A beautiful cool spring day, perfect for a gravel road bike race, with beer and hot BBQ afterward. What more could one ask for? How about a bike repair shop that offers house calls? And making the event sustainable, with a 99 percent landfill diversion rate?

Such were the happenings at this year’s Waterloo G&G race in the Portage Lake Recreation Area and nearby roads. This year the race management transitioned from Epic Races to Tris4Health. Many thanks to the new organizers for deciding to keep the event Zero Waste and hiring yours truly to do the job.

Epic Races owner Eva Solomon ready for the 50K. She got to actually enjoy the race this year!

I set up the main station near the finish line near the beer area and across from the Smokehouse 52 tables.  The beer area got a 96-gallon cart for cans, and cardboard bins for food waste and standard recyclables. At registration I put out a “Free” box with (washed) water bottles from previous races. Eight were taken – and more than eight were picked up off the course! Such is the nature of gravel road racing.

Thanks to Luke and Grady, my hardworking volunteers!

The biggest headache for the Zero Waste team was keeping the plastic utensils out of the compost. More of a problem at the unstaffed beer area, so I policed and sorted those bins on a regular basis. And the coffee truck set out a trash can, which quickly filled up. I fixed that by simply putting an All Waste box on top of it

Just a few sources of landfill trash; the usual tape and plastics too soiled to save, and some waxed paper boats from the coffee truck.

One area of improvement will be to work with Smokehouse 52 more ahead of time. The crew told me they can go with compostable utensils next time with advance notice. And we can set up a full station for them. Their trash can was full of miscellaneous items that I decided to let them take with them. But I did salvage some of their heating cans, and the aluminum trays they held the food in. They will need soaking and rising out before recycling, which can be made easier by setting up a soaking station onsite.

And the bike repair shop is named “biked” and operates out of Grand Rapids. They told me they will go to your house or business and either make a repair there, or take it back to their shop, do the work, and return it. Pretty cool!

All in all, a good day. I even managed to load a destroyed canopy into the U-Haul, which will go to a metal recycling center!