My sister, Lea Davison, and I fell in love with the outdoors at an early age. Raised in a small town in Vermont, we skied, ran, and rode any chance we could get. This passion soon led to competition. As juniors, we were competing in mountain bike events across the United States.
In all our racing experiences from the NORBA (National Off-Road Bicycle Association) series to the UCI Junior World Championships, there was one constant. There were few girls on the start line. It was on a start line, we met co-founder, Angela Irvine, who shared the same sentiments. The sport of cycling lacked a new female generation, and women lacked the confidence to compete and race mountain bikes. These observations were the catalyst for a solution.
THE START OF LITTLE BELLAS
In 2007, the solution became the creation of Little Bellas. The solution would be focused on girls ages 7-16. We felt the status quo of sports at that time created an environment where teenage self-esteem tends to decrease in girls and increase in boys. We needed an environment where support and respect were keystone values. A community of all women set the tone for encouraging participation. Following suit, the inaugural program consisted of twelve Sunday sessions led by female mentors. We realized early-on that an empowering environment consisted of mentors not coaches, instructors, or counselors. This was not to be solely a skills-based program. Little Bellas would encompass confidence building by empowering young girls through sport. It would promote food and nutrition as a source of fuel. It would be centered on fun, and it would, of course, encourage skill development on and off the bike.
As it turns out, there was a need for this in the cycling industry proven by the 2800 girls who have participated in the program in the last ten years. It doesn’t stop there. We have also grown an active community of adult female riders by our actions to get more girls on bikes. This audience is both inspired to ride themselves and proactive to encourage others to hit the trails.
Hope to see you out on the trails!
Executive Director, President, and Co-Founder
The Little Bellas is a mountain bike organization, whose goal is to help young women reach their fullest potential. We aim to create a community to empower women through cycling, accent the importance of goals and a healthy lifestyle, and emphasize a positive female bond. While this program is centered around creating a female camaraderie on bikes, it is most importantly about having fun in a constructive environment.
Little Bellas brings together girls ages 7 to 16 with female mentors in our programs which use mountain biking as a vehicle to teach the importance of teamwork, goal-setting, and fostering a healthy lifestyle. In weekly summer sessions or multi-day camps, mentors and girls ride together at local trail networks, focusing on improving skills as well as participating in team-building activities. The program is organized around a curriculum that builds upon previous skills, and girls are broken up into groups based on age and ability. After the group ride, the groups participate in games that incorporate that day's skill focus. Each session or camp includes the ever important snack.