Meet Our Bikepacking Collective Routes Access Fund Awardees: Part 1
We’re excited to introduce the first group of our 2021 Bikepacking Collective Routes Access Fund awardees. Meet some of the BIPOC bikepackers who’ll be receiving grants and gear to support their upcoming trips here, as well as the panel of judges who helped us select them…
Last year, we announced our Bikepacking Collective Routes Access Fund, through which we’re aiming to increase the representation of individuals who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and work toward changing the face of bikepacking by empowering aspiring BIPOC writers and creatives. We asked our community of readers and several brands from around the cycling world to donate to the fund, and we also contributed $10,000 from our Bikepacking Collective membership dues. In total, we raised around $35,000 for recipients to put toward their pedal-powered adventures.
We were blown away by the quality of applications and the unique and meaningful trips that were proposed, as well as the creative forms of documentation that were envisioned, from podcasts, to zines, to feature-length films, and more. After carefully reviewing and discussing all of the applications throughout the spring, our committee (introduced at the bottom of this post) selected close to 30 awardees to receive support in the form of grants and essential bikepacking and outdoor gear.
Without further ado, here’s the first group of 2021 Bikepacking Collective Routes Access Fund awardees who’ll be receiving a Ride and Report Award to document an upcoming bikepacking trip and share it here on the site. Below, each shares a bit about themselves and their riding plans:
Ramon Alejandro Rocha
He/Him / Age 22 / @ramonchitito
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
I’m a Mexican American from the south side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When I’m not spending time with loved ones, I am either playing sports, reading, getting involved with my community, or my favorite – biking. I have experienced the physical and mental benefits of biking and strive to bring awareness to my community about the importance of dedicating time to activities that keep your mind and body healthy.
I am currently planning a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. As someone of Mexican descent but born and raised in the U.S., I found it difficult to connect with my Mexican identity. As of recently, however, I’ve been exposed to my culture in ways that have ignited my desire to reconnect with my Mexican heritage. To do this, I have been learning about Mexican history, involving myself in my Latinx community, improving my Spanish, and more. But an opportunity to explore Mexican culture through biking is one I would never have imagined. Riding along the “Oaxaca Escondida” route will allow me to experience Mexico through the most authentic and intimate lens.
Eva M. Valenzuela Quevedo
She/Her / Age 34 / @evavequ
I was born and raised in Huaraz city in the Cordillera Blanca, the heart of the Peruvian Andes. My surroundings inspired me to the outdoors, where I did hikes, rock climbing, and mountaineering around the Cordillera Blanca, even though I was born with a condition called dysplasia. After some adventurous years, I moved to Lima to pursue another huge passion: becoming a professional photographer. After school and city life, I moved back to Huaraz and started working in tourism-related companies, photography instruction, NGOs, and as a freelance photographer.
These days, I have a new project called Rima Rima Cine with two fellow movie-making friends. My dysplasia has reduced my ability to move with time, and since climbing is no longer possible, when I was 30 years old I learned to ride a bike for the first time. Since then, I’ve become a junkie of long trips and bikes. I’m planning to travel around the Cordillera Blanca via bike as part of a bigger project from Huaraz to Ushuaia as soon as the COVID madness has subsided.
Reynold “RB” Beniza
He/Him / Age 30 / @rbizthawiz
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Winnipeg is home to the highest Filipino population in Canada by percentage. Like many second-generation Filipino immigrants, I suppressed a lot of my Filipino culture and identity growing up, which put me at odds with my family and some of my Filipino peers while still feeling as though I didn’t belong in the white-dominated spaces I occupied. As time passed, I gained the wisdom to realize that my hobbies and interests didn’t make me any less Filipino or more white and that my background didn’t make me any less deserving of participating in the outdoors.
My proposed trip will be taking place in Toronto and Montreal and make use of the Trans Canada Trail (TCT). In Toronto, I plan on riding the TCT from Toronto to Darlington Provincial Park and staying for two nights before heading back into the city. In Montreal, I plan on riding the Petit Train du Nord section of the TCT. It will be a bit of a homecoming for my bike, as the brand behind my frame is based out of Montreal. These definitely aren’t Great Divide-worthy routes, but I wanted to go on and document some more accessible trips because I don’t want other BIPOC looking to get into bikepacking to feel intimidated or feel obligated to track down a bunch of gear.
He/Him / Age 35 / @andy__elias
Wrightwood, California, USA
I grew up just east of Los Angeles in the “little” town of Pico Rivera. I grew up poor so I never really had a bike, let alone saw bikes as something people did for fun. It wasn’t until my years in Tucson, Arizona, that I learned how fun bikes are. From there, I just fell in love with cycling. I left Tucson due to mental health reasons and while back home found that cycling was not only fun but a form of self-care and therapy for me. I buried myself in cycling, making it part of my identity. All my friends are cyclists, I race, I have my own bike team (Best Friends Forever Cycling Club), and I toured across America. I have done a lot with bikes. Lately, my focus has shifted toward my little family consisting of my soon-to-be wife, our two dogs, and cat. We moved away from LA to the tiny town of Wrightwood, where we ride, hike, and explore. Life is good.
We are going 100% car-free for a trip starting in Union Station, where we’ll take the train out to “The Old Pueblo,” my old stomping grounds. From there, we plan on taking the Arizona Trail (AZT) to Patagonia and doing the Sky Island Odyssey West Loop back to Patagonia and then back to Tucson via the AZT. We are planning on heading out this December, so we’re expecting short days and cold nights, but it beats the heat.
They/Them / Age 21 / @colbaltcowboy
Bay Area, California
Hi, I’m Bowie and I’m on a slow but sure trip around the world, including as many different types of adventures as I can. Anything from hiking thousands of miles, to summers in national parks, to biking through the unknown, I plan to do it all. Growing up in the Bay, I’ve been exposed to diversity in almost every aspect of life except for travel. With there not being a large representation of BIPOC and queer people in the travel community, I’m happy to be a face that people can relate to.
I plan on biking the Baja Divide after my Appalachian Trail thru-hike, miles and miles back and forth between Mexico’s coast and deserts. The bigger the challenge the greater the reward, and I expect this trip to be true to that. I’m trying to learn as much Spanish beforehand so I’m not completely lost going through small towns, and I’m hopeful this trip will have some of the best twists and turns I have experienced yet.
He/Him / Age 45 / @theironlyportrait
Buenos Aires, Argentina
I am a photographer cycling through beautiful but impoverished remote areas in order to make, print, and give away portraits to families who won’t otherwise ever have a family photograph… and also to donate water filters and solar lights to those who need them most! In the last six years, I rode close to 35,000 kilometers through South America (Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Chile, & Argentina). I gave away more than 500 portraits, and I donated 350 solar lamps and water filters.
Before the end of the year, I’m planning to ride the northern part of Trans-Argentina, an 8,000+ kilometer mountain bike route with 125,000 meters of climbing, traversing the length of the country through the Andes Mountains via a network of remote trails.
She/Her/Ella / Age 31 / @janelle_takesphotos
I’m a child welfare social caseworker, social justice advocate, photographer, and outings leader for Latino Outdoors. In order to encourage other BIPOC community members to access nature for better mental health and physical wellbeing, I champion the idea that “Representation Matters” through my photography and advocacy work in Washington, D.C., and in Colorado, where I live.
As a beginner bikepacker, I hope to share my moments of brown joy while riding the Olympic Adventure route this fall. Capturing it all on camera is the best way I know how to storytell, and I am hopeful many more in my BIPOC community will join me after I share how bikepacking can be a place of joy and healing for us too.
He/Him / Age 34 / @bozzycamps
Los Angeles, California, USA
My name is Chris aka Bozzy and I love bikes! I started riding to keep my Crohn’s disease in check and it has made living with the disease a lot easier. I have been car-free for most of my adult life and really enjoy camping, commuting, and socializing through cycling. I currently work at a bike shop turning wrenches on recumbents for mostly elderly and disabled clientele. Bringing cycling to every kind of person and promoting diversity in our space is my passion. Before wrenching, I used to be a chef, and in my time off the bike, I can be found cooking for the love of my life and napping with my dogs.
I’m planning to have a car-free ride with Andy Elias, taking a train from Los Angeles to Tucson, biking the Arizona Trail to the Sky Islands Odyssey West Loop, then coming back home the same way.
Our Access Fund Review Committee
We asked a trio of inspiring BIPOC bikepackers and advocates for BIPOC folks in the outdoors to serve as our Access Fund review committee, and they met with us several times throughout the spring to discuss applications in detail and select this year’s awardees. We can’t thank them enough for their time and thoughtful deliberation throughout the review process. Find an introduction to our panel of judges below:
She/Her / @dev_rox
Devin Cowens is a connector, event planner, and advocate for BIPOC folks in cycling. She launched RAR ATL in 2019 as WTF BX ATL and is currently a member of the RAR Gravel Team. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, bike camping, creating community and bringing people together. She is the person you want at the party to make sure folks are fed and feeling good. She is a Leo sun, Leo rising and Libra moon who dabbles in Scrabble and puzzles.
Adam Andres Pawlikiewicz Mesa
He/Him / @adamonthego
The son of Polish/Colombian immigrants, Adam Andres Pawlikiewicz Mesa is a visual storyteller who grew up in the US as a third culture kid, speaking a mix of all three languages at home. For him, being “on the go” between multiple worlds is a natural state of being, allowing him to bridge his many arenas and feel at home almost anywhere.
After seeing stereotypes play out in mainstream media for far too long, he’s on a mission to change the misinformed narratives about BIPOC communities in the outdoor industry and to give permission and space to BIPOC folks to tell their own authentic stories.
Jonny Moses Altrogge
He/Him / @jonnymosesoutside
Brooklyn, New York
Jonny Moses Altrogge is a bikepacker, adventure racer with Team Onyx, and racial equity consultant. Jonny started bikepacking in college in the rolling hills of Western Pennsylvania. In 2019, after years of leading expeditions for Outward Bound, he solo bikepacked the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route with the intention of continuing to represent BIPOC in the outdoors. Currently, Jonny is finding as much time as possible to bike, spend time with his fiancé, and rediscover live music.
We’d like to take a moment to thank all of the individual donors and Bikepacking Collective members who supported this effort by contributing to the Access Fund, as well as the brands who stepped up to make a cash donation or supply gear. See them all below.
Stay tuned for parts two and three of this post, in which we’ll introduce the rest of our 2021 Bikepacking Collective Routes Access Fund awardees.
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