Knoxville group empowers women through mountain biking

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The greater cycling community is active in Knoxville year-round.

Many long-time cyclists and mountain bikers are encouraged by the increased attention in the sport with the USA Pro and Para-Cycling National Championships being held in Knoxville for the third year in a row.

Bell Joy Ride Ambassador, Missy Perry saying, “I wanted to do it because I wanted to empower women to overcome fears… for me riding with other women helped me overcome those fears.”

Petty found her love for cycling over 2 decades ago, in road cycling and competition.

Petty saying, “I trained alone, I rode alone, a lot of times when I was competing. Even when I would go compete the women’s fields would always be smaller.”

Tired of being one of a few, Petty said she was inspired to start giving back to the cycling and mountain biking community. Hoping she could inspire other women cyclists and mountain bikers to give the sport a try.

Enter: Bell Joy Ride.

Eleven Joy Ride Programs are sponsored by Bell Helmets across the country. Petty hosts a monthly ride in Knoxville designed to inspire and enable female cyclists with the sport. Experience isn’t necessary, all levels are welcome to ride.

Petty explaining that, “It’s about building community and having these strong female bonds develop that stay for a lifetime.”

Petty doesn’t ride alone as much anymore, finding a community of women who ride alongside her that have become life-long friends.

Lisa Mueller, a Bell Joy Ride volunteer saying, “Being around other women empowers them, they feel like they can do anything.”

Volunteers, like Mueller, attend the monthly rides to ensure riders of all levels are challenged, but also, taught how to how if they’re new to the sport.

Julie Ferrara, a Bell Joy Ride volunteer saying, “If you come out to a group ride, the people who are volunteering are there because they want to be there. You don’t have to be sorry, you can come with all of your vulnerabilities… we’ve got you.”

These volunteers say the experience lasts far beyond the monthly trail rides.

Ferrara saying, “I knew when I got into this sport that I found a place that finally found like home to me.”

The next Joy Bell Ride is scheduled for July.

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