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Sustainability
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About the Tour


Questions on this page
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  1. Is Sustainabilty Tour completely sustainable?

  2. Is everything on tour organic and locally-sourced?

  3. Where does the tour start and where does it go?

  4. What will the weather be?

  5. What is a day on Sustainability Tour like?

  6. Do I have to be a strong cyclist?

  7. Who runs the tour?

  8. How do I get there?

 

farm

ST logo smallIs Sustainability Tour completely sustainable?

The aim of Sustainability Tour is to explore how we can live without depleting the world around us. We are flexible in our approach for several reasons:

1) We'd like to introduce our guests to practices they will want to take home with them. Being shamed into sustainability is not sustainable.

2) The perfect can be the enemy of the good, meaning that insisting on complete sustainability could prevent us from making any progress at all toward some sustainability.

3) Absolutists are no fun to be around and we want you to spend a playful, relaxing vacation with us (and we want to have a playful, relaxing time with you).

So, to answer the question, we are sustainable in the sense of process (we are moving toward it), not in the sense of destination (we're already there and we're not moving).

What we're reading on this: Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough & Michael Braungart. Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken. Crowded Greenhouse by John Firor & Judith Jacobsen.

What we're watching on this: The Story of Stuff (20 minute video) by Annie Leonard

gnarled trees

ST logo smallIs everything on tour organic and locally-sourced?

We like organic fruits and vegetables because they are not sprayed with pesticides, which could affect our health. We also like that organic farming practices tend to protect the land rather than deplete it. However, we are not absolutists about organic. As we explore the foods we consume on tour, we may find a local, but not strictly organic, item is healthier and more sustainable than an organic item we would have to import. If a local vineyard operates sustainably to produce fine wine, we would not avoid it simply because they lacked organic certification.

We like locally-sourced products because they tend to consume fewer resources in transportation.  We also like the closer relationship we can have with the suppliers, giving us more information about materials and production.  However, we are not absolutists about local. We may find sustainable practices—or variety—afield that more than compensate for cost of transport.

The learning process is very important to us. We expect that dinner conversation will lead to new ideas about quality, variety, and sustainability.  These will prompt us to research and explore new products and sources. Each tour will build on the experiences of previous tours.

What we're reading on this: Moveable Feast by James McWilliams. True to Our Roots by Paul Dolan. Challenging Nature by Lee M. Silver (Chapter 13 Organic, All-Natural Food). Food Politics by Marion Nestle. Fateful Harvest by Duff Wilson.

coastline

ST logo smallWhere does the tour start and where does it go?

Sustainability Tour starts and ends in Santa Cruz, California. In fact, every day of the tour starts and ends in Santa Cruz because it's a "hub" tour, not a "circuit" tour.

With a hub tour you might be concerned about getting the variety of scenery you'd get on a circuit tour. In Santa Cruz, California, we have so many lovely and diverse roads that simply cycling through it in one day would leave you frustrated and sorely tempted to jump ship and let the tour continue to wherever they're headed.

The advantages of a hub tour are many. You need not repack your clothes every morning, not wonder if your next room will be as nice as your last, and you can invite along a non-cycling partner or friend to share your room. Reassure them: you'll be back for dinner—and, on some days, for lunch.

From a sustainability perspective, a hub tour means we need not transport all of our gear every day. Years of running a much larger circuit tour has made us keenly aware of how much fossil fuel is burned by all the trucks, support vans, and buses (to the start and from the end). The hub dispenses with the trucks and buses. To avoid burning gas all day long in support vans, we carry along basic tools and have a mechanic with a van on call in case we can't make a field repair.

dusk in Capitola

ST logo smallWhat will the weather be?

Early August has had mild weather the past five years.  High and low temperatures are linked below:

Year High Low
2008 73.9 °F / 23.3 °C 49.2 °F / 9.6 °C
2007 68.6 °F / 20.3 °C 52.8 °F / 11.6 °C
2006 74.6 °F / 23.7 °C 54.1 °F / 12.3 °C
2005 68.0 °F / 20.0 °C 53.4 °F / 11.9 °C
2004 78.1 °F / 25.6 °C 51.1 °F / 10.6 °C

Temperature measured at ZIP code 95010, headquarters of Sustainability Tour and smack in the middle of tour territory.

ST logo smallWhat is a day on Sustainability Tour like?

Rise after the sun starts sparkling on the bay. Join us for a yoga class before breakfast, or sleep in. Allow some time for breakfast—always diverse and ample—before we gather our bicycles for launch.

Ride with a guide or zoom ahead using the route sheet on our loop for the day. We keep track of the last rider, so nobody is dropped. When we stop at a farm, vineyard, or sustainable business on our rides, we want to hear what sustainability techniques most excite them...harvesting seeds of passion, you might say.

We have lunch on our longer rides.  On shorter rides, we return to our home base for lunch and offer an optional, faster ride in the afternoon. Does a morning ride whet your appetite for a massage or a nap? Enjoy a lazy afternoon. After all, it is your vacation. Or, perhaps, the morning ride felt more like a warmup. Well, then fuel up at lunch because we've got some more exploring to do.

Dinner is varied and abundant, with an eye towards local and organic ingredients. There we can discuss what we saw during our foray, putting it into context. Retire early with a book (or podcast or video) from our library or plop yourself down in our community room. We'll talk, watch a movie on some aspect of sustainability, listen to a guest speaker, play games, or take a night hike. Then rest up for another adventure the next day.

 

squash open

 

ST logo smallDo I have to be a strong cyclist?

It depends on what you mean by "strong." While Sustainability Tour is less demanding than most week-long bicycle tours we're familiar with, you will have a much more pleasant time if a 40- or 50-mile ride is not a novelty.

Santa Cruz County is a coastal oasis protected not by a desert but by lush hills (and a mountain). Nestled in those hills are country roads that wind in and out of forests. We include some roads that climb up to reveal panoramic views of Monterey Bay. While low gears (we favor triple chain rings) can make these climbs painless, the laws of physics dictate that cyclists provide all the kinetic energy that eventually becomes potential energy when perched atop an overlook. Although we can call on our van to pick up tired riders, we'll plan with you so you will be able to complete every ride you start, under your own power, sustainably.

Because Sustainability Tour is a "hub" not "circuit," we can welcome non-cyclists. If your partner or best friend appreciates cycling in the abstract, he or she can share your room and still enjoy fine meals, fascinating conversations, and explore our area on their own by alternate transportation (foot, bus, or if you brought one, car). Those not cycling will miss some of our educational interactions with farmer, vintners, and the like, but there's much to see and plenty of time to relax with a panoramic view or a book. We offer a running track, swimming pool, weight room, racquet ball courts and other recreational facilities a short walk from our lodging.

 

ocean cliff

 

ST logo smallWho runs the tour?

Sustainability Tour is led by Miguel F. Aznar, veteran of the Sierra to the Sea Tour (in charge of Routes 1999 - 2003 and director of the whole 130-guest tour 2004 - 2008). Regular guests of Sierra to the Sea encouraged him to start an additional tour, one smaller, cozier, and more luxurious (much like this one).

Miguel is also Executive Director of the nonprofit corporation KnowledgeContext, where since 1998 he has been helping young people think critically about technology. Giving talks, researching, writing a book (Technology Challenged), and writing a blog has made him keenly aware of how our tools affect our sustainability. Each summer, he teaches a nanotechnology course at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Video: Watch Miguel address an audience of 8th graders on nanotechnology at Google Headquarters.

Sustainability Tour is Miguel's expedition to explore choices about our environment and tools from the back of a bicycle. He is pictured below sharing a bathtub.  For the rest of the Sustainability Tour team, see Who We Are.

cycling tub

 

ST logo smallHow do I get there?

Reaching the University of California Santa Cruz is easy.  If you do not cycle or drive here, fly to San Jose International Airport (SJC) and take the Early Bird Shuttle or Surf City Shuttle to campus and back.

Reduce ReUse Bicycle
© 2010 Sustainability Tour
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