Bikepacking Roots is excited to announce that we are now accepting applications for the BIPOC Bike Adventure Grant. This new grant program has been created to help reduce the barriers to bike adventure for BIPOC individuals. Awards will provide funding, gear, and mentoring as needed for recipients to pursue an adventurous experience by bicycle and help elevate their voices.
Qualified applicants are those who identify as BIPOC, live in the United States, have any level of cycling experience, and would benefit from support in order to pursue a specific bike adventure. Applications can also be submitted by small informal groups planning to adventure together. And the meaning of adventure is left up to applicants to define for themselves. The adventure could be a destination bikepacking expedition, a road bike tour, or a trip for day rides on backcountry trails. Awards can also help with gear needs and support individuals working toward a bigger bikepacking trip by helping build skills, confidence, and experience through clinics, group events, or other programs.
During this pandemic, only adventures within the United States will be supported. Applicants must also outline how they will travel as responsibly as possible to minimize risks to themselves and others.
Thanks to the generosity of countless individuals and financial contributions from nearly fifty outdoor and cycling brands, awards will range from $500 to $3,000+ for this grant cycle, and some equipment support will be available. Bikepacking Roots’ staff and volunteers are available to provide mentorship with trip planning as needed. Opportunities will also be created for recipients interested in sharing their stories more broadly. Click here to learn more about the grant program and to apply.
Applications must be received by no later than November 8th. Applications will be reviewed by a panel of four BIPOC adventure cyclists, and recipients will be notified by mid-December. The next application window will open in spring of 2021. To make a contribution to the BIPOC Bike Adventure Grant fund, please click here.
Bikepacking Roots is expanding and diversifying our Board of Directors, and we are welcoming applications from individuals looking to be a positive influence for and within the bikepacking community. The Board of Directors is made up of passionate volunteers who act as representatives of the organization and as advocates for the bikepacking community, the experiences we collectively seek, and the landscapes through which we ride.
Who is Bikepacking Roots? We are the only non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and advancing bikepacking, growing a diverse bikepacking community, and creating professional routes. We also advocate for the conservation of the landscapes and public lands through which we ride and for continued access to backcountry trails. Our organization values human-powered adventure and an inclusive, engaged, and informed membership, now nearly 6,000 strong, that makes a positive impact as we all explore by bike. In the past year, Bikepacking Roots has created the Bears Ears Loops and the Northwoods Route, the BIPOC Bike Adventure Grant, developed a bikepacking curriculum for the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, and has been involved in advocacy efforts all across the West.
“Our Board is instrumental in helping chart the direction of this community-driven non-profit,” explains Executive Director Kurt Refsnider. “The Board also makes sure that we’re as efficient as possible with our budget in order to maximize our impact.”
Bikepacking Roots is striving for the composition of our Board of Directors to reflect an increasingly diverse and inclusive bikepacking community. In particular, we are seeking applicants who represent non-dominant identities as BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and/or FTW (femme, transgender, women). Individuals of all ages, identities, abilities, and sizes are encouraged to apply. Board members do not need to be bikepackers but preferably can contribute expertise, guidance, and dedication in areas that strengthen Bikepacking Roots’ ability and capacity to pursue our mission. These skill areas could include (in no particular order)
To learn more about this opportunity and to apply, click here. Bikepacking Roots will begin reviewing applications on September 14th.
We're excited to finally release the long-awaited Bears Ears Loops bikepacking route network - 700 miles of riding options through the high deserts and subalpine wilds of central and southeastern Utah. Their goal with these routes are to empower riders to confidently and safely immerse themselves in the remarkable but intimidating landscape, develop an informed sense of place, and experience some of all that is at risk to be lost if the Bears Ears region is not protected.
The 372-mile Bears Ears Loop, the eastern of two loop options, meanders through more than 100 miles within the original boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument. By helping bikepackers experience this and the surrounding landscapes and understanding more about the unique cultural history, geology, and ecology through the accompanying 100-page Bears Ears Loops Landscape and Route Guide, we are actively creating new advocates for Bears Ears. The 437-mile Swell Loop to the west connects with our already-popular Wild West Route, the Canada-to-Mexico epic.
The riding experience of this network has been intentionally designed as relatively non-technical, very manageable on a traditional mountain bike (fat bikes are not necessary, and gravel bikes are not recommended), and to be accessible for any mountain biker with some prior bikepacking experience. Most of the riding is on dirt roads and 4x4 tracks, and water resources along the way have been inventoried and scouted in different seasons to assess reliability. Bikepacking Routes also chose to not route the loops through the more seldom-visited areas of the Monument to avoid impacting their nature.
“The remoteness of this region, the scale and grandeur of the landscape, and the minimal development of any sort make this place the most powerful of anywhere I’ve ridden,” says Kurt Refsnider, Bikepacking Roots' Executive Director. “But the remoteness and perceived harshness of the area keep most bikepackers away. So we’ve created these routes and extensive planning resources to allow more riders to safely adventure through this region, to have immersive experiences here, to learn more about the landscape and its sacredness to Indigenous groups. That understanding and connection is what builds new conservation advocates.”
The designation of Bears Ears National Monument in 2016 marked the first time in U.S. history that a National Monument was created in response to the voices of the Indigenous groups who call the landscape home - the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, and Ute Indian Tribe. Just 11 months later, the Trump administration reduced the Monument's size by ~85%. And in a direct affront to the request of the Intertribal Coalition, the southern unit of the reduced Monument was named the Shásh Jaa’ Unit (using the Diné name for Bears Ears). The Coalition had insisted upon the use of the English “Bears Ears” name for the Monument rather than in any one tribe’s language in solidarity and unity. The legality of the Monument reduction is currently being litigated in court.
"We often times hear phrases such as ‘land conservation’ and ‘protecting public lands’ in the outdoor industry which is heavily driven by preserving the ability to recreate in these places,” explains Diné (Navajo) conservation advocate and mountain biker Renee Hutchens. “We too advocate, but what drives our fight to protect our land is our belief that the land is us – our identity, culture, and way of life is held within Mother Earth. It is the same mindset you’d have if you were fighting for your own life or that of your loved ones."
More information about these loops, all GPS data, and the full 100-page Bears Ears Loops Landscape and Route guidebook (in digital and print formats) are available on our Bears Ears Loops page.
However, during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition is requesting that visitors refrain from traveling to the Bears Ears region given the severity of the health crisis in some local communities, particularly Indigenous communities. So now is the time for planning trips, not actually taking trips to this area - that’s how we collectively can best show respect and solidarity at this time.
The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), Blackburn Designs and Bikepacking Roots announced a new partnership that establishes a bikepacking curriculum and traveling gear library for NICA student-athletes and coaches. Bikepacking Roots is providing the on-trail expertise and Blackburn is providing the funding and bikepacking kit for 20 riders.
“At Bikepacking Roots, we’re passionate about facilitating human-powered adventures in wild places and reducing barriers to those sorts of empowering experiences. I’ve watched the remarkable transformation new bikepackers go through in just a handful of short bikepacking trips, and I couldn’t be more excited to partner with NICA and Blackburn to create such an opportunity for kids across the United States,” shares Bikepacking Roots executive director, Kurt Refsnider, Ph.D.
The curriculum for this new bikepacking program will be created by Bikepacking Roots' education team, led by Kaitlyn Boyle, M.S. Boyle has more than a decade of experience in adventure education and curriculum design and has taught for Prescott College, NOLS, and Outward Bound.
“We’ve been looking to get more involved with the future of bikepacking for the past few years,” said Blackburn marketing manager Dan Powell. “This partnership with NICA came up after the release of a video project ‘Wild Virtue’ we sponsored, and we felt like this was the opportunity we’d been waiting for. We’re very proud to be working with these two organizations.”
Stay tuned for more later in the summer of 2020 as this partnership develops and begins getting kids out on the ground for their first bikepacking adventures!
Over the past week, we’ve witnessed the frustration, heartbreak, and exhaustion of generations of oppression and racial inequality once again boil over as protests against police brutality and racism have spread across the United States. The time is long overdue for each and every community within the country, including the overwhelmingly white outdoor recreation community and industry, to listen and respond with change.
“The outdoor industry touts outdoors for all and outside is free with respect to trails, parks, and adventuring. However, that is not the case until we address racial inequity and dismantle racial and social injustices embedded by white colonialism,” says Kaitlyn Boyle, Program Director for the Bikepacking Roots non-profit. “We need to change the outdoor narratives, create inclusive and safe spaces for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) in the outdoors, and increase our efforts to shift the racial fabric of the outdoor landscape so that the outdoors can truly be for all.”
Toward these ends, Bikepacking Roots has created the BIPOC Bike Adventure Grant, a new grant program to help reduce the barriers to bike adventure for BIPOC individuals. This grant will provide funding for recipients to pursue an adventurous experience by bicycle and help elevate their voices. The adventure could be a destination bikepacking expedition, a road bike tour, or a trip for day rides on backcountry trails. The grant could also help with gear needs and support individuals working toward a bikepacking trip by helping build skills, confidence, and experience through clinics, group events, or other programs.
“We want to leave it up to applicants to explain what adventure means to them and how we can help support their vision and goals,” explains Executive Director Kurt Refsnider. “I’ve been incredibly privileged to have my life and worldview profoundly impacted by past adventures. There needs to be equitable opportunity for empowering adventures of any scale, and that’s simply not the case.”
Beyond helping support grant recipients’ goals, Bikepacking Roots is asking more companies within the outdoor industry to break their silence, acknowledge the impacts of racism on access to outdoor experiences, and step up efforts to institute change. Each company that recognizes these impacts and contributes to the BIPOC Bike Adventure Grant fund will be featured on Bikepacking Roots’ website.
What can you as an individual do to help in this? If outdoor adventures have positively impacted your life in some way, please consider making a contribution to the grant - 100% of the donations will go to grant recipients. Ask your favorite outdoor brands and organizations to financially support this or other anti-racist causes. And most importantly, listen, be proactive, be brave, and be respectful.
To learn more about and contribute to the BIPOC Bike Adventure Grant click on the button below.
At the end of 2019, we completed a Bikepacking Roots five-year strategic plan after a year-long process led by our Board of Directors. Our vision is centered around fulfilling our mission to support and advance bikepacking and the conservation of the landscapes and public lands through which we ride. To do this, we’ve identified our goals as:
We recognize that our goals are ambitious and require intentional, expertly guided strategic action. To strengthen our capacity for guiding and implementing action at Bikepacking Roots, we have sought the involvement of experts around the country. Our Regional Advisors bring passion, dedication, and experience to route development, advocacy, and stewardship around the country. They are folks who are tuned into and involved in their region and have volunteered to contribute their awareness, ideas, and guidance to Bikepacking Roots in advocacy related efforts and in route development. With our Regional Advisors, we are expanding our capacity to develop the highest quality routes, grow our awareness of local issues that affect bikepackers, build grassroots advocacy, and engage local bikepacking communities around the country.
Currently our Regional Advisors include Whitney Ford-Terry (Santa Cruz, Ca), Erin Carroll (Santa Barbara, CA), Troy Hopwood (Seattle, WA), Jessica Kelly (WA), Almer Casile (Coeur d’Alene, ID), Joe Riemensnider (Missoula, MT), Patrick K Hendry (Park City, UT), Dana Ernst (Flagstaff, AZ), John Schilling (Phoenix, AZ), Spencer Harding, (Tucson, AZ), Matt Mason (Las Cruces, NM), Jan Bennett (Santa Fe, NM), Sarah Swallow (Durango, CO), Steve Fassbinder (Mancos, CO), Greg Lessard (Minneapolis MN), Chris Tompkins (Danville, VA), Charly Aurelia (Asheville, NC), Karlos Bernart (DeLeon Springs, FL).
We will continue to expand the diversity and geographic representation of Regional Advisors. In the coming year these folks will be engaged in route development, community building, and fostering local bikepacking advocates and stewards.
To advise our efforts at advocating for bikepacking and the conservation of the landscapes through which we ride, we have formed a new Policy and Cultural Advisors group. These individuals bring diverse expertise and perspective to our organization and will help guide how we engage in and structure our advocacy strategies and communications. Currently this group is composed of
The ever-expanding Bikepacking Roots community is particularly inspiring during these challenging and uncertain times, and we are especially grateful to have this talented group of individuals supporting our mission.
By Kaitlyn Boyle
In late 2019, Bicycling Magazine published an article highlighting the Bears Ears Alternate to our Wild West Route, part of a larger bikepacking network in development called the Bears Ears Loops. We intended to release the route network and its guidebook in early spring, but the arrival of the Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent closing of much of southeast Utah’s public lands led us to withhold releasing the Bears Ears Loops. We're now excited to share the progress toward releasing the route!
As we stayed home looking forward to the opening of the Bears Ears landscape to visitors, we have been quietly adding the details and finishing touches to the Bears Ears Loops network and guide. The loops will consist of three loops plus an alternate to the Wild West Route and shorter point-point trips. The Confluence Loop is a 372-mile-long loop that circles the heart of the Colorado Plateau around the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers. The Swell Loop is a 436-mile-long loop that broadly encircles the San Rafael Swell over the Henry Mountains and Aquarius Plateau. The Plateau Loop is made by riding the outer periphery of the Confluence and Swell Loops for a larger 646-mile-long loop connecting the Wild West Route on the high plateaus of the western Colorado Plateau to a grand tour of Bears Ears and the Canyonlands Region.
This route network will be supported by GPS resources with hundreds of waypoints identifying the scarce water and resupply options. The Wild West Route mobile app from Bikepacking Guides will also be updated to include the Bears Ears Loops. A full-length guidebook will be available in digital or print formats to accompany the route and guide bikepackers through the logistics of planning and riding any of the routes. To help bikepackers further enhance their experience in the inspiring and sacred landscape that is Bears Ears region, a detailed landscape guide offers geophysical, biological, and human histories and perspectives of the area. The landscape guide weaves in a Navajo perspective on the sacred connection between landscape and culture and it gives a background to the ongoing National Monument designation issue.
If you’re looking forward to planning a bikepacking trip to the Bears Ears region, keep an eye out for the Bears Ears Loops network and guide to be released in early June! To support our work in professional and intentional route and guide development, please contribute to support more projects like this in the future - one of our current prizes is a night or two of lodging in one of Roam Industry cabins along the route, as well as shuttle support if needed for a point-to-point ride!
By Kaitlyn Boyle
I enjoy solo bikepacking, but generally I’d rather bikepack with people. For me bikepacking is a way of moving through a landscape at a pace that I can connect with the place and the people I’m with. Bikepacking with others forges new friendships, deepens existing relationships, and creates a shared experience. Inspired by our experiences bikepacking with friends and yet-to-be friends, we are excited to announce the first-ever Bikepacking Roots Rendezvous! This free, non-competitive gathering will take place in the mountains surrounding the Teton Valley in eastern Idaho and western Wyoming in late August.
The Bikepacking Roots Rendezvous is intended to increase access to the bikepacking opportunity, build community, and connect riders to local landscapes. We invite mountain bikers from the region to join us to try out bikepacking, ride a new route, and build community in an inclusive and welcoming group riding and camping environment. Those who join us will deepen their connection to the landscape by learning about the natural history, land management, and trail stewardship of the region that makes backcountry riding possible.
We invite you to join us at the Bikepacking Roots Teton Rendezvous for a multi-day group ride to experience the incredible backcountry singletrack that exists because of dedicated trail stewardship and advocacy. For this event, we've partnered with fellow non-profit Mountain Bike the Tetons, the local trails organization, to highlight the value of dedicated trail advocacy and stewardship for backcountry trails.
Details will be released with the registration page at the end of this month. The event, and all future Bikepacking Roots Rendezvous, will be free, encourage folks of all bikepacking experience levels to join, and facilitate a fun, educational, and inclusive environment that connects mountain bikers with other mountain bikers and the landscape through which we ride. Stay tuned for the registration and details!
And given the ever-evolving Covid-19 situation, we obviously may need to cancel the event. We'll only move forward with a small group event like this if travel at the time is responsible, if the local communities are welcoming visitors, and if the Caribou-Targhee National Forest is fully supportive.
Written by Kaitlyn Boyle
For over 95% of Americans, we’re weeks into state-issued stay home orders and federal social distancing instructions. For me, I’m hunkered into the transition season in the Teton Valley, Idaho. Snow is melting, precipitation falls as a rain/snow mix, and trails are many weeks away from being rideable. So like so many, I too, am beginning to feel restless with cabin fever as I wonder when I’ll be able to load my bike up to travel and pedal freely again.
Concurrent with lay-offs and furloughs from Coronavirus, Americans nationwide have demonstrated how valuable America’s public lands and recreation opportunities are. People who are looking for fresh air, movement, social interaction (often under the parameters of social distancing), and vacation have flooded recreation destinations from the closest urban trailheads and parks to the gateway communities adjacent to America’s most coveted landscapes. Our last blog post shared the needs and requests of small gateway communities. In summary, mayors of gateway communities have publicly requested visitors stay home and wait to visit their tourist town once the pandemic crisis has settled. But as states are starting to discuss the process of reopening local economies and lifting restrictions, how do we determine the responsible and appropriate ways to expand our personal recreation opportunities?
With these discussions happening in our federal and local governments, I’m advocating for the communities and landscapes that bikepackers impact. How state and local governments start to lift stay home orders will vary from place to place. Let’s wait and continue to listen to small communities. If you’re thinking of going somewhere as your state opens up, reach out and learn if those communities are ready to have visitors again. Just because local businesses open won’t mean that communities are at the same time open to visitors quite yet.
Curious for a broader understanding of the impacts of Coronavirus on recreation spaces, I’ve asked Board members at Bikepacking Roots who represent various regions of the country to share how their home communities are trying to flatten the curve in relation to recreation, travel, and land management. Here's what they shared:
These examples illustrate the concurrent marked value of access to fresh air, natural spaces, and recreation to this nation and the challenges that small communities and land management agencies face in protecting the health and safety of their community members and employees during a pandemic. As we begin to contemplate resurfacing from the lockdown, I ask that as a representative of the bikepacking community, you proceed in seeking recreation with the selfless perspective of the individuals, communities, and landscapes you intend to engage with. To us at Bikepacking Roots, responsible recreation in the foreseeable months looks like seeking the stances of local communities on outside visitors before traveling to or through them and diligently practicing the hygiene, social distancing, or group size guidelines asked of by the locals communities. And of course, local and solo riding is, now more than ever, an opportunity to explore your home while recreating responsibly.
-Kaitlyn Boyle, Program Coordinator
Hello fellow bikepackers,
From the Board of Directors and staff at Bikepacking Roots, we hope that you and your families are remaining healthy and are navigating the adversity and uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic as smoothly as possible. Our hearts go out to all whose health and livelihoods have been and will be compromised as a result of this health crisis.
Our mission at Bikepacking Roots is, in part, to advocate for the landscapes through which we ride. But at this time, we need to be advocates for all the communities that also make our adventures possible, and right now, those communities are who we’re listening to. And they’re asking that we all respectfully refrain from traveling for outdoor recreation or accessing the backcountry away from home.
During this critical effort to flatten the curve, it is imperative that recreationalists do not further stress the residents of small, rural communities by increasing their contact with the broader population or adding pressure to their already limited health care resources. Stay home and responsibly recreate locally. Furthermore, once we’re on the other side of this pandemic and recovering, those small communities will need us! So please, start dreaming and scheming of the adventures to come once we have moved past the threats of Coronavirus.
"Right now, what we and other gateway communities need is space and time," says Jonathan Houck, Gunnison County Commissioner and Bikepacking Roots Board member. "And when we're past this crisis, communities like ours will swing our doors wide open, and we'll need you."
Please take 2 minutes to listen to Jonathan's message for the bikepacking community:
Gunnison County is one of Colorado's popular rural tourism destinations including Crested Butte and sections of both the Colorado Trail and the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Gunnison County has also already been hit hard by Covid-19. Gateway communities across the country are closing their doors to visitors and asking us to not recreate in their local front- or backcountry areas to protect residents and focus all their resources on their own fight in this crisis. So let's save our adventures for when they’ll benefit the economic recovery of small communities all across the country.
Here at Bikepacking Roots, we will be delaying the release of new routes, such as the Bears Ears Loops, until we’ve received word from small communities that they’re excited to welcome us back. In the meantime, we’ll be working hard behind the scenes on route development and educational projects.
Kurt, Kait, and everyone at Bikepacking Roots
Kurt Refsnider, Executive Director
Kaitlyn Boyle, Program Coordinator
|Bikepacking Roots -- Explore. Inform. Connect. Conserve.||
News and updates
Bikepacking Roots is the only non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and advancing bikepacking, growing a diverse bikepacking community, advocating for the conservation of the landscapes and public lands through which we ride, and creating professional routes. We value human-powered experiences and an inclusive, engaged, and informed membership (nearly 6,000 strong) that makes a positive impact as we adventure by bike.
Our Business Partners that support the bikepacking community, conservation, and public lands: