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The Though Kitchen - Dedicated to Stirring the Pot

Archive for October, 2011

Bikes Belong: The Data

Posted by Alex | October 31st, 2011 | Filed under Bikes

Last month, as part of our House Mix: Bikes featured picks, hundreds of Nau customers joined us in supporting Bikes Belong, an advocacy group whose work helps to promote cycling nation-wide. In getting to know the Boulder-based organization, we also got exposed to their trove of thought-provoking data. But while the numbers are great, a picture is better. So we made one:

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Find tons more information, and support the work of Bikes Belong to get more people on bikes more often, at BikesBelong.org.

How do you end Hunger?

Posted by Alex | October 25th, 2011 | Filed under Partners for Change

As a hunger crisis spreads across East Africa and the Somalian Peninsula, famine—and the efforts to stop it—are once again in the news. Celebrities are raising their voices and politicians are offering bromides. In short, this crisis seems in many ways like so many before it; it’s victims suffering from a cycle of poverty, conflict and ineffective aid going back generations.

Because solving famine is so much more difficult than simply providing food to the hungry. It requires solutions to regional conflict, the establishment of strong institutions and the education and empowerment of local communities. It takes a system wide approach: the kind of approach that our Partners For Change at Mercy Corps bring to alleviating suffering around the world. Check out their film for World Food Day, above, and learn how you can help Mercy Corps fight the worst famine in Africa in 60 years.

Can a Ski Resort Be “Green”?

Posted by Alex | October 20th, 2011 | Filed under Environmental Change, Partnerships, Sustainability

NAU0068Our winter stoke Giveaway is going on now; sign up here!

Let’s face it: sometimes a love of the outdoors can force an environmentalist into uncomfortable positions. Road trips to the desert require gas, your kayak is made out of petro-chemicals, and that long dreamed of trip to Patagonia is going to require one CO2-heavy flight. Then winter rolls around, and if you love to ski (as I do), you might start to wonder if all those lifts, groomers and lodges we use are contributing to a global warming trend that means less pow, and more slush.

So what’s a responsible skier to do? Yes, everything we do to enjoy the outdoors has an impact—even ski-touring has a carbon footprint—but that’s not a reason to throw up our hands. Making an educated decision about where you ski, just like what you drive, can have a powerful influence over the impact of your actions.

That’s because there are important choices to be made when it comes down to how to run a ski resort. Resorts are large, meaning the choices they make—good and bad—have a bigger environmental impact than those we each make individually. How they make snow, how they deal with waste, whether they serve on disposable dishware: when you serve thousands of people a day, these choices add up.

NA0185That’s why we’ve been so glad to see the steps that some of our favorite ski areas have begun to take to address their energy efficiency, water usage and carbon footprint. As part of our Winter Stoke giveaway (sign up here to win one of two full-value prize packages, including lift tickets, Nau gear and more) we checked in with Mt. Hood Meadows and Stratton Mountain Resort to see what they’re doing to make their operations more sustainable.

Just up the road on Mt. Hood, our friends at Meadows are taking advantage of the abundant wind in Oregon and powering 100% of their operations with Wind Energy Credits. They’re also saving over a quarter million gallons of water each year with newly installed water-efficient appliances. And, true to Oregon’s strong locavore spirit, they’re sourcing local produce and serving it on china, not paper you throw away.

Across the country in Vermont, the folks at Stratton Mountain are also showing how investing in efficient infrastructure can save money and help the environment. They’ve installed 300 new high-efficiency snow guns, which—given how much snow they make each year—could save almost two million kilowatt-hours of electricity. Stratton was also the recipient of the Clif Bar/NSAA Sustainable Slopes Grant this spring, which they’re using to install four Big Belly Solar trash compactors, greatly reducing the the number of waste disposal trips required. They’ve also eliminated disposable dishware, a change they estimate will save roughly 75,000 soda cups, 61,000 spoons, 30,000 forks, 28,000 paper plates, 23,000 knives and 17,750 soup containers.

Of course, the ski areas have as much invested in a healthy planet as skiers do: saving energy is just good business. As skiers, we can help make it make even better business sense by choosing to enjoy those resorts who take seriously their responsibility to be good environmental stewards.

So educate yourself on the efforts your local hill is taking; it’s a step toward positive change, and toward ensuring that there will be snow for future generations.

Like what you’ve heard? Sign up here for our Winter Stoke Giveaway to win lodging for three nights, one dinner, rentals and lift tickets for two at Stratton Mountain Resort in Vermont or two 10-time passes at Mt. Hood Meadows in Oregon. Each winner will also get a Nau winter jacket, pants, down top and insulation layer.

2009 Grant For Change Update: Natural Histories

Posted by Alex | October 13th, 2011 | Filed under Environmental Change, Grant for Change

Two years ago, Nau awarded Sara Joy Steele and Benjamin Drummond with our inaugural Grand for Change, recognizing their work on Facing Climate Change. Since then, they’ve continued weaving beautiful photography and insightful audio interviews into rich tapestry of multimedia storytelling, featuring everything from prisons to parks, Native Americans to Sami.

Recently, they completed what might be their biggest project yet: The Natural Histories Project. Produced for the Natural History Network, it’s a treasure trove of insights and ideas about the nature and future of Natural History. From ecopsychologists, ecologists, and geologists to middle school teachers, environmental educators and university presidents, the ninety-nine (99!) interviews and intimate portraits provide a powerful primer on the study of the natural world.

Watch the video, then check out the entire project—a veritable TED-talk archive for Natural history—housed in an impressive interactive library at The Natural Histories Project.
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‘Cross Dispatch: Single Speed Rocket Ships

Posted by Alex | October 10th, 2011 | Filed under Bikes, Design, Outdoor Sport

[Here at Nau, we like people who are challenging paradigms, trying out new technology and pushing their chosen area forward. We also really love bikes. So when the River City Cyclocross guys asked us to sponsor their team, it was a no-brainer. The Gates Center Track/ River City Bicycles Cyclocross Team has been formed to show the cycling world that single speed and belt drive are both more than viable options for riding and racing. Based in the Pacific Northwest, with exposure to the largest body of cyclocross racers in the country, they're poised to showcase and advocate for the virtues of belt drive single speed bicycles. Here, in the first of a series of dispatches from the team, John Walrod introduces the single speed rocket ships bikes they ride.]

Giving the Carbon Belt Drive some gas is where these bikes shine!

Giving the Carbon Belt Drive some gas is where these bikes shine!

“Single speed – really? Belt? Why would you do that?” Those are the questions that precede the inevitable – “Can I try it?” That’s followed by “Holy @)#(!, that thing is a rocket!”

This summer I was invited by my good friend Dave Guettler to join Alex Criss, Seth Patla, and Ryan Weaver on a cyclocross team co-sponsored by his shop – River City Bicycles (super shop of the country and shining star of Portland, OR). I have raced for Dave for about 10 years but this idea was different, we’d be teaming with Gates Carbon Belt Drive to do the drivetrains on our bikes. Long story short – we recently took delivery of 4 Carbon Fiber Raleigh Hodala frames and built them up with the Gates Carbon Center Track belts.

Warm and dry—two things that don’t go together with 'Cross!

Warm and dry—two things that don’t go together with 'Cross!

Cyclocross Magazine did a review of this very bike earlier this year. The bikes are flashy and really light (belts/pulleys end up a fair bit lighter than a chain) and they garner tons of attention. Riding in the first few races we dialed in the fit and waited for a true test to come. That came a week ago in the form of unexpected rain at the CrossCrusade season opener. Thank you Nau for the super dope trench coats – they are gonna get some high mileage this year!

Single speed bikes are counter-intuitive: Gears are supposed to make you more efficient, right? Not always. On many cross courses, as well as mountain bike tracks and urban adventures (just ask any messenger), some of the best riders sport one gear. Why? Because there are no derailleurs to fail, there’s much less friction in the drive train—a big efficiency savings—plus much less weight. A reliable bike that weighs a lot less and is more efficient sounds good huh? Yeah, it’s really good.

Uh oh, no more excuses.....

Uh oh, no more excuses.....

In the mud, which we got in spades last week, single speeds shine: no parts to argue with, and nothing to fail you when you need it most. Just one gear, and you, both agreeable to the task at hand.

Single speeds are better in the mud than gears and the Gates Carbon Center Track makes my old chain single speed feel like a donkey. Chains, even single speed chain bikes, clog up. I won’t bore you with more words – look at this: I couldn’t get into my pedals, and somehow my drivetrain was as clean as the day it was installed!

- John Walrod

Winter Stoke

Posted by Alex | October 6th, 2011 | Filed under Nau Events, Outdoor Sport, Partnerships

ski_promo_image_484x358It’s happening. Ski area web-cams in California, Oregon, Utah are showing white. Friends in Tahoe are posting early-season touring pics on Facebook. Long-term weather forecasts are predicting the return of La Niña. Winter is ramping up!

Here at Nau, all this early season excitement is just adding fuel to the fire of our winter stoke. So to give it a positive outlet, we’re giving away everything you need to take advantage of what’s sure to be an epic winter.

For our first-ever Winter Stoke giveaway, we’ve got two great prize packages: East Coasters can win a weekend for two at Stratton Mountain Resort, complete with lodging, lift tickets and rentals; West Coasters can pick up one of two 10-passes to Mt. Hood Meadows. Best of all? We’ll outfit all the winners in complete mountain kit—including jacket, down, pants and insulation—from Nau.

To win, submit your entry at nau.com/ski and stay tuned to our Off The Grid newsletter—we’ll announce the winner November 16th.