Blender Bike Committee

The Blender Bike Committee of Big Bear Middle School’s Interact Club are converting bicycles into blender-bikes to raise money for new purified water systems at the middle school. Members of the club learn about the vegetable blending process from volunteer Paul Senft, back left, teacher Tracy Tokunaga, back right.

Members of the Interact Club at Big Bear Middle School are building blender-bikes. What is a blender-bike, you ask? It’s a bicycle with a bike-powered blender on the back, to put it simply.

The plan is to build blender-bikes that students can then use to make smoothies to raise money to install purified water systems at the middle school. Tracy Tokunaga, seventh grade teacher and Interact adviser at Big Bear Middle School, got the idea for the project from a school in Northern California.

Tokunaga said that because the middle school is one of three California schools that recently won an award for health and fitness, school officials are trying to keep up the good work, and the blender-bike program fits with the more health-conscious approach they want to take.

“We’ve really changed our whole fundraising slant from candy bars and that kind of stuff to this kind of stuff,” Tokunaga said. “We can’t really call ourselves a health and fitness school and go ‘OK everybody, go home and sell chocolate.’”

Although they’re not yet built, the current plan is to put together at least two blender-bikes that will be available to ride on Wednesdays and Fridays, Tokunaga said. Proceeds from the blender-bikes will go toward replacing the school’s water fountains with new filtered water systems, one at a time.

Big Bear Lake Planning Commissioner Paul Senft, who is volunteering to help with the project along with City Councilman Randy Putz, brought a bike to the middle school Sept. 29 to give the kids a basic idea of how the blender-bikes will work. Senft cut a hole in the bike’s rack, where the blender will eventually be installed, before bringing it in.

Like the students, Senft has never built a blender-bike, he said, but he’s willing to learn. “This is the first bike,” Senft told the Interact Club students. “We’re going to use this to start the whole process off. Then we’ll get a second bike, potentially a third bike, and so forth, but we’re going to learn on this bike.”

The students already have a bike, a blender, and a bike trainer to keep the blender-bike stationary, which are the biggest pieces of the blender-bike, Senft pointed out. They began the process Sept. 29 of figuring out what other parts they need for their first blender-bike.

The bike itself was donated to the project by Robbie Bos. Bos also runs the Big Bear Valley Community Gardens Project, which donates food to the middle school, partly supplying the fruits and vegetables that make the blender-bikes project possible. Other produce for the project comes from the Interact Club’s Farm2Mountain program.

“We have the pipeline of fruits and vegetables every week, so it’s really easy,” Tokunaga said. “It’s not like we have to go get those at the store.”

Meanwhile, the trainer was donated by Derek Hermon, owner of Bear Valley Bikes, Tokunaga said, and Big Bear Valley Trails Foundation donated the blender.

“So you’ve got a group of people that are very involved in the outdoors and making healthy kids getting behind this project,” Tokunaga said.

Contact reporter Jonathan Riley via email at jriley.grizzly@gmail.com

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