Waterstation 2.0

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 inspiredstewardship@gmail.com, thank you!

Reflections on the Scotts Valley Plastic Bag Ban Debate

Reflections on the Scotts Valley Plastic Bag Ban Debate.

Thanks Russell and Civinomics for covering the bag ban issue in Scotts Valley. You can be certain I’ll do everything I can to avoid spending money in Scotts Valley. If their council can’t be bothered to do the right thing for the environment then I can’t support their businesses that will most likely continue to dispense the single use plastic plague.

Pumped Up!

Pumped up – adj. – to be very excited…

Pump track – n. – a low risk dirt circuit designed for bicycle riding by all ages and skills.

Pump tracks are one of the most exciting aspects of mountain biking to arrive on the scene in the last ten years. They require only the most basic of bicycles and skills to be enjoyed, and are a very low risk endeavor.  They don’t require mountains or heavily constructed stunts, and can be built in an area as small as 20’ x 40’. Pump tracks have sprouted around the world, from backyards to public parks to the granddaddy of all destination resorts, Whistler.  In an age when gear continues to improve and differentiate our sport pump tracks are the great unifiers. I challenge you to go visit a pump track and not see at least three of the following; a teenager, a bmx bike, a parent and their child, a full suspension bike, or a pack of local kids pedaling whatever they’ve got.

A well built pump track in Aptos CA

Santa Cruz is a town of contradictions. We are home to no less than three major players in the biking industry, yet the majority of our trails are illegal. When visitors from out of town ask for tips on the best trails they are given in hushed tones, and the local trail maps contain just a fraction of what is available. This isn’t lost on the local mountain biking club or the shops, and they have reignited their efforts to change this. I am fortunate enough to live around the corner from an outstanding shop and have been able to trace the lineage of the City of Santa Cruz’s first sanctioned pump track that is emerging as a result of their efforts.

Visualizing the new pump track

I heard that our city council was going to address the pump track at their meeting last week and jumped on the opportunity to join. After attending a contentious hearing not too long ago regarding a new multiuse trail that Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz (MBOSC) was hoping to build I expected a full house and a dubious council. Interestingly enough, only about four-dozen people besides the council were in attendance. Mauro Garcia of the Parks Department declared his support of the project and stated that the city had been hoping a site would appear for a park (I was surprised by that). Chris of Another Bike Shop easily fielded the council’s questions and noted that one of our local heavy hitters, Santa Cruz Bikes was moving to a new location, directly across the street from the proposed park and had pledged their support (yee ha!) And then the crowd began to speak their support at the mic. As I turned I noticed three of my riding buddies had appeared with their kids in tow, there is one of our most important user groups. The council echoed the gallery’s overwhelming support and the motion to grant the permit was passed unanimously! Chris still has a few small hurdles before the digging starts, but he and the property owner are to be applauded for their efforts to date.

Another pump track supporter and Chris celebrate council approval

It is an exciting time here, and Shawna and I are eager to jump in and continue our support of the effort. Kudos to the City of Santa Cruz for supporting more outdoor recreational opportunities, Santa Cruz bikes for financial support, and Chris and ABS for the inspiration behind the effort. There are still opportunities to participate in the fun stuff, hopefully we’ll get shovels in the ground in the next 30 days. This is an exciting time to be part of the cycling community in Santa Cruz as we approach the opening of our first legal rider built trail (ever?) by MBOSC and we see our pumptrack get off the ground. Be a part of this genesis and join us soon. Trail advocacy has never been easier, or more fun, lets all get pumped up!

– Dave


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.”

Margaret Mead