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New League Staff: Meet Ally Mabry

Meet the newest member of the League team: Ally Mabry! While Ally may be new to her role as Graphic Designer at the League, she joins us with talent and experience in spades. As former Art Director of Adventure Cyclist magazine at Adventure Cycling and self-proclaimed dirtbag bikepacker, Ally is no stranger to the world of bike-powered creative storytelling. We’re stoked to see her artistic vision manifest throughout the League’s efforts to build a Bicycle Friendly America for all. Welcome aboard, Ally!

Photo credit to Saturday Night Photo

What’s your first memory of riding a bike?

I was about eight years old; my parents had deemed it time for me to shed the safety and stability of my training wheels to try balancing on two wheels. My family lived at the end of a cul-de-sac at the top of a hill while I was growing up (a great safe space for all the little neighbor kids to run around unsupervised throughout the heat of Alabama summers.) I remember standing in my driveway, pointing my bicycle across the cul-de-sac — directly at a giant tree — letting loose, and flying smack into the trunk. I hadn’t considered the “steering” part yet. Through frustrated tears, I flung my bicycle into the neighbor’s yard and ran back into my house, screaming that I’d never ride a bike again.

What does your bike journey look like? What got you into biking as an adult?

I gave bikes another chance once I headed off to college at The University of Alabama and needed to get to and around campus. I loved my daily commute — I passed by a bread factory, all its heavenly smells emanating, and took note that folks in cars didn’t get to enjoy that the way I did. After graduating, I moved to Austin, Texas, where I was consumed by the huge local cycling scene — weekend coffee cruises, 300-person Thursday night social rides, and commuting to work 11 miles one way eventually morphed into weekend century rides, dabbling in cyclocross and crit races, and developing community by leading bike camping trips and gear workshops. I was easily riding 200 miles per week, learning how to fix my bike, and developing a hunger for pushing my physical and emotional limits. 

Lately, my happy place is riding from home to camp or picnic in the forests and mountains surrounding Missoula, [Montana,] often with my partner and sometimes our dog. In March 2024, I helped start up a grassroots cycling community for women, nonbinary, and gender-expansive folks called Slow Spokes, which has been such a gift. We focus on skillshare, removing barriers to bikepacking, and creating safe spaces for marginalized folks to experience bike joy. I sit on a couple local steering committees for different neighborhood transportation improvement projects, which has me really hooked on policy, infrastructure, and city planning. I’m really excited to dig more into that sphere of bikes now that I’m at the League.

Tell us a bit about your background. How did you get into graphic design, and what motivates you to keep going creatively? 

My mother is a painter, my father was a software engineer — it really is as simple as that! My parents instilled in me an appreciation of art, form, and function. All I’ve ever wanted to be was an artist in some capacity; I studied printmaking, graphic design, and art history in undergrad, and also fell in love with film photography and ceramics (my sister is an accomplished professional photographer — we’re an artsy family.) From a young age, magazines have captivated my interest and creativity; I believe I was born about 20 years late because the heyday of magazines in the 80s–90s sounds like the most perfect fever dream to me. During my junior year of undergrad, my beloved graphic design professor encouraged me to be the Creative Director of the university honors college publication, Mosaic, which really set my love for editorial publication design ablaze. 

I’m deeply inspired by folk art media that shows evidence of the human hand (found material sculpture, woodcut printmaking, home-developed film), storytelling in all forms, and what I call “design Tetris” —  figuring out how different elements can work together to create an ecosystem and how they can be rearranged in different applications.

What are some of your favorite routes and trails to explore?

My most favorite route of all time is the Red Meadow Pass Loop — a perfect 100-mile jaunt that checks all the boxes I want in a bikepacking trip: fast-rolling Forest Service gravel roads, camping at an alpine lake, a quaint bakery that offers free huckleberry bear claws to people who arrive there on bike or hike, a remote stretch down a long-decommissioned road in Glacier National Park, wildlife encounter potential, wildflowers, wild berries, and stunning views of snow-capped peaks. All in 100 miles! Also, I can’t not mention the Baja Divide, the route that transformed my whole life. 

What bike are you riding now and what inspires you about cycling?

My favorite bike was welded in Missoula in 2019 by frame builder Eli Hannon. We collaborated on the build to make it a capable gravel bike that could easily handle large endeavors like the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Missoula has a super cool history of niche framebuilding and I’m proud to ride a bike made here, in my friend’s garage, just miles away from my house. All of my bikes are really special to me and come with their fair share of stories.

Cycling has connected me to some of the coolest people on the planet. It’s a great conduit for adventurous, self-sufficient, tenacious folks — and I find a lot of opportunity for creativity in cycling. From building up a bike using my parts bin, to catalyzing a fully-fledged cycling community, there are so many avenues for involvement. Cycling has also taken me all over my city, my state, my country, and the world — I use an app called Wandrer that helps me visualize what roads I have and haven’t traveled (I’ve filled in 58% of Missoula roads so far!) I sold my car almost ten years ago; my partner and I share a truck now, but for the most part, it sits in our driveway until we want to get out of town and into the mountains.

I’ve worn so many identity hats within Bike World: a roadie, an ultra endurance racer, a self-proclaimed dirtbag bikepacker without a permanent address, a community facilitator, an advocate, a bike magazine’s art director, a buddy who always says “yes” to a bike ride — and now, the graphic designer for the League of American Bicyclists.

Photo credit to Saturday Night Photo
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