88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Today's stream is sponsored by Maxie's

Cycling group for women, by women

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  • The Bella Donnas in Wauwatosa before departing on a 90-minute ride.
  • Wauwatosa's ride is one of four organized rides around Milwaukee's neighborhoods, including Bay View, Walker's Point and the East Side.
  • The group encourages all women to join, no matter their skill level.
  • The Bellas welcome their newest member, Mary Ellen, who today was able to ride without training wheels for the first time.

With another Milwaukee summer underway, people are tuning up their bikes and getting back on the road.

But according to national figures, recreational cycling is declining among females. 

A local group, however, is working to reverse that trend.

The Bella Donnas formed in 2007 with the goal of getting more women cyclists on the road in Milwaukee.  In the last 7 years, the group has grown to more than 200 members, meeting regularly throughout the county for organized rides.

"I don't want women to not do something because they're afraid," said Bella Donnas Founder Jillian Imilkowski.  

"If you don't know how to shift your gears, if you don't know how to fix a flat tire ... all those things are really important to learn, and it's intimidating to ask your boyfriend or husband," she said.

The Bella Donnas meet in a different neighborhood daily, exploring it on a roughly 90-minute organized ride.  It offers two pace groups, one less challenging than the other, allowing women at different skills levels to ride together.

Click the podcast player above to hear our interview with Imilkowski and members of the Bella Donnas.