Saturday, September 28, 2013

oregon handmade bike show: a stroll

I went to the annual handbuilt bike festival today.

I had been working with a lot of personal stress over the past few weeks, and I hadn't really felt like going anywhere; but Sweetie pushed me out the door and told me the ride over would do me good.
I rode there between storm fronts. The air was warm and the wind was gusting. Rain clouds billowed huge and black in the west and were heading my way.

I got there in time to feel some large rain drops splat on my jacket. The show had opened at 10 and was on till 6 pm. I noted, at 2 pm, that there were relatively few bikes parked in the bike corral out front; not a good sign. I paid my ten bucks, walked in, and was immediately struck by the fact that there were far fewer booths than last year. "Thirty exhibitors!" the ads had blared. I counted just fourteen framebuilders among them. Definitely a smaller, leaner show. Still, I walked around and took a bunch of photos. Here are the highlights:

At left: Ahearne Porteur.
My favorite bike at the show.
All the hallmarks of his work, including gorgeous integrated rack and bags, a flask cage and sensible handlebar height-to-seat relationship.

Below: Contes four-wheeler ATB.
I was flabbergasted. On the one hand it was really cool.
On the other hand, I could not see myself ever riding one in practical application.

At Left: E-assist cargo bikes by Fear No Hill. I'm still not sure about front-loaders -- my experiences handling the few I've tried left me cold and sent me scurrying back to rear-loaders. But they seem cool all the same.

Below: TiCycles Extreme Cargo Bike, with an electric motor by Eco-Speed. Powered by solar panels. Truly insane, and even though the frame is titanium I bet the thing still weighs a ton.

At left: A lovely city bike by Winter Bicycles.
Stunning in its simplcity.

Below: The truth is that there was, in some ways, a lot more bike show out in the parking lot, especially by the time I'd had my fill of what was inside. It took me about ninety minutes for me to see everything in the show -- TWICE; chat with the two framebuilders I actually knew; get my questions about various products answered and make small-talk with a few other friends I ran into.

So I walked outside, and looked at the show in the parking lot. There were some cool bikes there.

The rest of my photos can be found here:

I appreciate that maybe the cost of a booth was higher this year; that maybe some exhibitors had just come back from Interbike and were tired; or that some framebuilders weren't ready to show new stuff right now. But at any rate, I was surprised at how much smaller the show not only looked, but FELT. The thrill just wasn't there in the same way this time.

Was it the show? Was it me and the warm pile of stress I've been sitting in lately? I have no idea. But I do know that, unless the previews promise something really different next year, I probably won't spring for the admission price. Because while it's cool to look at all the creative eye-candy, I don't feel like paying for the privilege of just looking anymore.

I am guessing it was at least my personal stress that played a role in my feeling underwhelmed.
The proof? I did an amazing thing today: When I came out and went to unlock my bicycle, leaning against the pole where I'd left it, I reached for my keys and discovered that my U-lock was still strapped to the front rack. I had not locked up my bicycle. And it was still there when I came out. This is probably the first time in decades that I've thought I locked up but did not. I was very lucky. And I will not repeat this stupid mistake again for another few decades at least.

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