Little Bellas

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Next stop for Little Bellas 2020: Johnson City, Tenn.

Hanging out in the morning shadow of the Appalachian mountains of Tennessee’s eastern border, you’ll find Johnson City, a smallish urban area laced with numerous mountain bike trails that are fiercely cared for by the community. It’s here where Sherri Cole is helping to get more kids out on the trails through her work with the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, and now with Little Bellas, which kicks off its inaugural program next April. Her inspiration to bring Little Bellas to JC came from traveling and seeing kids out with their parents in other towns and cities. If it sounds like her intentions are a little too pure, there was one more thing.

Introducing Sherri Cole

Sherri Cole will be bringing Little Bellas to Johnson City next April
Sherri Cole has been getting more kids on bikes for several years

“We see more and more kids out on trails but most of them are boys and their dads,” she said. “I want to continue to empower them, but also give the women and girls the confidence to be out there too!”

What's at Winged Deer Park

Winged Deer Park north of Johnson City was chosen for its appealing mix of rolling terrain with some surprise pitches to keep Little Bellas alert. Sherri’s finely tuned sense of empathy and understanding of what it’s like to be that brand new, uncertain, unskilled rider will allow her to put herself in “their wheels” and mentor the girls with confidence.

Tennessee’s mostly mild springtime weather may usher in a shower or two the first few weeks of Little Bellas but the trails have been designed to drain moisture, which helps them dry out quickly. If conditions get too mushy, Sherri and the Bellas will respect the trails and head to the field to play some games.

After a session in the saddle, Sherri said that, while there’s not too much nearby the park, making a picnic out of takeout pizza is usually an airtight option. She also added (perhaps with a wink) that there’s a pavilion across the street from the Little Bellas meeting point that’s begging for some grillmaster parents to fire up their talents while the girls are off riding.

How JC makes a mountain bike ride sweet

Then there’s pie. It takes a lot of effort to turn the pedals and ride fuel comes in all forms so it’s important to keep the tank topped off. Luckily Johnson City counts more than a few sweet establishments that serve post-ride “recovery” treats. Favorites among the mtb crowd include Cakebuds, Petite Sweets, and Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop, which thankfully serves – among other things – pie.

What’s more, according to Johnson City census records, the gals outnumber the guys by 2.2 percent, which makes a good argument for more girls on bikes. We already know that mountain biking allows Little Bellas the autonomy to be themselves; Johnson City’s dedicated community and preciously preserved turf now empowers them to discover their potential as well.

Sherri Cole, right, fistbumps with another racer
Yep, that's how we feel about going to Johnson City

Registration for the Johnson City chapter of Little Bellas opens on January 2, 2020. To learn more about the new chapter, visit the program description here While you're there, follow the "Register" link to sign up for a reminder to let you know when registration is open!

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