Our Unknown

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Proposed by
Erik Douds, Annalisa van den Bergh, Ben Weaver, and Keenan DesPlanques

September 2019

 
 

Summary

The adventure cyclists behind Miles of Portraits and Music for Free are setting off this fall with their instruments and cameras to document New England communities in a collaborative tour called Our Unknown. Through poetry, free public events, film, art installations, and photography, the bike-documentary captures everyday people’s stories about coping with the unknown.

 

Community

Ben, Annalisa, Keenan, and Erik are at the forefront of the emerging adventure cycling, bikepacking, and urban bike commuter communities. Their personal stories draw audiences that consist of people managing chronic illness, appreciate music and spoken word poetry, and are inspired by the natural beauty of wild places like Alaska.

They already have a national audience with Music For Free being accepted into the 5Point Film Festival and Miles of Portraits screening at 13 REI locations across the country.

Their work has gained national media attention appearing in The Washington Post’s The Lily, the REI Co-op Journal, the cover story for Adventure Cyclist, Vimeo’s “Staff Picks,” Kickstarter’s “Projects We Love”, and lastly, in the wide-eyed passersby who approach them when they lean their fully-loaded bicycles against supermarket walls around the world.

To define them more precisely, the national non-profit Adventure Cycling Association, responsible for connecting the east to west coast by bicycle, labels adventure cyclists as college educated, earning income in the top ten percentage of the national average, riding frequently each week, and planning on taking a national or international tour regardless of the economy. Because of these statistics, we strive to compliment this audience by seeking out a wider set of diversity by drawing in those we meet in rural communities and by making our story-sharing experiences open to all.

 
Annalisa on the cover of Adventure Cyclist Magazine,  spreading awareness about type 1 diabetes .

Annalisa on the cover of Adventure Cyclist Magazine, spreading awareness about type 1 diabetes.

 
 

The Team

“They remind us all how the bike is the ultimate vehicle to freedom and connection with others.”
(Jim Sayer, Executive Director of Adventure Cycling)

 
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The Route

Our Unknown is a 400+ mile route from Boston, Massachusetts to the coast of Portland Maine and inwards to the ski town of Burlington, Vermont. The fall tour follows a network of Adventure Cycling Association’s bicycle routes linking the Atlantic Coast Route, Northern Tier, and Green Mountains Loop.

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When outside the urban environment, adventure cyclists travel at a pace where stops are made in everyday small towns that are often cut-off by freeway travel and the rush of commuter traffic.

The 400 mile route highlights the United States’ extensive national bike network (the largest in the world). After attending the NY Times Travel Show, we have made connections with each state’s tourism board that can help identify public spaces for events, while also joining promotional efforts.

 

Public Events Open to All

Our team is no stranger to tackling endurance feats while hosting public gatherings. Music For Free put on 15 scheduled concerts along the Continental divide and Miles of Portraits rolled their bicycles into seven REI locations across the Southwest.

A scene from Music for Free / Ben Weaver and Keenan DesPlanques

A scene from Music for Free / Ben Weaver and Keenan DesPlanques

We would work in close coordination with your marketing team to plan an appropriate amount of community-based, free events in locations such as storefronts, firehouses, town parks, and Warmshowers hosts’ backyards.

Your brand can be strengthened by building bridges between metropolitan areas and the drive-by cities and towns that do not garner the typical attention of advertising campaigns like this one.

One of 13 REI talks / Miles of Portraits

One of 13 REI talks / Miles of Portraits

 

Film + Community-Based Art Installation

The team has a unique skill set of touring while filmmaking allowing a more visceral story. Every uphill, every flat tire, every question is felt by each cyclist. We can use this to come together and show how your brand enables adventure and community building.

Online communities are brought into the experience through the portrait photography series based on the success from Miles of Portraits. Raw images of those we meet, unfiltered experiences since the bicycle has no walls, can be seen by everyone.

Our Unknown transforms into a bigger piece by bringing a community-based art installation inside storefronts and/or online. The installation, sampled below will crowdsource all the ways we’re being vulnerable.

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Geographical Location and Community

Our Unknown follows a network of Adventure Cycling Association’s bicycle routes linking the Atlantic Coast Route, Northern Tier, and Green Mountains Loop. City audiences can join us in places like Boston, MA, Portland, ME, and Burlington, VT.

When outside the urban environment, adventure cyclists travel at a pace where stops are made in everyday small towns that are often cut-off by freeway travel and the rush of commuter traffic.

Stores in New England can be transformed into community hubs. The space for conversation also expands to places like libraries and farm-to-table restaurants in Vermont and Maine.

Our stories touch upon living with disabilities, raising a child as a single parent, dealing with the grief of losing a parent, and battling with leukemia as a child.

 


Community Impact

The team bringing you Miles of Portraits and Music for Free hosts national screenings and talks to inspire people of any age to seek adventure through bicycle riding.

During a talk at an REI in Massachusetts, Mark Roland, a retired Green Beret U.S. veteran, felt compelled to stand up in front of the audience and give this impromptu speech on how Annalisa and Erik have changed his life.

In his eyes, we show him that despite the constant fears of managing a complex disease like type 1 diabetes that you can go out and ride your bike. That you can move past these constant threats and obstacles to enjoy the simple things in life. That recognizing "life is short" is the ultimate motivation to chase your dreams today.

Your brand’s community can be expanded by those that want to adventure by bicycle.

Your current and future community can tap into retirees and millennials who seek to explore in a new way –– under their own power. We can teach them to taste wilderness by pitching a tent under a red sequoia or inspire them to set off on their next adventure by train and return by bicycle.

This past April, Adventure Cyclist Magazine made a stigma-breaking decision to feature Annalisa taking a shot of insulin on the cover. Annalisa and Erik’s article, The Ups and Downs of Touring with Type 1, tells the story of their Alaska bike trip through the lens of the blood sugar graphs they use to manage their type 1 diabetes.

Ben Weaver continues to show that even a single-father can raise a child while riding a bike and performing concerts. Our team stands as proof that you do not have to wait for someday and that the bicycle is the ultimate vehicle to freedom and connection with others.

The hardest part to traveling is getting out the door. Through in-person events, film, and photography, they have been able to inspire folks to get out on the road as well as empower people living with type 1 diabetes to join a local bike team and ride.

 

Sponsorship Tiers

$1,500

  • Small logo across all components (film, magazine, tour)

  • 15 photos for the media team


$5,000

$10,000

  • Most prominent logo size across all components (film, magazine, tour)

  • 50 photos including drone shots for the media team

  • Instagram takeover and shout-outs across @benweavermusic, @keendes, @erikdouds@annalisavdbergh, and @milesofportraits

  • Dedicated page in the magazine about how the brand helps keep our wheels turning

  • Sponsored YouTube video specifically about the brand

  • Donation can be accepted by 501(c)3 Adventure Cycling Association based in Missoula, Montana



 

Next Steps: