The multitalented adventure cyclists behind Miles of Portraits and Music for Free, featuring songwriter, poet, and bicycle advocate Ben Weaver, are setting off in the fall of 2020 with instruments and documentary cameras.
The two-week tour through New England revolves around one question: “What is your unknown?”
Our Unknown uses free public events, concerts, film, portrait photography, art installations, and poetry to capture everyday people’s stories about coping with the unknown.
The team has come together with a shared purpose of using their own stories to reveal the stories of others. The bicycle is a great equalizer and has become a lens that has opened them up to strangers. Sharing the voices of a diverse group of Americans comes in a timely manner with the backdrop of the 2020 United States presidential election.
They’ll cycle from rural communities to small towns to cities. They’ll connect with and profile those from all different walks of life and income levels. Folks will be dealing with timely issues such as climate change, economy, education, and health care; a young women in New Hampshire struggling to afford a medication that keeps her alive or a first-generation farmer in Maine making a change for today's markets. They’ll gather around dinner tables, in backyards, under stars, and on the side of roads.
The resulting documentary film series and its components will highlight important issues while developing an emotional connection to your brand through the power of music and personal stories.
Ben, Annalisa, Keenan, and Erik are at the forefront of the emerging adventure cycling, bikepacking, and urban bike commuter communities. They already have a national audience with Music For Free having been accepted into the 5Point Film Festival and Miles of Portraits having been screened at 13 REI locations across the United States.
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. As a collective force that pulls like a 100-person team, they hold the niche ability to document, film, and perform while on a long-distance bicycle tour.
Their work and story 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.
Our Stories, Our Motivations, Our Own Unknowns
Ben Weaver continues to show that even a single-father can raise a child while riding a bike and performing concerts. Ben rides for his family and to bring awareness to environmental issues and the importance of treating the earth well for future generations.
At just 8 years old, Keenan DesPlanques was diagnosed with leukemia and spent a large part of his childhood in and out of hospitals. With tons of time on his hands during chemotherapy treatments, he discovered his father’s old camcorder and fell fast in love with filmmaking.
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 an impromptu speech on how Annalisa van den Bergh and Erik Douds have changed his life.
In his eyes, they 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, obstacles, and unknowns to enjoy the simple things in life. That recognizing "life is short" is the ultimate motivation to chase your dreams today.
In addition to type 1 diabetes, Annalisa’s reason for riding is her mother, Ileana who passed away five years ago. Annalisa’s experience spending three weeks in the ICU watching her mother die from leukemia complications ultimately motivated her to cycle across America again. Her ride, which was just the beginning, was a tribute to her mother’s memory and a tribute to her own good health and ability to push herself beyond what she thought was possible.
The 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.
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.
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.
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 13 REI locations across the United States.
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.
Photos for mock purposes
A four-episode documentary series about the tour created by Erik and Keenan set to release just before the November 3rd election. Each state biked through will be it’s own episode: Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
A 40-page Miles of Portraits magazine showcasing 16 portraits and accompanying answers to the question, “What is your unknown?” photographed and designed by Annalisa. If applicable, these magazines could be used as marketing material for your brand.
3 to 5 public events and concerts open to all.
A community-based art installation inside storefronts and/or online. Similar to Candy Chang’s Before I Die walls, the installation will crowdsource answers to the question, “What is your unknown?”
Bronze Level: $1,500
Small logo across all components (film, magazine, tour)
10–20 stock and action photos
Silver Level: $5,000
Medium logo across all components (film, magazine, tour)
20–30 stock, action, and drone photos
Gold Level: $10,000
Most prominent logo size across all components (film, magazine, tour)
30–40 stock, action, and drone photos
Dedicated page in the magazine about how your 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. Please let the team know if you’re interested.
There’s four of us! Our Unknown has a funding budget of $40,000 for the campaign.