Update from the ED and Board of Directors

Feb 28, 2023

Letter from the ED

We created this newsletter to reconnect with our community and foster a culture of transparency. Throughout 2022, we have shared progress towards key initiatives, and our staff has worked hard on program assessments and alignment to our core purpose, which has helped organize our focus and define priorities for the year ahead.  

For decades, Adventure Cycling has been fortunate to sustain our structure with an annual membership model and supplemental revenue streams. Many of you have and continue to give through generous donations, and we thank you for your ongoing support. The world around us is different than it was a year ago and much different than it was three or five years ago. Our loyal community is aging, and our member model is less relevant to younger generations. We have not focused enough on bringing new people into our community or exploring new vehicles for member engagement. And like many non-profits, we are experiencing headwinds from inflation and uncertain economic conditions.  

To ensure a bright future for Adventure Cycling, we have to approach our work differently, and we have to make some changes to maintain responsible financial reserves. Unfortunately, this includes a 13% reduction in our workforce. The entire organization worked hard to find other ways to cut costs, but ultimately these staff reductions were necessary. We have provided our departing staff members with as generous a severance package as possible.

As we move into spring of 2023, I’m looking forward to turning over a new page for Adventure Cycling. Our number one goal is to prioritize mission impact with an efficient, budget-positive schedule of programming that can support the needs and experiences of a variety of cyclists while maintaining stability through shifting economic conditions. Our purpose, our “north star,” is to provide Epic Experiences through Access. In 2023, we will do this by:  

  • Increasing our focus on education, outreach, and participation with cyclists who are new to bike travel through programming such as Short Routes and Bike Overnights, as well as hosting workshops and conducting outreach at cycling and community events. 
  • Maintaining support of core programming for established riders: updating the Adventure Cycling Route Network and map offerings, publishing the best bicycle travel magazine in the industry, and operating a schedule of unique guided tour experiences across the country.  
  • Implementing new learning mechanisms and advisory groups to better understand the needs of both our emerging and established riders to influence our future program development plans. 

Last year, I was fortunate to spend time with Greg and June Siple and heard the Adventure Cycling founding story in their own words. While I was listening to the amazing experiences they encountered over the years — the ups and downs, the starts and stops — what still sticks with me is how education and outreach is core to where this organization started. Early on, Greg and June were both actively involved in Youth Hostels of America, helping kids experience adventure through bicycle travel. Those experiences gave many people the skills and confidence to begin their own bike travel journey. A lot happened after that to get us where the organization is today, but I truly believe that by going back to our roots and focusing our efforts on education and outreach, we can lay the foundation to build the next generation of bike travel enthusiasts.  

I am confident our best days are ahead of us. In April, we plan to host an informational webinar, and I look forward to sharing more about the work we’re planning for the coming year. In the meantime, we appreciate your passion and support for the mission and hope to see you on the trails this year.


Board Corner

Dear Members,

No organization wants to look ahead and realize that to be sustainable and financially healthy, it will have to make some difficult decisions. And yet, many companies and nonprofits are having to do just that these days given rising costs and changes in how people give to member-driven associations. We are fortunate that Adventure Cycling Association is built on a strong foundation with solid financial reserves and a very relevant mission.  

Like with many detours we encounter along a route, we can find some silver linings as we move forward. Throughout 2021 and 2022, Adventure Cycling staff has been working to improve its “infrastructure,” including improving cross-program member communications, budgeting and accounting, and modernizing technology systems. In addition, the staff’s program alignment work that was used to review Adventure Cycling’s program objectives has helped them and the board better understand program impacts and mission alignment. The leadership team and staff have worked tirelessly, and the Board and I thank them.

As we align and focus on reaching new members, it doesn’t mean core programs are going away; quite the opposite — they are being strengthened and updated. Since its founding almost 50 years ago, Adventure Cycling has connected with hundreds of thousands of bike travelers through the distribution of safe and reliable routes, publishing inspiring stories, and being there to get people out on tours. Those core principles and programs have not changed, and as a Board, we have seen how hard the staff worked to make sure Adventure Cycling’s core purpose stays strong. We fully support them as we know their decisions are based on sound analysis. We look forward to a stronger organization in 2023.

As a Board of Directors, we’ll be starting work on updating the strategic plan and continue to do our best to engage with the Adventure Cycling community in our activities and communications. We had a successful March member webinar last year and are planning one for April so stay tuned for details on that in the next month.

Thank you all for your support of Adventure Cycling. We hope to see you on the road.

Maria Elena