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Bikepacking Roots BIPOC Initiatives

The BIPOC Bike Adventure Program strives to break down barriers to bike adventure for BIPOC people.

Elisha Bishop is a father and a member of the Gila River Indian Community. And now, thanks to the grant he received in 2022 from the Bikepacking Roots BIPOC Bike Adventure Grant, he is also an avid bikepacker. 

The grant program is an effort by Bikepacking Roots to reduce the barriers to bike adventure for BIPOC people. As a national nonprofit dedicated to serving the bikepacking community, we feel it is imperative that we continue to uplift, elevate, and amplify BIPOC community leaders who have been working towards greater access and equity in the outdoors.

Prior to receiving the grant, Elisha organized bike rides for the community in Gila River, where he met Mario and his son Isaac. Elisha used the grant to embark on his first bikepacking trip with his new friends along portions of the Western Wildlands Route and Arizona Trail from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon.

Bikepacking Roots caught up with Elisha to understand more about how the grant impacted his life and inspired his newfound love for bikepacking and human-powered travel.

Image via Elisha Bishop

What impact did receiving the BIPOC Bike Adventure Grant have on you?

My friend Mario and his son Issac didn’t have any gear for their bikes, so this grant allowed them to get the gear that they needed to try bikepacking. Having the right gear gave us the confidence to take on this adventure. It gave us the opportunity to try bikepacking, which we probably wouldn’t have done otherwise.

What was your favorite part of the experience?

Riding through rain and walking bikes through peanut butter mud. [laughs]

Do you think that the grant has spurred you to do things you wouldn't have ever considered doing before?

Absolutely. I don’t think I'd be planning or going on this trip that I’m about to take, for example. [In April 2024 Elisha completed a 623 mile bike tour across Arizona — Ed.] I don't think I'd have the confidence. That first trip, that was my first experience with making a route, putting it on a bike computer, and trusting it. ‘Okay, it says to turn here, but I'm not sure if we're.. Yeah, okay, let’s go this way!’ So, I don't think I'd have the confidence to do any of that on my own until I got the grant. It feels like a big boost.”

In 2024, Elisha continued to grow as a community leader and hosted the inaugural RezGravel: an Indigenous-Led Adventure Ride to support the Hopi Composite Youth MTB Team and Sii’Hasin Bike Project.

The BIPOC Bike Adventure Grant is a small step in the face of systemic racism and entrenched inequality, but at Bikepacking Roots we believe that bicycles and the outdoors are for all, and that everyone should have access to the freedom, joy, and self-actualization they provide.

We also recognize there are many barriers to multi-day self-supported adventures that need to be dismantled before someone can enjoy bikepacking, including finances, equipment, confidence, experience, camping skills, and access to routes.

For 2024, the grant program is focusing on providing grants to BIPOC Community Leaders to host trips, develop gear libraries, and other community building activities. We hope to develop long-term relationships with these leaders and to support diversity within our Regional Stewards Program. We are super thankful to sponsors like Osprey who are enabling us to continue the grant program in its third cycle. Osprey’s new Escapist bikepacking bags(Opens in a new window) are among the gear that we anticipate distributing to grant recipients to support their community programming.

Visit Bikepacking Roots website for more information about the BIPOC Bike Adventure Grant.(Opens in a new window)

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