It seems fitting that the Adventure Cycling Association’s (ACA) Montana Bicycle Celebration kicked off with a presentation about a new route compiled by a bike travel enthusiast couple; surrounded by a full-house, Advocate Cycles ambassadors Lael Wilcox and Nicholas Carman shared photos and hopes for the inaugural Baja Divide ride to begin in January 2017.
If you didn’t already know, the ACA was founded by two cycling passionate couples—Greg and June Siple and Dan and Lys Burden. Whilst participating in a ride from Anchorage to Tierra del Fuego, they schemed that the best way to recognize America’s bicentennial might just be from the seat of a bicycle.
As someone relatively new to the bike industry, I was surprised to see things go full circle; with the somewhat recent inception of bikepacking and the increased participation in long distance races, one would think that this phenomenon is new. It’s not. Attending this celebration cleared up any misconceptions I had that bicycle travel (and those who love it) is something my generation can claim.
Sure enough, at Friday night’s reception, surrounded by reunited ‘76ers, guests had the opportunity to enjoy the video that was made during the Bikecentennial. Cue tinny music, ragtag participants, and cobbled together bikes. And with that, it occurred to me…THESE ARE MY PEOPLE. Passionate, quirky, never say die folks—and they did it—over 4000 participants rode some part of the Trans-America route that summer.
Among a variety of speakers that night, it was Greg Siple’s speech that resonated best with me; he relied on a series of ‘what-if’s to make his point about how precarious the whole endeavor was, as if one failed opportunity would have put the kibosh on the entire event. In a similar vein, I could say, “What if you weren’t reading this right now? What if you didn’t understand Advocate Cycles and support our mission? What if you didn’t sign on to be a dealer?” Greg spoke of the incredulity others presented when he shared his vision of Bikecentennial; there will always be naysayers who tell you how you can’t be successful or why your plan won’t come to fruition.
It’s natural to draw parallels between the work ACA does and what Advocate Cycles aims to do. Surrounded by this crew of folks made me think of all of you—dedicated shop owners and employees who believe so strongly about cycling, its impact on society, and the possibility that by simply riding your bike you make the world a better place.
It’s with that shared vision we created and launched two custom versions of our upcoming new models focusing on bicycle travel—Seldom Seen and Sand County—that will be auctioned this fall as a fundraiser for the ACA. (Look for details about the auction on our webpage in September.)
We’re excited to offer the stock versions of these new bikes for delivery in November. As with all our models, customers vote for which non-profit organization they hope will benefit from the purchase of their frame/bike. Through this voting process, we learned that folks vote overwhelmingly to support the Adventure Cycling Association!
Throughout the Montana Bicycle Festival, we witnessed the community building and grassroots organizing the ACA is known for—meals, bike demos, trail opening ceremonies, activities for children, and storytelling, shared with participants who pedaled many miles to partake. We are honored to be a partner of this organization and confident that the support they’ve earned from you and your customers is never taken for granted.
And while it is comforting to see that an idea as bold as the Adventure Cycling Association was able to last, thanks to passionate founders and an ever-growing group of like-minded enthusiasts that gathered around them, it is even more comforting to see that cycling advocacy and the community of cycling as a whole is as strong as ever, and shows no signs of slowing down.