Quarterly update from the ED and Board Chair--November 2023

Nov 16, 2023

Letter from the ED

As we wind down from another exciting season of bike travel adventures, it is time for us to reflect on how far we’ve come on this journey. At the start of this year, our number one goal was to prioritize our nonprofit mission — to engage, empower, and connect people to travel by bicycle — with an efficient, budget-positive schedule of programming that could support the needs and experiences of a variety of cyclists through our Routes, Discovery, and Experiences programs. We’re excited to celebrate the following program accomplishments, thanks to the generous support of our community.

  • Hosted two “How to go on your first bikepacking overnight” workshops within the women's MTB festival format, engaging 20 new riders in hands-on training, skill building, and connection to each other and Adventure Cycling
  • Hosted two engagement events for people to learn more about our Innovation work.
  • Developed the structure and recruiting criteria for the Emerging Rider Council, an advisory group of emerging cyclists dedicated to assisting our efforts to remove barriers for anyone looking to become an Adventure Cyclist
  • Launched community-sourced submissions for the Short Routes program
  • Ran over 80 Guided Tour departures for 1,069 participants
  • Updated 14 routes in the Adventure Cycling Route Network
  • Expecting 1,000 miles of U.S. Bicycle Route System designations
  • Redesigned Adventure Cyclist Magazine for its 50th volume with a new look and editorial designed to provide all the necessary stories and how-tos to guide a bicycle adventure from start to finish and beyond

As we look ahead to 2024, we’re building off this momentum and continuing to increase the skills, knowledge, and confidence of emerging bike travelers in the following ways:

  • Expanding our focus on education, outreach, and participation with cyclists who are new to bike travel. This includes women, recreational cyclists, and marginalized communities who have not historically had access and representation within the cycling community. In 2024, you can expect to see Adventure Cycling attending more community events around the country and working with partners in Montana, Colorado, and a few other geographies, to pilot new skill-building workshops and resources.
  • Continuing to evaluate how to best provide value to our existing and new members, and ensuring we can do so sustainably. In 2024, you can look forward to exciting new and different member benefits!
  • Implementing new learning mechanisms, such as surveys and advisory groups, to understand and quantify how our programming is helping people gain the skills, knowledge, and confidence needed for a lifetime of bicycle travel experiences. As we begin recruiting for the Emerging Rider Council before the end of the year, you can expect to see the Council in motion in 2024!

I want to extend my deepest appreciation to each of you for your unwavering commitment to our mission and to this important work. With the knowledge that we have such a remarkable community behind us, I am filled with optimism and excitement for all that lies ahead.  

Together, we have the opportunity to set the stage for a bright and prosperous future. Please consider contributing to our year-end fundraising campaign to help us continue to expand our reach and impact with younger and less experienced audiences. With your generous support, we'll build a bigger, more diverse community of adventure cyclists through workshops, routes, and events that bring us all together.

With much gratitude during this season of thanks, 

Jennifer O’Dell 
Executive Director 

Staff Spotlight

Sean Weddell: Interim Director of Experiences

Sean is grateful and excited to accept the role of Experiences Director. It's his hope and desire to implement an open line of communication within the Experiences department that allows for shared ideas and concerns. This role will continue to provide operational support for the 2024 schedule while improving our systems to support leaders and tour participants. Sean’s position at Adventure Cycling allows him to continue a long tradition of introducing individuals to the world of bike travel. Though each Tour experience is different, his goal is for them all to result in joy, leaving all involved asking what's next.

To read more about Sean and other staff, check out our staff page.

Board Corner

Dear members,  

Fifty years ago in 1973, four intrepid bike travelers founded Bikecentennial with the purpose of fulfilling a dream: to create a movement to cycle across the U.S. for its 100-year birthday in 1976. What grew from that original dream was more than a birthday bike ride. This history has been top of mind this past year for the Board as we embarked on a new round of strategic planning. Over the last 50 years, Adventure Cycling has been a foundational part of the bike travel movement in North America by establishing more than 50,000 miles of bike routes, inspiring hundreds of thousands of people to explore by bike — on their own, in groups, and with bike tour operators.  

As we look forward to publishing our strategic planning update in early 2024, we are thinking about how this foundation can support the next 50 years of bike traveler needs. With the changing pace of information sharing, map digitization, and storytelling, we know it will look different than the first 50 years, but we feel strongly that the true core of our mission is incredibly relevant to the current context, and we see immense opportunities ahead to continue to empower, engage, and connect people to travel by bike.  

In 2023, we say goodbye to Jenny Park, who has finished her three terms (nine years!) as a valued board member, and thank her for her time, knowledge, and energy all these years. Rich Tauer has also finished his term this year, and we thank him for all his support to staff and the organization.  

We’ve added two new members in early 2023, and we’re excited to add two more in 2024, which will result in our largest Board yet.  

Maria Elena Price 
President, Board of Directors