I’m like a rapper who’s run out of lyrics.
The time has clearly come for me to dip into my thesaurus and come up with new whatevers to say different junk and stuff.
First things first- It’s nearly that time of the year again when people who work in and around the bicycle industry to converge on Las Vegas, Nevada in order to attend the American International Bicycle and Bicycle Parts Trade Show.
There you will see all the best that most manufacturers have to offer. I say ‘most’ because a number of the bigger companies go to Utah’s dealer camp, or have their own events. Yet still a fair portion of smaller companies, or independent manufacturers who at one time or another have sworn off the event forever will recant those statements and will begrudginly arrive to make the scene anyway.
I believe with the exception of 2001, this year will be like, my sixteenth consecutive show.
For at least two years I swore it off as well, and promised myself I would never return, but like a crack pipe, you always make your way back to it.
It was six years ago when I opted to make an effort to provide something for people (or at least me) to look forward to. I called this thing The Underbike Industry Mixer®, and it was a throw back to the S.O.P.W.A.M.T.O.S. parties of yore.
I know that most folks don’t recall those, but they were full of goodhearted derelicts, a majority of whom were wearing wigs.
So as an homage to those who partied in the olden days, the wig became a key componant in those initial bashes. For three years, we got down in style at The Peppermill;
There we sat by the bubbling fire pit, shot the breeze, and drank the bar out of every last one of their beers.
The following year I included Ritte Van Vlaanderen into the fold, as it was their first year at the show, and at the request of the bar manager the previous year, I gave them fair advance warning that we would be arriving in great numbers, and probably pretty thirsty;
Even still, we drank them out of all of their beer again.
On the third year, I decided to bring Paved Magazine into the sheninagans because it was just after their launch and I thought it would be a nice thing to do;
Plus, I reckoned that since I was writing for them that that would be enough for a decent tie-in.
Once again, the bar ran out of beer.
So at this stage, it was Us-3, Las Vegas-0. I decided to bring the event back to there where we had the very first unofficial Underbike party in 1999. The place is called The Double Down Saloon, and when I say that it’s a total shithole, I mean it in the nicest possible way.
Same as the previous two years, I gave the bar manager ample warning that I’d be bringing in some heavy hitters, to which he responded repeatedly that they wouldn’t run out of beer.
Throwing caution to the wind, I put our fate into their hands, and inspired by this clip;
I brought a band along for the ride;
It was loud, proud and we blew the roof off the bar. And we wore wigs.
Oh yeah, but they ran out of beer.
I should note that at the last minute on this year, Swobo stepped up in a huge way after Paved bailed on me for any financial support of the event, citing that “(their) advertisers wouldn’t understand them being involved in a party with other entities not involved with the magazine.”
I supposed the fact that I wrote for them wasn’t enough of an association, so flipping them a double bird, I stepped on and it worked out fine.
At the risk of spreading sour grapes, there still aren’t enough ‘suckits‘ in the world for that move.
Anyway, after caching out two bars of all of their beer over the course of four years, last year I opted to bring things to Old Town to a venue I knew well enough could hold the volume in both people as well as refreshments;
Even though nobody wore wigs (the theme this year was wearing clothes that made your ass look good, and to not get a haircut for the year leading up to it), it was the funnest party ever. That is for the exception of when Roy of The Black Jetts was in the middle of a heated thermion solo and he accidentally knocked the monitor off the stage square onto Demonika’s foot.
She toughed it out far better than I would have, and as we all melted into the darkness, the bar remained stocked.
That was the foot my preverbal glass slipper needed to fit, so this year, Paul Component Engineering, Ritte Van Vlaanderen, new comer Superissimo and I will all converge on the Bar of Beauty with a whole new bag of tricks;
I can give you one hint who the special musical guest will be, and that is, that it’s not Kraftwerk.
As a tip of the cap to that band however, the theme this year will be red and black. Like the Anarchistic flag, or that one 7 Seconds song;
Or kinda the color of Demonika’s toe.
As I’ve declared before, and probably will again- Arrive wearing your finest red and black wares, and get in free. Arrive not wearing red and black, and you’ll still get in for free, but you’ll look like a dick.
So please, come one come all to the not-quite-greatest, but not-quite-worst show on earth.
Moving on from my devices, to those of the residents in the Maximo Supremo, Mark Adam from KindHuman made the contact late last week with a heads up on his low down;
“Hello Mr. Stevil-
I don’t have any real news or products to try and pitch to your readers today. I just wanted to share with you a story about a recent adventure I went on with my friends Justin and Steve the Belgian (Don’t call him Flemish, that makes him very mad, that’s why we sometimes call him Flemish, to make him mad).
It was a ride that started like most do, we meet up, we talk shit, then we hop on. The great thing about riding in the middle-of-nowhere-bumtruck-South Carolina is that there are so many unpaved roads that lead to Bobke knows where. We were feeling a little adventurous. We made an effort to hit every dirt or clay or gravel road we came across. Some were long and fast. Some were short and led us to dead ends with sketchy homes with “Private Property” signs loosely stapled to trees out front. At one point Steve the Belgian was nearly 86’d by a pack of deer that jumped out in front of him on a decent. I rnearly launched myself off of a cliff into the Saluda River when one road came to an end. After many near misses, we decided to try to ride the power lines.
Power lines? Yes. No roads, no homes, no nothing but thick red clay, rocks, unkempt wild grass and of course the power lines. Each one sits on top of a steep pitch and it was so muddy that day that I don’t think I was able to ride up a single one of them. There were actual vultures spying me from atop the power lines moving from one to the next, watching and waiting for me to keel over. Luckily I didn’t and here’s photographic evidence;
There’s no real moral to the story. I suppose I could try to make some grand statement about riding “untethered” and urge people to stop chasing KOMs or whatever they like to do. So long as people are bikes that makes me happy but there is something to be said about bringing adventure and discovery back to bike riding. So I urge you all to go discover something this weekend.
(DISCLAIMER : I did not ride a “gravel road” or “adventure” or “endurance” bike on my outing. I guess I’m not up to keeping with the Jones’, my apologies.)“
Say what you will about people with two first names, but Mark Adam and his KindHuman are the real deal.
And secondly, I find what Belgians prefer to be called even more than Flemish, is ‘Belgish’. They also like to be asked if they have things in their homeland like chewing gum, and electricity.
Or at least that exchange student I went to high school with did.
Finally, I’d like to wish a very happy (day late) birthday to this character;
This of course is none other than Steve Albini, who besides being in three extraordinarily influential bands himself, has engineered or recorded scores of others.
As a matter of fact, it was six or so years ago when I got the once in a lifetime opportunity to do an installation of paintings for a two night engagement at San Francisco’s great American Music Hall for his current band, Shellac of North America;
While I’ve certainly had a few various ‘career’ highlights in my life, none of them have come close to the experience of collaborating with this group of folks who’ve for years individually and as a unit provided me a soundtrack for everything from riding rollers, to painting, to cooking dinner and nearly all activities in-between.