Bikepacking Roots (BPR) is excited to welcome its new Executive Director, Ally Johnson, a passionate bikepacker and experiential educator based in Salt Lake City. Ally has a master’s degree in Policy, Organization, and Leadership from Stanford University, undergraduate work in nonprofit leadership, and last taught US history and civics at the high school level. Ally was chosen from a large candidate pool of highly qualified individuals, a testament to the passion and diversity of experiences in the bikepacking community.
“After serving as Executive Director of Bikepacking Roots for four years since the organization was founded, it’s time to pass the torch,” shares our Founding Director Kurt Refsnider. “I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Ally - she brings a wealth of valuable experience and perspective both on and off the bike that will help BPR continue to expand our support and advocacy for the growing bikepacking community.”
Refsnider is moving into a director role overseeing route development while co-founder Kait Boyle remains the Education and Events Director. Both will continue to race off-road ultra endurance events professionally. BPR is also welcoming Nan Pugh moving into the Board chair role. She has volunteered with BPR since 2018 and is an experienced nonprofit organizational leader and outdoor educator based in the Teton Valley of Idaho.
BPR invites you to get to know Ally, who will begin in a part-time role while also spending time riding many of BPR’s routes. The organizational goal is to expand the executive director position into full-time as quickly as possible to facilitate BPR’s continued growth.
What excites you about Bikepacking Roots and this role?
Bikepacking has had such a transformative, positive impact on my life. I’m passionate about Bikepacking Roots because they help people have those life-changing experiences, connecting them to landscapes and communities.
I am excited to enable Kait and Kurt to do what they do best. They aren’t going anywhere. I’m joining them to help grow our organization’s capacity to connect people, protect public lands, and map new routes.
Personally, I’m most passionate about the community and education piece. I went to a Bikepacking Roots GoBikepacking event during the interview process and it was an incredibly connecting experience. I’m stoked to put on more in-person events post-pandemic.
What was your first bikepacking trip?
The Tour Divide in 2019. I thru-hiked the PCT in 2009, and toured the Northern Tier route in 2015. I figured I had the experience to combine the two and have the best of both worlds - I had no idea how hard or transformative it would be.
The Tour Divide Grand Depart wasn’t as welcoming as I expected, but a few women encouraged me that I did belong even if I wasn’t racing. That support carried me through the ride, and it made me passionate about ensuring our community is inclusive and welcoming.
During the Tour Divide, my future husband met me up in Aspen Alley, outside of Rawlins, Wyoming. He told me to ride towards him so he could snap some photos. When I reached him he dropped down on one knee and proposed. Later that evening, he offered to lance my saddle sores with the diamond ring. True dirtbag love.
What do you love about bikepacking?
The breadth of the sport is incredible. You can push your body to the absolute limits if you want, or you can ride slow and silly. I love the symmetry that Kurt [Refsnider] once had the fastest known time on the Tour Divide and I was DFL. Fifteen days vs. fifty. I love that Bikepacking Roots has the space to encompass both of us and our experiences. That’s the source of our strength; we one-hundred percent want to have and welcome both.
What is something you can’t live without on bikepacking trips?
Fuzzy slippers. My biggest challenge bikepacking is staying warm while sleeping. I need something between sleep socks and down booties, and cheap, old-lady fuzzy bunny slippers are the sweet spot.
What does the future of bikepacking look like to you?
Bright! Our sport is growing so fast. I’m hopeful that we can harness that energy to create an even more engaged and inclusive community. As cheesy as it sounds, I really do believe in the power of people on bikes to change the world.
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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.
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