Posts Tagged ‘North American Handmade Bicycle Show’

Strange beverage

March 16, 2014
The sky is crying.

The sky is crying.

Oh, ’tis a fine soft day in Charlotte, North Carolina. Ninety-three percent humidity is good for the skin after a long day spent drinking watery green beer with a few thousand of your closest friends followed by a nap in a shamrock-colored puddle of pee under the old F-350.

I managed to skirt the no-fly list once again and am squatting in the Charlotte airport awaiting the next pressurized aluminum tube full of viruses bound for Chicago, where I understand the climate is likewise good for preservation, especially of things like wooly mammoths, Ben and Jerry’s, and other frozen goods. Just as well, as I’ll be chilling there for at least a couple of hours before catching a Ford Tri-Motor for Bibleburg and Chez Dog.

Skipped the final day of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, as two days gave us a pretty good look-see at all the touring bikes that weren’t there and I like to rassle my travel arrangements early, especially when I have so little say in how they get made and turn out. If some TSA dude is gonna beat on my kidneys with a mop handle I want to get it over with early, is what.

Meanwhile, Mr. Deme is in Detroit, where he reports he is sipping a Miller Fortune.

“All I can say is we really needed High Life in another package with a bit of Malt Liquor Bull added to it,” he adds.

I recommended a chaser of Listerine, or perhaps some Park Tool chain cleaner.

“That’s next,” he said.

Happy St. Shiv In the Ribs Day

March 15, 2014
Kevin Harvey's blue wheeler.

Kevin Harvey’s blue wheeler.

Charlotte is busy getting its St. Patrick’s Day drunk on. Never mind that March 15 is the fabled Ides of March, of which Caesar was famously advised to beware.

Maybe it’s a two-fer: Get horribly sideways on green beer and pennywhistle dirges, and then run about stabbing people, shouting the Gaelic for “Sic semper tyrannis,” which as I recall is “Fook the lot of yis!”

Lights, camera, action!

Lights, camera, action!

But we were talking about the North American Handmade Bicycle Show before we wandered off on this Irish-Roman tangent. And yes, it is a show, in which North American handmade bicycles play a leading role, and nobody was stabbed in the making thereof.

The bike I heard mentioned more than once was Kevin Harvey’s baby.  Dude has a day job — machinist for Andretti Racing — but he’s a lifelong cyclist and likes to work his metallurgical magic with two-wheelers in his spare time under the Harvey Cycle Works label.

Check out the Baja-bug lighting system he added to this one. He was deep in the weeds during this little project, fabricating the cap and screen to keep rocks from turning out his lights and crafting bits of this, that and the other to route the cable through the fork and make the whole system easily removable. The lights also can be raised and lowered and toed in or out.

After eyeballing a few more bikes, Adventure Cyclist editor Mike Deme, CycleItalia honcho Larry Theobald and I braved the wild streets of Charlotte, shouldering our way through about 18,000 tosspots in green T-shirts to dine at The Capital Grille. The wait staff seemed happy that the annual pub crawl didn’t include them, and the cop we saw outside the joint looked like she was having about as much fun as the average root-canal patient.

One unsteady reveler at curbside was either preparing to topple into the street, barf on his cellphone or both. Erin go blaaaaugh!

Going Uptown

March 14, 2014
My homeboys from Moots were in the house.

My homeboys from Moots were in the house.

Day one of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show got off to something of a slow start today.

Well, for us, anyway.

I don’t do 2 a.m. real well anymore, in anybody’s time zone, so by the time Adventure Cyclist boss-fella Mike Deme and I arose from our coffins, grabbed a bite of breakfast at the Midnight Diner and got ready to roll, it was practically lunchtime.

Incidentally, if anyone is looking for a rock-solid solid investment opportunity, buy yourself a booth at the Midnight Diner and rent it out by the hour. The place was nuts when we walked in and nuts when we walked out, and I would give even money that it is nuts right now.

Anyway, after breaking fast we sauntered over to the show, exchanged pleasantries with various industry ne’er-do-wells, and spent a couple of hours stumbling around in desultory fashion, gazing slack-jawed at shiny bicycles and posing silly questions to ironically waxed mustaches wearing their little sisters’ pants. There was steel, titanium and carbon fiber, Gates Carbon Drive and Pinion bicycle transmissions, and them old-fangled whatchamacallems you shift with levers and stop with rim brakes. We’re gonna do it again tomorrow, but with more shuteye. And more breakfast. And more pictures.

Meanwhile, the NAHBS Exhibitor Party is this evening at Uptown Cycles. Simply everybody who is anybody will be there, so we’ll be blazing over there directly. Not on bicycles, more’s the pity. I couldn’t find one that would fit into the overhead bin.

Good morning, Charlotte …

March 14, 2014
A room with a view.

A room with a view.

… why so chilly? Please don’t make me wear pants on a Friday.

The flight out was uneventual, thanks for asking, which is to say that it sucked. The good thing about my connecting flights in Denver and Chicago being late is that I did not miss them, which seemed a high order of probability when I set out yesterday afternoon. And why is the under-seat space bigger in a pond-hopping turbo-prop than in a 737? Just asking.

Lights out came around 2 a.m. local time and lights on came way too bloody early. It’s barely above freezing and my shorts and T-shirts will stay in the closet for a while yet. But that closet is 23 floors up in a Westin hotel, so, yeah, I got that going for me, which is nice.

Now it’s time to grab some grub and scope out the North American Handmade Bicycle Show.

In like a lion

March 8, 2013
Novara Verita

The Novara Verita from REI.

March, is it? Whose idea was it to make February so short and start Daylight Saving Time on Sunday? Jesus, I take some time away from the blog to do a spot of work from my deathbed and the whole place goes to hell.

I brought some heavyweight class of an upper-respiratory bug home from the North American Handmade Bicycle Show and mostly have been sleeping at The House Back East® to keep from catapulting Herself out of bed and into the madhouse with my coughs, which sound remarkably like an M777 howitzer in action, if M777 howitzers fired 155mm olive-drab snot rockets.

Between booger barrages I have had to crank out the word count for Adventure Cyclist and Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, the latter now back to twice-a-month publication. Doubling up on the funny is heavy lifting when your brain is braising in bacterial tapioca.

The past couple of days have brought some mild improvement, happily, and I’ve even been out and about on the latest review bike, a Novara Verita, one of the steeds in REI’s velo-stable. I’ve tried not to dribble on it, because the green would clash horribly with the nifty blue-and-white color scheme and might even dissolve the tubeset.

I shan’t have access to that refreshing little pasatiempo this weekend, however. The wizards predict rain, snow and wind — to wit, March weather.

Just as well. Another round of deadlines is upon me like some fresh plague, and I might as well stick to embarrassing myself in print instead of upon the bicycle until the sun comes back sometime next week.

What do you mean ‘we,’ white man?

February 27, 2013

One of the downsides of spending 22 years working solo in a home office, besides not being able to get a gig at Yahoo!, is that one tends to take on attributes of those lost tribes National Geographic is forever un-losing, or the Japanese soldiers jungled up on various Pacific islands who never got the word about the emperor’s surrender.

Outsiders are suspicious characters, their fabulous tales not to be given credence. And should they drag you from your village or spider hole toward what they deem “civilization,” you may expect to contract smallpox, TB or the clap. Better to make pincushions of the foreigners with blowgun darts and shrink their heads, or fillet them with a katana and get back about your business.

Boo Glissando

The Boo Glissando is a concept townie that marries a bamboo laminate with titanium.

Which is the long way around to saying, yes, I was compelled to attend the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Denver, where I was put on display by the white devils, and all I came away with was a massive tab for docking my Subaru Outrigger and a medium-heavy case of Snotlocker Surprise.

In all fairness, I wasn’t exactly dragged. Having missed last year’s NAHBS, I was determined to take in the Denver edition, if only because I wouldn’t have to depend on United Airlines to get me there.

But I was planning to attend mostly for kicks. I didn’t count on being shanghaied into helping judge the 2013 NAHBS Awards, filling in for the absent Patrick Brady of Red Kite Prayer. This was not unlike inviting a Jivaro headhunter to stand in for Len Goodman on “Dancing With the Stars.”

So I had to get there way too early for a daylong refresher course on how little I know about the velocipede, and if you were one of the losers who came away empty-handed, award-wise, well, I can only say that it wasn’t my fault. It was those other guys. My judicial pronouncements were limited to the usual half-witticisms, like “I’d ride the shit out of that one if someone gave it to me,” “That belongs on a wall with a frame around it,” or “I can see taking that thing into your average shop for a tuneup and finding out afterward that the mechanics all hanged themselves.”

Being simpleminded, I gravitated toward simplicity, as exemplified by the Level keirin bike, the Boo Glissando and the English Cycles time-trial bike, which we named best in show shortly after noon on Saturday.

This last really has to be seen up close to be believed, as photos don’t do it justice. Rob English is a time trialist, a two-time winner of the Oregon state championship, and his considerable talent and ingenuity were clearly focused by his love for the discipline.

Once we’d wrapped up the awards, I took another refresher course, this one in bullshitting. It’s easy to bullshit over the Innertubes or in a magazine column, but improvising chin music on the fly takes practice, which I was out of. So I spent the rest of the show chatting up a number of old friends and colleagues, and that’s probably how I contracted the Snotlocker Surprise.

Damn the white man anyway.

Get your kicks on Route 666

March 2, 2012

Until yesterday, I was congratulating myself on a rare bit of frugality, having chosen to fly to Sacramento for the North American Handmade Bicycle Show instead of driving.

Gas prices were on the rise again, and motels never get any cheaper, so when I weighed the costs and benefits of a six-day road trip versus a quick flyby, the flyby won in a walk.

Until yesterday, that is. Now I’m down $342.10 and never got closer to the Sacramento Convention Center than Concourse B at Denver International Airport.

The first bump in my aerial Route 666 came when my 9:53 a.m. flight out of Bibleburg was delayed. The plane was undergoing “a test flight,” we were told, and after it finally arrived and we boarded, it sat on the deck for a spell while the crew awaited paperwork. The original departure time had left a comfortable margin for me to catch the 11:28 a.m. flight to Sacto, but the delay gobbled that up and then some, and my bird was long gone by the time I’d legged it from gate B50-something to B28.

No worries. A gate agent booked me onto a later flight — four hours later — and I whiled away the time wandering Concourse B and inspecting my fellow travelers, a joyous throng that reminded me of Russians queuing up for bread and vodka in the old Soviet Union, Germans trundling wheelbarrows full of marks to a Weimar Republic café, or Americans camping out for cheap shit from China on Black Friday.

I overheard muttered conversations about canceled flights, missed connections, and various other tales of woe, so I started checking the board now and then. Sure enough, lots of time changes, gate changes, flights vanishing right off the board, you name it. Gate agents pitched like carny barkers, announcing that their flight of the moment was “in an overbooked situation” and soliciting volunteers to lay down their seats that their brethren and sistren might fly, offering the less-than-powerful inducement of a $400 travel credit good for getting boned up the ass the next time they dare to set foot in a United concourse.

My own flight, slated for 3:30, got bumped to 3:50, then 4:15, and finally 4:50 before being canceled altogether. We never got a straight answer as to why from the gate agent, who took to hiding in the jetway after mumbling something about unspecified mechanical issues involving “a couple of valves” that needed replacing.

What the hell? I thought. These things aren’t coming in to disgorge one load of passengers and take on another, they’re fucking pitting with oil leaks, thrown rods, their bits coming off in turn three and black smoke belching out from under the hood.

We of the late, lamented Flight 6392 trudged a kilometer or so to customer service, where several computers appeared to be down for maintenance and only three United types stood ready to handle the deluge. One spent a fair amount of time teaching another how to operate her terminal.

I was somewhere in the top 20, line-wise, and I was overhearing discouraging talk like “I can get you on standby at dark-thirty,” “So we’re talking about flying to LA, then to San Francisco, and then to Sacramento?” and “Bob, how do I get the right screen on my terminal thingie? Do I type ‘2’?”

It was at that moment that I lost all faith in United’s ability to get me to Sacramento before the NAHBS closed. Hell, they’d barely been able to get me to DIA. So I told them to stuff me into the nearest pressurized aluminum tube full of opportunistic infections bound for Bibleburg and finally got out the hell out of Denver (an hour later than advertised, surprise surprise).

I’d heard about the bomb threat, of course. But that was early in the morning, before I ever arrived at the Bibleburg airport, and I wasn’t about to question anyone on that topic. Say “bomb threat” in an airport and about 30 seconds later you’re assuming the position in some windowless concrete room with your pants around your ankles and an overexcited TSA flunky taking the scenic route toward inspecting your fillings with a bullet-nosed Ray-O-Vac. (Incidentally, the scariest thing about that Denver Post story is its final sentence: “All airport operations are normal.”)

The weather didn’t seem to be the culprit, either. Not in my case, anyway. The only weather-related issues I heard about involved flights to Colorado mountain towns. No, mechanicals had been the order of my day — planes that needed test flights, valve jobs, a quick wing transplant, whatever.

This was central to my thesis that I was due a refund for my troubles when I spoke with United via the Subcontinent this morning.

“If you folks would just get the oil changed every three months and rotate the tires per your owner’s manual working journalists would be able to jet hither and yon suffering neither hindrance nor let,” I said, or something very much like that. “Give me my money back and we’ll put our long national nightmare behind us.”

Nope, said United, countering that they had successfully flown me from Bibleburg to DIA and back and offering a miserly $158.60 in recompense for not getting me to what flight attendants call, ominously, my “final destination.”

No shit. $158.60. I spent $342.10 to fly to Denver and back, a trip I could cover via Air Subaru for a half tank of gas. Call it $20. And I didn’t even want to go there.

It all makes a guy long for the day when we can travel via transporter a la “Star Trek.” Let’s just hope United doesn’t get a monopoly on that action. Step onto the platform with Chekov, Jakov or Fukov at the controls and you’d never know whether you’d be leaving your heart in San Francisco or sending it to Jesus.

Your ass, of course, would belong to United.

Is it March yet?

March 1, 2012
The Shadow knows

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows. ...

February always gives me a case of the ass. The weather is generally unpleasant, my usual running and riding routes seem unsatisfactory, and it seems as though there’s always some indoor cycling involved. Blaugh.

But yesterday’s bonus day took some of the sting out of what had been a chilly, windy month.

 I got out for a two-hour ride that took in some streets, bike paths and trails I hadn’t ridden lately, and for a change I was actually overdressed — I could’ve done with knickers rather than leg warmers and quickly swapped full-finger gloves for the sawed-off variety.
Today I’m off to the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, leaving Herself to hold down the fort. It’s just a short hop, more business than pleasure, so I’m not taking any cycling kit, just running stuff. There’s a park near the hotel, so maybe I can run on grass or dirt instead of concrete. My old knees complain bitterly when forced to run on manmade surfaces.
If I have a moment between chores I’ll pop up some pix and notes about the bikes I see. Keep in mind that I’ll be focusing on transportation, not toys. Any requests?
• Why I Loathe Air Travel (No. 1,296,593 In a Series): Being a professional paranoid who travels by air almost, um, never, I get to the Bibleburg Interfaith Interdimensional Airport way too early to catch the Vomit Comet to Denver. Naturally, the announcement that boarding will commence is followed almost immediately by the announcement that our plane is undergoing “a test flight” and that we will not be scurrying inboard for 40 minutes. Will I make my connecting flight to Sacramento? Someone ask Rick Santorum. He seems to have a pipeline to the Almighty.
• Why I Loathe Air Travel (No. 1,296,594 In a Series): Nope. In the words of Maxwell Smart, “Missed it by that much!” Now I get to enjoy three hours in Denver Faux Tipi Intertribal Airport while I wait for an alternative. Should I be concerned that it has begun snowing? Rick? Anyone? Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit sniffing glue. …
• Why I Loathe Air Travel (No. 1,296,595 In a Series): Oh, good, a bomb threat. No, seriously, a bomb threat, levied against an earlier flight to San Diego. The traffic controllers must be enjoying their work today, along with the gate agents who get to speak with all the happy people..

Tahoe, Sacramento and excremento

February 25, 2012
Chevy Tahoe

Dig the giant hunk of Detroit iron Herself is driving to Function Junction. And yes, the Death Star is a rental, not a keeper. I've lived in smaller houses.

Ahh … another Saturday unsullied by work for vampire capitalists. Doesn’t pay worth a damn, but it has its advantages nonetheless.

For example, today we’re looking at a high in the mid-50s, which strikes me as pretty good cycling weather. And there are containers of freshly made green chile sauce, chili con carne and vegetable beef soup in the ’fridge, so the day’s eating is more or less taken care of — assuming I don’t decide to assemble some chicken enchiladas to slide under that green chile come dinnertime.

The trick will be to stay far away from the computer, wherein all the evil tidings dwell. There remain four red-ass baboons running for the GOP pestilential nomination — ook ook ook chee chee chee! — and they are flinging dung at each other with a will in advance of Tuesday’s primaries in Arizona and Michigan.

There’s plenty to do around here without all that smelly old shit. Herself is off to Function Junction for a couple of days to handle some library business, and Bouncing Buddy Banzai the Spinning Japanese Wonder Chin has managed to FUBAR his right eye, which requires the application of various pills and potions, and eventually surgery.

Poor little dude has not had much luck with the medicos. Neither have we. Every time we take him to the vet I hear the sound of someone’s Mercedes payment being made. Cha-ching!

Once Herself gets back, I’m off — to the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Sacramento. Never been to one before and I’m looking forward to it, if only because I’m in dire need of a road trip, some sort of Gathering of the Tribes. Plus there will be editors there, and occasionally where one finds editors, one finds paying work.

What I’d really like to do is hit the Arizona desert for a week of running and riding. But since that pays, um, not at all, an actual play date may have to wait until I unearth another patron of the velo-arts or two or three.

It’ll certainly have to wait until after the primary. You couldn’t pay me to set foot in the state until someone’s policed up all that GOP poo.