I don’t know specifically if this actually will be the 7th best post available on the recent North American Hand Built Bicycle Show, because since I was there, I’ve spent precisely 0% of the last few days reading up on anyone else’s perspectives of it. Without looking however, I can say nearly for sure that it’s better that the fifteenth best, but probably not as good as the first best.
Having said that, please prepare yourself to now be dumped upon.
Since I was present at the show in an official (hashtag) Shimano Gravel Alliance (or going forward, SGA) capacity, my dance card was reasonably full before I ever walked in the door of the convention center on Saturday.
Still, despite the fact that I was simply latched to their teat, it didn’t mean that the weekend’s free time was all meetings and spreadsheets. Before any of my compatriots even arrived to town, Chris Jacobson, (the man who effectively is the squad’s captain) and I swung by Blue Collar Robert’s house where he took delivery of his very own Blue Collar Dirté.
In response, the resulting expression on Chris’ face says it all;
It’s a real damned pretty bike;
So with that in hand, on the group’s first full day together, we all jumped on our bikes and took a tour of some of the city world famous bum trails, levies, and whichever bike paths we could find that weren’t underwater;
We eventually wrapped up our shenanigans and made our way back to HQ in order to eat and rest for a full following day.
After breakfast the next morning, the gang of us jumped on our bikes and headed to the convention center. There is a strange thing that’s occurred the last many years I’ve attended a densely populated bike show such as this- (it’s happened twice at Interbike, and once on Saturday.) I walk in and begin to have a panic attack of sorts. Not so much because I feel nervous, so to speak, but more because I just simply don’t think I can have one more conversation that begin with “How’s your show?” or “have to seen anything you like?”
I mean, I’ve been engaging the same banal chitchat for over two decades, and I feel as though I very well have arrived at the point in my life where if it happens one more time, I will completely lose my mind. So on those previously aforementioned years in Vegas, I was lucky to immediately cross paths with friends with whom I could get right down to brass tacks and have a conversation about real life, and perhaps solve a few of the world’s problems in the process.
Thankfully, the first person I saw upon walking into the room this time was Mr. Steve Elmes;
I sat on the floor, and he sat on a shipping crate, and we happily discussed life, and struggles, and things that make us happy, and things that make us sad, and eventually he got called away for work, and I was calmed down enough to go about my business, where I saw (at least) the few following people and things;
Burnsey and a couple of his odd Oddities;
Wade and Boon;
My old homie Toby who I first became friends with back when we were twenty-something bicycle messengers;
Handsome Uncle Ross Shafer;
The constantly totally buried Squid Bikes booth;
Between Squid’s crushing throngs, I snuck in and doodled a rocket ship real quickly on one of their bikes;
Someday that will increase the value of that particular bike by at least a couple of dollars.
As always, John Caletti brought the heat with these two stunning numbers;
There was Olivetti’s electric green gentle person’s ripper;
A very exciting bobble I happened upon is the new Paul Component Chim Chim;
I am a true believer in bar ends, and the only thing that could make them cooler is if you could stash junk in them.
Naturally, leave it to Paul to make them cooler;
the new American made White Industries rim that is so new it’s not even on their website;
As with any bike show, I always have an equal attraction to any cars that might happen to be on display;
There was a delicous McGovern, which if I still had eye teeth, I would gladly give up to make it my own;
I caught up with Brad Quartuccio and watched him do his wizardry;
I happened across Hernan and his beautiful MMFG bikes;
Then, just before I had to leave I stopped by to see Todd at Black Cat, and this bitchin raw steel ripper;
Just as I was getting my things from the bike parking, and preparing to take my leave, it occurred to me that I had only shot photos of my man friends, and none of any of my women friends. As I walked, I was stewing on the fact and wondering just why that was.
As I wrestled with a non-answer, I turned the corner and ran smack dab into two particular women, both of whom are beautiful humans, and true powerhouses.
Tara Seplavy and Anna Schwinn;
With my tanks topped off, and my head filled with more visions of sparkly spangle than any one person has the right to, we headed back to the hotel for a clean up, a quick meeting about the SGA’s upcoming season, to discuss that night’s SOPWAMTOS party, and to talk about the following day’s bike ride.