It has been five years now that I have been shepherding the water station around Santa Cruz County to help people understand the positive impact they can have on the environment. Back in March of 2013 I approached a water filtration company to inquire if they would like to be part of the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike festival and help us reduce our environmental footprint. The idea was to showcase their product at the event and design, build, and operate a device to help us eliminate single use water bottles. These bottles are made using oil, usually end up in the landfill, and push the price of water out and away from the people who need it most. Our goal was to provide potable water from a city water source free to users and slip in a bit of conservation messaging while they filled their bottles. In April we rolled out the water station to an appreciative audience who filled cups and camelbaks throughout the two day event.
The water station morphed slowly as did the messaging. Only a year ago we developed a system to provide water off the city water grid with the help of Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz. Before that time we had been foiled by a bad hose bib at one of the New Leaf Bike to Work Days and challenged by a health inspector because he didn’t like the garden hose that we were using to supply water. The physical setup always was to situate the station on a six foot folding table with a drape that would get soaked. I’d put a brochure rack on the water station to promote my mountain bike guiding and coaching service and the whole affair was quite functional but not very eye-catching. All that changed at the end of 2017 when I found an even better way to marry water and bikes.
In 2014 I founded a mountain bike guiding and coaching service with two friends with the primary mission of developing environmental stewards. Mountain bikers are predisposed to environmental conservation by their love of the sport and where it takes place, the forests in our area. My goal by joining the board of Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz and later starting The Ride Guides was to tell a bit of a story to lure riders into a deeper relationship with the environment that they love so much. The end goal was to have riders fund environmental activities, take part in caring for the environment by building and maintaining trails, and voting for pro environment candidates when the opportunity arises (Dig, Donate, and Advocate). I learned years ago as an interpreter for an environmental non-profit that effective messaging at the right time is key in getting people onboard.
Guiding and coaching individuals and small groups allows for a deep dive into what is happening locally but I really wanted to start catering to a larger and better funded demographic so I began to focus on hosting corporate group rides. I’ve done a number of these team building events and have needed to subcontract hauling the bikes and people and wanted to get better control of the quality of the service. We’ve also had rental bikes damaged and saw a big risk in further damage when moving the bikes around. The solution was to have a bike-specific trailer built for the operation. Fortunately I discovered Gary Holby online via his website Huckwagons.com and embarked on an email journey that lead us to Waterstation 2.0.
Gary was able to incorporate a 100 gallon water tank and mounts for the water station into a sixteen bike trailer and suddenly I had the tool to start getting even more people on bikes and add more flash to the water station events. Setup of the water station has been simplified radically and now takes only minutes once I arrive onsite. A marine style water pump feeds the four spigots and the whole pressure water system is powered by a small auto-style 12 volt battery and a single solar panel.
We debuted the water trailer at MBOSC’s Old Cabin Classic on May 19 and have now just over two weeks later finished our third event. Both the Santa Cruz Arts Council’s Ebb and Flow River Arts Festival and Watsonville Open Streets were wildly successful events with a hugely positive response to the service. In just these three events we have already kept thousands of single use water bottles from being manufactured and scrapped in a very short time.
Single use water bottles are always one of the primary components of the waste stream at any event and minimizing that impact should be paramount in priority to anyone organizing events. If you are organizing an event or know of one that could benefit from the presence of our water trailer please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, thank you!
Ever wonder how those people on the video seem to float over rocky sections of trail and backflip over 72-foot canyons? We won’t be learning to backflip but the basic skills that you’ll pick up at Saturday morning’s free clinic will inject the confidence into your riding that you’ll need to take it to the next level.
IMBA certified mountain biking instructors Dave Robinson and Sean Andrasik will be taking us through the basics of bicycle setup, body positioning, shifting, and braking. This clinic will precede the 10am Emma McCrary slow ride hosted by Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz (MBoSC). After the clinic we will climb and descend the MBoSC built Emma McCrary trail and take time to “session” the more challenging, and fun, sections of the trail to help build skills amongst all of us!
Sean and Dave’s primary goal is for everyone to enjoy a safe and fun morning on the bike. Join us and build your confidence aboard your bike this Saturday November 23 at 9:30am at the corner of Highway 9 and Golf Club Drive!
Few things in life go together better than mountain bikes, friends, and beer. These three things are at the core of the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival and a big reason that we sought to be a part of the organization that produces the event. The event also provides an opportunity to extend the reach of the conservation message and it is one of the few opportunities to get in front of nearly 10,000 people in just two days. The mountain bike community provides a perfect audience for the conservation message, fit individuals who enjoy engaging in athletic pursuits in nature, who better to coach on being better environmental stewards?
photo credit Karen Kefauver
Minimizing the environmental impact of the event goes hand in hand with messaging about improved stewardship. The planning, implementation, and follow up surrounding these efforts is termed “greening” and takes a number of different forms. Planning to minimize the event’s impact involves a tremendous amount of communication with municipalities, vendors, waste haulers, and the event marketing team. We contacted vendors and let them know that excessive packaging was the enemy. One of the largest components of municipal waste streams is packaging and it surrounds nearly everything we purchase. We worked with the county to ensure that we were in compliance with their progressive ordinances; they have banned Styrofoam food ware and plastic shopping bags. We contacted the hauler to secure wheelie bins and dumpsters in the appropriate ratio, as well as compost bins. We also worked closely with our marketing team to ensure that we messaged our participants to carpool or ride their bikes (People Power provided bike valets). We even managed to run completely off the grid thanks to the support of three local solar companies (Allterra, Sandollar Solar, and Moved by Bikes).
The one aspect that excited me the most was the challenge to eliminate the need for bottled water at the event. As every athlete knows water is the most crucial component in assuring performance. With multiple competitive events from short track and pump track races to a dirt jump competition we had to have water available to our guests. But bottled water is emblematic of a plague that continues to wreak havoc on our environment, marketing. Most people have been sold the idea that bottled water guarantees safety and convenience, but in reality it delivers neither.
- Municipal water quality standards are higher than those of the bottled water industry
- Tap water is available from every tap, not just at the supermarket or convenience store.
- Tap water is cheaper than bottled, averaging $.0025/gallon vs $5.00/gallon on average in America.
Prior to the event Inspired Stewardship developed a relationship with Zuvo Water and in concert we developed a water dispensing “bar” that delivered high quality, great tasting water at no cost to our visitors. Our marketing efforts encouraged visitors to bring their own container and for those who didn’t we provided an environmentally friendly cup. Those with camelbacks appreciated the water the most as they were able to refill their water bladders with some of the best water they had ever tasted. And it was at the water station that we were able to deliver the reinforcing message that they were saving oil and money by drinking tap water, win-win!
In the end our guests were treated to an experience that left a very small footprint on the planet and instilled a renewed sense of community and responsibility for the environment. I can see those that purchased our stainless beer mugs lounging after a ripping ride for years to come looking at the logo from the Santa Cruz Mountain Biking Festival thinking, what fun. Now turn off that computer and throw your leg over your bike and make the world a healthier place!
Scott’s Creek Late Session Anyone?
Every day that we have the opportunity to get on the water is a gift. The farther we travel the more we realize how fortunate we are in America to be surrounded by clean seas. But they need our help. Our rivers and seas are filling with trash at an ever increasing rate. Plastic packaging, cigarette butts, plastic shopping bags, the list goes on. What kind of person would accept the challenge of stemming this onslaught?
Join the team for International Coastal Cleanup
Last year nearly 600,000 visionaries picked up 9 million pounds of trash from beaches and rivers in 153 countries on International Coastal Cleanup Day. This year we are faced with a daunting new challenge, the first signs of debris from the Japanese Tsunami are starting to reach US shores. NOAA estimates that of the 5 million tons of debris that entered the sea off Japan, 1.5 million tons remained afloat and entered the Pacific Gyre. This spring the first signs of that debris started landing on the west coast of North America. Now, more than ever, the ocean needs our help.
Your effort can prevent this!
Saturday September 15th marks the 27th year of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. This is the opportunity that you’ve been waiting for, a chance to spend the morning with your friends at the beach, pitching in to help the earth’s greatest natural resource. The sea not only feeds us and provides the bulk of the oxygen that we breathe, it also provides endless recreational opportunity. It gives us the chance to take a deep breath and take stock of all that we are so fortunate to have. A chance to realign our priorities of health, family, and friends. So please join me and your friends for a few hours beginning around 9 am on Saturday and join the largest volunteer conservation effort on the planet. And start paying back our ocean for the bounty that she provides us every day. For a list of your local sites visit Ocean Conservancy’s website here, or simply head to the coast and pitch in!
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
A great opportunity to join fellow athletes in one of the most spectacular riding settings in CA!
Tahoe Fat Tire Festival | September 20-23, 2012 – Squaw Valley, CA.