Biking Bellas from Woodstock, Georgia - Little Bellas

Happenings

Little Bellas

Biking Bellas from Woodstock, Georgia

With the Woodstock, Georgia program set to launch in one week, we wanted to highlight one of the GA mentors, Rebecca.

 

I first came across Little Bellas in a Grist magazine article in May of 2014. What struck me the most

about the article and about the program at the time was that A) it showed up in one of my favorite

environmental news sources B) I love mentoring and working with kids C) I love mountain biking. I was

so excited that I quickly shared it with a friend, Becca Loose, who, I know, also loves those same things

and was currently working with getting mountain biking into high schools. I couldn’t be happier that she

took the next step and reached out. Because of that, I am now able to volunteer with this amazing

program.

P1030553

I grew up on a 20 acre farm about 30 miles north of Atlanta. When not in school (or doing chores), time

was spent playing outside. This meant lots of riding on my purple, unicorn, banana-seat bike. We lived

at the top of a dirt hill and one of my favorite things to do was to see how fast I could get down the hill.

I loved it. It was simple and pure fun. Once middle and high school came around, there wasn’t really

much time or opportunity for bike riding. It kind of left my mind. It wasn’t until after graduating that

my then boyfriend (now husband) mentioned mountain biking to me. I went to college up in Asheville,

NC and on weekends, you could find me out at Bent Creek Experimental Forest where there was plenty

of biking adventures to be had. During summers and weekends at home, I would be biking out at our

local bike trail – Blankets Creek. I loved biking – it was this opportunity for me to be in the outdoors and

bike – a throwback to childhood. Time passed, I graduated, and I moved back to my hometown where I

started working full time at a local nature center (I still do) and kept biking.

Fast forward to that moment when Becca wrote me that she had reached out to Little Bellas about

being involved with the program and they would be starting a chapter. The mentors met and had a

training session and then our trail-side training. Then the girls showed up! I was paired with the middle

group of roughly 8 – 10 year olds and we hit the trail. It was amazing. What inspired me the most is

that some of these girls had never been on mountain bike trails but they were interested enough in

biking that their parents signed them up for it. I learned quickly that first rides go VERY SLOW as you get

a feel for the girl’s experience and comfort level. Once we had that down, each of the following sessions

was better than the last.

P1000980

I loved getting to know each of the girls and seeing their excitement grow week after week. Seeing

them try things without hesitation, made me have to up my game. Their “just give it a try” mentality

inspired me to ride that same way. The day that we progressed from the intro trail to the slightly harder

beginner trail is one of my fondest memories that I talk about with people as a way to explain how

meaningful Little Bellas is. Our group of 6 was riding along and we approached some new climbing and

some beginner technical areas (creek crossings, roots, and new downhill.) We had been biking along,

singing songs and playing telephone and approached a slight downhill. I gave a little heads up to the

girls that we were approaching a “yellow” area and proceeded. Several girls followed through – going

pretty slow and a few hopped off of their bikes. We pulled over after the downhill to wait on the rest of

the group and one of the Biking Bellas (our group name) came down fairly fast and didn’t make the

slight curve. She went off the trail and off the bike. I headed over to check on her. She stood up and I

had her do our hand check to make sure all was okay. She was a little shaken, a little dirty, and had a

little scrape. Now, how she handled the situation next is why I volunteer with this program. I asked her

how she was doing – she said “I’m good, just a little shaken.” All the other girls were checking in on

her, getting her bike picked-up, seeing if she was okay. I asked if she wanted to give biking out a try or

needed to walk out. She said “I am good, I want to get back on and keep going.” My heart swelled and I

couldn’t have been more proud of her. She finished off that ride and never gave up. That is why Little

Bellas is so important. All too often, girls don’t have the confidence or support to keep on going. Little

Bellas helps to develop that over the course of our meetings.

So why do I get SO excited when it’s time for Little Bellas to meet? Why do I feel bummed, when I have

to miss because of work? It’s because I love that I can be a part of these girl’s lives during a time when

they may not have the support to try a new thing or to get a little dirty. I know I wish there was a Little

Bella’s program around for me when I was younger.