Mayor Bob beat everyone but myself to Berkeley City Hall but not before he destroyed his rear wheel on his impromptu tour of Berkeley earlier in the morning. According to Bob, he had gotten somewhat lost and ended up on a freeway on ramp. And before he knew it, he was pinned between a wall of harried morning commuters and a sewer grate. A flat tire and massively bent wheel were the result. Well, experienced cyclist that he is, Bob patched the tire, disengaged his brake so his wheel would turn, and rode back into town. Luckily he found a mechanic at a bike shop, Missing Link, who was there before hours that he was able to talk into rebuilding his wheel so he could be at our event in time.
And despite all his troubles, Bob was still early as the rest of his escort trickled in. Soon Curtis Bilue was there. He disappointed us however when he said that Mayor Bates was not going to be able to send us off. Just as we had seen in other CA cities, Berkeley was facing a budget crisis of its own and they were busy trying to figure out who next had to be laid off. And we were there when another staffer told Curtis that the decision was so critical that Councilman Kriss couldn't even break away.
All of a sudden left without a guide, being Car Free, Kriss had been looking forward to leading us to Oakland City Hall, we had to figure out a route. As we were doing so, Bob got Curtis's assistant to go up and at least have Mayor Bates sign the back of his Arcata proclamation. Bob had turned it into a petition that he had been having Mayors along the way way sign. After we assembled for the group photo, the signature returned and after Bob had rolled it back up and stuffed his document into a hard cardboard tube for safe keeping, we were off.
And what a sight we were! Seven Hi Wheel bIcycles (ridden by myself, Mike and Susie Sutton, Tara Rech, Doug Andelin and the Barron brothers, Adam and Greg) and a Mayor on a Trek road bike coasting along as we pedaled away. Of the two lady Hi Wheelers, Tara was even dressed in period wear; a costume, complete with cap, that she sewed herself all the way down to the sleeves, collar and gold buttons. After riding wonderful traffic calmed streets, so that we could cross over the freeway at the edge of the SF Bay, we biked over the epic bicycle/pedestrian bridge that stands as testimony to the worth of the human powered traveler, to the Berkeley waterfront. And then along the Bay itself, the San Francisco skyline served as a fitting backdrop to the wonderful feeling that accompanied this ride. On one side of us were the calming waters of the SF Bay and on the other were car after truck after car of impatient morning commuters. The contrast was made even more distinct by our bikes from a time long gone by that we were riding. While for us, time had seemed to slow down, inside I thought that this is what this ride and the NBG are all about.. All forms of transportation can coexist! And peacefully so. We don't need for our two wheel efforts to be hidden on far away country back roads. We can get the peace and meditative joy that comes from cycling right where we live, work and play!
At the border between Oakland and Berkeley we picked up Oakland Council woman Nancy Nadel who I had been in touch with on a cell phone. On her trike, she guided us the rest of the way to her City Hall through a much rebuilt Oakland from what I remember as a kid growing up there. New shopping centers and office buildings were everywhere as we pedaled along on lightly trafficked roads. She and Bob and I talked about Oakland politics as we rode.
At City Hall, we were greeted by Nancy's aide, Amanda Brown-Stevens. She had the very tasty lunch that Pasta Cusine had donated as well as the Oakland City Proclamation. We gathered up the bikes and the riders for a photo on the City Hall steps, Bob got his proclamation signed as another NBG Day was complete.
Special THX to Nancy's SeniorAide, Darice Jones, for helping us to facilitate Nancy's joining us and for suggesting Pasta Cuisine as an eatery that Faye Saunders could call and ask for a food donation. Yahoo Faye!! Simon Bryce, one of Mayor Jerry Brown's Senior aides also helped me navigate the City Hall waters. His knowledge was both indispensable and formidable. WoW Simon! And without Mike Sutton and Greg Barron the show stopping, traffic calming Hi Wheel show of force we made would not have been possible. U guys are Great!!
Wow whatta ride and THX for all of U who made this grand day possible!!