cheese and applesauce nearby in the case that breakfast starts to wear off before his start time.
Though he is young and just entering high school, Andrew intends to go to college after he graduates, somewhere with a good science and engineering program. Of course as a freshman, he’s still unsure where that may be. His passion for engineering started when he would play with Lego blocks, where he would build things then try to build it better. Obviously nature abhors a vacuum and he carries this ethos into his riding, always looking to improve by telling himself “hey there’s another line, try it!” He is constantly looking to make improvements in his riding.
I asked Andrew if he could race in any other state or league, which would he choose. Immediately he responded Colorado. After a visit with his family, he saw the beauty and incredible landscape, even though it was wintery and covered in snow, he knew that riding there would be amazing.