Crank Sisters: Bikes empowering girls

It was love at first sight when the hand-me-down Orange Krate Schwinn knock-off found its way into my life. I would never be the same. Bicycles have given me so much over the years: a sense of freedom, an outlet for my adventurous spirit, confidence, independence and more.

My relationship with bicycles can be credited to much of the success and joy I have in life, and I wanted to be able to share that with others in a bigger way.

After playing a core volunteer role in getting the Minnesota High School Cycling League off the ground two years ago, I approached the league director with the idea for Crank Sisters – a mountain biking team for girls. We had 24 girls join the league in its inaugural year – only 20 percent of the league participants. I wanted to make sure that cycling was as accessible for girls as it was for boys, and with that, Crank Sisters was born.

Crank Sisters exists to inspire young women and girls to ride bikes by helping them to overcome the fears and perceived barriers to feeling confident and empowered on bicycles.

The story of one of these girls really stuck with me. Last year, a girl’s father approached me after one of our skills clinics to thank me. He said that his daughter was becoming a different person since joining her school’s mountain bike team. As she gained confidence on her bike, she was becoming more confident in the rest of her life and it even manifested itself in her physical presence. She was walking taller with her shoulders back and head held high.

The best part of the story is that after two years participating in Crank Sisters and the league, her teammates, mostly boys, have voted her team captain for the coming season. Empowered.

Amber Schult lives in Minneapolis and works as a regional sales manager at Quality Bicycle Products.

About the Crank Sisters

September will mark the beginning of the Crank Sisters’ second year, and they are excited to do and be more for the girls who want to explore cycling. Crank Sisters hosts “Try it Out” sessions, where girls can try mountain biking; they even provide the bikes.

Crank Sisters also leads bike skills clinics and camps throughout the year, as well as work to create camaraderie with all girls across all of the teams in the league. This year, Crank Sisters will offer bike maintenance clinics, rides with the pros and more in an effort to involve and empower girls.