Up Close and Personal with 2014 American RAAM Winner, Dennis Johnson (on a Bent!)

Up Close and Personal with 2014 American RAAM Winner, Dennis Johnson (on a Bent!)


bacchettalogo110 201405020022550.Dennis Johnson RAAM 2014

From a 60-pound overweight, non-cyclist smoker, Dennis Johnson purchased a Bacchetta Recumbent Bicycle in 2005 and nine years later, used his fierce competetive nature to become the fastest American to finish the world’s toughest bike race, the 2014 Race Across America. All this as he and his wife adopted a Chinese girl who is now seven. Learn more, in the podcast above, about what makes this man burn  and the extremely smart race his 11-person crew, led by Kellie Moylan, helped him to win. Oh, and by the way, Dennis also won the over 60-year-old division too. Dennis is only 61 years old!!




left to right: Brian Meakin, Steve Jackson, Bill Drake, Leroy Richard, Tim Woudenberg, Dennis, Allan Duhm, Keith Kohan, Jeff Clark, Kellie Moylan, Tim Oujezdsky, Alan Johnson 

NBG TransCon Eagle Sponsor, Sunfood, Explains Its Rocket Fuel

NBG TransCon Eagle Sponsor, Sunfood, Explains Its Rocket Fuel

Reposted from Feb 2013

We traveled to southern California to talk to the people who make what my long distance bike rides across America are now proving to me is indeed Grade A, Rocket Fuel. In all the training I have been doing that will soon get me and the 1891 Eagle HiWheel across America, I have found what I know will soon become the cyclist’s best friend, one of my ride’s main sponsors, Sunfood!!  You may want to pull your notebooks out as Brian Bowers and Chris Ochs at Sunfood teach those of us interested in high performance living how we can eat better. And how we can do so with the amazing foods they have been introducing to people all over the world for well over a decade.

[sc_embed_player fileurl=”″ title=”Sunfood with NBG”] Sunfood with NBG 


20933410-sunfood-logoOn the training rides I did for my 2011 ride I hydrated myself with a powdered drink mix they make called Sun is Shining. A specially formulated seaweed mix, it not only quenched my thirst but it  supplied the electrolytes that the sun leached from my body. It was by not replacing them that my urine had blood in it when I cycled the deserts of Nevada and the Bonneville Salt Flats on the Eagle in 2009.

In addition to what I drank while on the bike, I began my day the same way I ended it – with delicious superfood shakes. And because they tasted so great and reenergized me so much, I drank them mostly with Sunfood supplied ingredients  as much as I could. To make them, I added:

– Maca powder – from the Andes,  this is an amazing adaptogen that  increases energy, endurance, physical strength and oxygen in the  blood along with a   slew of other benefits.

– Kelp Flakes (I get mine from Maine Coast Sea Vegetables), like cacao, they are extraordinarily rich in minerals, They also contain an abundance of iron, calcium, iodine, vitamin B6, riboflavin and dietary fiber.

– Goji Berries (which I soaked the night before) are another adaptogen that I wish I had known about when I undertook the deserts of 2009, I mean, besides the fact that they help to keep the body hydrated, the enhanced stamina and strength they engender are just a few of their many health improving  by products.

– Cacao Powder was once so revered by the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations for its power as a food that it was used instead of gold as money. What is important to understand is that as raw chocolate in its purest form, it does not have an acceptable taste on its own. Toward that end, most of the chocolate most Americans consume is cooked and so processed and so  covered up with sugars and other taste enhancers that its many benefits are negated. While cacao may not have specific  performance enhancing properties  like some of the others foods I mixed it with, it, when viewed as a food, in its raw form, it is loaded with vital nutrients. It is the highest natural source of iron, magnesium and chromium.

This not to mention that it has the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world. In addition, it is the only food that contains the endorphin Anandamide that relaxes the body after exercise. As such, it was my nightly RAW chocolate bar that rewarded me well for some of the punishment I pushed myself through. This can be further illustrated by the fact that for 40 years, starting in the 1930’s, heart attack sufferers were injected with theobromine, the smooth muscle relaxant found in chocolate that also dilates blood vessels.

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To get all the benefits above, while I can use fruit juice and the Royal Jelly to neutralize the taste of the cacao and maca, I add cocoanut juice and bananas to fully supercharge a drink that actually keeps me from thinking about what I can eat next for hours.

As the anti-oxidant that it is, the coconut juice complimented the Sun is Shining I drank when I cycled so well that I operated at full throttle the whole way. Another super food, about which many researchers are singing the praise, cocoanut’s benefits are many. Possibly the king of the superfoods, its juice is so close to human blood plasma that World War iI jungle doctors used it to make emergency blood transfusions.

In sum, to show you how powerful my smoothies were, here is the blog entry I made in April 2010:


I just completed probably one of the briskest 25 mile training rides I have ever done on this very physically demanding Eagle HiWheel bicycle, and I feel excellent. Almost full throttle the whole way, I was trying to burn down the Sunfood super shake that had me so filled to the gills. And here now almost four hours later, after a very demanding  ride, I still feel full!!


Before I went out today, Sunfood nutritional consultant, Eric Pasimio, spent a worthy amount of time going over  all the products he had sent me to start working with. He gave me a sample recipe for the shake I still need a blender for. I stirred the concoction he recommended, sans the cashews and goji berries, all up by hand and drank it down. Too delicious and yes I was full. But I did not feel the jolt of energy after I also ate the nuts and berries on the side I was half expecting..


But you know what? The full stomach never went away. Even now, I don’t feel hungry for anything. And for those of us who roll the big miles (25 on the Eagle is easily like 50 on a road bike) that is unusual indeed!! And if this keeps up, which I know it will, you are going to see an Eagle HiWheel  ride across America that will set records never likely to be broken. WoW!!


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Steve Stevens, a Penny Farthing Legend

Steve Stevens, a Penny Farthing Legend



We visited with a true living legend at his home/bicycle museum in Golden, Colorado. Steve Stevens who you will soon hear about, shattered the world record for his year 2000 solo crossing of the US on a HiWheel bicycle. From the 19th century, his machine not only does not have gears but he was unable to coast any measure of that epic ride. Besides our discussion of that ride and his other HiWheel exploits, we also talk about the journey he was planning from England to Iran and then rode until a war in the Mideast forced him to stop.


At Cycle  America 2000 in Washinton DC


With Greg Lemond, America’s only Tour de France winner (3 times)

Ellen Fletcher Passes Away but Her Powerful Efforts for Cyclists Will be Felt Forever


America’s pioneering bike activist and arguably it’s most effective, succumbed to the cancer she has been battling for the last several years yesterday. Ellen Fletcher whose podcast and Busycle bike boulevard gratitude ride you saw me remaster here  just a few days ago passed away yesterday (RIP 11-7-12). An amazing lady, Palo Alto is on the national bike radar as one of its bike friendliest cities due in large part to Ellen’s work. A modest woman and a World War II Holocaust survivor, she inspired a whole generation of bike activists.


Indeed, I feel honored  to have been able to record a little bit of what has made her so great in this interview she gave to me:

Thanks Ellen for the example you set and for a life so well lived. The world is a better place because of your tireless work on behalf of cyclists everywhere.


2007 Ellen Fletcher Bike Blvd Gratitude Ride in Palo Alto, CA
Ellen taught me how to ride safe and also basic bike maintenance during my 8th grade gym class.  She will be missed.
Max Chen – Bike Art & Podcast with NBG
NBG Scout, Engineer, Blacksmith, Bike Artist


 The San Jose Mercury Story
IN depth with the Palo Alto Daily News

Nation’s Best National Bicycle Greenway Example – American River Parkway

We traveled to what we feel is a perfect world example of  how the National Bicycle Greenway  can take advantage of  the geographical assets each region all across the United States has to offer to increase the well being of all those who use it as well as those who live and work nearby. While it takes a region wide community of people from many walks of life to manage the 37+ mile American River Parkway jewel set at the base of the Sierras, we found three authoritative voices who have had decades of  experience with it on many levels. In the words ahead, you can hear what  Folsom Recreation Manger, Lynn Lepage, Folsom Water Works Operator, Daryl Pearson and Folsom Trails Director, Jim Konopka, have to say about the true bicycle treasure they get to enjoy on a daily basis.

[sc_embed_player fileurl=”″ title=”American River Podcast”] American River Podcast  (59:03)

Excerpt from “How America Can Bike and Grow Rich” below.

Click to watch slide show:

From “How America Can Bike and Grow Rich

And it was easy to understand why. A true bicycle heaven indeed, we all looked forward to riding the American River Parkway. Perfectly smooth asphalt, it offered the ultimate two wheel escape. Tomorrow we would all be on a path that felt miles from nowhere even though busy freeways and the life of small cities lay just beyond the river bluffs. We would look out on a peaceful summer-time river that gently poured over the rocky bottom it often exposed.

Along the way, we would ride through a few tree shaded, lawn covered parks, cross the American River on an historic metal bridge and be entertained by all the people frolicking in the many different swimming holes along the way. As the trail neared the base of the Sierras we would find ourselves passing through miles and miles of untouched open space where even the occasional tell tale  sign of human life, such as  a far away building or road, almost as instantly disappeared from sight.

American River Associations

American River Conservancy

American River Natural History Association

American River Parkway Foundation


Ed Cox – Northern California’s Bicycle Lightning Rod

We traveled by phone from Ireland to the offices of long-time Sacramento Bike Coordinator, Ed Cox, a former architect  who played a big part in shaping the way people move about in the state capital city. In the words ahead you will hear the impact he had not only on Sacramento but the region and the entire state of California..

From “How America Can Bike and Grow Rich,  the NBG Manifesto“:


“So is Ed riding (the amazing American River Parkway, ed) this year?” Marty asked. “I haven’t seen him since I used all those broken spokes from my wheel last year to get his his back tire to stay on.”

“He’ll be at the Capitol tomorrow,” I began,  “he’s still running the wheel off a kid bike like I had suggested. He never ever got the bad one fixed, says he’s too busy.”

We were talking about Ed Cox, a stocky guy who, even though his bike was not of the same quality as some of the other HiWheels that annually came out for the river ride, he still rode strong. Like Marty, Jacques, Peter Wagner, who would also be joining us on his homebuilt Penny Farthing, and myself, Ed had lots of cycles. A bike guy through and through, he was also the bike coordinator for the city of Sacramento.

And his passion is contagious. Much of the bicycle renaissance that Sacramento is enjoying in its downtown can be tracked to a lot of the ground work Ed has laid. When I stayed in the cool little guest cottage he had built in his backyard when I Eagled to Salt Lake in 2009, I learned a lot about this quiet, humble man.

Ed was a founding member of the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates (SABA), the local bike activist organization. Under the authority of SABA to call for more bicycle awareness, some of its leadership then went on to  bring about Sacramento’s very own Bike Kitchen. An incubation cell for bicyclists wanting to enjoy more bike centric and not car centric lives, it is this bike co-op  that is giving birth to the swarms of cyclists now filling the downtown on every kind of pedal machine.

Ed was also one the main organizers of the annual Bike to Work Day in his Capital City. Probably the largest Bike to Work festival in the USA, it attracts cyclists and exhibitors from throughout the region. As if that were not enough, Ed was also active on the state level. Toward that end, he helped start the California Bike Coalition (CBC). A nonprofit, the CBC keeps an eye on all legislation affecting California cyclists.

 On the American River Parkway



On December 11, 2011, the City of Oakland lost a man who did so much to raise the profile of cycling in it that he was honored by its council  as its unofficial Bike Mayor. Ron Bishop succumbed to a cancer that could not be treated because lesions discovered on his brain made him too weak for any kind of surgical procedure to take place.


The lesions were caused by being exposed to Agent Orange during the Viet Nam war. These were wounds he carried for over 40 years as he established himself as a much in demand architect. A brilliant man, with creativity oozing from his pores, he raised a family of two girls and even took them to school in a bike trailer long  before it was an accepted practice. He helped the region to see Oakland as the beautiful biking city it is becoming.

Screen shot 2014-10-20 at 10.00.16 AM

Mayor Quan presenting two 2014 proclamations honoring Ron


Then the bubble that all of us lived in burst. Unable to find work designing homes, a League of American Bicyclists certified instructor,  in 2009, he dedicated his creativity to bicycling. As he was starting the Easy Riders Bicycle Touring Group, for example, when he was not taking whatever paying work he could find along the way, he even found time to help me ride a thousand miles on the Eagle HiWheel to Salt Lake City. All this as Ron’s world kept crashing all around him. The real face of the Occupy Oakland movement, as he and I had agreed when we spoke recently, even his good friend Oakland Mayor Jean Quan (the three of us are pictured below) and for that matter the US Govt, for whom he had fought in the war that exposed him to Agent Orange as he affirmed the American Way, had to sit back and watch as he was evicted from his home of 30 years this last summer.


Ron with his friend, Oakland Mayor, Jean Quan and Martin Krieg

As he then lost the security and safety of a home, as well as the community and all the memories he had built around it, corporate executives all over America were pulling down million dollar bonuses. And as  the corporate state still reigns supreme in many countries all over the world, countless dreams and lives like Ron’s continue to be shattered. Nor was it long before Ron, succumbed to the foreign agent in his body that had given him varying degrees of trouble all of his adult years. A such, Ron is yet another casualty of the greed that benefits so few at the expense of so many.


Ron’s passing leaves a huge hole in my heart. It makes me so sad to know that one of my activist comrades will no longer be there to help me to keep the National Bicycle Greenway  dream out there.


Besides myself and bike activists everywhere, we are all diminished by Ron’s passing. All of us suffer because the odds were stacked so high against Ron. Or as John Donne famously said,


Never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee. 


THX for your life Ron!


In the Spring of 2011, I was lucky enough to learn more about him in this podcast interview"

      THX 4 all of U!!


At the December 16, 2011 Oakland Celebration of 18 miles of new bikeways in 2011, Mayor Jean Quan dedicated Oakland’s newest bike lane on Webster Street in Ron’s honor. Ron would have ridden this new bike lane often from his house in the Temescal to Downtown Oakland. We are sure Ron is smiling somewhere knowing that he helped make this happen. At East Bay Bike Coalition tribute


– Hales from South Carolina
– Father of two young women
– Vietnam Veteran
– UC Berkeley Grad in Env. Design/Architecture 1981
– Very involved in energy efficiency, permaculture and green aspects of building.
– Contracted as space planner for AT&T Western Region 10 years
– Berkeley Unified School District Architect 5 years.
– Sacramento Regional Transit architect for extension to Folsom
– I became green in 1976 and continue to strive to produce projects that are energy efficient.
– Sierra Club Northern Alameda County Executive Committee in 2007
co-founder Regional Urban Design Forum Committee of the American Institute of Architects – East Bay [AIAEB].
– Metropolitan Transportation Commission Pedestrian Safety Committee,
– East Bay Bicycle Coalition [EBBC]
– Oakland Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee [BPAC]
– Oakland Measure DD Committee
– League Certified Instructor [LCI] of bicycle safety for the League of American Bicyclist [LAB].Post

The last ride Ron led –

Max Chen, NBG Scout, San Francisco Metal Artist

Max Chen, NBG Scout, San Francisco Metal Artist

[sc_embed_player fileurl=”″ title=”Max Chen Interview”] Max Chen Interview

San Francisco Mechanical Engineer and Metal Artist, Max Chen, talks about his bicycle art, his long involvement with the NBG including the TransAmerica ride he did for us in 2000 and the on line mapping project he  worked with us on in 2006.