November 25, 2008

Ines Brunn Coming 4/4 8 & Busycle Farewell Report

What a party! On Sat, Nov 15, at the beautiful YMCA in Palo Alto, CA, we not only were blessed with amazing speakers,  exhibits and performances, but the volunteers who made it possible for us to enjoy them, pulled from deep within to give us the best they also had. Instead of sounding cliché and saying we could not have done this without our volunteers, I'll go behind the scenes a bit  and tell you why this was so. After which, I'll tell you about the fire they helped us build.

The Silent Auction that paid for a lot of the expense of producing such a high quality event for us pushed the bounds of Silvie and George Pierce's marriage. George, a former professional duathlon racing star, saw how desperately much he needs Silvie to raise their two small children as he works feverishly for not one but two different start up business concerns. Nor is his wife anything less than an equal powerhouse. She almost single handedly made our high quality, very professional Silent Auction a strong, efficacious reality that made all of us proud.

c/o Palo Alto Daily News

Tho Silvie expended every extra moment on her sleep deprived tasks, she was just following the pace set by Jeannie Llewellyn. Jeannie, the high energy woman who I had the privilege of co-coordinating this event with, also attends to the needs of her medical doctor husband, her three children (10, 16, 22), the several businesses she owns and the various properties she also manages. It was her always happy, smiling  passion that brought our effort to a whole new level as she also made use of Google's interactive spreadsheet to orchestrate the dynamics of our event for for all of us to online take direction from. This had become required since much of Jeannie's work was done at 2 and 3 in the morning......

Faye Saunders and her daughter Chloe  kept  the bar that Jeannie had set for professionalism at a very high level as well.  Faye, who long before our event ever took place, helped Jeannie establish the floor plan for the gymnasium, would, with her teenage girl,  expertly manage the food sales as well as the admissions all that took place at the main entrance. Around which we learned a very big lesson. Don't decentralize your show over several different viewing areas. The fact that we had small crowds of people riding bikes in the parking lot, listening to speakers talking in the break away rooms and enjoying the band playing in the main gym all made for a great event for which there was not one big  crowd  we could  excite about  our cause. Nor did many who never made  it in to the gym even know about all the great treasures that could be had inexpensively in our Silent Auction. Or the great performances that were taking place on the stage as supported by the many vendors who showcased their wares.

Mike Saleski was there with his Kinetic Tiki Bar. According to Ray Hosler, a long haul cyclist, and former, much celebrated San Francisco Chronicle writer, in the report he drew up for the first part of our event:

Mike’s 500-pound machine has 147 gears. With those huge tires he can go almost anywhere, and that includes into the water. He rigs his machine with pontoons for flotation. Oh, it has a flamethrower, but Mike said he couldn’t torch it for this occasion without risk of being arrested.

I saw quite a few familiar faces, enough to think that maybe three to five hundred people had come by through out the day. However turning a large number of them into paying customers never quite materialized  because many never came inside where the main stage was located. We had hoped that the lightning bolts coming from the stage would draw them in. However when our headline act, Marla Goody, came down with food poisoning, all that was left was one very talented band that lacked Marla's magnetic drawing power. You see Marla not only has an awesome voice but it is her passion and her personality that causes people to want to be close to  the excitement she brings where ever it is that she goes.

Lucky for us, Peter Wagner of Davis, CA  was there. He and his nine  amazing bicycle creations kept all the kids, young and old, enough occupied  that if they did make it inside, they could  more readily excuse Marla for not being there to entertain them. As Stan, Tom and Artie played their excellent tunes, people could be seen buzzing all about both indoors and out. While Dave Hershberger's Unwheeldy astounded all those many people who Matthew Blaine helped take rides on it, others wondered at all nine feet of its 240 spokes worth of wheels. The Busycle was also busy. It made its rounds in between the bouncing bikes and draisines and micro bikes, etc, many of which Tom Kabat of added to Pater Wagner's bikes that were also merrily scurrying all about. **Some** of Peter's bikes:

The young man that gave original cause to this party for it being his 16th birthday, Chris Llewellyn, even added some of his prolific abilities  to the talent that was pouring forth from the stage. Chris pedaled his 5 foot tall unicycle into place as he then went about juggling first three, then four, then five clubs with confidence and skill. Wow. Soon the gymnasium honored him with happy birthday song. Video of Chris juggling with the Busycle on his unicycle:

Chantal Vandereyken poured on the glamor when she and her partner, Yuki, enchanted us with an Argentine Tango Dance exhibition that was so professional and so polished it could have played before thousands of paying customers. The shimmering evening gown that Chantal wore contrasted with the jeans and shirt sleeves she wore earlier in the day when she scrubbed and scrubbed to help get our Busycle clean. Indeed it was an honor to be blessed with the magic that she and Yuki brought to out event.

Dan Selligson's son, Matthew, then thrilled the audience with a masterful diabolo performance. For those of you who do not know, a diabolo, also referred to as a Chinese yo yo is a juggling prop consisting of a spool which is whirled and tossed on a string tied to two sticks held one in each hand. A master showman already at the age of 10, Matthew flung his diabolos high to the multi story ceiling time and again as  he unveiled trick after effortlessly skilled trick. 

Nor can anything less be expected of Matthew, The shoes he endeavors to fill are extremely large. His dad is the founder of a revolutionary software, just released  for the iPhone, that is a bike speedometer/trip tracker on steroids and then some. So much so in fact that it will in all probability be a large part of my ride next summer. In a nutshell, the amazing program Dan has devised, called lets you use the iPhone to associate text and photos with the travels you take as represented by the Google Map platform. Dan's program uses the GPS stamp on the iPhone  to let you show your friends what you are seeing as you see it. While doing so, it also lets them read what you feel inspired to write, even hear what you feel compelled to speak about wherever it is that you may happen to visit!! This is all so exciting!!

As for our show, it was definitely one for the ages. We were even honored to have Jobst Brandt. He mesmerized a large crowd of people who did not move from their seats for more than an hour. Those who sat in tell me that the pictures of his Alpan bicycle journeys were spectacular and his command of all the roads and paths he used was cartographic. Most of his audience  we never saw again, however, and as such we  were unable to enroll them in the Busycle  or NBG  cause.

Tamara Dena was also there. All the way from Wisconsin! With her new book, "The Pedal Powered Home". The fact that we didn't know she would be a speaker for our event  until the day before still left Tamara with a happy place in  her heart for the amount of people she was able to reach and  books she was able to sell. Her beautiful book shows the reader all the many ways people all over the world are satisfying their electric and water needs by pedaling for them.

The man who brought Tamara from  her packed booksignings at the GreenFest show that was taking place in San Francisco over the same weekend, just so happened to be David Butcher. David appeared with us on the documentary we did for Korean TV last January of 08. One  of the celebrated inventors in Tamara's book, David exhibited in our main event room with the bicycle he uses to make his coffee, wash  his clothes, run his computer and just keep his lights on. More wow .

We were also honored to have a presentation from Tom Kabat. An engineer for the city of Palo Alto by day, Tom is a man who eats, sleeps and breathes the way bicycles are made. Also a coast to coast cycling veteran, his head is always filled with new and even old bicycle designs. Just as he enjoys learning first hand why some bike styles never made it to the marketplace or even off the drawing board for that matter, in some cases, he also finds great joy in making real some of his two  wheel ideas that rely on dumpster discoveries. His excitement for bikes kept an entire room spellbound for the better part of an hour.

One could not wander around and not be struck by the calibre of vendor talent that had come to support our effort. For example, RideSFO was there. Nor is their offering an event you will want to miss.  RideSFO is  taking over where the famous Velo Swap left off to allow bike people and bike shops to make their best deals to one another. All at the Cow Palace in south San Francisco you don't want to miss this show. It will define your bike year! Nov 29 and 30.

Michael's Light Toys was also there. In a  huge way. With  Michael Mallot no less. Besides the fact that his lights are major attention getting (I can say that I am a proud and very satisfied user), Michael also makes it fun to buy the illumination instruments he sells. He was there, excitedly showing his wares as he wore a light bespeckled vest  and a helmet that had brightly colored wires made to look like hair dangling from it.

The Grainaissance people made a rare appearance too, Tony Plotkin, a friend I have known since the early 80's exhibited his tasty mochi and amazake rice food products for us to enjoy. A rare sole proprietorship  in the food industry, Tony has to more and more keep his marketing budget lean as large food conglomerates  more and more endeavor to squeeze his awesome foods into oblivion. Struggling just to get shelf space anywhere for his products, Tony has found that the only way he can remain visible is, instead of incurring the expense of trying to find new customers  that he has to rely on his  long time satisfied base to keep asking the stores to carry his products.

As for an actual meal, It was all about Jeannie Llewellyn. When James Hall, of Raw Daddy Foods, had to go to China on a moment's notice because his brother had passed away, Jeannie's, company, Dream Dinners, stepped in to fill the void. A franchise operation  that makes pre-prepared meals that are then frozen for use usually during the work week by busy professionals, Jeannie deputized her crew to make dinners not for the freezer but for consumption at our show.  While she won over many many new fans that night, one man who was fully enamored with her food was Jobst Brandt. He could not tell me enough how much  he loved her New Orleans Jambalaya. She sold out of her vegetarian Mirabella Chicken  well before the evening was done and her Mediterranean Chicken with Polenta was also a big hit.

It was the generous contributions of Whole Foods and Clif Bar that rounded out our food offering and a pretty amazing evening.

Thank You YMCA, Palo Alto, Busyclists and Big Thinkers everywhere!!

THX 4 all of U!!

Mark your calendars: Ines Brun comes to America to help send the Busycle to Boston on April 4!! See her astonishing web site:

Silent Auction Supporters
Alex Babysitting | Alex Kids Basketball | Aquarius Theatre | California Pizza Kitchen | Dr Phil Fletcher| Dream Dinners | Human Health Logic | Powered Home | Jill Cohen | Longs Drugs | Michael's Light Toys | Mike's Cafe | Milk Pail Market | La Morenita Mex Restaurant | My Gym | One-to-One Tutoring Service | Palo Alto High School | Positive Massage Therapy | SP Kid Wear | Spa Joli at University Mission Medical Clinic | United Studios of Self Defense | Velo Tech Bike Store | Winter Lodge | The Eyeworks | Whole Foods

Bagpipe Support:
Paul Llewellyn

Unwheeldy Transport Crew (from Sharon Heights in Menlo Park):
Dave Delgado | Martin Krieg | Matthew Blaine | Chris Llewellyn | David Adams

Volunteers (not named above)
Chloe Blanchard | Catherine Blanchard | Kristen Diemont | JohnE Cabrera | Jenny Fitzsimmons | Dwight Harbaugh | Alex Jessup | Nayana J | Jimmy Kang | Moria Kang | Geoff Llewellyn | Mark Lewellyn | Colleen Miller | Debbie Witt | Jason Wong

btw: This report was delayed by my HiWhjeel breaking in half, at slow speed last week. With me on it. Luckily I escaped serious injury because of the butt pak I wear. In terms of then getting the bike repaired, I am also fortunate to have a friend named Tom Schoeniter who was able to free up some time today to get me the fix I needed. A local frame builder, Tom also teaches design at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. He expertly welded and brazed a joint so impeccable that one would have to look pretty hard to know my frame had ever been damaged. Keep an eye on this guy. He has studied with some of the California and Pacific Northwest bike builder greats and he is just now coming into his own. The bikes he builds are all beautiful works of art. Do get a look at his web. His stuff is striking in its beauty.....

Posted by mkreig at November 25, 2008 09:23 PM