Oberstar and DeFazio rock Cycle Oregon


DeFazio and Oberstar seemed
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).


Oberstar does not hold back
his passion for bikes.

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…

DeFazio-Oberstar at Cycle Oregon

DeFazio (left) and Oberstar (right) with two fans.

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…

DeFazio-Oberstar at Cycle Oregon

(L to R): Jerry Norquist; Peter DeFazio; Jay Graves; Jim Oberstar; 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.

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15 years ago

One on the unnamed Oberstar groupies from the top pic is not only a wonderful woman but a loyal customer and fellow Minnesotan. We are quite proud of our congressman from the Arrowhead. His vision is bold and so is Minnesota\’s: check out the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota for their take on bikes and how they holistically fit into recreation and transportation in general. A miracle, indeed, could be necessary, but it starts with the very tangible: each of us must set an easy to copy example for what it is to be a bike rider.

15 years ago

Do you ever think about yelling, \”Anybody else for President!\”? That one comes to mind for a me a lot.

Anyhow, let\’s start talking about Vision for Bicycles in America. Let\’s focus on Portland, though.

15 years ago

If we can get Portland to 10% or 15% bicycle usage, the rest of America will take notice.

15 years ago

We are already taking notice. But please don\’t hog all the bike goodness though – lets make sure there is enough to go around. We need this to happen countrywide. You are blessed with favorable climate (even the rain is fine in PDX) and favorable terrain. It\’ll take more work elsewhere… but we often say \”I saw this thing about Portland today…\” at our local Bike Council meetings.


15 years ago

The other unnamed groupie(woman in blue) is Shelley Briggs, who among other things is on the CycleOregon board, Oregon Parks Board and a dear friend of Mike Simmons who was mentioned in the blog the other day concerning his death in a crash last year at Crater Lake.

15 years ago

Having lived and cycled in the Uban areas of the East Coast of the US for most of my life (first 22 years in NY City area and 20 years in the Washington DC area). I am glad to see that cycling as a form of transportation may come to fruition in my lifetime. I travel to teh west coast regularly and bring my bicycle along. The East Coast of the US is far behind anywhere I have been in the US from a cycling perspective. Keep up the good work and hopefully it will spill over the East Coast some day soon.

14 years ago

I just returned from a trip to Germany which I now call the Promised Land. Berlin has marked bike lanes everywhere and bikes often have the right-of-way. Bikes can be taken onto trains, the subway, trolleys and buses. Eighty percent of the people have bicycles and it appeared that many use them including mail carriers. It is amazing that the world\’s third largest economy still relies on bikes for transportation. The US could begin today and not catch Germany for 50 years.