Ladies who ride
One fateful night in 2001, Jillian Imilkowski signed up for a 500 mile ride with a 50lb. mountain bike and very little cycling experience outside of leisurely trips to the store and back. For her, training for the ride was a challenge — male cyclists left her in the dust, bike shops proved to be more intimidating than helpful and attempting to ride with other cycling groups left her feeling frustrated and alienated.
Enter the Bella Donnas. Formed by Imilkowski in 2006, the Bellas are an all-female pack of cycling enthusiasts whose primary goal is empower women and challenge themselves physically and mentally through biking. Whether it’s through bike maintenance workshops, long-distance rides in the city, or challenging mountain bike trails, co-founder Becky Tesch says that the group focus is “just getting women on bikes and getting them to feel comfortable.” Members range in age from twenty-somethings to retirees and entered the group at varying skill levels — from beginners to seasoned riders.
“Bella Donna in Latin means ‘beautiful woman,’ but in botanical terms it’s also part of the deadly nightshade family…and it is highly toxic,” says Jillian. “So we are a bunch of beautiful women that also have a little bit of an edge to us.”
“And we’re okay if you see us as dangerous,” Becky jokes.
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Learn more about The Bella Donnas here.
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