Driving to the mountain sucks, especially if you happen to live in Portland. It’s far, it’s treacherous, and even though gas isn’t $4 a gallon anymore, it still adds up. If you happen to be a hippy, you feel bad about increasing your carbon footprint. And since you live in Portland, there’s a good chance your fixie won’t make it to the mountain anyway. So what is a broke, environmentally conscious ‘boarder to do?
Well, on February 1, 2009 all your prayers will be answered. Entrepreneur and young go-getter Mike Parziale has a plan to ride every day and take you with him. After seven years of spreading the word of bio-fuel, driving around the country in his bus that runs on waste vegetable oil, Mike has decided to stay local this year, and bring people to Mt. Hood Meadows.
For just $10, anyone can sign up online and hop on the grease bus for a cheap and environmentally friendly lift to the hill. “Since I own the bus and it’s already converted it seems like a no-brainer to bring people up to the hill,” Mike said. “I’m excited to have a job where I get to snowboard everyday, meet new people and continue to work on my original goal of Greasenotgas.com which is to teach people about renewable energy sources.”
It’s not like a ski bus is a new idea, but most giant diesel busses filled with kooky skiers leave something to be desired. And while the Grease Bus is open to anyone, it’s definitely skewed towards the young and hip and will include such things as demo boards for your ten bucks. Mike has partnered with fellow environmentally conscious brands for this feature.
“It looks like we’ll have a demo fleet for you to try a Lib Tech Skate Banana or one of Salomon’s Bamboo boards,” he said. “We’ll have lots of stuff to give away and raffle off to riders too. And tons of Clif Bars so you can stock up before you head out for the day.”
The bus itself seats 24, and seats are available through an online sign up sheet on a first-come first-serve basis. And don’t worry about making it to the hill, even on the most epic powder days. This baby is well equipped.
“The bus has 8 metal studded snow tires so we’re hoping that we won’t have to put the chains on too often,” Mike explained. “It’s funny, on the days when it’s full of 24 people it’ll actually handle better then the days when there are only 10 riders since the extra weight will work in our favor. The bus is a tank though, with a turbocharged 7.3 liter international diesel motor and we’ve definitely put it to the test over the past two years that we’ve owned it.”
Most importantly if you take the Grease Bus, you’ll get the chance to snowboard with Mike himself. He is responsible for the White Mountain Snowboard camps and the legendary Blue Lodge, and is a legend in his own right. “Since I’ll be up there so much this year I’m going to be training for the Boomboomhuckjam or the Mountain Dew Open or whatever the kids are up to these days. I’ll mostly be hucking double front flips of the half pike, but aside from that I’ll certainly be available to take some runs and get inverted or whatever.”
So to recap: cheap, runs on stuff that would otherwise get thrown away, a chance to try out new gear, free Clif Bars, no having to park in the HRM lot, and the chance to hang out with Mike Parziale. With bamboo under your feet and waste oil in the tank, you can feel good knowing you are part of the solution, not part of the problem, right? Maybe the Grease Bus won’t save the whole planet this winter, but Mike is an expert on alternative fuels, and will happily share his knowledge during the hour and a half drive. Did you know any diesel vehicle can run on bio fuel? Now you do. But to run of the sludge that goes into the Grease Bus, a few conversions are necessary. “Come by the bus and I’ll show you exactly what’s involved in the conversion and if you have a diesel vehicle you’d like help converting we can set up a time to bring it to the shop.”
The bus will run every day at least 10 people sign up between February and April 2009. So sign up, tell your friends, enemies, anyone else who wants a cheap ride to the hill. And hey, if this works out, a Grease Bus might be coming soon to even more places–Mike is already thinking bigger than just one bus, but the first step is to get the word out.
“Next winter I hope to have two buses, maybe a bit bigger, that go to Timberline as well as Meadows. From there we’re also looking at doing a scaled back version of the program from Hood River and I suppose if those all work out we’ll look into Seattle to Stevens Pass or Snoqualmie and maybe Bellingham to Baker,” Mike said. “It’s definitely something I can see growing outside of Oregon. When you look out across a ski area parking lot you gotta figure at least 30 of these people would entertain the idea of bus pooling in a grease-powered vehicle. It just seems like a waste of resources to have so many people driving up to the hill in a car with just two or three people in it. Since everyone who goes up to the mountains loves the snow they should feel good about riding the Grease Bus and cutting down their carbon emissions so that the winters stay snowy.”
To sign up for a ride on the Grease Bus, visit http://www.greasebus.com/