BOZEMAN — Home to more than a hundred mountain ranges and breathtaking views, Montana is best known for its access to the outdoors, especially mountain biking.
The city of Bozeman has seen an uptick in the sport as more people move to town, but the cycling community is also seeing an increase in younger girls due to a newly established program called Little Bellas.
Earlier this summer, Little Bellas established roots in Gallatin County, which is a once-a-week program focused on helping young women realize their potential through mountain biking.
"I think the special part about Little Bellas is that we're more focused on confidence and having fun versus getting in as much riding as possible," Abby Grab, Little Bellas Bozeman chapter founder, said.
As a former Little Bella herself, Grab knew how much of an impact this experience had on her childhood, which is why she was determined to build the same opportunity for other young girls in Bozeman.
“I have two brothers, and my dad is mostly who I rode with, so it definitely was intimidating to ride with an all-male group in a male-dominated sport," Grab explained. "I think when I started riding with Little Bellas, I found confidence on and off my bike.”
Each week, mentors work with both beginner and experienced riders by using on-bike games to subtly teach skills like biking downhill or navigating certain terrain. Little Bellas are also taught how to perform bike safety checks before riding.
“I like that it’s just about having fun," 10-year-old cyclist Peyton Buecker said. "It’s not anything serious that you have to do.”
"I’ve seen all of them step out of their shell, which is really cool," Grab smiled. "Their confidence in general on and off the bikes I’ve seen skyrocket, which is also so fun to watch because I think it’s such an important skill for young women to have is gaining confidence.”
With the inaugural program coming to a close, the Bozeman chapter is looking forward to adding more spots for Little Bellas to join next summer, as well as mentors.
Registration for their summer 2023 program will open early next year, which you can find here.