Olivia Barraza: Founder and Director of Latinas en Bici
See this article in English at Olivia Barraza: Fundadora y directora de la organización “Latinas en Bici”.
Olivia Barraza, originally from Gómez Palacios in Durango, Mexico, has lived in the city of Rogers in Northwest Arkansas since 1988. Like many immigrants, she came to the Natural State, looking for better opportunities.
Cycling helped Olivia become physically active as well as find a hobby and more friends to socialize with.
“Since I was a girl, I liked practicing outdoor activities. In addition, cycling helps emotionally to combat anxiety, depression and not isolate oneself in order to have better mental health,” Barraza said.
In 2016, she began to practice cycling, and in 2019 the idea arose to bring together more women to encourage them to practice this sport, thus emerging the women's cycling club, Latinas en Bici.
Barraza said that it was not easy at first. It started with her inviting eight friends and finding a bike for everyone.
The club, now a nonprofit organization, organizes cycling events and meetings to inform its members about a variety of topics, from preventive health and training workshops to knowing how to fix your bike or establishing a better pedaling technique.
This year, they trained six women as mountain biking instructors and in CPR for any emergency that arises.
To date, the organization has incentivized and encouraged more than 100 women to practice the sport of cycling.
“Our organization is like a school where there is a learning cycle – some are more constant than others, and we increasingly have more volunteers who stay in the group to collaborate, in addition to the fact that the organization has had a very good response, growing its events and meetings in the community,” Barraza said.
For Barraza, being a cycling pioneer in the Latino community of Northwest Arkansas means responsibility, passion and service for the well-being of others. She now faces the challenge of continuing to organize Latinas en Bici as a nonprofit organization. Together with her collaborators, she will guide more women to find cycling as a gateway to a healthier lifestyle and create a more inclusive Latino community, active in cycling as a recreational outdoor sport. Her vision is to see more women in road and mountain biking.
“My hope is that more families make it a habit to make more time for a healthier life by… taking advantage of the resources that exist in the cycling community and organizations that provide support, as well as the accessibility of the trail systems for bicycling that exist in Northwest Arkansas, as the sport is growing rapidly at a significant national and international level. Give yourself time to ride your bike!” she said.
For more information about Latinas en Bici, see their website: latinasenbici.org