© 2024 WXPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Little Bellas gives girls confidence as they learn to mountain bike

Katie Thoresen

In a grassy area along Perch Lake in Rhinelander, a dozen girls ride their bikes within a circle of cones.

It’s a warm-up exercise before they hit the Washburn Trials.

One girl tries to tag another as they pedal around. Each tagged girl then tries to tag others until there’s no one left untagged.

It’s the Little Bellas version of sharks in meadows.

“If you go one-handed, the hand to take off your break is your left-hand. Remember why? Because what break is that?” Val Foley asks the group of girls. “The frontal break and that's the powerful break. So if you're going to tap people that try to tap in with your left hand, it will be a new skill for you.”

Little Bellas is a national organization that mentors girls ages 7 to 18 to learn and develop mountain biking skills.

This was the second year for the Rhinelander-based chapter that focuses mostly on girls 7 to 11 years old.

Quin Williams, 11, has participated both years.

“It's really fun because you get to ride and learn how to bike ride. And there's a lot of fun courses too,” said Williams.

It’s a similar story for Amelia Berghammer, also 11.

“You get out every Sunday and you know that you are dedicated to it and you get to go mountain biking whenever,” she said.

It’s the first year doing Little Bellas for Emmy Johnson,10, who wanted to give mountain biking another shot after a less-than-great experience before.

“My front wheel fell off and I flipped over the handlebars. Som, I decided to give it another try and see if this is maybe a different better fit camp for me,” said Johnson. “It's been going really fun.”

Laurie Lemke is one of the mentors. She’s been involved with older kids through the National Interscholastic Cycling Association or NICA.

“I thought it was pretty cool starting them super young. Then I follow them actually into the NICA program. So now I deal with the little kids and the big kids,” said Lemke.

She loves that she gets to teach the girls skills they can develop throughout their lives.

“It's a lifelong [skill] and they can ride with grandparents, parents for life,” she said.

Katie Thoresen

Amanda Seubert got involved when she signed up her daughter Ellie.

They’ve actually been learning the ins and outs of mountain biking together.

“It can be competitive, but it's really rewarding watching her get better. And as Laurie said, you can do this with any generation. It's like a lifelong skill,” said Seubert.

It’s not just the girl’s mountain biking skills that are improving.

Both Lemke and Seubert have notice the girl’s confidence grow.

“A lot of shy, shy girls are coming out of their shell,” said Lemke.

“Ellie has three brothers. So seeing her surrounded by other women, she believes that she can get better and do better things. So that's where I see her really coming out of her shell,” said Seubert.

The girls themselves might not yet notice those kinds of changes.

Their more focused on getting to hang out with their friends, doing fun activities, and taking on new challenges.

But it’s in those challenges that the girls have found the most rewards.

“I like that I get to challenge myself and do trails that I haven't done before,” said 10-year-old Natalia Cunha.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
Up North Updates
* indicates required
Related Content