The Beginning of the RootsRated Road Tour: Chattanooga

Ry Glover setting the mood at the Chattanooga Pint Night.
Ry Glover setting the mood at the Chattanooga Pint Night. Jake Wheeler
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Before diving into a discussion about all the fun we had at our Chattanooga trail running meet-up and pint night, or even into the details of this whirlwind Road Tour we're about to embark on, it might be helpful to give a bit of a backstory on the founding of our company.

The idea for RootsRated was born on a road trip. In the summer of 2011, Fynn Glover (CEO, ultra-runner, former semi-pro soccer player, cookie monster, and _mostly _likable guy) left a job in finance to drive 16,000 miles around North America. He had two goals in mind during this expedition: first, he wanted to interview over 1,000 college students to gain insights into the barriers they face when discovering outdoor recreation; and second, he wanted to trail run the continent’s most beautiful and rugged terrains, all in the company of his college roommate/best friend, Russell, and his younger brother, Ry (Current Associate Editor for RR, Road Tour Musician, Arsenal FC Fanatic, and AT Thru-Hiker.)

Fynn, Russell, and Ry pose after an epic trail run above the Columbia River Gorge.
Fynn, Russell, and Ry pose after an epic trail run above the Columbia River Gorge.

During this trip, a need was immediately discovered. Finding the best outdoor experiences was (and is) not easy. Discovering a great local trail, bouldering field, or whitewater hole remains a very word-of-mouth process. Information online is incredibly fragmented.

Every three or four days, Fynn, Russell, and Ry would arrive in a new city and Google terms like, "best hiking in Minneapolis" or "best trail running in San Francisco.” Consistently, they encountered information that was very difficult to trust or simply non-existent. When they couldn't find information online, they began stopping in local outdoor retailers, local bike shops, and running stores to ask the employees of these shops for recommendations. Everywhere they went, these local retailers were able to provide excellent suggestions and proved to be the true outdoor concierges of their towns and cities.

RR Digital Marketer Bryson Moore talking shop at the Chattanooga Pint Night.
RR Digital Marketer Bryson Moore talking shop at the Chattanooga Pint Night. Jake Wheeler

At each store, Fynn and his two-man crew would spend 20 minutes talking with the staff about their favorite trails in the area. The staff would scribble down some directions to the trailhead on the back of a receipt, and the guys would be on their way.

That was the light bulb moment when we first asked ourselves the question: "What if we could build a platform that would harness the expertise of the local outdoor industry and provide a beautiful and highly trustworthy resource for outdoor enthusiasts of all types to find local adventures?"

Rock/Creek's Mark McKnight chatting it up with RR Staffer Ry Glover at Stringer's Ridge.
Rock/Creek's Mark McKnight chatting it up with RR Staffer Ry Glover at Stringer's Ridge. Jake Wheeler

Since that moment, we've been running full steam ahead with the goal to build that platform. We've partnered with some of the industry's most trusted outdoor retailers and most recognizable outdoor brands, and we've built a robust team of amazing freelance writers across the country.

Our company was born out of a passion for travel and adventure. It was born on a road trip. And that's why this Road Tour will be much more than just another cross-country adventure. It will be a chance for us to rediscover our 'roots'—if you will—on the road.

In similar fashion to that idealistic road trip of 2011, which sparked the idea behind RootsRated, the 2015 RR Road Tour will be a 5-month, 20,000-mile modern day odyssey across the United States. The goal will be to connect—or reconnect—with many of our local retail partners across the country by hosting a series of pint nights and grassroots meet-ups. With these meet-ups, we hope to trail run, hike, paddle, and climb in the most beautiful places everywhere we go. When we visit your town, we hope you'll join us for our pint nights and meet-ups, so that we can get together on a trail or at a local outdoor shop for good times and good laughs.

RR Chattanooga writer Sofi Bunger signing her favorite outdoor destination.
RR Chattanooga writer Sofi Bunger signing her favorite outdoor destination. Jake Wheeler

On May 1st, we kicked off the tour in our backyard, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Together with Rock/Creek, we hosted a trail running meet-up in the morning and a Pint Night in the evening.

The morning was spent enjoying warm Velo Coffee at the trailhead of Stringers Ridge, and then going on a quick group run through the roller coaster trails, with golden sunlight playfully flittering through the trees. Later that day, in celebration of the 3 State 3 Mountain Bike Ride, we hosted a Pint Night at the packet pick-up at Finley Stadium. For three hours, we listened to Ry's renditions of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, poured a couple hundred pints of SweetWater IPA, and raised over $760 dollars for local conservation, (Bike Walk Tennessee). The evening concluded with everyone signing our blank map of the United States with their favorite outdoor destinations in the country.

Sofi showing us how it's done at Fosters.
Sofi showing us how it's done at Fosters. Jake Wheeler

The following day, we joined our Chattanooga writer, Sofi Bunger, for a day of sport climbing at Foster Falls  to learn about the ropes and beta in the area. This day trip highlighted another aspect of our tour—meeting with key influencers and going on eye-opening adventures with them.

If you are interested in getting involved with RootsRated, the RR Road Tour would be a great opportunity to meet and greet and talk about ways that we can continue to connect and grow this platform together. All Road Tour events are free to attend and will benefit local conservation groups. Every stop will consist of an outdoor Meet-Up event and a RootsRated Pint Night with live music. A $5 donation gets you your first beer, a sweet RootsRated pint glass, and all proceeds benefit local conservation efforts.

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