more like running-mates
than Congressional colleagues.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus)
Last night’s ride report was cut short and I didn’t get a chance to share more thoughts and photos of Congressman Oberstar and Representative DeFazio from last night.
The two members of Congress joined Cycle Oregon for a grueling climb yesterday and then spoke on the Main Stage after dinner.
DeFazio spoke of his admiration for Oberstar and told us about opportunities for bicycles in the Federal Transportation Bill despite, “being saddled with Bush.”
He also gave some play-by-play from the day’s climb. When he asked Oberstar if he wanted to stop (it was a very hot day) Oberstar said, “No, if I stop I’ll never get started again.” DeFazio also shared that Oberstar said he had his heart rate pegged at 161 for 15 minutes. Not bad for a 73 year-old who rarely gets a chance to ride (he told me he’s got about 1,500 miles in so far this year).
The real fireworks started when Oberstar took the stage. Still wearing his lycra, he delivered a rousing speech (I nearly yelled “Oberstar for President!” but thought better of it). I’ve heard him talk to a bikey crowd in the past and he mentioned some of the same things last night; but I’ve never seen him so energetic. He implored the crowd to get more involved in “helping to change the habits of an entire generation.”
He also spoke about his efforts to continue to, “thread the language of bicycles into the Federal Transportation Bill.” He ended his speech with a stirring string of exclamations that ended with a crescendo; he was practically screaming as he waved his hand and pointed at the crowd: “If you can do that climb you did today, than you can become an advocate for bikes!”.
The crowd ate it up.
After he left the stage, I noticed a middle-aged man ask for his autograph. A few moments later, two women approached him. “I’ve never had my picture taken with a rock star before,” one of them said. Here’s the photo…
I also snapped a photo of the two of them with Bike Gallery owner Jay Graves, Cycle Oregon Ride Director Jerry Norquist and the Mayor of Cottage Grove, OR, Gary Williams…
On the ride this morning, I overheard a man say, “Wow, that Oberstar guy was sure fired up huh? Like a televangelist or something.”
Yep, to achieve the vision for bicycles in America that is shared by Oberstar and DeFazio, it just might take a miracle.