RUTLAND — Little Bellas, the popular girl’s mountain bike program, is coming to Pine Hill Park in Rutland for the first time this summer. The half-day mountain biking camp will run from July 25-29 and is designed for girls ages 8-11 of all mountain biking abilities.
The Pine Hill Park camp will incorporate basic bike skills and mechanics with the focus on playing games, exploring Pine Hill Park’s 16 miles of trails, and making new friends.
Founded by Vermont sisters and pro mountain bikers Lea and Sabra Davison, Little Bellas offers all girls mountain biking camps for all ability levels across the U.S. The camps allow girls to progress their skill level while also having fun—laughing, singing, dancing, playing — and riding bikes. The camp is not competitive and instead provides healthy challenge in a friendly, fun environment.
Little Bellas is a mountain bike organization whose goal is to help young women realize their potential through cycling.
“We aim to create a community that will empower girls through the sport, emphasize the importance of goal-setting, promote healthy lifestyles and recognize the positive effects of strong female bonds. While this program is centered around creating camaraderie for girls on bikes, it is most importantly about having fun in a constructive environment,” the organizers state as their mission statement.
Lea and Sabra Davison fell in love with cycling while riding their bikes around their hometown of Jericho, Vt. While much of their childhood centered around downhill skiing and cross country running, they soon found themselves focusing more seriously on cycling. While racing, they noticed a large gender disparity on the start line and wanted to find a way to grow women’s mountain bike racing in America.
The sisters attended Middlebury College where they teamed up with Angela Irvine to start the Little Bellas program. Angela, a prominent member of the local cycling community and advocate of women’s cycling, shared a similar objective of expanding the sport to the younger generation. As co-founders, they developed a program structure and recruited mentors to run 12 Sunday sessions in Vermont throughout the summer of 2007. During its first season, the program had more mentors than girls, but more than doubled by 2008 when over 40 girls ages 7-12 enrolled in the program.
As Little Bellas has continued to expand to week long camps and establish chapters across the country, Angela and the Davison sisters have worked to build a program that encourages young girls to embrace cycling and fosters empowerment through sport.
While maintaining their focus on developing the Little Bellas program, the Davison sisters have continued to participate at an elite level. Lea, a nine-time national champion, 2012 Olympian, and world championship bronze medalist, currently races for the Specialized Factory team, a long-time corporate sponsor of the program. She is aiming for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team competing in Rio.
Despite their busy schedules, you can still expect to find the Davison sisters training together in Vermont and supporting the next generation of female cyclists. The Little Bellas team hopes to see you out on the trails!
The half-day mountain biking camp will run at Pine Hill Park in Rutland from July 25-29 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. The camp entry fee of $220 includes snacks and a goodie bag. Register at www.littlebellas.com.