Picture Her Rollin: A Candid Interview with Kellie Hart
There are but few people who pioneer movements that you will meet first with your spirit, and then with your heart. Kellie Hart is one of those people. She is the founder of #RideWitUs/@RidewitUs_LA. A bicycling group that started in the middle of a pandemic. I mean, who really has the courage to seek opportunity to unite us in the midst of despair and devastation? Only a true visionary, a leader, and a woman for the culture. RidewitUs_LA has had celebrities praising the group and double tapping, and has consistently had groups of over 100 on any given night. Although I have not ridden a bike since elementary, I had my best biking experience in my adult with RidewitUs_LA. It's the energy, the union and the love you feel with each ride. I had the pleasure of interviewing her to talk about her bike club and her vision.
Q. Why did you start RidewitUs_LA?
A. I always say, RWU started itself. Lol.
Initially, we were just some friends who enjoyed riding bikes together and wanted to keep up with workouts once gyms closed. There was no real organization to our rides. We just rode when we could, and then I named it.
I began to put more heart and organization in to it, because I saw how much fun people were having and the positive impact it was having on the riders who came along. I saw what it had the potential to be. It was beautiful. Whether it was four or 14 of us, every ride felt so good! The sense of commUNITY inspired us to keep coming back. We were all saying how we looked forward to our rides just as an escape from this crazy world.
Q. What was your vision?
A. I think it’s important to state that RidewitUs_LA consists of two branches. The bike store, which is owned by me. And the bike club, that is organized and run by the seven of us. The two operate separately, but they both fuel each other.
As a bike club, we wanted as many people as possible to experience a #RidewitUs. We wanted to inspire our friends along with other people in black community, to be active, be healthier, and find new ways to safely come together after COVID-19.
With all that happened, and continues to happen in our community; we need this to keep our us close and in good spirits. We committed ourselves to hosting one-of-a-kind group rides that aim to bring our people closer and make us healthier in a fun way. #FunFitnessFriendship
The Bike Store is committed to providing high quality, one of a kind bikes and great customer service. I realized that there was/is a bike shortage in the USA. I made it my duty to find all the bikes that are left, get our people on them, and out to a RWU ride.
Q. How long have you had RidewitUs_LA?
A. RWU bike store and bike club are four-and-a-half-month old twin babies. The club became official and bike sales began in the same week.
Q. How do you feel about where you are now, and where you are going? What are some of your next “years to come” goals?
A. I feel great about where RWU is right now. In just four months, we have grown from five or six riders to 100+ on every ride. The vibe, energy, and sense of community that are found on these rides are unmatched. I think when it comes to THIS, enjoying the “now” is super important.
I would love to see a 200- rider ride. To be honest, I just want RWU to still be around in the years to come. I want it to be a lifestyle, and not a fad.
Eventually, I would love for the energy to travel nationwide. RidewitUs_ATL, RidewitUs_NY.... Delivering the same exact experience nationwide.
Q. Do you feel like you have contributed to the women's empowerment movement, and if so how?
A. RidewitUs aims to inspire women and all people to pursue their calling, business goals, personal goals, and cultivate personal and community excellence. I feel like we do a pretty good job at that.
On our rides, women fall behind the most. No particular reason, it just is. But I also get more women saying, “this is my third ride and I'm finally not in the back pack,” “I'm getting so much stronger” or “I’ve lost 10 pounds since I started riding with you guys." They are out here, setting goals and killing them. That’s empowering, and we love to see it.
Another lady told me, “with every ride, I find more of myself and learn new life lessons.”
Q. How many people are on your team?
A. There are seven of us that make up the leadership team: AJ, Tone, Derrick, Kam, Mike, Rich, and Kellie.
Q. How did you go about the planning process for RidewitUs_LA?
A. It all starts with the riders in mind. Initially, we were just some friends who loved riding bikes together and wanted to keep up with workouts once gyms closed. There was no real organization to our rides. We just rode.
As the rides got bigger, we had to consider more things. Such as committing to days and time, ride distance, or whether there is free parking for the group. Safe routes with smooth roads.... the list goes on.
Q. How does it feel, knowing the impact you have had on your community?
A. It’s a beautiful feeling yet sometimes it’s really hard to believe. I never knew what my calling was until this started.
Q. How does RidewitUs_LA grow in numbers? Ads? Referrals etc?
A. It helps that I sell bikes; but really, it’s all social media and word of mouth. Every week, we post our ride schedule and the people show up. They have a great time and tell their friends to come back with them. The friends then tell their friends, and so on. I guess you could say those are referrals. (lol)
Many of our riders repost our schedule, so that helps broadens the audience.
Q. What do you hope the and RidewitUs_LA movement means to people?
A. I pray cycling turns into a lifestyle for our people, and RWU was the tool that inspired it. I want them to make it a part of their life like work, a gym routine, or skate night. It’s important that we as a community stay active and healthy.
Q. Personally, how would you want people to revere you and your impact?
A. I want them to consider the organization to be the vessel, and themselves to be the blood that keeps it thriving and healthy. We all work together and are equally important in a movement like this. Stronger together.
Q. What’s the most important thing to you right now?
A. My son and family, being healthy, happy, and well taken care of. The growth of RidewitUs is equally important. Finding new ways to accomplish that is high priority.
Q. How do you juggle family, job and RIdewitUs_LA?
A. #RWU is my job. Lol. The bike store and the rides. Balancing that with family gets tough. I don’t get to spend as much time with my son as I would like and I never have any time for myself anymore. But it’s all worth it. This is something amazing, and it is all working itself out.
My mom and the RWU team, make things easier for me wherever and whenever they can. Im extremely grateful.
Q. What is your advice for anyone wanting to start a business/movement like yours?
A. DO IT‼️ Don’t worry about numbers, social media likes, haters or anything else that can distract you from your goal. It’s not a competition if it’s your calling.
I never intended for RWU to become a business or a movement. I followed a calling that turned into an unbelievable movement and a successful business. God called; I responded. He guides every single decision made for RWU.
Respect/appreciate your team. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, use constructive criticism as a tool for growth, and commit to whatever your “it” is wholeheartedly.
Q. Anything else you would like to leave or want people to know about RidewitUs_LA?
A. We are extremely grateful for the success of RWU and would like to thank every rider, supporter, host location and even the haters.... for making it what it is. Thank you for the energy you bring. Thank you for encouraging us and sharing your positive thoughts with us. It feels good to know you guys love us as much as we love y’all.
Together we will grow, together we will inspire change... ride by ride. #RidewitUs