||Another big believer was up next. Claire Machado, master recording artist on the IUMA label teamed up with another music star named Mark Castro to add even more wonder to the music that filled the park. Her voice was both brilliant and angelic as listeners once again wanted to know from where she had come. She told them that her music could be ordered from her web but what she didn't tell them was that she is also a single mom holding down a demanding job here for the county. Not to mention the fact that she is trying to find time to create a documentary that will help us sell this year's festival and the National Mayor's Ride that led up to it to sponsors for next year!
Claire Machado & Faye Saunders
Then the reason we had all come together put every thing else on hold. The vision we hold for an interconnected bicycle America found Santa Cruz Mayor, Christopher Krohn (pictured below),
delivering a passionate plea to place the needs of cyclists before the needs of motorists. After underscoring the foolishness of widening our only freeway, he asked that we take action to set the lead for an America that reaps the rewards of a healthy, mobility empowered, two wheel citizenry. And our Mayor is a Mayor who walks, er rides, his talk. I see Christopher on his bike a lot around town! Click here to see the incredible heartfelt proclamation he handed me: .
He was followed by Supervisor Mardi Warmhoudt, the mayor who presided over Santa Cruz during our earthquake tragedy. Also a much respected politician, during her time serving the people here she has built strong networks. And since this so, the fact that she has been a strong proponent for the rail trail connection to Watsonville, makes her a powerful force for the National Bicycle Greenway as well. She presented us with a proclamation from the County of Santa Cruz and explained the present status of the rail project to connect our town with the smaller towns to the south.
Nor is Mardi's mission pie in the sky. Not with Congressman Sam Farr also in her camp and ours! Tim Jenkins, the City's Transportation Commission Chair, then read Farr's letter explaining what he is doing to make the rail trail connection a reality and what we as individuals can do to help.
After the 15 minute political ceremony, our riders then had the stage. First up was west coast star Andrew Morton, who rode form Portland to Santa Cruz collecting *eight* mayor's proclamations along the way. During my mini interview in which he told us a little bit about some of the tight spots he powered thru, to see his road reports, click here, I asked him to talk about the Pocket Mailer that he and two of the other riders on the stage, Skot Paschal and Rocky Brown, had used to keep us much entertained from the comfort of our computer screens.
PocketMail, by the way, sponsored all of our relay riders with their powerful little mail devices. As such, we were able to keep in touch with our NBG cyclists while they were out on the back roads. We even had the full support of the PocketMail Corporation. here for example is what their CEO said when he could not attend our festival himself:
I apologise that I was not at Santa Cruz the other weekend, and was therefore unable to meet you. Truth is I am stuck in Australia waiting for a visa to come through. A 2-4 week process is now into week 12!!!
I congratulate you on what you have achieved. I hope PocketMail has been able to help you in some small way. I wish you every success for the future
Chief Executive Officer
For all of our relay riders, the Pocket Mail device also made internet celebrities out of many of them. So before Skot Paschal, our PocketMail poet, or Rocky Brown, the man who survived the record heat and wind of Idaho, even said a few words of their own, a worthy number in the audience already knew who they were! Don Loomis who had biked over from San Jose was also on stage. He rode to the Sierras for us in 2000 as a part of Cycle America 2000.
Don Felts who rode down from Alaska was also there. In 2000 Don rode from Mississippi to DC. In his 40's , Don got bitten by the two wheel bug training for our 2000 ride and hasn't stopped since. We don't hear from him as often as we'd like because a car wreck made it difficult for him to read or write but he did send this to me the day after our event was over:
Sure did enjoy the bike rally and look forward to the next one. I'll be there for sure anytime anyplace. And I'll try to send trip reports too. If anyone offers a free trike for someone to cycle across let me know I'll go any time. It doesn't take much to get me on the road, I usually am anyway. I'm going to leave this week for Yosemite, Vegas and either Kansas or Texas depending on the weather. If its too hot I'll put Texas off again. If I can help you with anything let me know.
Sincerely Don Felts
Indeed, it was people like Don Felts, cyclists and non cyclists, willing to give and give for the NBG cause that made the full scope of this event the success that it was. In fact after Gil Gilmore and Dave Rabinowitz got the Washington DC Mayor's proclamation to Pittsburgh, PA, not only did Sharon Bouchonville then move the torch along to Columbus, OH but we were also joined by Ro Fischer of Pittsburgh Mayor, Tom Murphy's, office. On her own time Ro tirelessly helped us get into the inner sanctum of every major mayor's office on the way to our Festival.
||She made sure that Chris Detwiler got a hero's welcome in Indianapolis and worked extra hard for Jim Muellner, owner of Just Two Bikes , who rode to a huge reception in Chicago organized largely by Jim Redd of the Chicago Critical Mass . As fate would have it, Jim Redd then became an Internet biking celebrity of his own when Andrew Heckman was mowed down by a car on his way to Des Moines, IA. Andrew nearly gave his life for the NBG cause and the sacrifice he made as he narrowly clung on to life was so inspiring that Jim Redd offered to complete the Chicago to Des Moines connection for him. And once he got beyond the horror that he initially felt and as Andrew's condition stabilized, Jim's PocketMail reports brought the house down with laughter.
As well was the two wheeled internet world touched by Andrew's tragedy. Fueled by cards, flowers and letters of support from all over the world, Andrew defied all odds and with the help of a walker got back on his feet once again. His troubles are far from over but his example fired up not only Jim Redd but it inspired Jerome Hediger of Wicks Aircraft bikes who took over where Jim left off. Andrew's story also got near super human efforts out of Rocky Brown and Skot Paschal and Andrew Morton as between them, they visited twelve more big city mayors before this effort reached us here in Santa Cruz.
Returning to the festival, just as it was focused energy that got Andrew Heckman back on his feet, enabled our relay riders to be on time for every mayor's meeting and will in time get our Greenway built, Leland Pawlak
then showed us what such discipline can do for the human body. A much celebrated body builder, Leland did a two minute posing routine that astounded most everyone present. He then joined me on stage where I was able to spend a few more minutes giving a face to his story.
Before Leland discovered bodybuilding, he was in and out of trouble. He drank too much, did drugs and his life was on a downward spiral. Unhappy with the course his life was taking, he committed himself to a strict diet and hours of driving the iron. Now more than 100 pounds of solid muscle heavier, he has won innumerable competitions and told us that he is not at all unhappy about all the parties and alcohol and dessert foods he has missed along the way.
Before the incredible Big Band music of Mark Russo and the Classy Cats filled the park, I then seized the opportunity to pursue the 'keeping the eye on the prize' theme with Jason and Kris of JustSwingin.com. One of the best swing dance couples in all the nation, they as well didn't get to where they are at on a whim. They told us about how they dance at every opportunity they get, that they study dance, attend workshops and even watch dance videos for hours on end.
And it showed. On a small dance floor right in front of the Cats, they wowed the crowds with their their precision dance moves and jaw dropping aerials. As Jason and Kris melted into each others arms each time it looked like the had irreversibly defied the basic laws of gravity, we were all amazed.
As for Mark Russo and the Classy Cats, they are also driven and will do what it takes to be at the top. Last March, at a regionally attended swing dance here in Santa Cruz, NBG graphic artist, Fred Piper showed Mark the giant poster
Fred Piper with Mark Russo
he had made for our event. He then went on to suggest to Mark that he should play our Festival so that he could be seen with the Best. And he suggested that he do so for FREE. I had not the nerve to ask but Mark kept looking at Fred's awesome representation of our event as he said, "I don't know if I'll be able to get my guys (twelve in all!!) to commit to something like that. What day is that again?"
Fred kept pushing. Mark finally agreed!!
And just like the way our event opened with Prince Lawsha at the helm of of the top jazz band anywhere to be found, it ended with arguably the top swing music big band in all the nation, Mark Russo and the Classy Cats. And the lawn was filled with dancers. And there was joy all about as the day was coming to a close.
For the first time all day, I let my guard down and danced with my favorite dancer and bestest lady pal, Faye Saunders. Faye, as well, had helped me make this event a reality. She provided powerful admin support and served also super effectively as our booth coordinator. And as the festival came to a close, she and I reveled in the incredible music that was coming from the stage. The rest of the park was jumping too!! WoW!!
Our first annual Santa Cruz NBG Fest ended with a raffle. The bike that Backsafer donated led the charge as did the great trailer that Kool Stop donated while other prizes that brought great smiles to all those who won included a weekend getaway at the West Coast Santa Cruz ocean side hotel with dinner at the Crow's Nest and also the two Pocket Mail devices.
What an incredible event. What an outpouring of support for the two wheel way of life. I can't wait until next year!! Was it worth the year I committed to it? Well, as I tried to show with those performers who reached the top, keeping one's eye on the prize is the only way I care to know. The name recognition this has built for the National Bicycle Greenway gives us great leverage in reaching the many goals that lay ahead of us as an interconnected two wheel America no doubt joyously becomes our reality!! Nor can I even began to tell you how many people have told me they are riding more or have gotten their bike out of mothballs or for that matter bought or are buying a new bike: WOW!!
Yahooooo and THX 4 each and every one of you for dreaming Big Dreams with me!!
NBG!! No Doubt!!!!