Founded by Giro Sport Design, Flashpoint MVMNT is a collective of riders and brands with one shared goal: Breaking down barriers to change the image of cycling.
Flashpoint MVMNT isn’t a traditional race team. In fact, says Dain Zaffke, Giro’s marketing director, the riders are discouraged from using the word ‘team’ at all.
“These are four individuals pursuing their own goals,” Zaffke told VeloNews. “They don’t wear team uniforms, and Giro set up this program with a structure that encourages each rider to work directly with their other sponsors, including Canyon, SRAM, Wahoo, Thule, and WTB. In a traditional team, Giro would negotiate those deals and tell the riders what they’re getting. With Flashpoint, the riders are empowered to negotiate themselves and have direct communication with every brand involved. What unites the group of riders is a goal to introduce cycling to new audiences, and each partner brand is committing resources to create content that will help Flashpoint’s cause.”
Flashpoint MVMNT’s four riders bring a wealth of experience, engagement, and stoke to the project. Kathy Pruitt, Andrew Jackson, Nehemiah Brown, and Amanda Schaper each have a unique cycling history and bring a diversity of thought and ideas to the bike scene. The common thread? They all want to encourage riders of all backgrounds to feel welcome.
“We are committed to proving that riders don’t need a specific look or uniform to feel welcome in cycling,” Schaper said. “We want every rider to feel like they belong, no matter their skin color, gender, body type, cultural background, household income, or equipment preferences. We are focused on the fun that unites us all and making the changes that we want to see in our sport.”
Schaper, who is also team manager, has been riding and racing gravel, ‘cross, and MTB for the past 15 years. She’s also donned the hat of race director and industry marketer. Currently event director for Grinduro CA, Schaper has made it her mission to make the event more inclusive to women, trans, and non-binary riders. She sees Flashpoint MVMNT as a natural outgrowth of this goal.
“I’ve always been asked how to get more women on bikes,” Schaper said. “When you consider and represent all types of experiences, you won’t just get more women, but more people of all genders, colors, sizes, ages, and abilities. I want to make the cycling community a fun and welcoming space for everybody.”
While the Flashpoint MVMNT riders won’t be seen exclusively riding gravel in 2021, the ethos of riding drop bars on dirt jives well with the mission of the collective. Even before Flashpoint was formed, Kathy Pruitt and Andrew Jackson had migrated to gravel from the perhaps not-so-faraway lands of downhill and BMX.
In fact, Zaffke said, the idea for the program followed a long conversation with Jackson about the blurring lines between gravel, road, and trail riding.
“I only knew Andrew’s name from the BMX street riding world where he had a ten-year, super successful career on 20” wheels,” Zaffke said. “The first time we spoke about drop bar bikes he told me he was having a blast and mentioned something along the lines of, ‘nobody told me that these bikes could be so fun.’ Andrew’s mentality and riding style remind me of Grinduro, which makes an effort to showcase the good times on a ride, not just celebrating the suffering. So, in a nutshell, that’s the main objective of Flashpoint MVMNT — we want to inspire new people to get out and ride by showing the fun that’s all too often overlooked.”
I profiled Nehemiah Brown, the fourth Flashpoint rider, in a story for VeloNews last summer. When the rest of the country was posting black squares on its Instagram pages in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, Brown was on hold with customer service at Strava, demanding that the brand do something about racist segment names.
When we first spoke, Brown told me that his own experience as a Black cyclist had been mostly positive. However, when hundreds of people reached out to him to share offensive segment names in their communities, he realized that he could help enable change for riders who may not have had the same opportunities.
“I’m an activist, and I love riding bikes,” Brown said. “Cyclists know the power of working together and we can all take part in making the sport more accessible and inclusive to all participants. I want to uplift marginalized communities, and that starts by making sure they can join the fun.”
Flashpoint MVMNT was founded by Giro Sport Design and is supported by Canyon Bicycles, SRAM/Zipp/RockShox, Wahoo Fitness, Thule, and Wilderness Trail Bikes. In addition to their own personal projects, the riders will line up at events including the Belgian Waffle Ride, SBT GRVL, Grinduro Wales, Grinduro California, and more.
Zaffke says there’s no time like the present, with more people than ever on bikes, to defy traditional notions of who rides, and how.
“Cycling is no longer solely defined by what happens at commercial events like the Tour de France, the UCI World Cup and Red Bull Rampage, it’s being shaped by the masses and the grassroots riders,” he said. “After a year of turmoil, bikes have never been more popular as a means of exploration, exercise, and adventure. But this boom illustrates the divide between cycling media/marketing and the folks actually buying the equipment. Why should newcomers be influenced by the traditional reference points?
Flashpoint MVMNT riders are all motivated to challenge the status quo and change the image of cycling.”