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The New Dropper Trigger from PAUL
After trying many of the units that come with dropper seat posts we knew there had to be a better way. Many just seemed like a plastic afterthought. Our design is easy to adjust, features 2 sealed cartridge bearings and can be used to secure either end of the cable. It’s smoothness right where you want it.
Paul's Camp Fire Experience
November 8th my brother called me at 6am. Anyone who knows me knows that six in the morning is an ungodly hour for me to be awake, but he had some idea he really wanted to tell me about. I of course thought one of my elderly parents had died but thankfully that wasn’t it. Once I got back to sleep I had a wildfire dream. It was south of here in the grassy foothills, not a big deal. Easy to put out with a couple trucks. This dream turned into one of my many low bridge/high bridge conflict dreams probably because the days leading up this had been very anxious for me. I was coming off a brutal (but super fun) event season which had culminated with Pauloween that prior Friday night. In fact I was planning on taking the rest of the week off to recharge and get my head back in the game. Of course we didn’t know then the fun and mayhem of Pauloween should not be taken for granted and that we would be thrown into a very desperate and chaotic world in just 4 short days.

I re-woke, this time of my own volition, around 8:30am. I love sleeping in! Staggering into the kitchen to get the water boiling I saw the sky was different. We’re no stranger to wildfire sky light here so I figured there was one nearby. I hoped it wasn’t too bad. Turning on the radio to our local NPR station confirmed there was a bad fire and it was near Paradise and that town was being evacuated. I was concerned but not hugely. I was nowhere near scared. Houses have burned in fires here. What, maybe 10? I started hearing helicopters so I figured Calfire was on it and it would suck but still, it didn’t occur to me or anyone in Chico what could happen.

Chico is located about 12 miles northeast of Paradise. Chico is 200 feet above sea level, Paradise is 1700 feet above. That 1500 feet is critical in these situations. In that elevation transition the grasses and oaks turn to pines and manzanita. Pines burn well. Especially when they are saltine dry after years of drought.

After I had my coffee and had showered and futzed around a bit I got on my bike for my morning ride. The news was getting more and more concerning, it was approaching getting upset over. I decided to ride to the highest spot in Chico to see what I could see about the ridge Paradise sits on. Riding through town the sky above was darkening and there was an obvious cloud bank creeping across the sky. Climbing up North Rim the smoke was more and more apparent. The higher I climbed the more dramatic it became. I passed some people with the normal smile “hey” or “howdy”. We’re pretty friendly here, especially to other Bidwell Park users. Like I said, we’ve seen fires and smoke here before. It happens, but this was starting to get under my skin. This was looking unlike any before. This was going to be bad. Below is a picture I took up there.
I got off the bike and walked around a bit. I saw another person and we both agreed this was bad. There were a bunch of helicopters now, and a spotter plane. This is normal but the sheer volume and the length of the smoke line coming off the ridge was not. Then I started hearing fairly quiet booms. One, two. Then nothing. Then three in a row. Was this some new technique the fire service was using? Some new weapon against the flames? A guy who was hiking up stopped and said to me, “Do you know what those noises are? Those are propane tanks”.
Then, then I got scared. All small mountain towns, it seems, run their furnaces and water heaters on propane. They’re small enough and remote enough that gas lines were never laid to them but close enough to be able to get regular propane service. I wasn’t positive but I figured if your tested and safe thick steel propane tank exploded, your house was definitely gone. And the “booms” were increasing now, faster, closer it seemed. And by now the sirens were on, all of them, their screeching coming from all directions. This fire was not normal, but still it didn’t occur to me that people would be in danger. Obviously, the fire was on the outskirts of town and you should really get out if you are in Paradise, but there was probably some time, and then it’d get extinguished and you could go back home. That’s how it’s always been.

I got some texts telling me people at work were getting nervous and asking if it was ok to go home. Sure I said, probably a good idea. Go be with family and friends. Riding back home the smoke was starting to really spread out, covering most of the sky by now. Returning home I learned all of “the Ridge” was under mandatory evacuation now. Paradise, Magalia, Paradise Pines and Concow. Also, it seemed structures had been lost, but there weren’t firm numbers on this.

That night parts of Chico were evacuated and I don’t think any of us slept. The following days were filled with the worst air quality on earth. Literally. It was very surreal.

Over the next few weeks I got to thinking about the science of fire, why and how this one got so bad, so quickly. Last August I had helped out on a bike tour of the California coast and met this guy Zeke Lunder. Him and his 7-year-old son were doing the tour together, it was bad ass. Getting to know Zeke better I learned that he is a local fire guru and is a wealth of information regarding fire in Northern California. When we asked him to share some of his insight regarding the Camp Fire, he was more than happy to help us out and offered up the following interview. I do want to warn anyone that has been affected by this, or any other fire, that some of the contents of this interview may be triggering. It is not my goal to bum anyone out, so if that applies to you may want to skip this one. Otherwise, check out what he has to say cause he nerds out on fire the way I nerd out on bikes. So that’s a lot!
Interview with Zeke Lunder

Paul: Folks around here know you as the fire expert. What is it about fire that drives you to study it so passionately, and how did you get started down this path?
Zeke: I grew up in Lassen County, in Northeastern California and fire and forests were just part of our lives. We cut 6 or 7 cords of firewood each year, heated a big house with woodstove, and had a fire pit where we BBQ’d and hung out. Wildfire is a big employer up there, and our neighbors were timber fallers, so fire stories are part of the culture. I worked for the Forest Service in college and got to burn these house-sized piles of logging slash in the winters. I realized I’d probably end up in prison for arson if I couldn’t find a legal way to light things on fire.
Paul: They say the Camp Fire was one of the fastest moving fires in recorded history. What were the conditions that made such a fast and destructive fire possible?
Zeke: The Camp Fire moved pretty fast, but it wasn’t unprecedented. We’ve been on other fires with similar appetites, but this one just happened to have a city in its path. The Camp Fire took off in the Feather River Canyon and burned across Concow on its way to Paradise. We get these gnarly landscape-scale winds in the Lower Feather River that howl thru Concow all the time - it’s one of the most fire-prone places in the whole country!
Most of the Camp Fire area burned in 2008, so there was a lot of dead brush left over from that fire, along with a lot of tall grass. Also, many of the dead trees were logged after the 2008 burn, so there wasn’t much canopy to stop the winds from blowing right on the surface and fanning the flames - surface winds are one of the things that really drive fire spread.   
Paul: California’s forests and Chaparral ecosystems have evolved with periodic fire. Let’s say that there were no human loss of life and home as a result of the Camp Fire, would this fire have been considered “normal” for the area?
Zeke: Black oak trees grow well in the elevation-band the fire moved across. Oak litter doesn’t really burn that hot, it gets packed down and fires just kind of creep across it. Acorns were (and still are) an important food source for people and forest critters, so the native Maidu people burned the woods often to keep worms out of their acorns, and to keep trees like pine and cedar from growing in and shading out their oaks. Since the Spanish conquest we’ve tried to wipe the natives off the map, and criminalized their land management practices. Between the long, sunny summers and heavy winter rains, whether you are talking 15-foot pot plants or flammable brush, this area grows vegetation incredibly well.  Without frequent burning, the conifers and brush have really taken over - the landscape has become a lot more flammable in the past 100 years.
So between fire suppression, logging, flammable landscape plants, and a lack of grazing, we are kind of just layering one bad fire atop another now, and the landscape seems headed for a ‘type conversion’ from oaks and timber to grass and brush. So no, the new fires we are having in the last 10 years aren’t really ‘normal’. The vegetation has changed a lot, even in the past decade.
Paul: Paradise and the surrounding areas have been hit by fire before, and it seems like they will again in the future. What is your opinion on the safety of rebuilding Paradise?
Zeke: Rebuilding the current footprint of Paradise is insane! We had major fires on both sides of town in 2008, so we know the land can grow enough brush within 10 years to support another major fire. Paradise has thousands of small parcels and dead-end private roads. A lot of the 85 people who died in the Camp Fire were trapped on these narrow roads as spot fires spread all over the ridgetop. The small parcels and terrible access make it impossible to cut brush or use prescribed fire at any sort of useful scale, and under severe conditions, we can’t really fight fire - nobody fought much fire while the town was burning, they were just trying to save lives.
I think trying to make a place like Paradise fire safe is a lot like trying to make a dense urban area bike-friendly - you just can’t really do it well without buying up a bunch of land, spending a lot of money and really getting radical about a new urban design. The bigger problem is we have similar, poorly-designed, fire-prone urban areas all over. Nevada City, Placerville, Cameron Park, Pollock Pines, just about anywhere with good mountain biking below 4,000 feet in California is going to have similar wildfire issues to Paradise.  
Spot fires trapped people on dead-end roads as the Camp Fire burned into Paradise - 10:45 am.
Paul: The beauty and ruggedness of California’s forests seem to draw people to live in fairly fire prone areas. What are some changes that we could make to building codes, city planning, property management and forest management to make these areas safer for the residents?
Zeke: Building codes can only do so much, especially in hot, dry, windy places with high densities of houses. Only about 35% of the single-family homes built in the Camp Fire area since California adopted new ‘fire safe’ building codes in 2008 survived this fire. The radiant heat from a burning house is intense enough to burn down a nearby house, so once a wildfire gets into an urban area, it is pretty impossible to fight it until the winds stop. And it is tough to keep up with brush cutting across thousands of small lots - most of us want some privacy, we don’t want to cut down all the trees between us and the neighbors. That said, newer houses were more likely to survive than older ones - less than 10% of the homes built in the 1960s survived. Little things like having crushed rock or bare earth in the first foot or two out from your house, or having double-paned windows made a difference in which houses survived.
We need to stop building houses in out of wood in fire-prone areas, and we need to start doing a lot more prescribed burning in the areas around our towns. It is tough to get burning done because a lot of our “wildland urban interface” areas don’t really have an edge - the houses just get farther apart as you get deeper into the woods - but some people are figuring out how to do it - native people in NW California are leading the way. More good fire is the only antidote for all of this bad fire. We need to build a culture of fire-stewardship in our communities. Fire is not the enemy.
The mountain bike and outdoor recreation community can play a key role in getting good fire back into the woods - you don’t have to be a career wildland fire person to become involved in prescribed burning, brush cutting, and forest management. We need the bike community to plug into community fire planning efforts - bike trails can be good control lines for prescribed burning if they are designed to function as both - there is a lot trail-builders and firefighters can teach each other. Also, a lot of wildland firefighters are already mountain bikers.

The company I founded, Deer Creek Resources, helps lead prescribed fire training exchanges around the country, if you want to learn more about prescribed fire, hit us up!   
Paul: The fire itself is only the beginning of the story here in Butte county, now there are concerns regarding toxic runoff into the watersheds and toxic waste left behind from homes and vehicles burning. What are some of the strategies being utilized to mitigate these toxins entering our soil and water sources?
Zeke: 35 large mobile home parks in Paradise pretty much were vaporized by the fire. 15,000 structures burned altogether. All of those TV sets, cars, crank labs, old jugs of RoundUp, old car batteries, kayaks, and god-knows-what-else either got vaporized or are bleeding into the runoff from our first rains.
It’s fucking terrible! We have been working with CCC crews, agencies, and another engineering firm to run an emergency project to install about 35 miles of straw wattles, filter fabric, and silt fences around the worst sites, mainly mobile home parks. We can’t keep the water from running off, but we are hoping to trap a lot of the toxic ash. Hopefully this helps, but the scale of the disaster is kind of beyond comprehension, we are only able to treat the worst (that we know of) sites.
It sounds like water quality tests they ran after the Santa Rosa fires last winter weren’t as toxic as they had feared, we’ve got to hope for the best - the State is collecting some water quality samples, we’ll see what they come up with.
The fire also killed a lot of big pine trees, but a lot of trees are still alive. PG&E has lost their fucking minds - they are cutting anything close to their power lines, whether it is dead or not, and people are rushing to remove ‘hazard trees’ all across Paradise. I’m hoping they don’t just totally ‘scalp’ the Ridge. Dead trees are important habitat, and don’t pose as large a fire hazard risk as a lot of people fear.
The State and Feds are moving in to clean up ‘debris’ from the burned homes, estimating they’ll haul away something like 10 million TONS of material. Then they will scrape the top 6 inches of soil off each burned lot. It’s a crazy amount of work and disturbance. Paradise is 100% on septic tanks, so a lot of that earthwork is going to disturb ancient leach fields and crumbling old septic tanks. It’s a mess.
Paul: This has been a lot of talk about fire. I know that you’re also a bike nerd in your free time. I met you on a bike tour of the California coast where you rode the entire route with your son on the back of a homemade bike that started as a Surly Ogre and had the back end of a bike welded to it for your son to ride on, it was quite the contraption! Can you tell us about this bike? What has been your favorite ride you and your son have done together so far?
Zeke: I didn’t realize I was a bike geek until my sister moved to Santa Cruz and fell in with a bunch of them, and I didn’t truly appreciate how awesome my (future) wife was until she showed up on our second date riding a sticker-covered vintage Stumpjumper with low-rider racks. We did a van-supported tour near Santa Cruz with my oldest on a bike seat when he was 9 months, and toured Big Sur with a trail-a-bike when he was 4 - it’s a great way to tour - there is a lot of banter, roadkill counting, lizard-spotting! Even at 4, I could totally feel him stoking on the climbs and he really dug it.
When we had a chance to do the tour with you this summer he had outgrown the 20” trail-a-bike so I fabricated a 26” one out of an old Trek, and machined a heavy-duty seatpost attachment. This fall he and I got a chance to be part of the ‘Run4Salmon’ ceremony, and spent 4 days with native horseback riders on wild roads around the northeast side of Shasta Reservoir, near Redding. It was really demanding riding and the energy around the journey was really intense. I was glad to have him with us!
About the author:
Zeke Lunder's back-to-the-land parents migrated from Berkeley to Northeastern California timber country in 1979. Pops scouted for firewood on a clunker, and bikes were just part of mountain life. 
Zeke got into cartography in college and ended up with a career in wildfire management. Later, someone invented the term 'Pyrogeographer'. He does metal work and design on the side, and lives in Chico, California. If you have questions or would like to reach Zeke you can find him on Instagram at:
California’s Native Plant Life Evolved with Fire

Obviously, we love bikes around here. But we have to acknowledge that our passion for the two-wheeled magic machine is partially driven by the fact that it allows us the most fun way to access the staggering views, cold mountain streams, and incredible flora offered up by the Sierra Nevadas.

Here in Butte County we are all still reeling from the destruction caused by the Camp Fire. People are without homes and there is an entire town leveled to the ground. As we begin the recovery efforts in our community, nature is back at it and the renewal of the plant life that was in the path of the fire can already be witnessed. The hope that as we move on from the Camp Fire, we learn the lessons that it has left in its wake: that periodic fire a natural aspect of many of the ecosystems that we have chosen to call home, and that we must allow the natural cycles to continue for the health of the ecosystems as well as our own safety. We need to find a balance between where and how we build our homes and the needs of the ecology of that particular area.

Despite the seemingly destructive nature of wildfire, much of the ecology of California’s plant life has evolved with fire. Many of the native plant species found in our region are well adapted to periodic fire, while some absolutely rely upon it for reproduction.

One of the first (and arguably most important) aspects to address when it comes to plants is photosynthesis. Put simply, photosynthesis is the process plants undergo that turns sunlight into glucose. It is how plants create the energy they need for growth and reproduction, as well as all of the energy for the entire food chain on Earth. In order to accomplish this incredible feat plants need sunlight. When a fire passes through an area it tends to clear much of the bio-mass from the understory, opening up the soil to more light, therefore creating greater opportunity for photosynthesis. There are many California native seeds that will lie dormant in the soil for years until the heat from a fire clears the land, which signals the seeds to germinate.

Another adaption that some conifer species (trees with needle like leaves, such as pine, redwood, and cedar) have evolved are serotinous cones. Serotiny is the release of seeds due to an environmental trigger, and commonly that trigger is fire. Serotinous cones’ scales are held tightly together by resin, the heat from a fire allows the cone to open and release its seeds onto the ground that has been cleared by fire, therefore resisting the competition for sunlight the tree saplings would normally face without fire clearing the way. This can be a tricky balance for the cone though, if there is too much fuel built up, and the fire gets too hot, it can damage the cone and therefore kill the seeds inside. The fire needs to be just the right temperature for this process to be successful.

Here in the foothills of Northern California we experience a Mediterranean climate that consists of cool, wet winters and dry, hot summers. Because of this climate are treated to some of the most diverse examples of geophyte plants in the entire world. Geophytes are loosely classified as “bulb plants”, though there are many different forms. What they all have in common is that they have an underground storage organ that allows the plant to die back in unfavorable conditions and regrow when the conditions improve. The fire strategy evolved by California geophytes is to allow the above ground growth to burn with the fire while the nutrients are protected below ground in the organ, only to sprout above ground when conditions are more favorable. Mostly in the Liliaceae (Lily) family, some of the most common geophyte examples found around here are calochortus and brodiaea. Native California geophytes are some of the most stunning foothill flowers you will witness all year.

Most of California’s native tree species have evolved with periodic fire and should not be adversely affected by recurrent, low-intensity fire. When low-intensity fire is allowed to burn in California forests and savannas they tend to burn the understory growth, preventing buildup of fuel loads. The forests of the west have been dramatically altered by human use and fire suppression. Trees can be injured by fire when it is suppressed over time because the fuel load is allowed to build up, which creates high intensity fires that can cause “fire ladders”, which often lead to crown fires that can harm, or even kill trees that would normally survive low-intensity fire just fine.

Though fire can sometimes be destructive (especially when there are homes built in fire prone areas), it is absolutely necessary for much of California’s ecosystems for numerous reasons: many seeds of California native plants need fire to germinate, fire clears the ground of dead debris and plant matter thus reducing competition for sunlight and allowing the sprouted seeds a better chance for survival. It also clears dead plant matter so that fuel loads do not build up to create high-intensity and ecologically destructive fires.

If you are interested in learning more about California’s native flora The California Native Plant Society and CalFlora are great resources for further reading.
Author information:
Lindsay graduated from CSU Chico with a degree in Biology. Her studies were focused on ecology, botany and entomology. She spends her days slanging bacon and bike parts for Paul Component and her evenings and weekends nerding out on plants and insects. If you have any questions or comments about this article she can be reached at:
How to Help

So many people from around the world have stepped up offering help to those displaced by the Camp Fire. These caring gestures have restored many people’s faith in humanity. Most residents have lost everything they owned due to the speed of the fire and immediate evacuation. They had to leave everything they owned in a frantic dash for safety, with no time to grab valuable and sentimental items, in some instances even having to get out of their cars and run for their lives. In the initial stages of relief, food and clothing came pouring in, but it’s hard to take too many clothes without a closet to put them in, so eventually the shelters were left with mounds of clothing. In the short term, displaced people need temporary shelter and monetary support to help float them through these hard times until they can find long term housing and jobs. If you’d like to help, check out these resources and if anything resonates, even a quick easy $5 donation can multiply into serious assistance for people now finding themselves homeless with nothing.

North Valley Mutual Aid A Butte County local community volunteer organization already experienced in connecting resources to the local homeless, this group is ground level, assisting with the most basic needs, and is the most direct resource we know of.

North Valley Animal Rescue Group Works to re-unify lost pets with their owners, and find temporary fosters or long-term homes for pets and farm animals that can no longer be cared for by their previous owners.

Resilience Butte County Proud IPA Drink a beer to help people in need? Yep! 100% of the sales of this beer and the recipe given to other breweries around the world go directly to the Sierra Nevada Camp Fire Relief Fund
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