The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Oct 2011

Victor Davila is a Skateboard Hero

It’s environmental action month at Raising Rippers! Last week I talked with surf activist Kyle Thiermann about no-brainer ways to lessen your impact on the planet. Now I’m wowed by 17-year old Victor Davila’s plan to use skateboarding to promote environmental justice and reduce inner-city obesity in his home turf, the South Bronx. 

Victor Davila

[photo courtesy Brower Youth Awards]

When Victor received an annual Brower Youth Award last week, he joined the ranks of gung-ho youth activists like Thiermann, a couple of Girl Scouts who got destructive palm oil banned from Thin Mints, and a handful of other of his generation’s brightest bulbs. But Victor’s the only honoree in BYA’s Class of 2011—and maybe ever—who can outrace a New York City bus on his skateboard. Sweet.

Victor grew up in Hunts Point, a peninsula at the southern tip of the Bronx, one of the most overburdened communities in the country. Forty percent of New York City garbage is dumped here, dozens of miles of highway crisscross the borough while public transportation is scant (and few residents own cars), 1 in 4 local kids suffers from asthma, and more than half of Hunts Point children live below the poverty level. The South Bronx also has some of the city’s highest obesity and hunger rates. 

“When I was younger, I thought these were just things we had to live with,” says Victor, who was home schooled by his mom until he finished high school last spring. “But when joined the Point, I realized we could make changes.” He’s talking about The Point community center, a nexus of neighborhood revitalization, where as a kid, he took free after-school programs in art, piano and, starting when he was 13, activism. “That’s when I learned how to be a social leader.” He also learned how to skate, cruising the city streets as a way to get around. “A skateboard is a free means of transportation,” he says. “It runs on fat and sweat.” Pretty soon, he’d lost 40 pounds. He was hooked. 

Last year, a rep from Usher’s youth advocacy group, Powered by Service, came to the Point, offering $500 seed grants to young leaders with smart ideas. Inspired, Victor and a couple friends hatched a plan to start a summer youth camp combining skateboarding with activism. They won the grant and Eco Ryders was born. 

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Danny MacAskill's Ride

Danny MacAskill's Inspired Bicycles Skye

Every time I see another video of Scottish trials phenom Danny MacAskill pogoing his bike off two-story buildings, I marvel not only at his skills but also at his bike. I mean, what kind of bike can stand up to that sort of abuse without quickly being reduced to a pile of bent rims, broken hubs, and cracked metal?

UK bike manufacturer Inspired Bicycles, which has sponsored MacAskill since 2007, answered that question last week with the public release of the Skye, the 24-inch-wheeled bike that the 25-year-old rode in both his Way Back Home and Industrial Revolutions videos. Named after the small island in Scotland from which MacAskill hales, the Skye is a burly aluminum frame that features a one-piece bottom bracket and chainstay yoke and through axles both front (20mm) and rear (12mm). It comes equipped with MacAskill's component picks, including custom Hope Pro 2 Evo and Pro 2 Trials hubs, a Hope stem, and Atomlab rims. It tips the scales at 26.3 pounds, which might seem hefty but I suppose that's partly what makes it so durable.

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Recycling Bike Tubes and Truck Tarps Into Cycling Apparel

A few weeks ago, we wrote about CycleDog, a company that makes dog accessories out of recycled bike tubes. And a few months ago, we wrote about Alchemy Goods, which makes belts and bags from the same. 

Well, they're not the only ones. Two other companies are also working to keep bike tubes and truck tarps destined for the landfill in full circulation.

Cowboy

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It's Dumping Snow Bikes

Winter's first flakes flew in Santa Fe today, and it got me thinking about snow bikes. Total gimmick, right? That's what I thought until I spent last season on a Surly Pugsley. And I have to tell you, it's pretty dang fun. Chugging up Santa Fe Ski Hill on a bike rather than skins was a totally different kind of workout, and the double takes from downhilling skiers was priceless. Better still, slipping and careering down 2,000 vertical feet on four-inch rubber doughnuts gives that same on-the-verge-of-control feeling of exhilaration as driving on ice—minus (most of) the dire consequences. And for those who thought snow bikes were as fleeting as a spring dump in Denver, there are almost as many of them out there these days as there are meteorologists who missed the forecast again. Here are a few highlights.
--Aaron Gulley
www.aarongulley.com

Moots FrosTi
Moots FrosTi Steamboat-based titanium frame builder Moots has been creating custom snow bikes for years for friends who raced, including none other than Mike Curiak. For the first time, the company will produce a limited run of its fat bikes for the public this season. At $3,975 for the frame alone, they aren't cheap, and given that orders must be placed by November 1, you might need to either cash in some of those stock options (or sell a pair of skis) to make it happen in time.

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