Pros Mentor Pros
"Behind every successful woman is a tribe of women who have her back”
I stumbled upon this quote recently (full disclosure I was deeply lost on the Instagram explore page) and was struck by how accurately it reflects my own experience. At every stage of my life, and particularly in each stage of my cycling career, there has been a tribe of women supporting me and pushing me to work harder, get stronger and believe in my goals. When the Little Bellas program starts its Marin County chapter this Spring, I hope to be part of creating a new tribe, one that supports the next generation of girls as they explore life on two wheels.
When I first visited the Little Bellas program in Vermont, it brought me back to my early days of riding. The girls were having a blast - laughing, playing games, rewriting Beyoncé songs - all while conquering new challenges on their bikes. Not to mention, those fearless little ladies absolutely ripped! I saw that powerful things can happen when you get a group of girls together in a supportive environment with mentors to steer them in the right direction. I found myself wishing I could go back to being 7 and sign up!
Although I didn’t have the chance to be a Little Bella myself, I have had amazing mentors at every step in my career. When I first began riding, I was the only girl on my High School MTB Team. But at 15, I joined the Whole Athlete-Specialized Team and experienced the power of female teammates and role models. My teammates Sofia Hamilton and Victoria Yoham were winning Varsity Norcal League Races, had strong technical ability and were also a lot of fun! Seeing these girls ride technical trails and succeed in challenging races made me think that some day I could do that too. Most importantly, they made riding bikes twice as fun, even when training got really challenging. I was also lucky to have Julia Violich as one of my high school coaches and she encouraged me to set high goals and always believed that I could reach them. While I could write a novel about what my coach Dario Frederick has done for me, as well as many of my male teammates on Whole Athlete and Specialized, there is something unique about my tribe of women that resonates deeply.
Three years ago I began my career racing as a professional for Specialized Factory team, I was lucky enough to meet an amazing mentor, teammate and friend - Lea Davison. Lea is an inspiring athlete, but is also incredibly focused on finding balance and joy in every aspect of what she does. She has taught me to believe in my goals, but to take care of myself, eat pastries, have fun and take lots and lots of naps on my way to reaching them. From the very moment I joined the team, she was there to show me the ropes, help me pre-ride courses and provide plenty of comedic relief on the tough World Cup circuit. One of the very special things about being on a team with Lea is that it truly feels like a team - we want each other to succeed as badly as we want to succeed ourselves. And when you have a tribe like that - great things happen.
I could not be more excited to see what great things happen when the Little Bellas Marin Chapter to open its doors this Spring. Many passionate leaders and supportive companies came together to make this new chapter possible. Lea and Sabra Davison, badass athletic sisters and founders of the Little Bellas organization, have worked tirelessly to realize their vision of expanding the program from coast to coast. Jenny Walsh, an inspiring local cycling mentor and my former middle school Vice Principal, has joined the team to lead the Marin Chapter in its inaugural year. In addition, Touchstone Climbing, a California based indoor climbing gym and fitness center, has stepped up and provided funding to make this program possible.
Welcome to Marin Little Bellas! A new tribe awaits you.
Photo by Pablo Mazuera