Little Bellas

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Now hear this — Little Bellas to achieve 60 programs nationwide by 2022!

Little Bellas currently counts 42 programs in 16 states (and growing!)
photo: Beth Welliver

Forget mountain biking for a minute – after all what is it except turning the pedals and rolling over some dirt? It’s dangerous too. If that were true, someone is gonna’ have a tough time explaining why more than 3,500 girls, ages 7-13, have participated in a Little Bellas program since it began in 2007. Some of those girls have been a Little Bella more than once and have even gone on to mentor other Little Bellas. In fact, getting more girls on bikes has struck such a chord that Little Bellas is declaring here and now that there will be 60 programs across the nation by 2022.

At the moment Little Bellas counts 42 programs in 16 states but the need and desire to be a part of the program is so great that there’s currently a waitlist that numbers in the hundreds. In less than the first six months of 2019, 1100 girls signed up for a Little Bellas program. If you’re wondering, “What gives?” the motives are multifaceted…and not just for the girls.

Little Bellas gets its strength from its mentors: talented and inspiring women who are the heart and soul of Little Bellas. What mentors bring to Little Bellas is a powerfully positive attitude and the energetic will to pass that on to a new generation of young women.

Become a Little Bellas mentor

But what about the bike?

To get more girls on bikes, practically speaking, there needs to be a bike. Influential people, like Heidi Myers, cofounder of Rasputitsa, Sara Jarrell, SRAM Women’s Program Coordinator, and Fiona Swartz of Specialized, have leveraged their power to make sure that every girl gets an equal chance to become a Little Bella. Funds were raised, moms and guardians were engaged, and bikes were designed and manufactured so that barriers to participation got smashed. Little Bellas is not blind to the unfair economics of cycling, but through partnerships forged from altruism, girls who want to join Little Bellas each get the same opportunity.

Scholarships are available; please communicate any financial help needed by thoroughly answering the questions about her or her equipment needs when registering.

Mountain biking’s dual identity

Once the attributes that go beyond sport get revealed, using mountain biking as the medium for mentoring makes rational sense, because mountain biking…

  • Creates multiple opportunities for girls to experience success
  • Teaches mastery of skills and physical literacy (competency in motor skills and movement patterns)
  • Fosters a social environment where learning gets shared and encouraged, and both individual and collective successes are celebrated
  • Encourages outdoor activity and appreciation for the environment
  • Is free of the discrimination that has historically discouraged participation by girls in other sporting activities
photo: Beth Welliver

They’re all pro

Last year Little Bellas announced a new partnership program with pro women athletes from the disciplines of triathlon, Nordic skiing, cyclocross, and of course, mountain biking. The program was initiated by Little Bellas’ co-founder, Lea Davison, who is herself a 2-time Olympian (pssst, she’s gunning for a third time in Tokyo 2020) and has been instrumental in recruiting athletes and formalizing their participation to increase consumer education, grow the non-profit’s event and social presence, and add value to the programs.

Co-founder and 2x Olympian, Lea Davison

What sometimes gets left out of these athletes’ bios full of accomplishments, awards, medals, and trophies is that they have also experienced fear, setbacks, and even failures on the way to becoming pro racers. We’ll be bringing you some of those stories too.

We’ll let you know how it’s going on our way to 60 programs by 2022 so stay tuned and keep in touch! Here are a few ways how you can do that:

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