After years of participating in local bikepacking trips, Danielle Parnes and Kimberly Wiman were fed up with the male-dominated rides—which felt more competitive than welcoming—and started searching for ways to create more inclusion within the region’s bikepacking scene.
Once they learned how groups in other cities organize trips for bicycle adventurers who identify as women, transgender, femme, and non-binary during the WTF Bikexplorers Summit and Ride Series last August, they looked to build a similar community in Baltimore. “It was very powerful to see that riding bikes, having fun, and getting to know each other on a personal level could bring such a wide range of people together,” says Parnes.
The two now co-lead WTF Mid-Atlantic Bikepacking, a group that encourages local women and trans, femme, and non-binary people to strap camping gear—including tents, food, and water—to their bikes and ride together to a campsite destination. Since forming the group in October, Parnes and Wiman have hosted four trips, including rides along the C&O Canal and through Michaux State Forest, as well as an introductory workshop at Baltimore Bicycle Works.
Along with making the excursions free and accessible to those without cars, the pair also prioritizes creating an open dialogue so that bikepackers of all experience levels feel comfortable asking questions and traveling with the group. “Some people feel like they need to have a ton of knowledge or experience before they start riding—that’s a big barrier in WTF groups,” says Wiman. “When in reality, we can support and teach each other a lot.”
Above all else, Parnes and Wiman strive to empower fellow bikepackers by creating a space for them to create relationships based on honesty and a love for the outdoors. “Bikepacking is really difficult, and oftentimes on non-WTF rides, there’s not much acknowledgment of how physically and mentally tough it is,” says Wiman. “That vulnerability of feeling able to ask for help allows for a much deeper bond to form between people who go on a trip together.”