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Izzy Johnson on Radical Adventure Riders

Izzy Johnson is all about getting more people on bikes. She has a way of building community unlike any other and it's clear her passion for bikes drives the way she lives her life. We first met Izzy at Rooted Vermont in 2021 and she became an ambassador for Bivo shortly after. Fast forward 10 months, Izzy was looking to move to Vermont and we happened to have a position open for her! For those of you in New England, you probably know Izzy, because, well, she seems to know everyone who rides bikes! For those of you who live a bit further, she is such an incredible human who makes everyone feel welcome. 

Izzy recently went to the Keuka Lake Gravel Classic and met up with the Finger Lakes Chapter of Radical Adventure Riders (RAR). She wrote a recap of her weekend, along with why RAR is such an important group to have in the cycling space. But first, I asked Izzy a few questions about her connection with bikes: 

How did you first start riding bikes? 

I first really started riding bikes a little in college. I went to school in Massachusetts and cyclocross as well as mountain biking are both pretty big there. I rode on and off those years but mainly I was a serious rock climber. A couple years after college I got injured climbing and needed to take a long break. During that time I needed something to do. While on vacation, I got the chance to ride my first full suspension bike in Utah and I was hooked. I found a sale on Specialized Stumpjumpers and bought one just a couple weeks later. Shortly after this, Covid started. I had endless time to ride for the first couple months. It was such a fun time progressing quickly in the sport of mountain biking. I rode with some folks at Cannondale during this time which led to me becoming one of their ambassadors. Through that connection, I got the opportunity to become a mentor at the Rooted women’s clinic. I had never ridden a gravel bike until that weekend in 2020 and I was instantly drawn to it. Since then I have stuck mostly to mountain bikes as well as gravel. Bikes have brought me so much joy, a career, and most importantly, so many incredible friends, both on and off the bike.

What are your goals in cycling?

My main goal in cycling is to make sure that everyone that wants to enter the sport has a space that they feel welcome, loved, and seen for the beautiful humans they are.

What is your favorite type of riding? 

My favorite type of riding is probably mountain biking. I love riding fast through the trees with a good group of friends hooting and hollering our way along in the forest. I also love a good adventure underbiking ride. For me, this means taking a gravel bike on mountain bike trails and seeing how it can hold up!

What does riding provide for you? 

Riding bikes for me provides so many different things: an incredible community of friends, a creative outlet when building bikes or fixing them, a space to clear my head, as well as such a source of confidence.

A Weekend with RAR, by Izzy Johnson

The first weekend in June I got the chance to meet up with the folks from the RAR Finger Lakes Chapter. Together we led an awesome casual pace gravel ride outside of Ithaca, NY on Onöndowa'ga:'(Seneca) Land. We then went to a gravel race the next day, which was a first for many of those RAR members. I thought it would be a great time to highlight what RAR is and how they are helping the cycling industry improve and become a more inclusive space for all folks. 

RAR stands for Radical Adventure Riders. RAR started in 2017 by a group of folks committed to creating a space for queer folks, as well as folks of color in the cycling industry. Their mission is “to center gender inclusivity and racial equity in cycling and the outdoors. RAR does this by providing education, connection, resources, and support for the community and industry.” As a person falling into many minority categories myself it feels so important that RAR exists. So much of the cycling industry is filled with straight, cisgender white men, and oftentimes it is really intimidating for folks to even think about entering the cycling world because of that. I personally am so thankful RAR exists because folks like me as well as others now have a space where we can just be ourselves. We don’t have to answer any questions, or feel judged. We can just ride our bikes together! 

RAR has many chapters all over the country where they offer folks a chance to learn with different clinics relating to bikes whether it's maintenance, or bike packing info. They also offer many group rides, bike movie meetups, clothing/gear swaps as well as bike campouts! In the New Haven Chapter, Kai even offered a weekend gravel camp! They have a job board where companies can list job openings. This is such a good resource for brands as well as for queer folks and folks of color to find openings at companies in the bike and outdoor industries. We hope you are as excited about RAR as we are! 

We are excited to announce there is a new RAR chapter here in Vermont! It is called RAR Champlain Valley. They have folks leading rides, clinics, and lessons in both VT and the Adirondack area of upstate New York! Feel free to follow them on social for new information. We hope you all have learned a bit about the importance of providing safe spaces for folks on bikes. :)

- Izzy Johnson (she/her)

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