In August, another youth cycling program is coming to the Philadelphia area. This time, it’s one designed for young women who want to learn about mountain biking and a little more. It’s called Little Bellas and it’ll take place summer and fall 2016. The newest chapters of the Little Bellas program are currently organizing Sunday rides, which will run from August to October around the Belmont Plateau for girls age 7-13. The other is a one-week camp in and around Nockamixon State Park in Quakertown for girls age 8-10. We spoke to the group’s Philadelphia chapter mentor and instructor Caitlin Thompson to find out a little more about it and what the program has in store for this summer.
Give us an introduction to the organization. What is it and what does it do?
Little Bellas is an organization that has been around since 2007. [It] teaches young women how to ride mountain bikes while encouraging them to face challenges and to grow as a community of females while most importantly having fun.
How did you become involved with Little Bellas?
I became involved with Little Bellas because I was inspired when I saw the Little Bellas campers in Vermont cheering on one of the founders, Lea Davison who is going to the Olympics this summer, and I wanted to bring a program to Philadelphia that would encourage fun-loving girls to get on bikes in Philadelphia.
How much interest is there so far in the program? Do you have people signing up already?
Registration opened one week ago and we already have four spots filled. We also already have nine applications for mentors.
How many girls are you looking to have in the program?
Our goal is to have twenty five to thirty riders and to have about half of those as scholarship girls … The goal in Philadelphia, because we have so many underprivileged girls and girls who wouldn’t otherwise get that chance, we’re specifically recruiting girls and then providing them with scholarships.
What kinds of rides and experiences should the girls who enter the program expect to have?
So the girls should expect to have a lot of fun both on and off their bikes. One of the highlights of the program is a color day, which is similar to a color run, with a fun colored powder. We play limbo on our bikes and get to ride through the colored powder. The girls really enjoy that day. There’s a lot of comradery and it builds a lot of spirit.
What outcomes you are hoping to see in the girls who complete the program?
The girls who complete the program will not only be stronger riders but stronger young women [who are] more ready to face the challenges that life throws at them and also willing to support each other as a community.
To register and for complete details regarding ride dates and cost information please visit the Little Bellas website.