Announcing Our QBP Community Grant Program – Campfire’s May/Jun’22 Highlights

With the transition into summer here in Tucson, we get a moment to catch our breath as our calendar of upcoming events and rides thins out. We’ve been using this breather to relax, reflect and plan out our upcoming fall/winter/spring adventures.

As we look ahead, we’re planning on continuing on with our bikepacking ride series and keeping an eye out for opportunities to run a handful of compelling in-store events. We’re also working on plans to get started with some weekly rides starting in September. Check back in late August for our list of events for the fall.

But what has us most excited is the kickoff of our QBP Community Grant Program where we’ll be making some great strides towards serving our Tucson community. We are in the planning stages of launching a program in partnership with the Tucson community organizations FUGA (Familias Unidaos Ganado Acccessibilidad) and BICAS to run a bikepacking leadership program designed to empower the leaders of FUGA to introduce bikepacking to the FUGA community.

Jennylyn of Campfire, Kristen of FUGA & BICAS, Vanessa of FUGA

In connection to the FUGA Bikepacking Leadership Training, we will be launching a Bikepacking Gear Library to serve FUGA initially and then expand the program into an on-going program to support underserved communities within the Tucson area gaining access to bikepacking gear.

Rather than go into the full details of our new program, I’ll hand the mic over to Jennylyn Dela Cruz our E-commerce Operations & Community Engagement Manager and the author of our QBP grant proposal. Jennylyn joined the Campfire team at the start of 2022 and has quickly been making great things happen here all while keeping our e-commerce operations running smoothly. A post introducing Jennylyn is forthcoming, but for now we’ll just jump right in with sharing some of her work.

The following is the grant proposal that Jennylyn put together which does a wonderful job of explaining the program’s mission, mindset and plans.

When we ask ourselves, “what does it mean to have access, experience, and knowledge of an active lifestyle,” we must follow it up with the evermore important question, “how can we as a business become more accessible to our neighbors, our community members, and how can we welcome in demographics who might feel intimidated to begin their own epic adventures?”

At Campfire Cycling, we aim to create a Bikepacking Gear Library (BGL) where accessibility and inclusivity (whether related to cost prohibition or demographic discomfort) is at the forefront of our mission. We want to encourage, educate, and empower ridership and community connection through the wonderful world of bikepacking. We are proposing the launch of our Bikepacking Gear Library in collaboration with FUGA members, predominantly from Ward 1 1 and Ward 5 in Tucson, as they begin to develop their bikepacking traditions.

Campfire Cycling was established when the business pivoted from a sole E-Commerce bikepacking gear company to adding a flagship brick-and-mortar shop. The business has now been a part of the Tucson community since 2013. Its core team consists of its CEO Josh Lipton, Shop Manager Toby Smith, and E-Commerce + Community Engagement Manager Jennylyn Dela Cruz. Josh grew up in Flagstaff, AZ, hopped on two wheels and never stopped riding towards his dream to share his passion for the love of the outdoors with others in the Tucson community. Toby grew up in California and co-founded, The Bike HUB (Helping Urban Bicyclists), a community bike shop nonprofit where education and accessibility were at its forefront. Jennylyn was born and raised in Arizona from immigrant parents. She went to the University of Arizona and studied Cultural Anthropology in Tucson, Arizona where she fell in love with the city on top of her bicycle. A community activist, an advocate, a former collective member at BICAS: Jennylyn dedicates her time in community and at Campfire Cycling advocating for inclusivity, visibility, and accessibility.

The Campfire Cycling core team will be organizing the Bikepacking Gear Library and working in collaboration with BICAS educators and FUGA organizers to create an Intro to Bikepacking Program for FUGA and as a Campfire Cycling sustaining program. There will be a progression of interactive workshops, focused on empowering people in a historically underserved community by giving them the knowledge and skills necessary to become confident and competent campers, riders, and finally adventure-hungry bikepackers.

The program will be comprised of three main parts:

1) Building hands-on camping and planning skills 

2) Basic bicycle maintenance skills, road safety, and handling skills 

3) Combining camping and cycling by carrying out FUGA + Campfire Cycling’s first collaborative bikepacking overnighter with intention to have this ride become an annual collaboration. 

In addition to the camping skills workshops, bike maintenance workshops and the bikepacking community ride, Campfire Cycling will lend the bikepacking gear (frame bags, saddle bags, handlebar bags) through the Bikepacking Gear Library to FUGA participants. The Fugistas (members of FUGA) will be Campfire Cycling’s very first Campfire Cycling Library Card membership holders to ensure continued safe, accessible, and sustainable bikepacking practices and habits within their own bikepacking sector.

How will a Membership Library Card program be accessible and sustainable if cost is a concern? 

Community awareness and engagement is where we will be able to provide scholarships for members who cannot afford an annual renewal membership cost rate of $100. In-store and online monetary donations to fund scholarships will be accepted and promoted, again, by centering our mission of accessibility and inclusivity. Scholarship opportunities will also arise through various events and nominations from community members.

Why create a Bikepacking Gear Library? 

The city of Tucson is consistently rated among the best cycling cities in the country and the area is considered to be a magnet for mountain bike enthusiasts worldwide. As Tucson’s bike scene grows, bike tourism in the area is increasing, resulting in economic and regional growth. However, Ward 1 and Ward 5, where FUGA members do not benefit equally. The community in Ward 1 is approximately 74% Hispanic and the community in Ward 5 is 71% Hispanic where residents are extremely underserved, with 55% of its residents living below the poverty rate in comparison to the national average of 12.3%.

As a result, various BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) residents experience barriers to bikepacking access ranging from the cost of bikes, cost of maintenance, bikepacking gear, and the leisure time to dream up, plan, and strategize a bikepacking adventure. 

The Fugistas have already been doing phenomenal work in visibility and community building within South and West Tucson, so when approaching them to collaborate, we all recognized an immediate need to welcome and integrate our communities and foster safe spaces, visibility, encouragement, and an authentic connection in the greater Tucson outdoor cycling community. By creating a Bikepacking Gear Library, Campfire Cycling will be able to provide a long-term commitment and solution in accessibility. From education, the lending of bikepacking gear, bike maintenance and repair, and a welcoming community space: folks can share their own bike adventure aspirations. 

Centering and Supporting BIPOC Communities in Public Lands 

In the most recent census, nearly 63% of the US population are non-Hispanic whites, however they make up 88-95% of all visitors to public lands. By creating an encouraging space where folks can come together and nurture a sense of belonging and creativity while providing equipment, route suggestions, and bike maintenance we hope to empower more BIPOC riders to become cyclists and advocates. We believe that all people should be able to benefit from access to bicycles and take up space in the great outdoors. We, as a business and as individuals, have an opportunity in our privileged positions to offer education, experience, inclusive community, and long-lasting positive community change through our interpersonal relations and dynamics.

Programming Details: 

FUGA + Campfire Cycling Intro to Bikepacking Program will begin in September of 2022 at the Campfire Cycling Flagship location and at BICAS. 

Familias Unidas Ganando Accesibilidad/Families United Gaining Accessibility, FUGA, is a coalition of south and west side stakeholders, residents, small businesses, non-profits, working together to bring issues of transportation, accessibility and mobility in underserved areas of Tucson. Established in 2017, FUGA uses the bicycle as a tool to engage the community to see their streets from another perspective for safer complete streets for all. Representation on the streets and at the table, FUGA is placing community voices where decisions are being made. 

Bicycle Inter-Community Art and Salvage, BICAS, is a worker self-directed community bicycle center dedicated to affordable bicycle transportation, education, and creative recycling within the Tucson community. BICAS believes that bicycles are essential vehicles for transportation justice, and strives to make them more accessible to the community through mechanical repair classes and Earn-a-Bike programs. 

BICAS instructors, with the support of the Campfire Cycling staff, will split the educational load of the program. The bike maintenance session will be hosted at BICAS while the camping and bikepacking sessions will be hosted at Campfire Cycling. 

The first part of the series (Session 1 and Event 1) will be devoted to basic camping skills such as how to pack, what to pack, pitching tents, and the differences between car camping, tent camping, and bikepacking/backpacking. Event 1 will be a FUGA + Campfire Cycling Campout to stoke the fire from session 1’s camping basics lesson. 

These sessions will be sequential with no previous knowledge or experience required, allowing for accessibility and learning of new skills and interests. Although, as the program progresses there will be events that build on the previous session’s lesson. 

The second part of the series (Session 2, 3, and Event 2) will focus on integrating camping and cycling = bikepacking! Session 2: after our Fugistas have a blast camping with our Campfire Cycling Crew we now get to bring it all together with a lesson on bikepacking gear and how to plan for your upcoming adventure. With our final Event 2 destination in mind (our FUGA + Campfire Cycling Inaugural Annual Bikepacking Overnighter Ride), we will help our fledgling crew plan what they need to pack and how to pack on their own bikes. Campfire Cycling team members will share their experiences of first-time adventures and encourage and empower the Fugistas to think creatively, be safe, and most importantly to have fun. 

Session 3 will then be hosted at BICAS for their bike maintenance workshop which includes cleaning and lubricating bicycle parts, flat fixes or tire changes, adjusting brakes, tuning gears

All the learning, skill-building and community-building will culminate in Event 2: FUGA + Campfire Cycling Inaugural Annual Bikepacking 1-2 Night Overnighter Ride! The ride will be between 20-40 miles and will be 1–2-nights. The route will be scouted and planned for in advance by the Campfire Cycling team and FUGA organizers with beginner level ridership in mind. We will have a drop vehicle that will meet us at the end location for any needs along the way. Partners and/or family members will be allowed to drive ahead and meet us at the campsite location before cyclists arrive at their final destination. 

Advanced registration is required. Individuals who attend the entirety of the series will be given a 1-year Campfire Cycling Bikepacking Gear Library Card membership scholarship! Library card holders will be able to check gear out once a month up to 7 consecutive nights at a time. Everyone who attends will be given assorted tools/supplies to allow them to bike safely and responsibly. 

Outreach and Engagement: 

FUGA and BICAS, both local nonprofits aimed at increasing ridership and community safety, will be taking the lead in community outreach. These two entities work closely with local schools and community organizations. Campfire Cycling will publicize the Bikepacking Gear Library program through social media blasts, fliers and event promotion. 

Measurable Outcomes 

The creation of Campfire Cycling’s Bikepacking Gear Library will increase ridership, visibility of POC representation in bikepacking, and build an integrated community of educated and safety-conscious adventure cyclists. By teaching community members how to best maintain their bicycles and partnering with a nonprofit like BICAS, we can continue to reuse, recycle and create custom builds geared towards their adventuring needs. 

Returning Campfire Cycling’s BGL Membership holders from FUGA and BICAS outreach will also be a testament to the need for accessibility to outdoor sports and leisure. 

We will increase a more diverse ridership community by providing a sustainable and long-lasting program to residents of South Tucson and Tucson proper. Our dedication to inclusivity, education, and accessibility will further stoke our fires as we continue to break down barriers to bike access by giving people the tools, education and community that they need to begin falling in love with bikepacking and acknowledging the land in which we ride upon. 

Inspiring and empowering new bikepackers will create that positive bond between community and land appreciation. Soon enough, those once new riders will become seasoned and turn into great advocates for future bikepackers as they seek out opportunities to educate and share their access, experience, and passion.

Measurement 

FUGA members’ enrollment into Campfire Cycling’s Bikepacking Gear Library and the continuation beyond the Intro to Bikepacking Program will allow us to measure the level of interest and need by returning participants with their very own Campfire Cycling Library Card. At the end of each workshop, we’ll have participants fill out an evaluation to find out if and how their understanding and interest in cycling and bikepacking has changed or what they wish to learn more about. We will continue to host partnering events with FUGA and BICAS beyond the inaugural program launch to continue to foster beginner bikepackers in need of support and community. And if we’re lucky, we hope to spark a shift in how we gain access and hold space for one another – together – as a radical act of community care.

This grant proposal was authored by Jennylyn in March, 2022. In May, QBP had let us know that we were one of the recipients. Since having won the grant, we’ve been getting busy with planning how we’ll be bringing everything together. Here some notes on what we’ve been up to.

Establishing Our Program Dates
  • Sept. 10 – 11 FUGA Beginner Campout
  • Sept. 28 Intro to Bikepacking & Gear Library at Campfire
  • Oct. 18 & 20 FUGA Maintenance Skills at BICAS
  • Nov. 12 FUGA Community Ride & BBQ
  • Dec. 3 FUGA Leadership’s Intro to Bikepacking Trip!
Refining our approach to working with FUGA’s leaders

As we engaged in deeper discussion with FUGA about running an introduction to bikepacking program with them, we learned that what was most needed from us was to focus our program on bikepacking skills for the leaders of FUGA. The idea was that we would be empowering the FUGA leaders to to teach FUGA members bikepacking skills. With this in mind, we’ve evolved our plans to focus on a smaller cohort of 10-15 leaders from FUGA.

As part of our plans to empower FUGA as bikepacking leaders, we are working on plans to join them on their first FUGA Bikepacking trip in the Spring of 2023.

Working on the Details of the Bikepacking Gear Library

A key aspect of developing our bikepacking gear library is working out our systems and software to make support and upkeep as easy and manageable as possible.

With our background in running an e-commerce website as a key part of our business, we’ve been investigating software systems that would support our bikepacking gear library while integrating smoothly with our e-commerce platform, WooCommerce. We’re currently looking at plugins built to support rental programs which look like quite promising for our intended use.

Thank You!

While we still have a much to do to launch the FUGA Bikepacking Leadership Program and Bikepacking Gear Library, we want to acknowledge and show our gratitude for the support and partnerships we’ve received to make it this far.

  • FUGA
    • Working with FUGA to develop this program with them has been an incredibly special opportunity. We are inspired by their mission and the community they’re building and are thrilled to be working with them.
  • BICAS
    • It’s hard to not be impressed by BICAS’s amazing on-going cycling advocacy work over the years here in Tucson, AZ. Their partnership in forming this grant has been instrumental. Additionally, we are grateful for the help and assistance they will be lending in running the bikepacking maintenance portion of the program.
  • Elliot of RoadRunner Bicycles
    • RoadRunner Bicycles received the QBP Community Grant in 2019. Elliot generously shared his experience and advised us through the process of applying for the grant.
  • RAR Atlanta
    • After submitting our QBP Community Grant, we learned through a Radavist Radar Roundup, about how RAR Atlanta recently launched their bikepacking gear library specifically for QTBIPOC cyclists in their region! A heartwarming nod that we were on the right track. Their Bikeapacking.com article of their Bikepacking Gear Library aided us during our strategizing the implementation process!
    • Check out their cool stuff: Announcing the Gear Library & How to Build a Bikepacking Gear Library
  • State Bicycle Co.
    • An enormous thank you to our buds up in the valley of the sun, State Bicycle Co., for generously supporting our program with an incredible donation of a fleet of their 4130 All-Road Flat Bar gravel bikes to our Bikepacking Gear Library. We are beyond excited to have another Arizona cycling brand on board to help create bikepacking one pedal closer to accessibility!
  • QBP
    • With a mission like “more butts on bikes” we knew we had to toss our hat in the ring for their Q Community Grant. We are grateful to QBP for their commitment in supporting local bike shops throughout the US engage their communities in impactful ways. We at Campfire Cycling can only hope to follow their lead and hope you all want to ride alongside us!
Support

If you are interested in supporting our Bikepacking Gear Library, we are accepting donations. Monetary donations will fund on-going BGL maintenance, ridership programs, and more scholarship access to borrowing gear to those in need of equitable assistance.

In the coming month we will be launching a campaign to expand the Bikepacking Gear Library, through new and used gear donations from manufacturers and individuals. Currently, we’re not setup to begin accepting gear donations, but please check back or email us at bgl@campfirecycling.com and we’ll be in touch.

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