If You Build It, You Can Ride

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In Austin, TX there are several great pump track and mountain bike trails throughout the city.  We were lucky enough to live close to the Walnut Creek Park.  Walnut Creek is a city park.  Though, the trails are built and maintained by local riders.

Building Pump Tracks

There were regular, organized days where average everyday people who wanted to have a cool new trail to ride on would help make it happen.  What started out as hiking trails, were built in to mountain bike trails by the people who wanted to have mountain bike trails.  When there was a desire for more jumps, a pump track was built.  There was no fundraising effort, no large piles of bureaucratic paper work to be filed.  There was a bit of coordinating to be done to ensure that everything was on the up and up, but no pleading or finagling of any sort.

Walnut Creek Pump Track

I think it’s amazing when a community can come together like this.  I spent many many hours out at Walnut Creek while living in Austin. We rode the trails and helped to maintain them.

Maintain a bike park

It’s this type of experience that makes me leery of stories like that of the Marin County Bike Park.  First off let me say that I believe that everyone involved believes that they are doing the right thing.  It’s wonderful that the parks department and government are even considering allowing a bike park to be built.  On that note, lets look at the situation.

According to a story in the Marin Independent Journal, a grand sum of $850,000 is needed to build this park.  A park design and planning company, Hilride, has been hired to design the park.  Also, a fundraising consultant by the name of Tjiska Van Wykt is on board.  The MIJ article implies that the $850,000 is needed on top of the already funded $142,000 for design development and construction drawing work by Hilride.

While having a professionally built and groomed bike park is something worthwhile, I seriously questions wether a government organization should be placing their money in the coffers of the “park designers” and “fundraising consultants”.  If a community can’t come together to build their own trails with their own hands on their own time, the need isn’t strong enough.

Pump Track Community

If the county wants to do the right thing, and encourage the building of a bike park, they should save the professional trail designers for the private parks, and lower the bar of red tape that must be crossed before a group of riders can dig their own trails.  Without a sense of ownership from a community, a county bike park’s future is just a budget cut away from being shut down.

Pump Track Community

It is, and always should be, about the ride and about the community.




Fireside Food: Make the Best of What You’ve Got

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We went camping this weekend on a spur of the moment decision.

We didn’t take too much time to decide where to go. (Mt. Tam State Park, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Complete with breathtaking views and a 20 minute drive away from home.)  We didn’t want to spend too much money to make the trip happen.

Camping at Mt. Tam

While camping I usually prefer to plan a fun and exciting menu full of all kinds of treats.

Camping at Mt. Tam

This time around we went the easy and cheap route.  We hadn’t been grocery shopping in two weeks, yet we were still able to find plenty of shelf-stable and camp-ready food on our shelves: ramen, dehydrated vegetarian curry, a chocolate bar and instant oatmeal comprised our lunch, dinner and breakfast.

It was rather refreshing to head out without needing to plan anything or make a special trip to the store.

I enjoyed getting out there, without the big production that camping can all too often turn into.

Farallon Islands from Mt. Tam

All told, our little get away cost less than $50 including firewood, campsite fees and gas.

Camping at Mt. Tam

What kind of fun did you find this weekend?


Infinite Use: Zip Ties

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There are items which seem to hold an infinite number of uses, that are worth carrying on any outing whether an outdoor adventure, a day at work or anywhere in between.

Zipties are one of these infinite use objects. They weigh almost nothing, take up almost no space at all, and are so simple a young child could use them.

Zip Tie Love

Zip Tie Heart

Zipties have the original intent of lashing together electronic cables. They are wonderful for this purpose, and can help to streamline and clean up a tangle of wires behind your computer or entertainment center.

Most often zipties are made from a hard nylon material. Their brilliance comes in their secure one-way ratcheting system. Once tightened down they do not let loose.  They can be tightened further but can not be loosened. This feature is what allows you to feel confident in their use.

Zip Ties

Depending on your intended use and amount of preparation time available, it can be a good idea to have several styles of zip ties around. They come in various lengths, thicknesses and colors. For outdoor use there are UV-resistant variety available. For weight bearing and truly heavy duty use I recommend the variety with a metal tab as part of it’s rachet system. There are also ziptiees made entirely of stainless steel.

Given their low per-piece cost, zip ties can be utilized without much concern.

I have zip ties holding my lights on the front of my basket.

Zip Ties on my Bike Basket

Lighting mount zip tied to the front of my bike basket.

Zipties also fasten my basket to my handlebars.Bike Basket Zip Ties

Bike Basket mount arms zip tied to my handlebars.

Zip ties can help secure luggage, bags or anything else with zippers, shut.  Before heading away from camp for a hike, ziptie your tent doors shut.  No, this isn’t the end-all be-all of security but it does provide a hindrance, and also a way for you to know if anyone went snooping when you where away from your bag or tent.  Clip them open with scissors or a pocket knife upon your return.

Zip Tie Zippers

Jason from Gear Talk uses zipties to hack his own Nalgene style bottle for his back country adventures.

Zip Tie Cap Keeper

Need to lash an extra piece of gear onto your pack while hiking? Zipties to the rescue!

The friendly folks at Dutch Bike Co. have documented their DIY snow tires using zipties.

Zip Tie Snow Tires

Did the pull to your zipper snap off? Throw a ziptie on there for easy zipping.

I’ve used a ziptie to secure a trash bag onto a picnic table while camping on a particularly windy night.

Simply Bike uses zip ties to decorate her bike.

Lovely Bicycle uses zip ties for a clean look to her after-market dynamo lighting installation.

Keep in mind that depending on the color of your zip ties, they can become an almost invisible helper.

Alternately, they can also become a style element:

Zip Tie Art

Then there are those who just enjoy the style of the zip tie and what it represents:

Zip Tie Ring

The best ways to utilize zip ties really are only limited to your particular situation and a little creative thinking.

Zip Tie Repair

Where have you used zipties before?