Bike Racing Team Lightens Car-Load

The CLIF Bar Development Cyclocross team is doing things a little bit differently, and hopes to set a trend in the process. In addition to doing their best to win races and have a successful season, they’re greening up their act.

New for 2007, the team is utilizing a waste vegetable oil powered school bus to transport all of their bikes and gear between races and to shuttle the team around whenever possible. Because most of the racers are in school and the events spread all over the U.S., the kids still need to fly to many of the races. However, the new team bus is a step in the right direction as it requires minimal gasoline, forgoes the need to ship gear, and serves as the team’s own “mass transit” at races.

The CLIF Bar team competes in cyclocross – a fall and winter cycling discipline most akin to steeplechase. Courses combine road, dirt, grass, sand, mud, and barriers which force competitors to run with their bikes. Part of the Boulder, Colorado-based team’s mission is to groom some of the nation’s top boys and young men (aged 13 to 22) into the next generation of professional cyclists. But Team Manager Ben Turner also hopes to educate his racers to become thoughtful, responsible, environmentally-aware role models for their peers and their communities.

Although riding a bike has a well-deserved reputation as an environmental pursuit (it’s the most efficient form of transportation we have), bike racing is a very different story. The bikes and components are built for speed over durability, and the materials used are resource intesive (aluminum, carbon, titanium, etc.). Cycling teams typically are continually flying and driving all over the country, and are constantly consuming in the process.

Turner set out to change this model, and to show the cycling world how to lessen its environmental impact.


Typically bike racing is like: consume-consume-consume, use up resources, throw shit away, and really give no regard at all to the environmental impact of being at a race… a team contributes an obscene amount of resource consumption and waste production.

The team also spearheads a zero waste initiative with Eco-Cycle to utilize composting and recycling at events, and to keep as much material as possible out of landfills. They eat local, organic foods when they travel, use public transport or carpool when the bus is impractical, purchase carbon offsets through Native Energy, and push their already environmentally-minded sponsors (CLIF BarPedrosStonyfield, Patagonia, et al) to get greener.

(Disclaimer: The writer has volunteered as an environmental consultant with the CLIF team).

Similar Posts