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
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 (7,000+ strong) that makes a positive impact as we adventure by bike.
Our Business Partners that support the bikepacking community, conservation, and public lands:
Our organizational partners that support bikepacking, advocacy, conservation, and outdoor recreation: