Meet Our Bikepacking Collective Routes Access Fund Awardees: Part 3

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We’re pleased to introduce our third and final group of 2021 Bikepacking Collective Routes Access Fund awardees. Get to know some of the BIPOC bikepackers who received grants and gear to support their upcoming adventures here…

Last year, we introduced our Bikepacking Collective Routes Access Fund, through which we aim to help increase 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 a number of brands from around the cycling world to donate to the fund, and we also chipped in $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 proposed, from podcasts, to zines, to feature-length films, and more. After carefully reviewing and discussing all of the applications, our committee (introduced in part one of this series) selected around 30 awardees to receive support in the form of grants and/or gear.

Meet the final group of Access Fund awardees who received a Ride and Report Award to document their bikepacking trips below. Each awardee shares a bit about themself and their plans in their own words:

Kelsey Robinson

She/Her / Age 33 / @kwjumper

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

I’m a Brooklyn-born, rustbelt-reared performance artist. I studied musical theater at Point Park University and currently focus on new works, contemporary operas, immersive theater and puppet theater. I’ve been honored to perform at Pittsburgh venues, including The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, City of Asylum, The Mattress Factory, The Warhol and The National Aviary, as well as renowned NYC venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Studio Museum of Harlem, The National Museum of Jazz in Harlem, MOMA and The Shed. I’ve completed five American cycling tours, my latest with my puppy and kitten in tow.

Kelsey Robinson

I’ll be doing a tour that includes over a dozen destinations that memorialize enslaved history, history of enslaved rebellions and familial ancestry. I’ll be starting in New Orleans and taking the Southern Tier 160 miles east to Mobile, Alabama. The next 200 miles NE will be on Adventure Cycling’s Underground Railroad Trail to Montgomery, I’ll be just over 100 miles to the western TNGA trailhead. From the eastern Russel Bridge trailhead, the next destination is Orangeburg, South Carolina. The final 100 miles will deliver me to the coastal “Sea Islands.”

Saba Thackurdeen

He/Him / Age 32

Yonkers, New York, USA

I’m Saba, a conservationist using cycling to reconvene and connect with my roots—that means I’m literally a biking radical. My day job is to further land conservation in the US. And before that gig, I botanized in the South Pacific, learning all the beautiful ways culture, land, and well-being are intimately interconnected. If I could live in any state, it’d probably be Vermont. Though, my New Yorker family wouldn’t want to hear that.

Saba Thackurdeen

My proposed trip is to track the Vermont Growler route in fall. I have been missing botanizing, so I plan to track the route, drink the good beer, and write about the New England flora. I likely won’t press plants and bikepack (we’ll get there one day), but I want to use the time to get the know the temperate flora that’s marked my US upbringing. I admire the working landscapes of Vermont and find there’s no way better to convene with it than write, read, camp, and bike it. See you on the trail!

Mayra Sanhueza-Martinez

She/Her / Age 26 / @pipi4life

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

I’m born and raised by Chilean parents in Toronto, and blessed to call Vancouver Island my home. My older brother introduced me to cycling at a young age as an affordable way to beat traffic. After a serious cycling-car accident in 2014, I’ve been slowly recovering and challenging myself with weekend bike trips. Here in Victoria, British Colombia, the BIPOC community is small, so I’m always excited to see fellow BIPOC folx on bikes. As a fat, queer Latina, I look forward to shifting (get it?) what a bikepacker looks like one bike ride at a time.

Mayra Sanhueza-Martinez

This fall, I plan on biking to Salt Spring Island for the annual Apple Festival. Salt Spring Island is a small island off the coast of British Columbia. It’s approximately 60 km from Victoria and requires taking a ferry to the island. My girlfriend and I plan on cycling to the ferry terminal and cycling over to Ruckle Provincial Park to camp. As a beginner bikepacker, this trip is the perfect distance and level of independence. Fine-tuning the amount of gear and food I can shed is a continuous learning experience. I hear Salt Spring is hilly, which is good preparation for future trips around British Colombia.

Edward Peregrina

He/Him / Age 26 / @nomadflavors

Los Angeles, California, USA

Hello fellow adventurers and travelers. If you’re reading this, I’m sure you’re wondering what’s propelled me to seek adventures via bicycle. The short answer is: when you are ready to talk to the universe, traveling via bicycle will give you a landline directly to everything and anything that your inner compass desires. Perhaps I’m exaggerating. I was born from immigrant parents and raised in Watts, Los Angeles. My family didn’t have a car growing up, so public transportation was the way. Looking out the window of a bus or a train was an adventure from the start. One day, while going through a heartbreak, I decided to ride from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The things I experienced and the people I met were incredibly synchronistic. I knew then that there was something beautiful that existed between the destination and the place you decided to begin to pedal your heart out.

Edward Peregrina

My current plan is to continue to bicycle across the US, not in a direct path, but in sections. In between, I’m searching for the most interesting person I can find, asking strangers questions and listening to their responses. My next section will be my last stopping point Albuquerque, New Mexico. From there, I will head eastbound to an unknown destination.

Aja Sayers

She/Her / Age 34

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Hi! My name is Aja Sayers, and I live in Vancouver, BC. I grew up adventuring in the outdoors with my family, which transitioned into even more epic adventures as an adult. I have snowboarded many of the largest mountains in the province, paddled BC’s most ecologically diverse shores, and scuba-dived in the province’s rich and frigid waters. Over the last two years, I’ve taken my cycling game from riding all over the city into the next logical step: strapping my camp gear onto my bike and riding in nature! So far, I have explored many of the Gulf Islands in my area and hope to dive into some longer, more advanced trips soon.

Aja Sayers

I’ll be riding BIKEPACKING.com’s Cowichan 8 route. The terrain and difficulty seem perfect for me to feel comfortable but still enjoy a challenging ride. I would like to add a few days to the traditional Cowichan 8 route and ride to Creyke Point, located in East Sooke Regional Park. Exploring the gravel trails in the regional park will be a nice and easy addition to make this trip a bit longer, for a total of around three to five days.

Amber Drew

She/They / Age 37 / @lifecyclebiking

Brooklyn, New York

As an advocate for physical and mental healthcare equity, I utilize my experience in clinical psychology, behavioral health management, and organizational consulting to develop concentrated community-building projects that explore the convergence of social visibility, holistic viability, and equitable opportunity. A proponent of eudaemonism, I focus energy on building spaces for my communities to thrive; developing programming that explores the benefits of collective wellness and emphasizing the necessity of inclusion of disregarded identities in alternative avenues of health management.

Amber Drew

I am exploring routes in Oregon and I’m interested in a 150-mile, 3-5 day trip in the Ochoco Mountains and the John Day Basin. The route is a mix of dirt, gravel, and paved roads through pine forests, volcanic landscapes, and old mines. There are streams, camping opportunities, and easy terrain that make it a good multi-day trip for people looking to begin bikepacking.

Peter Glen Lovera

He/Him / Age 35 / @loveralobo

Boise, Idaho

Skateboarding brought all of my joys into focus as a kid, which led me to bicycling and set the tone for my entire life. I’m a photographer at heart thirsty for bicycle travel as a means to rediscover and reclaim my Afro-Latino indigenous roots. My life goal is to bikepack through and around my hometown of Ica, Peru, talking to as many people as I can about my ancestors as I reclaim my first language and unearth the lineage of the native peoples I came from. I simply cannot do that as long as I stay here in the US.

Peter Lovera

Oaxaca has long been a dream of mine. Inspired by my childhood spent in Arizona with neighbors (from Michoacán all the way to Puerto Escondido) who always spoke of the beauty in Oaxaca. Also considering my current works with indigenous foods, I’ll be focusing on the vibrancy of the food and drink as to how it encapsulates Oaxacan culture. A springboard trip for my ultimate goal of Bikepacking through Peru, this will be a 5-6 day trip along the “Oaxaca Escondida” inspired by Cass Gilbert’s words and photos.

Elaine Musiwa

She/Her / Age 29

Iowa City, Iowa

I am a cyclist born in Harare, Zimbabwe, who uses long-distance rides as a tool for self-discovery. When I am miles into a ride, the physical labor of cycling recesses and mindfulness moves to the forefront. I feel most in touch with self and consciousness in the 50th mile of a scenic forest trail or charging up the fifth hill of the day in an urban setting on a hot summer morning. Few machines bring me closer to the synergic connection of mind and body that cycling provides, which improves my overall health and happiness. For me, cycling is a tool for survival, healing, and the pursuit of complete peace and wellbeing.

Elaine Musiwa

With this grant, I intend to plan a one-day century ride with fellow female cyclists through Iowa’s Southwest region from Iowa City to Cedar Rapids.

Ishita Bal

She/They / Age 32 / @ishitabal

Bombay, India

I am the daughter of Krishna and Pralay, two working-class Bengali immigrants. I was born and raised in Malad, a Bombay suburb. Baba taught me how to ride a bike as a child. I worked night shifts to support my education and got a master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Mumbai. In 2017, I moved to Vietnam to teach and bought a bike after nearly 14 years. Riding along Hanoi’s bustling streets, a love for cycling was revived in me. Two years later, I went bikepacking on the Carretera Austral and traversed an unmarked border crossing into Argentina. I rode on a hand-me-down bike that was a size too big, peddling down more than 1,000km of unpaved ripio with city tires. By the end of the trip, I had developed tendonitis but had seen and done things I’d never imagined before.

Ishita Bal

Currently, I’m in Patagonia, but one day I hope to return home and plan a route in the Himalayas. I’d like to become an advocate for women in the global south and their place in the outdoors. Leisure and the outdoors are a foreign thing for most Indian women, especially for those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. For now, I’d like to do the TEMBR in Ecuador. I’m also an editor and a chef by profession. Whenever I’m bikepacking, a big part of the experience is experimenting with what I can cook while camping. Food is always an integral part of my bikepacking trips.

Brandon Bowman

He/Him / Age 38 / @mcbubblelicousfisheyeslocc

Sedona, Arizona

My name is Brandon Bowman and I’m from Arizona. I am a married father of three, soon to be four. Proud Army veteran. Found cycling by way of recreation therapy as an alternative form of treatment. After returning home from Iraq, I had a hard time adjusting back to civilian life. My anger was out of control until I found something to ease that pain. Once I was reintroduced to cycling, it completely changed my life for the better. It allows me to connect with nature and clear my head.

Brandon Bowman

I’m planning on doing the Robbers’ Roost in Sedona. I picked this route for a number of reasons. It displays some of Arizona’s beautiful landscapes and terrain. This route could also be challenging coming from a lower elevation in the state. My intentions are to ride as far as we can the first night, set up camp, and go over the first day’s festivities. This will be my first real adventure after having a bout with rhabdomyolysis in 2018, so this will be a test for myself and my body.

Andrea Molina

She/Her / Age 29 / @molinandrea55

El Salvador

¡Greetings, mi gente! My name is Andrea Molina, and I am a young woman with indigenous Lenca blood born and raised in El Salvador. I am an educator, a language justice practitioner (interpreter/translator), and an immigrant rights advocate. Before embarking on this bike trip, I used to live in Washington D.C. where I organized and built community with other BIPOC friends and worked as a kindergarten classroom teacher for nearly a decade.

I grew up poor and in a very marginalized neighborhood in San Salvador. At age 22, I had never ridden a bike and, to be honest, I was frightened by them. Little did I know that a few years later I’d embark on the bikepacking journey of a lifetime—riding my bike from México to Argentina, and I am out here doing it! Brown (+ short) people belong in the cycling world and we are here to stay, have fun, and thrive. I feel especially proud because, to my knowledge, I am the second woman in the history of El Salvador to attempt a trip like this. Kinda dope :)

Alpacino B. Beauchamp

He/Him / Age 41

Cincinnati, Ohio

I have been an elementary school principal for five years. I have a nine-year-old daughter, and I enjoy college football, traveling, national parks, and cycling. I began cycling in the spring of 2019, inspired by a friend of mine who was biking from Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine. I’ve found cycling to be great exercise for me, a stress reliever, and a grounding experience. I want to do more long-distance rides and one day ride across the states.

I am planning to ride the Ohio to Erie Bike Trail from Cincinnati to Cleveland. I expect it will take me approximately 5-6 days, and I will tent along the way.

Thank You!

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.

Access Fund sponsors

If you missed either post, we invite you to meet the first and second groups of 2021 Bikepacking Collective Routes Access Fund awardees here and here. Stay tuned for updates and stories from their trips in 2022!

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