Little Bellas

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Little Bellas + SRAM MTB Mamas = success

Earlier this year 9-year-old Maeve’s mom, Caoimhe, was given the chance to “level the playing field” and challenge herself on the same turf as her daughter. Caoimhe was invited to participate in SRAM MTB Mamas, a free, first-of-its-kind, half-day mountain bike clinic that took place in both Philadelphia, Pa. and Knoxville, Tenn. this past season. The clinics were the result of a collaboration between Little Bellas and the SRAM Women’s Program, which provided instruction and support.

The idea for this type of clinic didn’t come from within Little Bellas, but rather resulted from a unique challenge that emerged as Little Bellas progressed through the program.

The problem was that…

As the Little Bellas were evolving their skills and confidence by the minute, they were looking to ride with their families as a way to keep practicing what they’d learned. Moms asked for a program of their own so that they could keep up with the girls.

The solution was to…

This led to a partnership between Little Bellas and the SRAM Women’s Program to create MTB Mamas, which is focused on getting moms out on bikes in the same way that Little Bellas does with their daughters. MTB Mamas was conceived as a program exclusively for moms but fashioned after the Little Bellas curriculum and open to anyone who was interested. The first MTB Mamas was held in Philadelphia at the end of May with 20 participants; the second one took place in Knoxville at the end of September. 20 was the maximum number of participants for each clinic.

I'm the type of person that just jumps in on a lot of stuff, which is good but I never really learned the right way to do things. The clinic provided the opportunity to learn in a warm, encouraging environment things like: body position, footwork, navigating obstacles, and bunny hops!

Caoimhe Beil, Philadelphia MTB Mama

The women met up with their instructors at 9 a.m. Abilities ranged from total beginner to amateur racer. This vast range of skills served the collective group since skills just don’t happen, everyone has to earn them. Those who could, taught what they knew to whomever was willing to learn (which was everyone). After making sure everybody had a safe bike to ride and it was properly set up for them, the first session focused on ride skills, including body position, shifting, braking, and front wheel lifts. Following a Q&A lunch session, the group hit the trails.

“I think the impact of this program really comes down to creating a space for mothers and daughters to connect via the sport of mountain biking,” said Sarah Olson, a Knoxville participant who is also the program lead for Little Bellas’ Asheville chapter. “A majority of the participants were new to the sport and were inspired to start riding after their children started to embrace the sport. The moms at this program learned so much and left genuinely ready to hit the trails with their daughters and friends.”

Sarah Olson, Little Bellas' lead in Asheville, N.C.

Additional topics included suspension and handlebar set up, drivetrains, and local riding information. Each clinic was scheduled to finish at 2 p.m. however it didn’t end there. Plans were made, schedules were rearranged, and future rides were set so that the women could keep building and sharpening their new skills.

“(MTB Mamas) pushed me to ride with my daughter, Maeve, more, and feel confident in chasing her into the woods,” Caoimhe said. “It's simultaneously humbling and fascinating to do a session with your 9-year-old in the woods and hear her confidence in giving you tips on technique – that to me epitomizes the value of Little Bellas and the MTB Mamas programs.”

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