Robbie Benson | John OLeary Star on the SF to Boston Bus!!

Robbie Benson was here bright and early Saturday morning, with a truck full of wood and tools. And he was also raring to go.


It wasn't long after he got everything lined out that he was going to use and we had the underneath compartment open and I was sizing wrenches for the large metal computer box that would need to be removed, that John Oleary bounded on to the scene.

In his always cherry way, he beamed, "so what are we doing?"

After Robbie told him his plan, I asked John if be felt like pulling the metal container that was in the way. "Absolutely!" was his reply and in no time all he had left were the wires to remove. I knew he would get the job done ten times as fast as I would and he was even quicker than that.


The wires were another story. He would have to go through each, one by one, and color by color, using the complex wiring diagram he had found on line. And he had to trace each one ??back to its source 15 feet away, on the other side of the bus and behind the driver's seat at ??the top of the steps.

This as Robbie climbed in and out of the storage bay with with power tools, 2×4's and nuts and bolts. His work was shaping up beautifully as John busied himself with his next mission. Getting the bus to start from the driver's seat. And as usual where a handul of knowledgeable others before him had failed, John made the ignition switch do what it was supposed to do. Where before, we had had to start the bus from the a switch in the engine compartment in the back of the bus, we could now start our epic machine while seated in of all places – The Driver's Seat. Yahoo!!


While doing so John had seemed to enter into a trance as he walked in and out of the bus, from front to rear and all around it as he checked various systems. Besides making the engine kick in from the front, he also got all the instrumentation lighting to work so that we don't have to use a flashlight to see what's what!

John then went through the nearly 40 foot long wiring harness and figured out which leads were best usable for lighting and our other electric needs. Whereupon he determined that it was a 24 volt lighting system that was only on when the engine was on. And as such, John did not think low voltage LED lighting was going to be necessary and yet he did leave open the possibility of running such lights in series. This will most likely also be our computer power source.

Around which a decision will have to be made. Since diesel engines need to be run frequently so that they don't go bad and are designed to idle forever making them great electric power generators, do we keep the bus running even when we are not moving? Especially in parking lots where we will be exhibiting the on board NBG museum we foresee (more below) and our on board publicist ??and??Mayors' Ride liaison are doing their work with the media and city offices respectively. Hard numbers will also be required here. How much diesel does such an engine burn when it is idling?

John says we can run the bus 24/7 and power computers, lights, web cams, showers, faucets, even an NBG promo video for the onboard museum, and yet ??the only question is how hard on the planet is it for us to do so…….


For three hours ??we powered away as I lent a hand and moved and cleaned things wherever I could. After Robbie buttoned down the last piece of plywood a beautiful almaost air tight compartment was the result.??Other NBG souvenirs such as NBG hats, keychains and NBG water bottles and NBG banners as well as Mayors' Ride proclamations will soon take up residence in the amazing space that Robbie built for us!

Since my books were taking up room on the inside of the bus, i ??put. 20 boxes ??of "Awake Again" in our new cargo bay. ??If we sell one 24 book box per??Mayors' Ride city from Napa on, we will have paid for gas and a few incidentals. However to create that interest, we will be paying for the services of a publicist who will be using my book to interest the media in our mission. Nor does this pay for the gas to get us home or insurance or DMV fees, etc. And on and on the story line of of other gotcha expenses goes.??

Which is why, like the ride I just completed to Salt Lake City (here is that blog), we will once again be asking people to buy a day on the road. However instead of just getting your name on the??Mayors' Ride schedule, your name will also appear in a special panel on the bus.??

Another group getting a special section on the bus is the????recumbent bicycle industry. This is so because ??the recumbent ??played a prominent role in rebuilding my body. It has also kept me agile, strong ??and fit instead of hurting me as I age. As such, it has well prepared me for the Eagle HiWheel challenge.
Then we talked about John's ideas for the inside. John wants us to think simplicity. He wants ??us to think of our joureny from San Francisco to Boston as a ??camping trip making use of a simple port a potty, a large ice chest and a solar shower. ??He feels the focus should be on the our mobile NBG museum and not solely the comfort of the passengers.??

Since I will be biking during the day, he seemed to think that those coming along need to be out in the towns and parks along the way. We thought they need to be collecting people and data for later upload work ??to the computers??during the non public visiting hours??our bus can run as per what I talked about above.

And here is where this man from another dimension came up with an idea that got both Robbie and myself much excited. ??John has been thinking a lot about our people carrier and even has done so much computer research that he stumbled across a GMC ??parts bus that he recently visited on our behalf (it was too far gone).??When our conversation turned to work space for the crew, a light seemed to come on in John's head when he said, "I got it!"

"Folding tables from front to rear along the walls of the bus!"??

He went on to say that they can??double as beds. John also suggested that we can place??the NBG storyboard materials (sample testimonial plaques, NBG accomplishments, photos from NBG events including the Busycle, as well as the NBG Vision Statement, etc)??underneath so ??that they display when the beds/desktops are??folded against the windows during visiting hours. In doing so, we are creating a big open area on the bus ??for the public. The hardwood floors will complment all this very nicely. Did John E Cabrera know this when he bought the bus and was he just waiting for us to to evolve to such a breakthrough?

When the tables are folded down, we can use the space underneath them to store our NBG diorama (a plaster of Paris model that artist Syvlie Maxwell created to show what the Greenway will look like in the country. Fifteen years later however, it needs to be updated to reflect what the urban stretches of the ??Greenway will look like – ??who can help us get it current?) and the stove top and cooler that will also be on wheels. This as the wheels under Sylvie's ??exhibit will be our bike trailer that we can use for in town errands on the extra bikes that will be board, hopefully on the front rack that John Oleary found for us for sale for ??$139, here hint hint…


As we evolved John's insight about the the folding tables, we agreed that they ??can be supported by bike frames.??

Ron Bishop who could not break free of his meeting after all, even tho Anna DaCosta was going to pick him up ??at the Union City ??BART and bring him to us so she could also see the bus, still thinks he can get Oakland involved. Ron wants us to bring the bus to him so he can get ??one of his council people involved as well as his artist ??friends to paint??National Bicycle Greenway ??on to the back, front and ??sides. As well as! Soon we hope!!

Robbie thought we should get Ron to also paint ??the 5 feet x 4 feet ceiling sheets before we put them back in. As we talked about that, since there are five of them we thought this could be a map of our route. ??or of bicyclists on a Greenway or a combination of both.

On the beautiful canvas that the outside of the white bus is, we foresee a beautiful mural adorned vehicle that parking lots all over America will welcome with ??open arms. Does anyone know any muralists who would like to be associated with this project? On what will soon have a national audience.

In our interview room, Robbie kicked in with more of his brilliance. Already a U-shaped seat in the back of the bus. he is going to build a table in the center of it that I can use for a desk. What's more, it will telescope down so we can fill the empty space with more cushion. With the result being a king size bed for me!!??

Nor am I at all about to complain. I know I will have earned it ??after 50 to 70 miles on the Eagle!! ??And yet if that's not enough, the desktop will be bike parts and the like suspended in resin. As Robbie's art, it will be this trophy the press will see when they come aboard the bus to inspect. It will also set the mood for the podcast interviews we will be conducting with interesting ??locals and mayoral administration staff.??

???? So much excitement!!!

Btw: John gave me a lighting puck that sticks to the stainless steel??roof??(which they stopped building our bus with the following year ). ??A bright light indeed. Wow John – more THX!!

Btw2: Ever observant, John, already looking for it, found an air chuck we can use to ?? run air tools when the diesel motor is running! Too much – wow!!
Btw3: In case U miseed it, ??HERE is our 2010??Mayors' Ride schedule??


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