Twenty years later.
Upon arriving to my very first Sea Otter-Celebration Of The Bicycle™ two decades ago, I was a fresh faced and virtuous young buck with the whole world ahead of me;
And today, I’m neither.
But that’s what happens with the passage of time and not wholly why we’re here today.
My point is that after two decades of both attending, and avoiding the fiasco in the fields, I was back with a vengeance this past week, and have returned with tales to tell, and a lingering hangover that proves most of them actually happened.
Right out of the gate I will note that the 2016 Sea Otter was the year of the eBike. In light of this turn of events, we will from this point forward refer to it (if we refer to it at all) as eOtter, and all pilots on said bikes as eTards.
My god, I’ve never seen such a display.
Certainly it was a topic on everyone’s lips, some being for, and some being against, but mostly I just closed my eyes, stuck my fingers in my ears and repeated the word ‘banana‘.
Besides that travesty, as always there was a lot to do and see and I will attempt to break it down as concisely as possible in a couple of posts.
Because I’ve blown the last couple of years off, Sally from Kona Bikes was extra encourageie regarding my attendance, so at the head of the week I took the train to San Jose where I met both him and Caleb. Caleb also works for Kona and does a host of other marketing/promotion/photo shooting, and communication duties. I’m not sure what his title is, but it most likely involves some of those words.
From San Jose we headed straight to Monterey to get cleaned up, and meet up with sales guy Nate before returning to Santa Cruz Bikes for a Juliana party;
I slapped hands with a bunch of friends, saw some kick ass bikes, saw some kick as women, and picked Juli Furtado off the ground, because when you are allowed to do that, you do do that.
From there we beat feet back to Monterey to rest up , because the next day would prove to be a whopper.
Arriving at the venue at the crack of 9:30 or so, we linked up with demo fleet manager Trevor and began this process, which I have both with so many companies, and so many times before;
It only took like, eight hours and about 200 cans of beer.
Of course before too much distraction took over, I had to roll out the jewel that is the ti Humuhumu;
If I was from Massachusetts I suspect I would call that bike ‘wicked pissah bawls’, or some combination thereof.
As soon as we were done setting up and everything had found its place, I skipped off to see what I could see. And the thing that I immediately loved the most was Otis Guy’s ’52 Dodge, and Joe Breeze’s #2;
The fiasco hasn’t even yet started, and I’ve already see the best that it has to offer.
So quick like rabbits, we made our way back to our new accommodations to get cleaned up for a night on the town. Personally mine resulted in at least a many multi hundred dollar bill at a fancy restaurant which I ignored until a Shimano credit card appeared, and a muckety-muck from said company gracefully transitioning into a Russian accent that was so believable that our Eastern European Uber driver thought he was a fellow countryman.
Pretty much from that point I don’t remember anything until the next morning, which is why I generally need to take way more photos.
Upon the next day’s return to the venue, I meandered and got a few more photos of people and things what made me smile.
Like for example the 2017 carbon Hei Hei and Roadhouse;
Do those do anything for you?
If I was a betting man, I’d say they probably do.
At some point whilst in the wanderzone, I heard a rumor that the XT and XTR Di2 was on display, so I headed in that direction in order to put my sticky mitts all over it, which I did with quickness;
So, the attentive among you might recall the post when I first got to play with Di2 at this very venue.
Well my eggs are just as scrambled after playing with the off road version.
I might be the last person in the world to have their hands on this stuff, so forgive me if I’m rehashing common knowledge. So the deal is that when you shift though the rear cassette, the front detailer knows and shifts automatically, (to avoid cross shift), and can be programmed to shift on a higher, lower or middle part of the rear derailleur’s position. Does that make sense? It was like some wicked black magic to me, and for the low low price of many thousands of dollars, I could actually get some of it on my bike and try and figure out how it works.
It’s shocking that this is the same company who just not so many years ago unveiled air shifting;
So for those keeping score- There we have the top three coolest things I’d seen at this stage in the game. A truck, an old bike, and some magic shifty bits.
I figured I’d covered everything but then I laid my eyes on a project I had been loosely involved with for many moons. Way back in 2009 when I’d originally launched the All Hail The Black Market web project, the aforementioned Sally (who of course was in Raleigh Bicycles’ employ at the time) approached me with the prospect of doing a branded bike. Naturally the idea was intriguing, but both the site and I were still very wet behind the ears, and I had no idea if I’d even still be in business in a year. Having a bicycle with my stink on it seemed like britches that were simply too big for me. I reckoned I’d stew about it for a while and ultimately come up with a concept that truly fit.
A few years later Sally sent a Trans Am concept to me. That was close but still not quite right. Then, about fifteen months ago I was struck with a lightening bolt. I wanted to do a fat tired cross bike (or, if you will, a 29er with drop bars) that was a tribute to the greatest motorized television co-star the world had ever known- Colt Seaver’s 1982 GMC Sierra;
It seems as though he’d been dwelling on the same inspiration, so we continued discussing it at length, and at one point, Sally came to Oakland when we watched the entire first season of the show, while drinking somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 cans of beer.
Ultimately I was given the job to come up with paint schemes, which because I have no idea how to use Illustrator, I did by hand, each being graded by a sophomoric graphic on the corner;
While I busily figured out some of the aesthetic details with broad strokes, Sally was busy figuring out all of the nuts and bolts.
Obviously he ultimately moved on to Kona, and without him in the mix, I was out of touch with the project’s conclusion. (As such, and for the purists among us, I realize the tan on the bike has replaced what should have been gold, so save your breath. When people stopped asking me, I stopped providing answers. Either way, it still is a thing of beauty.)
In the end, it was super bitter sweet to finally see the finished product from the same perspective as any old, slobby, casual, commoner, muggle observer;
Like the old adage goes however- If you love something, let it go. I don’t remember the rest of it but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with Jody Banks being my forever imaginary girlfriend;
How’s your attention span at this point in today’s effort?
Waining as hell? Mine is, so I’m gonna go ahead and claim my hunt and peck merit badge, and we’ll circle around for part two on Wednesday.
outstanding. Looking forward to your photo montage of the e-tards.
Do the Boy Scouts have a merit badge for eBikes? It’s probably on that sash right alongside cub cars.
Don’t kid yourself; you were never, ever, “fresh faced”.
When can we get the ebikes that the pros use?*
I like the fat tired drop bike, but it would be even more sweet if it had rim brakes, like DC 990s or some cheap crap that I could set up and ignore. I can see the enjineering hurdles hurdled at the BB/chainstay, its hard to cram a fat tire in there with modern slob hub widths while maintaining some sort of sporty short wheelbase.
*The pros use ebikes
That is just the right amount of brown.
Hahaha love the stuntman I wish I’d have known about it sooner since we built a GMC Sierra for this years SEMA show loosely based on a combo of watching hooper/fall guy reruns/John c10 in CHIPS and the desert fox concept truck as a gravel truck bike hauler……..I would have had one on the truck if I’d known hahaha great work
I’m reaching into the past to thank you for the Stuntman concept. I’m about two months into stomping around on mine, and stumbling upon this post while researching left an impact.
Rad! I’d say this means my work here is done.