Well just got back from Santa Cruz National Bicycle Greenway Festival. August 17th, a Sunday, in sunny happy Santa Cruz where I felt like a super star. People recognized me from my brother and my bike ride antics in 2000 and I even went up to the stage to accept an UNSIGNED Hall of Fame award. I got to try a number of recumbents (Haluzak - very comfy ride - and some crazy customs - very uncomfortable ride) and a Pederson, listen to some great music, and eat cheap burritos. I also met the other superstars - Andrew Heckman, Scot Paschel, Jody Fitch, and briefly Rocky. All nice guys - glad to see Andrew walking and alive and happy, Scot was hilarious. Also met a man who rode up Highway 1 to Pacifica on a fixed gear single speed on his 50th birthday! Also there was a HPV speed competitor there. Super streamlined to the point where the rider views the outside via a monitor in the cockpit and tiny video cameras on the vertical stabilizer.
So the overall trip was like this, last last Tuesday Berkeley, Friday Berkeley to Oakland, Monday San Francisco, Tuesday SF to Palo Alto, Wednesday Palo Alto to Los Altos, Thursday Los Altos to Santa Cruz via San Jose, Friday beach, Saturday bike trail, Sunday Festival. no flat tires
So 8/5/03 I met up with Jim M. and we briefly met a group in front of Berkeley City Hall. Chris Worthington, a Berkeley Friendly Bike Coalition (BFBC) girl, some press people were there to greet us. The BFBC girl even gave us some delicious banana bread. Then we tooled around Berkeley - ate at Vik's Distributors, met a nice girl at the Berkeley Center for Appropriate Transport (Pedel express, BFBC, Tinker's Workshop, Xtracycle nonprofit division), drank at the Soko Gakuen Sake Factory, then parted ways. Jim's Raven Tricumbent is pretty amazing. It's a beautiful piece of engineering for sure. I wish I'm that fit when I'm 67 yrs old. Plus his sandal tan lines were outrageous. It was like dark and dirty Polyponesian with stripes of Irish newborn. He's a super nice social guy whose got tons of interesting stories. He invented the Smart Carte system in pretty much every major airport in the world, and he's been to all those places too.
8/8/03 Met the gathering at noon in front of Berkeley City Hall. Martin, Wes, Jim M, Jim's Larkspur friend, BFBC girl, Joe Carroll, Chris W from the city, the Mayor, a guy on a road bike, and three Penny farthings rode with us to Oakland City Hall. The three penny farthings were from a replica shop in Alameda and watching them do a trackstand was something else. Traffic stopped and cheered us on. We took a bunch of photos in Oakland with random strangers plus a guy from the city. Martin is kind of Asian photo crazy. Well let's say he's about as bad as an aircon busload of travelling Japanese. We all got city buttons too.
8/11/03 Monday I met Jim M and Parky (Jim W) and Jim's Larkspur friend at the ferry building in SF. Parky has Parkinson's Disease. I didn't know anything about the disease except that a Katherine Hepburn and Michael J Fox have it, but now I can say that it's amazing that Parky rides his bike as much as he does. 36,000 miles or so and still going. He's had a hard life without the disease, so I have to give the man a lot of respect. And that Penninger trike weighs almost 60 pounds! He's got his own website.
We met Supervisor Chris Daly in front of City Hall at noon and he gave us the proclamations. I even got a special one for my 2000 ride (SIGNED). Wow!!! that was too cool. Thanks Chris and SF! I'd just like to say right now that the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition really disappointed me when they did not print my blurb about the NBG in the Tube Times and we only got a couple of notes in the email biker bulletin and no one was there to meet us at City Hall in SF. They have to realize SF is not the center of the world.
8/12/03 Had to work in the morning so I missed meeting Willie Brown. Bah! I see him all the time at Le Central anyway. He frequents that expensive restaurant downstairs from where I work in the financial district. Saw him once eating with our maybe future Governor, Arnold Schwazenegger. Anyway, Jim, Jim, and I ate lunch at Frjtz in Hayes Valley then 48 miles to Palo Alto. To me it was pretty leisurely. Skyline, Sawyer Camp trail, Canada, Sand Hill, to my parents' condo. Saw a deer along the Sawyer Camp Trail. Ate really good walnut bread with apples and peanut butter too. Thanks Jim M. Went swimming in the shared pool, then mommy cooked us all yummy Chinese food. Four dishes in like 15 minutes - damn she is amazing.
8/13/03 Wednesday. Met the mayor of Palo Alto, and various PA figures including Larry Chinn from the Bike Station at the train stop. Faye, Martin's lady pal, brought us sandwiches from Peninsula Creamery. Faye is amazing - she fed us many times, led us later on a Santa Cruz bike trail, and was so nice. Her kids Chloe and Schuyler are insane though. Hyper superballs bouncing off every surface and yelling like banshees at seven in the morning.
Palo Alto and Berkeley had traffic calming along the bike ways. Roundabouts instead of stop signs, bumps in the road, car blockades, separate traffic signals and detectors, etc... Let other cities take note!! So later we biked around Stanford University. The campus has a lot of new buildings since the last time I was there, that's for sure. Bill Gates Computer Science building for one. We went to the recently reopened art museum. First time I got to see an Albert Paley (master blacksmith) piece up close. Then went on to Los Altos for ice cream and to meet Elliot and Nancy.
Elliot is the leader of the Parkinson's support groups from Monterey to Santa Rosa(?). The couple fed us an enchilada dinner and let us sleep in the guest beds and swim in the pool. It was a super comfy house with lots of family history documented on the walls. But MOST IMPORTANTLY, I had the best damn pie EVER. Nancy baked a plum and almond pie for us. Holy crap it was so good. I cried. Sadly she is diabetic like my mom and can't eat any. That night we went to recumbent bicycle lecture at the American Heritage Museum in Palo Alto. The end of the day - 20 miles or so.
8/14/03 Biked to San Jose - trying to follow some lame map. It got convoluted in Santa Clara when we were trying to avoid huge streets and head east when all streets go northeast or southeast. Along the way ate second breakfast at Dairy Bell in Sunnyvale, just two blocks away from my parents' construction site. Plus my parents also have condo a few blocks away from our destination in San Jose. I ended up being probably almost the perfect guide from SF to San Jose. Anyway, we had heard that officers on bikes would escort us to City Hall for the last quarter mile. We thought it would be bicycle cops, but it ended up being an SUV and two 1000cc Harleys! Talk about feeling like a VIP. (or a convict) The reception with the vice Mayor was really fun. I was still high off the escort! They stopped traffic and had the sirens going. Hooweee! And again Faye had brought us lunch. personal pizzas from the Pizza Lover which none of us could finish. All the leftovers were given to some lucky bystander.
Earlier we decided to go all the way to Santa Cruz that day because it was doubtful we could do all the remaining riding the next morning before noon to meet the next mayor. Just as well since we were going to "sleep" at my friend's house which lies right underneath the landing path for the airport. We got directions to the Los Gatos Creek Trail from the officers. Which were *almost* 100% correct. They told us to turn on Moorpark but it was Parkmoor, or the other way around. The trail was great! Big fish in the creek too. There were a couple of barriers that the trikes barely squeezed through and a couple of abrupt inclines which Parky had to walk up, but I'd say it was scenic, sunny, with a slight breeze. The weather couldn't have been more perfect for our whole ride. So now it got fun. Hills until one big uphill (Old Santa Cruz Rd to Summit Rd) followed by one big downhill (Soquel Old San Jose Rd). The latter being during rush hour. There was one especially rude trucker hauling a massive boat. That sucked. We all ran out of water and I ended up asking at guy at a Christmas tree farm for a refill. I swear to God he was naked. I couldn't quite see over the bushes but it sure seemed like he didn't want me to come closer - just wanted me to fill up using the spigot on the way out.
Pulled in to Santa Cruz pretty tired and sore after 66 miles. Faye again treated us to food - BBQ lemon herb chicken. This was getting to be the cheapest vacation I ever had. The next couple of days were spent at the beach and biking up the coast. Basically oogling at girls in bikinis. Santa Cruz is a beautiful town. One night at Martin's house, we watched "Taken for a Ride", a documentary about how GM basically destroyed the streetcar systems in every major US city and replaced them with failing bus systems, just so people would want to buy more cars. Holy crap it made me so sad and angry.
The last night Jim M. treated us all to dinner where we met up with Jack Baker, the co-owner of S&B Recumbents. They even make a sewer pipe inspection recumbent. Crazy - also Jack is the first African American I've seen involved in bike manufacturing (aside from the mad man in Corvalis with the bedroom bike). That dinner I had tamarind glazed pork tenderloins over a bed of spinach and sliced yams with a side of wild rice. Damn it was so good I almost cried.
I want to take a moment to thank you for allowing me to be a part of the NBG's Mayors Relay. When I first saw your invitation to riders, I got the idea that I could do that. But after reading Big Jim's daily reports, I honestly became quite intimidated by his abilities. Especially after hearing that he had done more than 5 century days, back to back. I certainly didn't want to wind up as a ball & chain by not keeping up. I had serious thoughts of calling in sick. But I never made that mistake.
Things started to mellow out when I got on the Amtrak train in Bakersfield. And when I got off the train I saw a big smile walking towards me & although I had not met him previous to that day, I knew that this smile that enlightened my arrival must belong to Kern Trembath. Even more, I was able to feel like this was the right thing to do. Kern & his wife made it easy to relax and just kick back. The next morning Kern offered to give me a lift to the Ferry Building where I was to meet this Giant of cycling, Jim Muellner. Kern got me there early, only to find that Jim was already there and enjoying a morning coffee. The first thing I noticed about Jim was, that even though he was taller than me (I'm 6'3"), he was just a regular guy. In the eight days we spent together, he never made me feel "handicapped".
Even the day that we challenged the Santa Cruz mountains, he was very patient when I got behind . So was Max! Max Chen was our "tour guide". He would ride up with Big Jim, then turn back to help me pull my 60 lb trike up a hill too steep to climb. It wasn't for a lack of strength, but for a lack of traction. At one time I had run out of water and Max gave me a half bottle to keep me going. But soon it was also gone. So when I reached the downside of the mtns, I spotted a Gatorade farm!! It was actually a small supermarket, but it had water and Gatorade. Then, about 5 minutes after I stopped, Max turned into the parking lot to find me. Yet, he never made me feel like I was holding anyone back.
At the last minute I had decided to leave my trailer at home, hoping that I wouldn't need the camping gear it carries. That was a good choice. Each night we stayed at someone's home. Of course Thur, Fri, Sat, & Sun it was you & Faye that treated us riders like Kings. I'm sure that I speak for the Three Musketteers when I say Thank You both.
A Parkinson's Survivor
Max Chen was true to his word in getting us safely from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. In Palo Alto the proclamation ceremony went smooth as silk. The Mayor Dena Mossar was very encouraging in her comments as she sent us on our way. We only had a short ride to Parky's friends house in Los Altos where we stayed for the night. We all got a bed, went swimming in their pool and they cooked us an excellent pasta dinner and even supplied us with beer. Elliot and Nancy Schneno were excellent hosts. Elliot is a Parkinson's Disease survivor so he and Parky could relate to each other.
We had an unexpected treat later that night. We were invited to come to a recumbent informational speech at the Palo Alto American Heritage Museum. Don, whose last name I don't have in front of me, was a recent convert to recumbents and had some of his contacts in the area show their various recumbents. We fit right in and had a chance to say a few words about our cycles also. We would, or should I say I, would have liked to challenge a few of the comments made about above seat steering and seat design, but I did not feel comfortable in challenging the program as it was set up. I have Don's card and will send him my views another time. Since we had to ride the six or seven miles back to our night's lodging, it was our first real night time ride of the trip.
The short ride the next day to San Jose was also pleasant as Max always kept us on quiet bike friendly streets. We were greeted by two motor cycle police and one police car and got escorted to city hall a short distance away. San Jose has 70 to 90 police on bikes also so it was funny to have the motor cycle escort. Officer Doug Boales was especially nice to us. He pretended to give me a ticket for speeding in town.
Vice Mayor Pat Dando also was very proud of their city's advances in bike friendly streets and trails. She is also active in the airport activities and chairs on of the important committees. We had a chance to visit about my former life with Smarte Carte and the many times I was in San Jose, but never got to enjoy it. I was always working on the contract.
We decided that biking to Santa Cruz would allow us a nice quiet morning to enjoy Santa Cruz. Again the first 10 to 15 miles were on nice bike trails that the police had advised us about. Max completed the remainder of the ride through mostly friendly areas. Near the end on Old Santa Cruz Hwy we coincided with rush hour and a few drivers either blew their horns or yelled at us. It did spoil the last days ride a little. We had ridden a total of 66 miles today. It also proves that Martin has a lot of work to do right in his own neighborhood to make it bike friendly.
Signs along the road or on the road stating that bikes share the road would help a lot. These drivers just assumed we had no right to be on their streets and expected us to disappear.
When we arrived at Martin's we were greeted with hugs and handshakes, beer and a wonderful meal prepared by lovely Faye, who spoils Martin terribly.
We were discussing ways to improve the ride participation next year. I suggested having Faye escort the riders would be a huge draw. She is a gourmet cook and very good looking.
Today we will receive our final proclamation and it will be a little sad. At the beginning it seemed a life time away and now it seems in a flash it is over.
Such is life in the fast lane. Jim
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Well we are into the final week. How am I going to remember all the wonderful people I have met and seen. While the number of flowers along the road have dwindled, the colorful people have increased. Some are covered with tatoos. Someone said that they become addictive and you want more. The other item is piercing. Lots of rings hanging from all parts of the body. Was thinking maybe I should get a memento, just a small one to hang from my ear or a design on my leg. It could remind me of the NBG ride, that's it, I could have NBG put on my leg. While Martin and all of the riders would know the meaning, all my friends in Minnesota would read it as something crazy, as they think I am. The ring in my ear would confirm it.
It has been fun to stay with MAX Chen and his girl friend Nancy. They live only three blocks from city hall. He has a garage where we can lock up our bikes. Yesterday, after the first meeting at city hall with Supervisor Chris Daly, Jim 'Parky' Wetherell and I walked over the hills to Golden Gate park to check out some bike shops. Six of them, but unfortunately none had a hydraulic brake lever that has been leaking. I will have to rethink this hydraulic brake system.
Today we are scheduled to meet Willie Brown the mayor in his office. That should be fun. Then we are off to Palo Alto.
Max is going to ride his recumbent also, so we should make for a nice parade. Max has worked out a route and I feel in good hands. We were kidding him last night as he walked us a mile or more to Tommy's Joynt, a famous SF restaurant. He kept saying its just up here a little further. The food and atmosphere was excellent, try it if you come to SF.
Yesterday I got a personal tour of SF. However, next time I want to cycle the 49 mile route. It was fun to see the city from several areas. SF is built on numerous hills, twenty, I think, with Twin Peaks being the highest. I cannot imagine living in some of these areas. It you drop a ball, forget it, as it is down the hill for sure, and at high speed.
The views over the city are spectacular however. The bridges are unique to a flat lander like me. They seem to connect the mountain tops, swoop down to the water, then rise up to let a ship go by, then back down again, then up to the next mountain. $5 to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and $2 for the Oakland Bay Bridge. With the number of cars crossing I thought they should be able to cover the states multi billion dollar short fall. I wonder where all that money goes?
The Jim's are enjoying the break today to catch up on card and letter writing.
Next stop Palo Alto CA.
Made it to my first mayor's reception on Friday and weee whoooo was it f u n! And with all the energy that big power Car Free Berkeley Councilman Kriss Worthington was able to put together on such notice, I can see why Berkeley is far ahead of the curve where accommodating its cyclists is concerned. I say short notice because the ride to Oakland evolved out of discussions that I had had with Kriss just two days before. And getting to Berkeley to see how much has changed and why it has changed since I used to bike its streets nearly two decades ago, is due in large part to Wes Anthony. Wes drove me and my tandem trike the 75 miles (2 hrs worth of driving) from Santa Cruz in the van he uses to move his musical equipment around. And not only did Wes bring me up for the mayor's festivities but as one of the top sax players on the West Coast, Wes is both playing our Festival http://nbg.bikeroute.com/Events/Festival for free with his band Banneda Togetha, as well as supplying the sound system that all of the musicians and speakers will be using next Sunday August 17 at a huge discount. Wow.
And when Wes and I got there, late due to freeway traffic , the Berkeley City Hall steps were covered with cyclists. Some of the buzz centered around the beautiful Hi Wheelers (3) that the Rideable Replicas
The results producing Berkeley Friendly Bike Coalition (http://bfbc.org) was well represented with more people than I had time to meet And NBG TransAm Hall of Famer, Max Chen was there. At the center of the 25 or 30 people that were there (not all of them got in the group photo) was a man in whose eyes you can see the love he has for the people he represents. The man to whom I refer is Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates. And it was easy to see why he remains the subject of so much media attention for his sleeping with the homeless near the beginning of the year. He really cares.
I learned from Kriss that back in the 60's when Berkeley was the first American city to take back its streets with traffic diverters (barricades and speed bumps) that Mayor Bates and his wife Assembly member Patricia Bates were at the front of the charge. And here now 40 years later when cities across the US are struggling to calm their traffic, the Berkeley I saw on Friday was peaceful and tame.
On our 6 mile ride to Oakland we passed thru a number of quiet neighborhoods lined by massive shade trees. Many of the streets on which Sara Syed, one of the Berkeley traffic commissioners sent our Hi Wheel leaders on had been deemed as official Bike Boulevards, complete with signage both on the street itself and on 8 foot tall signs. If you want to see what some of them look like, go to: (http://nbg.bikeroute.com/gallery).
And as I rolled along I reflected back on my youth riding in Berkeley. In the 60's despite being always in the news for its politically correct unrest and being ahead of the curve on many leading edge movements such as free speech, world peace, non nuclear proliferation, open space preservation in the form of the People Park riots, health food awareness, paranormal studies led by the Berkeley Psychic Institute, Eastern thought and etc, little if any attention was given to the efforts of its cyclists. All this at a time when one of the best bike shops in the Nation, Velo Sport (http://www.shopinberkeley.com/v/velo), was selling state of the art bikes that were getting pushed further and further into the beautiful hills that I myself used to train on for my 1979 crossing of America. This was so because all the turbulence of the times brought cars to the university and to the protests and all the organization that preceded them. To make matters worse, the hippy homeless abounded in their VW vans and dilapidated school buses You just did not ride a bike in what is still referred to as the Berkeley flats. WoW has Berkeley changed!!
On the way out of town on the freeway, we passed under a bike/ped only bridge that connects most of Berkeley with its waterfront. And directly adjacent to I-80, right along the edge of the San Francisco Bay was yet another bike path!! I managed to get a photo of it. It's also at our gallery.
Seeing all the change that has taken place inspires me. It gives me great hope. It shows that if we stay the course, that one by one and in time two by two and etc, we can make it a better America for those of us on two wheels!! Thank you Berkeley for coming so far and to the Berkeley Friendly Bike Coalition for keeping the pressure on to move your city toward being a model cycling community!
Hi Everybody: You cannot believe how over whelming biking in the San Francisco Bay Area can be. It includes several ferry rides, as they sure don't want you on the bridges. Maybe some day there will be a bike path off one or both sides of these bridges.
After arriving in SFO from Napa, via Vallejo, which I always want to pronounce Valhalla or something like that from the Opera. First thing I had to do was bike through Fisherman's Wharf. I have fond memories of taking my children here. Once, Beth, my daughter and her friend Lisa came. I dropped them off at 8AM and said I would meet them at 5PM. They were only about 14 years old. When I picked them up I asked them how they liked the water. They said what water? They had not realized they were on the coast and had spent the entire time going from store to store shopping. It still makes me smile today riding past where I dropped them off 25 years ago.
Another time my son Jon, who loves seafood, and I came down to the wharfs at 6AM to have a final crab dish before driving back to Minnesota. Suddenly there was a crack, very load. It sounded like a gun shot. Everyone ran out to see, it sounded like it was right next to our van. We looked down and the bubble mirror had fallen down and burst. We were relieved and laughed, but we were glad to be on our way with the taste of crab still in our mouths.
Today I had a new surprise. I had left Napa with $20 in my pocket. Thought I would stop at the cash machine, but it would not give me any money. Thought it was faulty, so I waited until I got to the ferry. I tried again, a late Friday attempt. A little notice sprang up that said, your cash card has expired. No warning, nothing. Why couldn't it say your card will expire Monday, or in a few days. Why be so absolute on a Friday afternoon. As I rode up and down the wharf thinking about the great seafood that I could not enjoy. Yes, I have credit cards. But when you are on a bike or trike, in the interest of keeping your bike from being stolen, you are limited to the cash counters. I settled for a bran muffin and a cup of coffee. Thanks to some dear friends who advanced me some cash I was able to survive until Monday. I love all the automatic cards, but unless you have every base covered, they can be a pain.
It has been fun getting to know the various areas of the Bay Area. Today after our picture taking session at city hall in Berkeley, Max Chen gave me a tour of Berkeley. We had lunch at a unique Indian restaurant, then went to the Pedal Express, a bike delivery service, location. We got a tour of several related business who design bikes, clothing and a whole variety of items for others. Then a special stop at the Sake Tasting Museum, what a deal. Martin I even took a picture of the sign with my last picture. I will send it tomorrow.
So now I am off to find my way back to where I am staying. It is a beautiful area, all you need is money to live here, or a lot of determination.
We are scheduled for a group ride on Friday from Berkeley to Oakland, even the Mayor of Berkeley will ride with us, which should be fun.
Keep you posted.
Love to you all, Jim
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