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The Upland Brewing Women’s Cycling Team Makes Community Outreach a Priority

By: Jim Rusnak  February 20, 2023

Brooke Hannon shares her insight on how community outreach to women and youth is helping to shape the future of cycling.

As a freshman at Indiana University in 2014, Brooke Hannon attended the storied Little 500 race for the first time as a spectator. Before that, she had no idea cycling existed—let alone as a competitive sport. She walked away from the experience with one certainty:

“This is my next sport,” she said to herself.

That was when Hannon, a former volleyball player who grew up about 20 miles from Bloomington, Indiana, launched herself into the competitive cycling world. The following year, she returned to compete in the Little 5 and then did it again in 2016 and 2018. She also joined the IU club team in 2018 and competed against other colleges throughout the Midwest.

After college, she started racing domestically. A team that raced on the USA Crit circuit recruited her almost immediately. She raced on the USA Crit calendar in 2018 and 2019.

“That’s not to say I did well,” Hannon said. “But I felt like I was thrown into that level of racing fairly quickly.”

However, Hannon realized during the 2019 season that she was not ready to race at that level, and traveling to different races around the country was expensive and exhausting. In July 2019, she quit the team and raced the rest of the season representing The Rescue Project, a non-profit organization that works to benefit animal shelters.

She then contacted different men’s teams in Indiana, asking if they would be willing to add a women’s team to their existing programs. The Upland Brewing Team was the only team to say yes. In the fall of 2019, Hannon recruited some women cyclists in the area and started the women’s arm of the Upland Brewing Cycling Team based in Bloomington.

“We had a really fun first go-round,” Hannon said. “Then in 2020, the whole world shut down, and there were no bike races to be had. I went from racing 30 races in 2018 and 2019 to racing like five times in 2020. That was an amazing start to the birth of our team.”

One of the team’s main objectives is to prioritize local racing. Hannon said that with races like Intelligentsia in Chicago, Toad in Wisconsin and Momentum Indy in Indianapolis, there is no shortage of races within a five- to eight-hour drive from Bloomington.

“There are so many opportunities to race in the Midwest,” Hannon said. “Our race calendar is very full.”

In addition to a busy race schedule, the Upland Brewing Women’s Cycling Team has found plenty of time to educate and inspire youth and women on the sport of cycling and cycling safety. It’s one of the top USA Cycling clubs in community outreach.

The team, which consists of seven women and two men, has hosted several local events and skills clinics in Indiana. These events include clinics with the IU and Purdue University women’s clubs cycling team, a USA Cycling Level Up Your Ride Women’s Skills Clinic in Indianapolis and a Girls Inc. EmpowHER Series Kickoff clinic.

They also have some events planned for the upcoming year: another skills clinic with the Purdue women’s club cycling team, an event in April with the Monroe County (Ind.) School district and a Girls Inc. Summer Ride. They also hope to work with the Franklin School District middle school soon.

Here are three reasons why Hannon said it’s so important for the Upland Brewing Women’s Cycling Team to be involved with youth and women’s development:


Cycling for Hannon has been an amazing opportunity to promote general health and fitness for herself and others. She also says it’s a lot more accessible than people think.

“You can go to a bike store in Bloomington and pick up a bike for $200 and a helmet for whatever,” Hannon said. “In my opinion, if you start at the base level of the sport, it is something that can be affordable, but so many people just don’t know that.”

Thus, the club made promoting awareness of the sport another of its top priorities.

“I had no idea what cycling was until I went to college,” Hannon said. “I think that’s one of our big reasons – just being advocates for the sport and going out and letting people know that even if you’re starting when you’re 40, or you’re starting when you’re 8, it is completely possible to dive into this and have fun. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about health and fitness, losing weight and things of that nature. It can also be about the perspective of finding a community. There are many opportunities to meet people and find good people out there to feel a sense of community.”

Sense of Community

Upland Brewing Women’s Cycling wants to provide that sense of community.

“Everybody craves a sense of community, a sense of belonging,” Hannon said. “Our team wants to provide that for people. We don’t put up boundaries or walls. Whether it’s boys or girls, men or women, or young or old, I want our team to have a very familial vibe to everyone.

“We do host women’s skills clinics, and we do go to Girls Inc. and the Boys and Girls Club because we feel there are many men’s cycling teams out there, but there aren’t as many women’s cycling teams.

“All these women who want to start riding, they go to these men’s clubs, and they’re getting taught by men. I’m not saying that’s wrong, but some women might feel more comfortable if they’re taught by other women. We want to allow women the opportunity to learn around other women who might make them feel more comfortable.”

Not Many Other Teams are Doing It

Hannon understands that all cycling teams have different priorities. Still, one of the reasons the Upland Brewing Cycling Team involves itself so deeply in community outreach is that many other clubs don’t.

And to Hannon, that screams she should.

“Why not use the opportunities you have to make an impact on others’ lives?” Hannon said. “If we are a collective group wanting to have fun with cycling – why not? If this makes us happy and brings us joy in life, why not go and share it with others so they can potentially find joy in it as well? It’s not impossible for a team to visit a school or go to a Girls Inc. and invest their time. That’s how you make an impact on that one kid’s life.

“I think USA Cycling is so invested in growing the future of cycling, and our team is very aligned with that. Why not help promote positivity in the future of cycling?”