Is your area next? Little Bellas reveals new chapters for 2021
There is no “right way” to be a girl who mountain bikes – in fact “getting more girls on bikes” can only succeed if there are more opportunities for all girls…full stop. Each year Little Bellas introduces new chapters, which have undergone an intensive application process to create new opportunities for more girls in different communities across the U.S.
This year we are thrilled to present four new chapters, three outside of major metro areas and a fourth in a perfect place that's a natural fit. This week we've published one new chapter announcement each day until the grand finale, which is where we end with...
Grand Junction, Colorado
When The New York Times published an article about mountain biking in the greater Grand Junction area 13 years ago, locals worried that their “secret spot” would be overrun by mountain bikers from afar. Luckily that hasn’t been the case and mountain biking in and around Grand Junction has enough variety for natural progression from beginner to advanced mountain biker. Given the options here, Shannon Casson has selected the perfect place to hold the first-ever Little Bellas program.
The Grand Valley region offers a diverse array of trails to meet any rider where they're at, from smooth, desert flow to fun, rocky sections. Grand Junction is an off-road paradise with trails nestled against the iconic canyon walls of the Colorado National Monument.
The friendly terrain there is ideal for two reasons: one because Little Bellas arrive at the program with a vast range of skills so trails of all types will have something for everyone, and two because 99 percent of Little Bellas continue to ride outside of the program and if they know the trails, they will continue to ride them. Shannon knows this, having launched the successful Little Bellas Park City, Utah program. She’s also keenly tuned to what motivates kids in sports, having designed diverse curricula during her 15+ years as a PE and health educator. What’s motivated her to start the Grand Junction program is what underscores the mission of Little Bellas.
“Little Bellas embodies all of what I want every girl to experience in childhood: female camaraderie, the joy of bicycles, laughter, risk-taking, adventure, fun and freedom to play outdoors,” she said.
The Grand Junction Little Bellas will put tires to dirt starting on September 1 from 4:30-6:50 p.m. The program’s 5-week long run will finish on September 29. To learn more about Little Bellas Grand Junction, go here.
White Oak, Pennsylvania
Mountain bikers in White Oak know how to keep a secret. Maybe it’s unintentional because while riders head off to burlier, more technical parks to the north and west, local riders get White Oak Park all to themselves. Maybe Kayla Miller knew this when she chose the park to host the first-ever Little Bellas program there – the easily accessible park is loaded with lots of moderate trails and flowy sections that are perfect for newcomers to mountain biking.
Before she started mountain biking, Kayla danced and twirled a baton for most of her life – she never thought that she would be able to go out and get muddy and bloody, only to laugh about that later. She remembers being terrified on her first ride but the minute she was done, she wanted to get back out there and try again.
“My hope is to help young girls have all of those feelings I had. Going from terrified to excited to ‘I love this sport!’ I wish that I would have discovered mountain biking earlier in life and I feel that this is the perfect way to help girls discover it early on.”
Little Bellas White Oak is scheduled to start on July 25 and go until September 26. The mountain bike camp for girls will take place one evening each week and include games and activities, a snack break, and a trail ride in small, age/ability appropriate groups. To learn more about Little Bellas White Oak, go here.
“I wanted more entry points into mountain biking for kids.” — Diana Allen, Little Bellas Elkridge lead
Southwest of Baltimore, Elkridge is the go-to destination for mountain bikers from the city and its suburbs because that’s where dedicated community leaders like Diana Allen have thrown themselves into getting more kids on bikes. Starting in June, Diana will bring Little Bellas to Rockburn Branch Park, which features 7+ miles of trails, a bike skills park, as well as large grassy fields that will help give girls early access to mountain biking through game playing and team building activities.
A certified mountain bike coach and member of the Maryland Interscholastic Cycling League, Diana will also bring her experience as a public high school teacher to meet the needs of a diverse range of learners from many different backgrounds in order to achieve a few goals she’s set for her Little Bellas program.
“Our goals are to give girls the confidence and control to safely have fun on dirt trails at local parks, convey the importance of supporting one another and making lifelong connections, and foster an appreciation for a healthy, outdoor lifestyle,” she said.
Little Bellas Elkridge has 20 spots available for this first-year program with financial assistance available and a Gear Up! program that loans equipment to those who need it. The 8-session program is scheduled to start on June 13 and runs until August 15. To learn more about the Little Bellas Elkridge Weekly Program, go here.
Unless you’re from Milford, or live nearby, how would you know that it’s one of the great trail towns of southeast Michigan? It’s where you’ll find Sarah Vano, who plans to reach out to girls who aren’t already well-established in the local youth cycling community in order to get more girls on bikes for the inaugural Little Bellas Milford program.
Sarah has scouted out the ideal location for Little Bellas in Milford, where you can access five separate mountain bike trail systems thanks to miles of non-motorized paved pathway and quiet gravel roads. She has also picked the perfect time of year that takes full advantage of summer’s longest days. Little Bellas is set to start its 8-week program at the end of May.
Mountain biking in Milford didn’t just happen there, what drove development was motivated locals who advocated for trails, and then they went and built them. The Milford Trail, located right in the center of all the action in downtown Milford, is 6+ miles of singletrack that’s 100% volunteer designed, built, and maintained.
After a Little Bellas session, Sarah suggested heading into Milford for some grub from favorite spots like the Burger Joint, Proving Grounds Coffee & Ice Cream, and the Village Butcher (get one of their sandwiches!)
Little Bellas Milford has 20 spots available for this first-year camp with financial assistance available and a Gear Up! program that loans equipment to those who need it. To learn more about the Little Bellas Milford Weekly Program, go here.
Want to know how to start a chapter in your area? Visit our "Start a Chapter" page.