Women Involved Series: Vanessa Buccella (BFF Bikes)

Annie, (middle) Elysa Walk, the head of Giant USA,
and Vanessa
Once there were two women who loved cycling and saw needs not being met.
What better thing to do than open up a women-focused bike shop? Well, that's exactly what friends Annie Byrne and Vanessa Buccella did!

Not only does their shop have bikes, equipment, and gear that caters to the experienced commuter to new rider-they also offer group rides, clinics, and classes!

Also, check out BFF Racing-Chicago's first all-women racing team! They are active in several riding practices (Road, Mountain, Track, Cyclocross)

Keep Updated on BFF Bikes on Twitter, Facebook, and on their Website!

When did you first start riding a bike?
Hmm before I can remember, like age 4 or 5? 

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
I have a LOT of extra energy and cycling helps burn that off. Plus I just love riding fast! 

What kind of riding is your favorite? (paved, gravel, mountain)
I love love love racing fast crits (criterium races).    

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride? (If not a mountain biker, how about first commuter ride, paved trail ride, gravel, etc.)
Hmm I know several times I rode what I considered at the time to be "far" (like 30 miles or so) and I remember being exhilarated, proud of myself and a little tired too.  

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
No! Ha! Well that is a lie, I get nervous before races! And I am still working on a solution to that. 

Do you use clipless pedals? If yes, what are some tips/suggestions for beginners that you would share? If no, are you thinking of trying it out at all?
Yes I do! My suggestion is they aren't a big deal! Just try it if you want.  If you feel scared at first practice on a trainer getting in and out of them then go and try it on the grass. If you fall remember that EVERYONE has! No Big Deal! 

If you are a commuter what are some of the challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
I am but I haven't been as good about cycling all winter as I used to be.  In Chicago it's hard unless you really have to. I commend those who can bike through Chicago Winters. 

If you live where there is a snowy or icy winter, do you still commute? Why or why not? If yes, what do you do to make it more tolerable?
Usually no, I hardly commute at all when it is terrible out. I don't enjoy it enough and life is short. 

Have you had a bike biff? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?
I have crashed before in races (and on rides). It just happens.  No biggie. I just get up and ride again. 

Photo Credit: John Greenfield
What do you love about riding your bike?
Going fast, putting myself in a little physical pain and competition! 

What made you decide to work or be involved in the bike industry?
It was just an idea that came to me. Once I thought about opening a bike shop for women in Chicago, I had to do it. I feel like this is what I was born to do.

What made you decide to open up a women-focused bike shop?
I wouldn’t have opened any other kind. I knew it was the right moment for this kind of bike shop in Chicago!

What are the biggest hopes you have with your bike shop?
So many things! I want more women to get on bikes for one!  My friend Lindsay started riding over the past week, and she just loves it! I want to help women get over their fears of riding in the city. I want to help people get into the shape they want to be in through cycling. I want to grow the sport of bike racing among women. I want to find even more awesome products that make it easier for women to commute via bike. That’s a good start.

What are your main goals you have with this venture?
That I do this for the rest of my life.

What are a couple things you are nervous about with your new business?
Well there is a lot to be nervous about! I am nervous about having enough time to spend with my husband and I’m nervous about having enough time to have children.

Photo Credit: John Greenfield
What made you choose the products you will carry for the store?
Good question! We wanted to have a wide variety of bikes, so that everyone can find what they are looking for.  From people buying their very first adult bike to those buying a nice racing bike; We’ve had plenty of both so far.  Also we want to find Made in the USA goods whenever possible. We want to find clothes that look great, and COMFORTABLE. No more discomfort riding to work. No riding in sweaty jeans. No swapping.

What advice would you give a female wanting to take part in the bike industry? (either working at a bike shop or starting off on their own adventure?)
Um, make like Nike and Just do it! (But make sure you are going to be able to cover your expenses or have a place to move to where you can live for free) I haven’t been able yet to work at the shop full time, which is a bummer. I still have my day job.