She's A Beast on the Bike
KUMANI BLACKWELL SHARES HOW SHE’S BLAZING A TRAIL FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS OF GIRL BIKERS Written by, Sarah Packard, Trips for Kids Chief Storyteller
As Trips for Kids works to get more girls on bikes, one girl clearly stands out from the pack. Kumani Blackwell is one of the most active riders through their program at UCreateMacon, a nonprofit youth organization serving the seven counties surrounding Macon, Georgia. While she’s only been with the organization for two years, she's put in more than 400 miles in total. And if that wasn’t impressive enough -- she’s just 11 years old. Kumani’s stamina was in full force during the group’s visit to Tulsa, Oklahoma for the Freedom Tour, which was packed full of many places to see and explore besides the actual bike ride. The group of 30 kids and 20 adults boarded a bus and made the 13-hour drive overnight, barely stretching their legs before embarking on the ride. Rather than the 15-mile ride, Kumani opted for the more challenging 35-mile ride, which she did with her older brother. “I was the only girl in my group,” Kumani recalled. “But when we reached the finish, I was in front of all the boys that were in her group.”
While 35 miles is a lofty goal, even for many adults, Kumani says it’s a breeze. In fact, she earned her first cruiser riding more than 50 miles as part of the Trips for Kids Learn + Earn-a-Bike program, and is now the proud owner of two cruisers and a mountain bike.
Kumani riding along side Trips for Kids and UCreateMacon’s Coach Janet Grier.
“She’s a beast on the bike,” said Kumani’s mom, Tiffani. She adds that meeting Charise Stephens with the UCreate Macon program was “divine intervention” and credits Ms. Stephens, founder of nonprofit and leader of the Middle, Georgia Trips For Kids program, for creating an environment where all participants can thrive! While Kumani enjoys both road biking and mountain biking, she says she prefers to ride in the wilderness because it is peaceful and quiet. While she frequents the well-known “Pig Trail,” an eight mile singletrack with planted pines and hardwood trees, she has big aspirations for where she’d like her wheels to take her, with both Hawaii and Paris on her “must-ride” list. But Kumani’s dreams don’t stop there.
On the Freedom Tour, Kumani had the opportunity to stay at The University of Tulsa (TU), and she now plans to attend either TU or Valdosta State University in Georgia. Kumani hasn’t missed a day of school and says she knows a good education will ensure she has a good future. When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, Kumani promptly answers “veterinarian.” “I like running,” she added, “so I might want to be a track star.” Kumani also plays football, softball and was the first person on her wiffle ball team at the Boys and Girls Club, CDT location, to score a home run. But if there’s one thing Kumani is sure of, it’s that she’ll be a cycler for life. Her mom hopes she’ll serve as an inspiration for other girls in the program, as well as for her friends who have expressed an interest in cycling.
When asked what she’d tell other kids who are thinking of trying cycling, Kumani says “if you want to do it, you can. Just follow whatever your heart says.”
Whether you realize it or not, Kumani, you’re already an inspiration. Keep riding!