Angela's Little Bellas Story - Little Bellas

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Little Bellas

Angela’s Little Bellas Story

Angela Irvine, co-founder of Little Bellas.  Photos (C) 2016 Rajan Chawla Photography.

At the age of 40 I found my way onto a mountain bike. I had loved riding on the road in my younger years but a collision with a car was enough to spook me off two wheels. I never realized how much I missed the joy of pedaling and moving until I got on my first mountain bike. One day in the woods was enough to convince me that I had wasted 15 years of time not riding! Those who know me are aware of my bumps, bruises, stitches, broken bike parts and the “roadie turned mountain biker…you mean you get out of the saddle all the time?” efforts to learn to mountain bike. Me, my bike and the various obstacles in the woods were my own version of the Three Stooges. I smiled through every second of that period of time in my life.

With the support of some amazing individuals (Roger Frey, Hans Jenny, Richard Tom, the Earl’s Crew, Eric Bowker and the folks at Catamount) I learned to ride and hopped into some racing, making my way up to the expert women’s level. My favorite place to race was always Mount Sainte Anne in Quebec. I didn’t really care how I did as long as I did my best for that day. At my age, simply riding and working really hard and focusing on a training plan was so meaningful that racing was really the bonus. I met Sabra and Lea Davison on a starting line of the Eastern Cup races held at Catamount when they were in high school. Their enthusiasm and grit were palpable and comical….they actually thought they had someone to race against. I usually only saw the back of them for about a mile and then never saw them until the race was done. They had showered, eaten dinner and done their schoolwork by the time I got around my last lap. J

Little Bellas co-founders Lea Davison, from left, Angela Irvine, and Sabra Davison. Photos (C) 2016 Rajan Chawla Photography.

As Lea and Sabra headed off to college and I became the advisor to the Saint Michael’s College cycling and mountain biking club, our paths crossed at collegiate races. We would chat about the lack of women in the races and the challenges of being a female rider in a male dominated sport. Our conversations grew, we develop a really close bond of friendship and respect, encouragement and mentoring. There was something really special that developed and here we are today….a national program doing exactly what we had dreamed of…getting more girls on bikes.

All three of us have different motivations, different perspectives and different approaches to our work and our vision. We have always been focused on the women who mentor in our program. Without a doubt, the mentors are the primary ingredient to our success. I am so proud of what happens in all of our programs because of our mentors. It is very inspiring to me.

Sabra and Lea have a very special place in my heart. I have a job, a career and a full life so I didn’t really need to strike out on a new adventure. I did it because of who Sabe and Lea are as young women, their enthusiasm and the shared commitment to engaging girls to be healthy, strong and happy. They are a joy to work with and we have certainly laughed our way through many discussions. Our greatest challenge comes when all three of us decide to think outside the box at the same time. The “sure, why not?” and “let’s try that and see what happens” approach is pretty much how we made it to where we are today. I think the two words that best describe these past 8 years are fearless and joy. It is possible to be both at the same time. We have proven that.