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!

Basic Mountain Bike Skills Clinic Saturday 11/23/13

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.


Sean Floats

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!


Kelly Flips

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!

Greening the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival

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

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!

How Gravity Trails Will Save the Environment

Wait, wait! I thought downhill mountain biking trails destroyed ecosystems, what are you selling here? Isn’t downhill mountain biking all about young kids skidding down sheer cliffs, creating huge ruts that carry all the dirt off the mountain? In a word, no.


Gravity trails are another term for steeper than average trails designed for descending. They are indeed typically frequented by the younger portion of the mountain biking demographic that is more endorphin driven. I’ve heard of these riders referred to as the Red Bull generation more than once. This is the group most often targeted as bad for the image of our sport and are at the nexus of the trail access controversy. They are sometimes identified as the “rogue trailbuilders” who are cutting lines on the hillside that are most prone to erosion. They are often ostracized within the sport and targeted by authorities for ticketing on the “illegal” trails that they prefer. And they are our best hope for environmental advocates for generations to come.

Without trails or representation the gravity set will continue to be pushed to the margins of our sport except in the handful of mountainbike parks and enlightened trail systems here in America. History shows that marginalized populations push back against convention which creates conflict that often results in police action and a negative perception by the community at large. And if convention succeeds, they relent and move back into the shadows and abandon what they love. Do we really want more kids spending their lives inside playing video games rather than outside, getting fit, working in the wilderness?


Now instead of a circle of kids around a police officer with his ticket book out imagine them lined up with shovels and McLeods in hand on your favorite trail. Imagine your city council meeting packed with high school students taking their turn in front of the microphone imploring the need for more sustainable trails. Imagine your kids training all year on local trails to tune up for competition around the country. Isn’t that a better picture? This is a reality in Canada and New Zealand, and a rare sight here in the US.

Sustainable gravity trails exist around the world and they are spawning an enlightened environmental ethic. Not only do these trails provide opportunities to learn about building trails and protecting wilderness, but they lead to wiser personal choices that benefit the environment (think re-useable water bottles, trash cleanups, and diminishing carbon footprints). Activity in the outdoors provides time for reflection and provides a perspective on humankind that can’t be had in front of the TV, in the car, or in the boardroom. Gravity trails aren’t just for the youth either, there are plenty of aging adrenaline addicts out there. And we need to get the ball rolling.


The future of our planet rests in the generations to come. The next John Muir is taking the bus to school today and will ride their downhill bike afterwards. And she desperately needs a legal place to ride that bike. If we criminalize their favorite activity, their love for the trail, who will be left to take care of it? Gravity trails can save the environment. Please join me in supporting the development of more gravity trails. Learn about what is happening in your area to support trails by joining your local mountain biking club or visit IMBA to see what they are doing nearby.

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

Making A Difference, One Shovel-Full at a Time

If you are like most people, there comes a time when you start asking yourself “Am I really making a difference?” The office might be wearing on you, the traffic might be getting to you, the family might just seem a bit too demanding. The end result is we start wondering if we are making a difference during our time on this planet.

Now as mountainbikers we can count ourselves more fortunate than most. We have one of the best releases of stress, energy, and endorphins, at our disposal, a ride in the woods. But what have we done to earn this gift? I’m not talking about going to work or supporting our local bike shop with our disposable income, I’m talking about paying real dues. Supporting our resource can be done in three primary ways, your money (contributing to MBOSCC or Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks), your vote (keep the parks funded with our tax dollars), or your time. Your own personal situation will help you determine which way is best for you.


Epic Queenstown NZ Singletrack

I’ve come across the Trailworkers volunteer crew working in Wilder twice in my twenty years of riding. I was impressed that my friend Dan Chen was there both times. It turns out Dan has been donating a half day of his time on the first Sunday of each month since the mid eighties. Talk about dedication! So it was with no lack of guilt that I joined him and 18 others this past Sunday at Wilder to learn more about trail maintenance and to swing some tools. Two of the three Wilder Ranch Crew leaders were on hand (thanks Chuck and Harvey for your work), a bunch of regulars from over the years, a high school teacher an a half dozen of her students, and Chris Pereira, the Park Maintenance Supervisor for trail programs in the Santa Cruz district (the guru). Chris’ experience and knowledge about trail work and his great leadership inspired every one of us.


Chris Pereira – Trail Guru

We spent a total of four hours together on Twin Oaks trail learning about maintenance and how to do it correctly. Chris is a wealth of information and is responsible for some of the best trails in Wilder, most of the reroutes (trail changes to improve ride quality and drainage) that you have admired were the result of his effort. It was great working alongside people of  wildly varied experience and ages who all shared the same belief, we are the good that we want to see in the environment. There is no challenge in our local hills that we can’t overcome with the right mix of knowledge, effort, and a few bucks.

I can’t think back on a day of public service that I have enjoyed more than this past Sunday. To be outside, working on the trails I love, surrounded by inspired individuals of all ages on a warm Sunday is an experience I will not soon forget. Or miss again. The list of reasons to be out there is a long one, we need to invest in the resource to prove ownership, we need to exhibit to the state agencies that parks are critical and we are invested in them, and we need to battle the indoor trap and break away from the computer and playstation. But the best reason to engage the resource, to become stewards of the land, is that it needs us and we need it. The payback comes back everyday we pedal that trail, and with every thank you that we harvest as the trail users stop and applaud the efforts of our crew.


Wilder volunteer Trail Crew, where are you?

Sign up here so you don’t miss the next trail day, the first Sunday of the month at 9:45am in the upper Wilder Ranch parking lot or at one of our other priceless parks. You can make the difference!