Many riders push themselves to be better athletes, to climb harder and descend faster. However, there are some riders out there that athletic performance is only the beginning of their journey. These athletes have a purpose beyond their own pedals to push the cycling industry to be a better place for everyone. Meet our riders and ambassadors that are making it a point to drive the cycling industry towards inclusivity.
Welcome to WTB's Ride With Purpose.
Federico J. Cabrera
Where’s your local riding spot?
Argentina. Every corner of it.
Whenever I go through migration offices I usually fill-in “Beekeeper”, even when I’m spending most of my time as a photographer with my little personal project (I’m doing this because I love it. It definitely doesn’t put food on the table).
Favorite WTB product?
My favorite WTB heritage product is the old Trailblazer 2.8, the first 27.5+ mountain bike tire ever produced. It’s no longer made though and these days my favorite tire is the Ranger 2.8/3.0.
One thing you never leave on a ride without?
I never hit the road without a printer or a solar lamp to give to those who need it.
Favorite biking partner?
I usually travel solo, as I found out doing so makes it easier to relate with local families in remote locations. Videographer Geraint Hill once joined me to document a trip but unfortunately we were caught by the pandemic in the middle of Venezuela.
What's a perfect day of biking look like to you?
Any day exploring a remote location… even if I need to push my loaded bike the entire day!
How did you get into biking?
I started riding bikes as a kid and I did my first long trip (2+ months) to Patagonia in the mid-90s when I finished high school. After that, I started working and with only two weeks of vacation time per year, I replaced the bike with a car and later a 4x4. By the time I was 30, I was burned-out and realized I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in a small office in front of a screen, no matter how much money I made. At 35, I was finally able to quit a successful career in foreign trade (15+ years) in order to follow a dream.
By experience, I knew that whenever I reached a small village with a big 4x4 vehicle, I was going to be treated as a “fancy tourist”, but I still needed something to get me (with all my gear) to those remote villages. I did some research and saw “mountain bikes strapped with dry bags” used to explore remote locations and suddenly cycling was back in my life. By early 2015, I was riding my old dirt-jumper with “DIY bikepacking bags” and a 35-liter backpack on a small “Inca Trail” above 13,000ft… and haven't stopped since then.
Why do you ride?
A small but unfortunate fire at my house made me realize that printed & digital photos are the second most valuable things I have at home, after my family (which obviously includes my dogs). Later I found out some people don’t even have ONE single image of their own family... so I RIDE IN ORDER TO MAKE A SMALL TANGIBLE DIFFERENCE!
In the last 6 years, I have ridden close to 20,000 miles, in order to donate 500+ printed portraits and 350 solar lamps and water filters throughout Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina.. There aren't many reasons why you can't make a difference too. I encourage you to carry a small solar lamp and/or water filter the next time you travel to a remote place and leave it/them with a local family before you return home.
Was there a pivotal moment for you that made you start showing up for inclusivity within the industry? Or how did you start shifting your perspective?
My project’s main goal has always been to encourage fellow riders to make a small difference, but as a Latin American rider I’m tired of seeing brands pushing unrelatable marketing! Even companies with inspiring core values, such as Patagonia (yes, they have a mountain biking line), use identical marketing material in both the US and Argentina.
What changes are you advocating in the industry and how?
Most brands and publications are flying the same athletes/friends/personalities halfway across the globe (with the environmental impact involved) for their content/marketing purposes instead of working with local riders. The same goes with the photographers and videographers hired to document those trips, rather than supporting local artists and their crafts.
How can we create a bike industry that is accessible to everyone?
Unfortunately, VERY few companies and publications are supporting BIPOC riders and/or artists based outside the US (or Europe) and in a global industry we need way more of this if we really want diversity, equality, and inclusion!
If you had to pick one thing every rider and company needs to do today to create a more inclusive industry, what would it be?
How can other people get more involved with shifting the industry towards more inclusivity?
In our “Screen Age” we can usually communicate with brands in just a few clicks. As customers, we can use social media for social good by requesting that the brands we support with our money do their best to create more inclusive and diverse content/media. If they choose not to, we can choose to consciously spend our money elsewhere.
It's 10 years from today…. What is the bike industry like in your eyes?
I see the cycling industry leading by example in sustainability, diversity, equality and inclusion. It shouldn’t be hard for the Industry to change its business practices, IF we all acknowledge our responsibility/power as customers and support brands/media that really care about those subjects!
We protect what we love and I see even more people riding bikes.
What is Their Only Portrait?
Soon after I quit my career in foreign trade, I decided to explore South America with a backpack and a camera. Unfortunately, while I was visiting Peru, I was heartbroken by the many tourists TAKING photos of local people as if they live in a human safari (without showing any respect to their subjects) but it was even worse when I found out several of those local people didn’t even have a single family photo of their own.
I realized I wanted to make a small difference (or at least to leave things a little bit better than they were before my arrival) and by the end of 2014 I was finally able to start my little personal project.
“Their Only Portrait” is a one-man-show...a photographer riding a bike through beautiful but impoverished remote areas, making, printing, and giving away portraits to families who wouldn't otherwise have a family photograph. I also donate solar lights and water filters to those who need them most.
I know it’s a very small project and I personally will not change the world, but at least I can make a small tangible difference for the families I meet along the road while also showing my fellow riders that we can ALL make the world a better place, one pedal stroke at a time!
If you are interested in working together, you can reach me through my website or social media (@theironlyportrait). You can also contribute to my trips, which helps me spend more time on the road in order to reach more people. I just created an account at “buy me a coffee” and you can also make a small donation directly through Paypal:
Support The Only Portrait Here...