Welland spent a season riding with the Bella Donnas, a group that
organized female-only rides, but as its only black member, she felt more
could be done to reach women of color. So she founded the Milwaukee
chapter of Black Girls Do Bike (BGDB), now in its third season of
ďno-dropĒ rides that leave no rider behind. A small-business consultant
and event planner, Welland also serves on the boards for Bublr Bikes ó
the cityís bike share ó and the Walkerís Point Center for the Arts.
Tell us about
founding the Milwaukee chapter of BGDB.
reached out to the (national) founder, Monica Garrison. She said, ďThis
is all volunteer. We donít ever charge fees. This is the only
requirement: You lead one no-drop ride a month, even if itís an indoor
ride.Ē I reached out to other club leaders in other cities and got
feedback (and) lots of support.
(The Milwaukee chapter) had an opening meetup in February 2015 and then
started our ride season in early May. Almost 60 people were interested
in coming out to ride.
How often does BGDB
We try to lead one ride a week, and we try to alternate between
challenge rides and chill rides. A challenge ride is over 10 miles and
over 10 miles an hour, and a chill ride is the opposite ó 10 to 12
miles, maybe only 6 to 8, maybe having more of a social aspect, so itís
Can anyone ride with
This group, while open to all women, is consciously making an effort to
draw in women of color, because we are so often forgotten. You get so
used to being the only black person and the only person of color in so
many groups, and it just gets old.
What has surprised
People who had not been on a bike for years were riding on the sidewalk.
Yet other people who had been riding for a long time were like, ďLetís
go to Cedarburg, letís ride to Port Washington, letís ride to Racine.Ē
We had a huge range of skill level, which was a big surprise, and very
few women in the beginning had road bikes, so we had to go a lot slower.
It was very humbling for me to slow down, to lower my expectations and
to really embrace the true beginner.
Whatís been your
biggest accomplishment so far?
This year I am most proud of our Riverwest 24 team. My two co-leaders,
Vanessa and Nia, rode, and three other women rode ó it was their first
time. Every single one of them (when they joined BGDB) did not have a
road bike, and now they all have road bikes. Josie is the same woman who
was riding on the sidewalk when I first met her. To go from that to
feeling confident enough to ride in the middle of the night in
pitch-black darkness with people on single speeds and fixies in a
neighborhood that is not your own ó thatís a huge accomplishment. Itís
not how far we went and how many laps we did; itís that we did it
together and we had fun.
Tell us about King
BGDB, Red Bike Green, the Wisconsin Bike Fed, DreamBikes (and) Bublr
Bikes came together with the help of the King Drive BID (for) our first
season. Itís a 45- to 60-minute ride (for) all ages, all levels. A super
slow roll through the neighborhoods ó Bronzeville, Brewers Hill,
Riverwest, Harambee and Halyard Park. We meet at DreamBikes, 6 p.m. on
Thursdays, roll out at 6:30. Weíll probably roll that back to 5:30 and 6
as it gets darker. Those rides will continue (through Oct. 19).
When youíre not
biking, what do you do for fun?
I teach yoga, and I
teach spin, so I like going, when I can, to other peopleís classes. I
love spending time with my kids and going to outdoor concerts. The
Milwaukee Film Festival is one of my favorite (events); Iíve volunteered
for years to see free films. In the winter, I read a lot more and I
MY FIVE FAVORITE THINGS!
1 My three kids
2 Lake Michigan. The sunrise over the lake is gorgeous.
3 Workouts with November Project Milwaukee (For details, go to
4 Discovering new music for my playlists for yoga and spin
5 Being on a bike, whether cycling outdoors or indoors