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Posts Tagged ‘Pedros’

The Sea Otter Classic was this past weekend at Laguna Seca Raceway here in Monterey, CA. Since we live here, my wife and I had the oppurtunity to ride seven miles up the road to visit, watch some racing, and check out arsenals of products, services, and organizations all related to cycling in one way or another. A day pass was $10. We thought about riding in the Gran Fondo, but we figured we ride around here all the time, and $95 can come in useful in so many other ways. I still want to do it next year. Maybe I can work with Riders One to get some riders into other races as well. These guys are just getting going and I like the direction they’re moving. More on them later.

The raceway itself is a 40 foot wide strip of smooth pavement about 2.2 miles in length that forms a loop among the steep foothills of the Santa Lucia Range. In the middle of the loop are hills perfect for mountain bike racing, and flat areas for exhibits and festival activities. Surrounding the raceway on all sides are eight campgrounds, perfect for indulging in four days of nothing but bicycles, beer, and more bicycles.

I kept my eyes out for signs of sustainability, but didn’t find much. The Sea Otter Classic itself however is apparently dedicated to “sustainable development” as read in their mission statement:

“The mission of the Sea Otter Classic is to make people’s lives better through participation in sport and recreation and through celebration of an active outdoor lifestyle. We will accomplish this mission without compromising the ability of future generations to enjoy the benefits of a sustainable environment.
We have been committed to sustainable development of the Sea Otter Classic for 20 years. This concept encompasses ideas, aspirations, and values that will inspire all of us to become better stewards of the environment and that promote positive economic growth and social objectives. We understand that environmental protection does not preclude economic development and that economic development must be ecologically viable now and in the long run.”

I’m not sure I buy it. I’m sure there are some good intentions, but when it comes down to it, there is nothing very sustainable about the event besides getting more people on bicycles and promoting bicycles in general. Encouraging riders to actually ride to the event would have been a good first step. They could’ve offered a discount or something. I understand folks came from all over the world, so cars are expected, but how about a sign at the entrance that tally’s the weight of carbon all those cars used to climb the three mile long hill to get up to the raceway from the highway. We did see at least a few companies who are serious about either reusing materials, or using sustainable materials like bamboo. Cyclelogical was selling shirts made from recycled materials, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company ran their coolers with solar panels, and Calfee had bamboo bicycles on display. Pedro’s, a company that takes pride in its biodegradable products had a bike washing station and Clif bar is reusing wrappers to make bags. These are clearly moves in the right direction, but there is a lot more to be done. OK, enough with the babble, here are some photos. The whole album is at the bottom with some race photos and shots of the site.

I also get up close to another bamboo bicycle, this time made from bamboo laminate. Besides bamboo, Renovo also builds bicycle frames with other types of woods such as Padauk, Black Walnut, Port Orford Cedar, and Curly maple. They claim to use only sustainable sources of wood, originating mostly in Oregon, and their claims about wood taking the prize as the best material for making a bike frame are well argued. They are also beautiful. Here are some nice shots:

The fella in the backround is the Renovo artist. He’s been making bikes like this for about a decade. CNC maching is used to carve out the frame halves. Notice the butting in the seat tube! They are a small operation with just a few folks churning these beauties out. Here are some more photos. The laminated bamboo bike is the Panda and is the “economical” Renovo at just under $2k.

For one of their Panda bikes they used a belt drive instead of a chain. This drive system does not require lubrication and is being used more and more. The major drawback, of course, is that it is a belt and the bike has to accommodate the installation by allowing the opening of the right rear triangle. Not a problem on Renovo since all their chainstay to dropout connections are bolted together. I’m not sure what I think about this yet, but time will tell its story.

We also some some bags made of old tires and tubes from Totally Tubular Design in Santa Cruz, CA. Creative!

You’ll find more photos including some from the races we watched and of the site in this Picassa album:

Sea Otter 2010

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Something that just about every bike has in common is the need for lubrication and the occasional degreasing.  The use of lubes and solvents by eco-concious individuals can be hard to do.  I’m dedicating multipe parts to this topic with the hope of getting comments and refining my information.  If you have a opinion, or information you’d like to share, please feel free to comment.  There are a TON of products out there, many claim to be eco-friendly, and many clearly are not.

Lets start with degreasing.  There are a few options when you go to buy a degreaser.  You can go with a petroleum distillate like mineral spirits, kerosene, or something similar.  You can get a citrus degreaser, such as Paris Citrus Cleaner and Degreaser, or Pedro’s Orange Peelz.  You can get cleaner that doesn’t really fall into these two catagories such as Paris Green Heavy Duty Cleaner/Degreaser, or Nashbar BBD Degreaser.  There are, of course, other products out there, but I can’t list them all.  You could also opt for other industrial solvents that are not petroleum based such as acetone, turpentine, or the bit more rare ethyl lactate.  These last few don’t seem so popular among cyclists, but I’ll mention ethyl lactate again later.

There are a couple different schools of thought on eco-friendly degreasing that I am aware of.  The predominant is that your choosen product must be biodegradeable, and not from a petroleum source.  Fair enough.  The problem with this is that these products are biodegradeable. What!  yes, thats right.  Because they breakdown, you need to replenish your supply more often.  You have your bucket of biodegradeable degreaser in your garage and you use it all the time, and every now and then you filter out the dirt and grime.  Thats great, but one day you notice your degreaser is not degreasing very well so you dump it out and refill it with more.  Over the course of the year you end up buying way more bottles of degreaser than if you used a non-biodegradeable degreaser.  Each one of those bottles had to be produced, packaged, and delivered.  What kind of carbon footprint are we talking about here?  How much dissolved grease went down the drain with your biodegradeable solvent?

The other major school of thought is using a long lasting, non-biodegradeable degreaser.  The problem here is that these are usually toxic, and are produced from petroleum.  Lets take mineral spirits as an example since I’m quite familiar with it.  If you use it a lot you have to wear gloves, and sometimes a mask, but you can filter it and use it over and over and over again.  At some point you have to replenish because it evaporates, splatters, or is mucked up from particles that pass through your filter.  It also works incredibly well.

Which is better?  I’m not really sure.  I’m beginning a course on life cycle assessment, so I’ll have the answer in a matter of a few (or more) months because it will be one of the first things I analyze.  Obviously, boycotting petroleum products is a good idea for the environment (not to mention a load of other reasons), so I’m inclined towards a non-petroleum product that is industrial strength, non-toxic, and non-biodegradeable, or biodegradeable with a very long life in the presence of oxygen.  I’m not sure if this exists, but ethyl lactate comes close.  The only problem is that it’s biodegradeable.  Not to mention, I’m not sure its widely available.  I’d like to try it to see how it performs.  Here’s a place I can get it for what looks like $83 for 2.5 liters.  I may try it once I get my new garage up an running in Monterey, CA.

I am well aware of companies out there working with belt drive bicycles, direct drive bicycles, and greaseless components, but the majority of bicyles out there use grease and oil for lubrication.  I’m commited to solving this, and finding out what we as sustainable cyclists need to be doing to minimize our impact to Earth.

Stay tuned for Part II.

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