GR Organizer Wants Women to Ride, Hike, and Get Outside

Johannah Jelks doesn’t describe herself as a cyclist.

Even though she founded She Rides Her Own Way as a campaign to encourage biking, her passion for the pastime started very organically, which led her to believe it might be something other women could relate to.

Jelks said she didn’t really touch a bike for years after her childhood, but after she got a cool, vintage bike, she started riding it around her Eastown neighborhood. The new habit transformed her body and mental health.

“I’m not a cyclist,” she said. “I’m just a regular woman who had a bike.”

She was hooked on two wheels and wanted to share the experience with others.

Although She Rides Her Own Way was born in 2014 as a campaign designed to build self-esteem and bring health awareness to women through biking, it’s since grown into a full outdoor organization devoted to three main focus areas: self-esteem development, increasing a healthy lifestyle, and inspiring and encouraging women through daily life.

A capacity crowd recently attended a “Becoming an Outdoors Woman” event put on by Jelks at Founders Brewing Company. West Michigan organizations participating included Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, The Grand Rapids Urban Forest Project, League of Michigan Bicyclists, Ottawa County Parks and Recreation, the City of Grand Rapids’ Parks and Recreation Department, Blandford Nature Center and others.

Jelks hopes to continue to bring local organizations together to make it easy for local women to find out about events and happenings they can take advantage of.

“I just see She Rides as that opportunity to connect with women, particularly when it comes to enjoying the outdoors,” she said.

A full website for She Rides Her Own Way will launch in the spring and Jelks hopes to expand the campaign to a national and international audience. Find all upcoming events on the She Rides Facebook page, including details about a March 8 kickoff and volunteer recruitment event.

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Photo courtesy of She Rides Her Own Way

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