Written by Kurt Refsnider
Back in 2017, Kait Boyle and I founded the Bikepacking Roots organization with the goals of supporting the responsible growth of the bikepacking community, advocating for bikepackers and the places we ride, and creating bikepacking routes of the highest quality. No other non-profit was doing more than bits and pieces of this, and despite knowing nothing about starting a 501(c)(3) organization, we went about establishing Bikepacking Roots. I ended up stepping into the Executive Director (ED) position, learning as we grew, and balancing the work with my other steadily-evolving responsibilities as a geology professor, professional athlete, and cycling coach. Since that time, bikepacking has experienced nearly exponential growth in interest and participation. Bikepacking Roots has grown to more than 7,000 members, attracted a diverse and talented Board of Directors, and engaged volunteers from all across the country. Together, our contributions to the bikepacking community have been substantial, we’ve laid the groundwork behind the scenes for so much more, and we’re poised to expand our staff to further expand our capacity.
Having led Bikepacking Roots to this point, I’ve come to the decision that it’s time for me to step down as ED (once a replacement is hired) and transition into a role within the organization focused on some of our expanding programming needs alongside Kait. This will allow us to hire a new ED who can bring new perspectives to Bikepacking Roots and build the director role from a part-time to full-time position, something I don’t have the capacity to do. I’m particularly excited by all this, and I hope you, our members, are as well. If you're interested in learning more about the ED position, you can find the full job description and information on how to apply here. And as we make this transition and round the corner toward the tail end of this pandemic, we have quite a few new routes, events, and opportunities we’ll be announcing. Here’s a glimpse of what’s to come:
New routes! We’ve already developed thousands of miles of routes and extensive route guidebooks that are enabling riders to have empowering experiences of all scales on two wheels, and we have thousands of additional miles of routes currently in development. First up is the new Northwoods Route - guidebooks should be available within just a few weeks, and you can pre-order yours now. We also are wrapping up work on the Intermountain Connectors between the Western Wildlands Route and Adventure Cycling Association’s iconic Great Divide MTB Route, and we’ll be seeking more members of our Route Test Team for final refinements of the Pony Express Route this fall. The singletrack-oriented Orogenesis epic is entering a new phase of on-the-ground trail development planning, and Chuska MTB Route on Navajo Nation, a project of our partner Navajo Y.E.S., will be unveiled before too much longer.
New events! We’re about to announce our new community-building Go Bikepacking! event series - the first of these will be in the Northern Rockies, the South, and on Navajo Nation. Each of these gatherings will support a different cause, and we’ll have travel grants available to help make the weekends as accessible as possible.
New opportunities! Last summer, we created the BIPOC Bike Adventure Program as a first step toward addressing inequitable access to the bikepacking experience. We’ll be sharing more about the first ~20 grant recipients in the coming weeks, and we’ll be creating a new position within the organization to expand this program thanks to support from Salsa Cycles. Our 4th Annual Bikepacking Community Survey recently focused on accessibility topics, providing us with valuable data regarding specific concerns and barriers to entry impacting BIPOC and FTW+ cyclists. These data will enable us to develop more specific strategies to support a more diverse and inclusive adventure cycling community.
New advocacy strategies! We’ve been engaged in a range of advocacy issues around the country over the past few years, primarily in a reactive posture. But in recent months, we’ve developed a collaborative strategic plan for proactively expanding our advocacy influence for bikepackers, for public lands, and for the landscapes through which we ride. We’ll share more about this in the coming months as we develop more opportunities for you to get involved.
I hope that in reading through this you feel the same excitement as I do writing it. Bikepacking Roots has so much in the works for you, the bikepacking community, and I’m eager to see who our Board of Directors chooses to take the reins in leading the organization forward. I also want to personally thank the bikepacking community for the enthusiastic support of Bikepacking Roots thus far. If you haven’t already, please consider becoming an annual member of Bikepacking Roots to support all our efforts. It’s through the generous support of the community and our business partners that we’ve been able to accomplish as much as we have in such a short time. We’ll also be looking for a few new members for our Board of Directors in the coming months, so if you’d like to get more involved, please keep an eye out for announcements about that opportunity.
Kurt Refsnider, Ph.D.
Founding Executive Director
If you consider yourself an adventure cyclist or an aspiring adventure cyclist of any type, Bikepacking Roots wants to hear from you in our 4th Annual Bikepacking and Adventure Cycling Community Survey. It will take just 5 minutes to complete, and you could win one of nearly three dozen prizes. These include a Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon e-bike, bags from Revelate Designs, Oveja Negra, Rockgeist, Outer Shell, and Makeshifter Canvas Works, a prize pack from Stan’s NoTubes, Ride with GPS and Gaia GPS app subscriptions, and many more.
Through this survey, we are striving to better understand accessibility challenges, barriers to entry, personal safety concerns, and individuals’ outdoor backgrounds as they all relate to the adventure cycling experience. This knowledge is critical to supporting the growth of a more diverse and accessible community. So if you’re a bikepacker, road tourer, gravel enthusiast, or backcountry mountain biker, one who embarks on bike adventures of any type, or are aspiring toward any type of bike adventure, your perspective is important to share.
This Giving Tuesday, support Bikepacking Roots with a monthly or annual membership. In a year where it has been challenging to be together, we have focused our efforts on laying the foundation for a stronger bikepacking community with new initiatives to
As a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit, your contribution to Bikepacking Roots is tax-deductible, and our recently-expanded Board of Directors ensures that your donation is stretched to its maximum potential. We appreciate your continued support and look forward to hopefully crossing paths in 2021!
-- The Bikepacking Roots Team
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.
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.
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