BFF Bikes Racing Team

BFF Bikes Racing is Chicago’s first inclusive all­-women team with a strong focus on education and community building. Our team is made up of successful long­term racers, state champions as well as new racers. BFF Bikes Racing is the shop team for Chicago’s first women’s specific bike shop, started by BFFs Annie Byrne and Vanessa Buccella. BFF Bikes opened in March of 2014. Our team is active in road, track, mountain, and cyclocross racing. Check out the Events page for organized BFF team rides, clinics and weekly practices.

ANNIE BYRNE  FACT: I love to ride my bike more than anything else-- the faster the better. I lined up for my first race at the age of 31 and immediately found the rush completely addicting. Having felt so lucky to have discovered this new found source of extreme satisfaction, I wanted to share the love and get more women into biking and racing. This passion grew stronger and stronger and drove me to leave my profession as an urban planner, open up BFF Bikes, and create the greatest women's racing team.  Road and track racing are my favorite-- put the two together in a fixed gear crit and I cry tears of joy. I race cyclocross because my friends do and it improves my technical skills. After racing, my 2nd favorite thing is talking about racing, especially to those thinking about getting into it. So if you're thinking about it, don't be shy--find me in the shop or email me at annie@bffbikes.com!

ANNIE BYRNE

FACT: I love to ride my bike more than anything else-- the faster the better. I lined up for my first race at the age of 31 and immediately found the rush completely addicting. Having felt so lucky to have discovered this new found source of extreme satisfaction, I wanted to share the love and get more women into biking and racing. This passion grew stronger and stronger and drove me to leave my profession as an urban planner, open up BFF Bikes, and create the greatest women's racing team.

Road and track racing are my favorite-- put the two together in a fixed gear crit and I cry tears of joy. I race cyclocross because my friends do and it improves my technical skills. After racing, my 2nd favorite thing is talking about racing, especially to those thinking about getting into it. So if you're thinking about it, don't be shy--find me in the shop or email me at annie@bffbikes.com!

RONIT BEZALEL  I’ve always loved riding my bike, and I somehow stumbled into racing. My first race was a 10 mile mountain bike race in Wisconsin in 2002. I was hooked. I’ve been racing on and off for about 12 years now. My disciplines are mountain biking and cross. Every race teaches me life lessons, and that’s the most valuable thing of all. I feel so fortunate to be on BFF and around this supportive group of women. It's really quite special. When I'm not biking, I'm a documentary filmmaker and photographer. Random fact: I don't have a cat or dog, but instead, an astounding cacti collection.

RONIT BEZALEL

I’ve always loved riding my bike, and I somehow stumbled into racing. My first race was a 10 mile mountain bike race in Wisconsin in 2002. I was hooked. I’ve been racing on and off for about 12 years now. My disciplines are mountain biking and cross. Every race teaches me life lessons, and that’s the most valuable thing of all. I feel so fortunate to be on BFF and around this supportive group of women. It's really quite special. When I'm not biking, I'm a documentary filmmaker and photographer. Random fact: I don't have a cat or dog, but instead, an astounding cacti collection.

LYNNE KIESLING

LYNNE KIESLING

CHRISTINE LEPPANEN  This Humboldt Park resident can usually be found on a bike, whether it’s racing skinny tires (track/crits) for BFF Bikes, donning pearls throughout the Chicago Cross Cup, or getting exposed to radioactive waste while mountain biking at Palos with her husband, Justice. When she is not out riding, Christine is keeping a close eye on her mischievous pet turtle, Tommy (who's female), and studying to be a court reporter. She also likes anything from the late 90s, fruit snacks, and novelty coffee mugs. And cheap sunglasses. And stickers.

CHRISTINE LEPPANEN

This Humboldt Park resident can usually be found on a bike, whether it’s racing skinny tires (track/crits) for BFF Bikes, donning pearls throughout the Chicago Cross Cup, or getting exposed to radioactive waste while mountain biking at Palos with her husband, Justice. When she is not out riding, Christine is keeping a close eye on her mischievous pet turtle, Tommy (who's female), and studying to be a court reporter. She also likes anything from the late 90s, fruit snacks, and novelty coffee mugs. And cheap sunglasses. And stickers.

LAURA PYLE  I started bike commuting in 2007 and started racing in 2012, just before I moved from Chicago back to Virginia. I loved the mountain biking and hills I found (I'm in the Shenandoah Valley) but I missed the cityscape of lady racers, so I jumped at the chance to be a long-distance BFF. 800 miles is nothing when your team is this awesome! I race MTB, road, and so much cyclocross.

LAURA PYLE

I started bike commuting in 2007 and started racing in 2012, just before I moved from Chicago back to Virginia. I loved the mountain biking and hills I found (I'm in the Shenandoah Valley) but I missed the cityscape of lady racers, so I jumped at the chance to be a long-distance BFF. 800 miles is nothing when your team is this awesome! I race MTB, road, and so much cyclocross.

JASMIN WELTER  Up to a random day in January 2014, I couldn't have cared less about bicycles. After having been talked into trying the sport, I developed a strong passion for riding - and swimming and running. So yes, I'm the outcast triathlete on the team, but I also love gravel and CX racing, mountain biking and the occasional trip to the velodrome - especially with this amazing team of fierce, supportive and overall rad women.

JASMIN WELTER

Up to a random day in January 2014, I couldn't have cared less about bicycles. After having been talked into trying the sport, I developed a strong passion for riding - and swimming and running. So yes, I'm the outcast triathlete on the team, but I also love gravel and CX racing, mountain biking and the occasional trip to the velodrome - especially with this amazing team of fierce, supportive and overall rad women.

JULIE YEAGLE

JULIE YEAGLE

KELLY O'BRIEN  Kelly O’Brien used to commute 30-plus miles a day, but now she's a recreational rider, ready to take on any distance for donuts. When she’s not on a bike, she enjoys planning routes, petting dogs, and pretending to be best friends with Taylor Swift. She works at BFF, where she tries to convince people daily that the Liv Langma is the greatest bike of all time.

KELLY O'BRIEN

Kelly O’Brien used to commute 30-plus miles a day, but now she's a recreational rider, ready to take on any distance for donuts. When she’s not on a bike, she enjoys planning routes, petting dogs, and pretending to be best friends with Taylor Swift. She works at BFF, where she tries to convince people daily that the Liv Langma is the greatest bike of all time.

KRIS CAUDLE  I'm a reformed runner who has been racing bikes for four years - I fell in love with road biking on New Hampshire back roads and thought riding on dirt was scary and dumb (I was wrong). Now I'll race almost anything with two wheels but lately I have been loving cyclocross (because mud and handups are awesome). My favorite things about riding bikes include mountain biking with my dogs, how good a pop-tart tastes two hours in to a group ride, and getting inspired by all the badassery at BFF and beyond.

KRIS CAUDLE

I'm a reformed runner who has been racing bikes for four years - I fell in love with road biking on New Hampshire back roads and thought riding on dirt was scary and dumb (I was wrong). Now I'll race almost anything with two wheels but lately I have been loving cyclocross (because mud and handups are awesome). My favorite things about riding bikes include mountain biking with my dogs, how good a pop-tart tastes two hours in to a group ride, and getting inspired by all the badassery at BFF and beyond.

MARGARET MCGILL  In 2016 I walked into my favorite bike shop to buy my first road bike. Cycling seemed like the first sort of “athletic” thing I truly loved and I wanted a bike that fit my ambition. 3 months and 1000 miles later I did my first race. It was hard, it was hot, I was hooked. I joined BFF officially in 2017 and started my first road season. From Skyway to Intelligentsia to Tour of America’s Dairy Land, I love the speed and strategy of road. In 2018, I’m trying out cyclocross but something tells me I’ll always be a roadie at heart.

MARGARET MCGILL

In 2016 I walked into my favorite bike shop to buy my first road bike. Cycling seemed like the first sort of “athletic” thing I truly loved and I wanted a bike that fit my ambition. 3 months and 1000 miles later I did my first race. It was hard, it was hot, I was hooked. I joined BFF officially in 2017 and started my first road season. From Skyway to Intelligentsia to Tour of America’s Dairy Land, I love the speed and strategy of road. In 2018, I’m trying out cyclocross but something tells me I’ll always be a roadie at heart.

AMBER NICHOLS  Hi Friends! I’m a recently relocated southern misfit from Savannah, GA that made her way to the big city of Chicago. I enjoy baking banana bread, reading murder mysteries, and zippy rides on my bike.  I get it, I’m a late bloomer. I was 29 when I received my first ever bike. Her name is LaToya and she’s cool AF. We began to spend a lot of time together as I dove into commuting year round. I went from wobbly to racing in about 10 months, joining BFF in 2019 after a spicy FTB-filled winter and purchasing my first road bike Truffles. She’s cool AF. I kinda took a stage dive into racing this year, primarily crits with a few gravel races here and there. Yes the gravel races did make me cry and yes I plan on doing even more of them. Joining BFF and getting to know the team has been such an amazing and kick ass experience. Seriously…this group of people solid A+! Stop by and say hi sometime. I’m usually around at races, group rides, or falling off my bike in front of Aldi’s these prices are too good and my bag is just too heavy.

AMBER NICHOLS

Hi Friends! I’m a recently relocated southern misfit from Savannah, GA that made her way to the big city of Chicago. I enjoy baking banana bread, reading murder mysteries, and zippy rides on my bike.

I get it, I’m a late bloomer. I was 29 when I received my first ever bike. Her name is LaToya and she’s cool AF. We began to spend a lot of time together as I dove into commuting year round. I went from wobbly to racing in about 10 months, joining BFF in 2019 after a spicy FTB-filled winter and purchasing my first road bike Truffles. She’s cool AF. I kinda took a stage dive into racing this year, primarily crits with a few gravel races here and there. Yes the gravel races did make me cry and yes I plan on doing even more of them. Joining BFF and getting to know the team has been such an amazing and kick ass experience. Seriously…this group of people solid A+! Stop by and say hi sometime. I’m usually around at races, group rides, or falling off my bike in front of Aldi’s these prices are too good and my bag is just too heavy.

VANESSA BUCCELLA   I've been falling into the black hole of cycling since I was 13 and bought a Schwinn Criss Cross. My dad road a motorcycle, so I guess something about the freedom of the road and the wind in my hair is in my blood. Since 13, I've been a bike messenger, year-round commuter, and racer. A few years ago I decided to turn my life's passion into my life's work, so I opened BFF Bikes with Annie Byrne. Since joy shared, is joy doubled, I've also made it my mission to get more women on bikes and get more women racing bikes.  By far my favorite race is a fast crit on a hot mid-summer day. I'll keep busy in the fall with some cyclocross and you might even find me mountain biking or racing on the track. I look forward to racing again after giving birth to my son, and being able to hold him while I stand on the podium one day.

VANESSA BUCCELLA


I've been falling into the black hole of cycling since I was 13 and bought a Schwinn Criss Cross. My dad road a motorcycle, so I guess something about the freedom of the road and the wind in my hair is in my blood. Since 13, I've been a bike messenger, year-round commuter, and racer. A few years ago I decided to turn my life's passion into my life's work, so I opened BFF Bikes with Annie Byrne. Since joy shared, is joy doubled, I've also made it my mission to get more women on bikes and get more women racing bikes.

By far my favorite race is a fast crit on a hot mid-summer day. I'll keep busy in the fall with some cyclocross and you might even find me mountain biking or racing on the track. I look forward to racing again after giving birth to my son, and being able to hold him while I stand on the podium one day.

LISA HILLEREN  My cycling community is by far the most important thing to me. Annie convinced me to start racing in 2016 as a way to support a race by women for women. While that experience definitely opened me up to the personal fulfilment of riding hard and pushing my limits I’m really happy to say that I’ve settled back into having a role in my community and being a mentor. If you’ve got a barrier to bike racing, I want to help you problem solve it! You can find me racing crits and at the track primarily, but I also dabble in cross and a gravel race or two. Regardless of where you see me, I’m always happy to talk to you about bike racing and show you around the course!

LISA HILLEREN

My cycling community is by far the most important thing to me. Annie convinced me to start racing in 2016 as a way to support a race by women for women. While that experience definitely opened me up to the personal fulfilment of riding hard and pushing my limits I’m really happy to say that I’ve settled back into having a role in my community and being a mentor. If you’ve got a barrier to bike racing, I want to help you problem solve it! You can find me racing crits and at the track primarily, but I also dabble in cross and a gravel race or two. Regardless of where you see me, I’m always happy to talk to you about bike racing and show you around the course!

KATIE KOLON  I grew up riding bikes on the country roads of Michigan with my dad and have always used my bike as my preferred mode of transportation. I first raced cyclocross in 2011, but eventually found track racing, which is my favorite. I love sprinting and going fast. My racing goal is to make sure I'm enjoying myself more than I'm turning my stomach into knots over a race that will likely last less than 5 minutes.

KATIE KOLON

I grew up riding bikes on the country roads of Michigan with my dad and have always used my bike as my preferred mode of transportation. I first raced cyclocross in 2011, but eventually found track racing, which is my favorite. I love sprinting and going fast. My racing goal is to make sure I'm enjoying myself more than I'm turning my stomach into knots over a race that will likely last less than 5 minutes.

LISA LIM  It didn't take much to fall in love with racing cyclocross. After renting a bike and racing my first cx at Dan Ryan Woods, I was hooked. Going from idle to full throttle is an amazing challenge on two wheels with grass, dirt and sand. The camaraderie at the beginning and end of each race is great, sandwiched with all business in the middle.  So proud to represent the BFF racing team.

LISA LIM

It didn't take much to fall in love with racing cyclocross. After renting a bike and racing my first cx at Dan Ryan Woods, I was hooked. Going from idle to full throttle is an amazing challenge on two wheels with grass, dirt and sand. The camaraderie at the beginning and end of each race is great, sandwiched with all business in the middle.

So proud to represent the BFF racing team.

IFI SUSANA  I love bikes, love dogs, love cats, and love wine. However I really the combination of said bikes, dogs, cats, and wine! Joining BFF gave me the opportunity to enjoy all said things (celebratory wine only after hard training sessions and races of course) with a group of amazing, fun fast, and talents women! We at BFF Bikes so awesome that we also regularly hold fundraiser for One Tail at a Time so check out our next event for puppies (or all our events in hopes of puppies (also available for adoption))! You will find me training on my trusty steed Idris Cumberbatch and at local road and CX races talking about bikes, dogs, cats, and wine (and also racing).

IFI SUSANA

I love bikes, love dogs, love cats, and love wine. However I really the combination of said bikes, dogs, cats, and wine! Joining BFF gave me the opportunity to enjoy all said things (celebratory wine only after hard training sessions and races of course) with a group of amazing, fun fast, and talents women! We at BFF Bikes so awesome that we also regularly hold fundraiser for One Tail at a Time so check out our next event for puppies (or all our events in hopes of puppies (also available for adoption))! You will find me training on my trusty steed Idris Cumberbatch and at local road and CX races talking about bikes, dogs, cats, and wine (and also racing).

LEAH BARRY  I started bike commuting when my car broke down, riding from Uptown to Elmwood park on my hefty Schwinn Beach Cruiser. When I upgraded to a steel single-speed cyclocross bike a few months later, I completed the Chicago Supersprint Triathlon, promptly realized I only really liked the bike part of Triathlons - and entered myself to race in Afterglow 2015. The rest is history: I fell deeply in love with Cyclocross, and off-road bike adventuring as a whole. I've been teaching CX skills at our WTFNBCX practice to help others find the same love, and soon I'll be leading beginner women's MTB rides through BFF as a Fearless Women of Dirt Ambassador. Bike racing isn’t just about the race - it’s hours of training, coaching, friendship, and support; a team should feel like home, and that’s how BFF Bikes Racing feels for me.

LEAH BARRY

I started bike commuting when my car broke down, riding from Uptown to Elmwood park on my hefty Schwinn Beach Cruiser. When I upgraded to a steel single-speed cyclocross bike a few months later, I completed the Chicago Supersprint Triathlon, promptly realized I only really liked the bike part of Triathlons - and entered myself to race in Afterglow 2015. The rest is history: I fell deeply in love with Cyclocross, and off-road bike adventuring as a whole. I've been teaching CX skills at our WTFNBCX practice to help others find the same love, and soon I'll be leading beginner women's MTB rides through BFF as a Fearless Women of Dirt Ambassador. Bike racing isn’t just about the race - it’s hours of training, coaching, friendship, and support; a team should feel like home, and that’s how BFF Bikes Racing feels for me.

TRISH BOSCH  How do I begin?  I have always had a bike, and before that, a trike. My love started early when I confiscated my older brother’s wheels and hammered around my grandparents’ back yard. I taught my landlord’s son how to ride because he saw me having fun and I wanted him to have fun, too.  Cycling is freedom. I commute by bike, having pestered my parents to let me ride to grammar school and later, high school, supplementing daily adventures with daylong tours. For days. I raced as long as someone else had wheels, and more formally, in triathlons. Someone clued me in to cyclocross and I joined the wonderful community that is found at the ChiCrossCup.  There I met BFFs, left and right, who always welcomed and encouraged me, and they asked me to join. Who could say no to that? On any given weekend, I am trying a new(er) discipline, route, or equipment, testing my limits, learning new things, enjoying the company and the ride. I love a long ride with some pickup sprints and then going longer. My teammates make me better every time.  I am honored to support and represent BFF because they have built a business, a community, provided opportunities, and keep coming up with more to offer. I do know they have changed people’s worlds, viewpoints, circumstances, and development. With bikes. How cool.

TRISH BOSCH

How do I begin?

I have always had a bike, and before that, a trike. My love started early when I confiscated my older brother’s wheels and hammered around my grandparents’ back yard. I taught my landlord’s son how to ride because he saw me having fun and I wanted him to have fun, too.

Cycling is freedom. I commute by bike, having pestered my parents to let me ride to grammar school and later, high school, supplementing daily adventures with daylong tours. For days. I raced as long as someone else had wheels, and more formally, in triathlons. Someone clued me in to cyclocross and I joined the wonderful community that is found at the ChiCrossCup.

There I met BFFs, left and right, who always welcomed and encouraged me, and they asked me to join. Who could say no to that? On any given weekend, I am trying a new(er) discipline, route, or equipment, testing my limits, learning new things, enjoying the company and the ride. I love a long ride with some pickup sprints and then going longer. My teammates make me better every time.

I am honored to support and represent BFF because they have built a business, a community, provided opportunities, and keep coming up with more to offer. I do know they have changed people’s worlds, viewpoints, circumstances, and development. With bikes. How cool.

LAURA SHIELDS  In 2016, I moved from the Chicago suburbs to the city proper and became a year round bike commuter. Slowly but surely, my confidence and my fitness improved and I started to do more than just commute. After enjoying several centuries and group rides, I decided to give cyclocross a try. I was pretty terrible at it, but I could still see small gains every week and convinced myself to stick with it. I ended up racing the whole 2017 season and got hooked on racing! I joined BFF Racing team at the end of the CX season and am excited to share this passion with so many other inspiring ladies. In 2018, I’ve been trying out lots of cycling activities that are new to me, including gravel, road/crits, track, and mountain biking.

LAURA SHIELDS

In 2016, I moved from the Chicago suburbs to the city proper and became a year round bike commuter. Slowly but surely, my confidence and my fitness improved and I started to do more than just commute. After enjoying several centuries and group rides, I decided to give cyclocross a try. I was pretty terrible at it, but I could still see small gains every week and convinced myself to stick with it. I ended up racing the whole 2017 season and got hooked on racing! I joined BFF Racing team at the end of the CX season and am excited to share this passion with so many other inspiring ladies. In 2018, I’ve been trying out lots of cycling activities that are new to me, including gravel, road/crits, track, and mountain biking.

DONAIS DEETZ

DONAIS DEETZ

LILY RAMOS

LILY RAMOS

ANNA MATHER

ANNA MATHER

CAROLYN GREEN  Imposter syndrome is a good combination of words for me right now. My cycling adventures begin with commutes on Lake Michigan to my LBS job after leaving seminary. They were slow-- and sometimes progress looks slow. There was a time 8 miles took a hard one hour effort on a too-big Marin hybrid. I moved East to Maryland, and after several years bikepacking on the C&O with a steel, Soma Saga-- I decided to give cyclocross a try. If you’ve ever seen the “it will be fun they said” meme with a dude covered in mud, probably bleeding on the inside-- I am there, 3 races in. I am still working through all the new kid growing pains like “what is zone 2, why am I crying after workouts, why am I so happy even though I broke my face and everything tastes like sulfur and Haterade?”. I love it all and I am terrible at it. I know though, as my kids grow older, I’ll have more time in the saddle and hopefully slay being a master. I really like Tati’s essays and wisdom if anyone remembers them-- “This thing we call bike racing, it’s not a real thing. What most people get out of cycling is camaraderie and adventure.” Of course, this team seems to produce some real bonafide racers moving into the echelon of pro women-- so I’ll be here, at the back cheering these women on and forward.

CAROLYN GREEN

Imposter syndrome is a good combination of words for me right now. My cycling adventures begin with commutes on Lake Michigan to my LBS job after leaving seminary. They were slow-- and sometimes progress looks slow. There was a time 8 miles took a hard one hour effort on a too-big Marin hybrid. I moved East to Maryland, and after several years bikepacking on the C&O with a steel, Soma Saga-- I decided to give cyclocross a try. If you’ve ever seen the “it will be fun they said” meme with a dude covered in mud, probably bleeding on the inside-- I am there, 3 races in. I am still working through all the new kid growing pains like “what is zone 2, why am I crying after workouts, why am I so happy even though I broke my face and everything tastes like sulfur and Haterade?”. I love it all and I am terrible at it. I know though, as my kids grow older, I’ll have more time in the saddle and hopefully slay being a master. I really like Tati’s essays and wisdom if anyone remembers them-- “This thing we call bike racing, it’s not a real thing. What most people get out of cycling is camaraderie and adventure.” Of course, this team seems to produce some real bonafide racers moving into the echelon of pro women-- so I’ll be here, at the back cheering these women on and forward.

Teammates not shown above:
Amber Ritter
Janet Fidanze
Amy McCrackin
Jenny Bradley
Rose Colgan
Michele Underwood
Al Kozik
Austin Killips