Sunday, March 09, 2008

Bike Folks at the Seattle Bike Expo

Val Kleitz summed it up best when asked if he minded being "stuck" in the SBS booth at the Seattle Bike Expo, "spending all day chatting about bikes with folks? That's not stuck! Where else would I want to be?"

While wandering around the Expo yesterday I was struck by the fact that while it's fun to see all the shiny new bikes, the lovely old bikes and the various bits of clever innovation, a show like this is at least as much about bike folks as it is about bikes.

My camera was still flaking out and I'm sure other people have great shots of shiny bikes. I spent most of my time chatting with my buddies, plotting some new adventures and mostly taking pictures of people. I'm a little bummed my shot of Leo didn't turn out and that I just plain spaced out on getting a photo of the lovely editorial staff of Momentum Magazine. The good news is that this will give me an excuse to head up to Vancouver sometime soon.

Jacquie Phelan and I finally managed to be in the same place at the same time. My pal Matt Newlin took the photo documenting this happy event.

Matt checks out some of the wonderful old bikes in Bob Freeman's amazing vintage collection.

Jacquie Phelan, the Queen Wombat.

Coach Tammy
almost convinced me to weight train until pal Matt pointed out that our entire lives are spent basically in the "base" and "taper" phases. "Go out easy, then back off" that's our motto. Tammy had all kinds of great advice for those of you who actually want to compete and do things like run and swim as well as bike and maybe do these things with something like speed and grace. Her main advice is that the advantage of weight training isn't strength, it's that it's a great tool to train the opposing muscle groups to prevent injury. Many of Tammy's clients have the problem of working too hard. Matt pointed out that I don't seem to have that problem.

Val really looks like he's coping quite well with being "trapped" at the SBS booth. In addition to being a top notch mechanic and a super nice guy, Val won the award for "best facial hair" at last month's Handmade Bicycle Show.

Mark Vande Kamp, famous writer for Bicycle Quarterly, contemplates the reasonable price tag on the lovely wool Seattle Bicycle Club jerseys.

If Joe "Metal Cowboy" Kurmaskie could write half as well as he talks, he'd be a best-selling author. In fact, he writes about twice as well as he talks, so he is a best-selling author. If you haven't read any of Joe's books, stop reading this blog now and go buy one of his books.

Jan Heine explains the advantages of the classic French-designed randonneuring bicycles. Jan is not a person who blindly believes that the old ways were better but he is very interested in what works. He learns things on the roads of today and from the riders and builders who have gone before us. Every issue of his magazine, Bicycle Quarterly, is packed with interesting,useful and beautiful stuff. Of course, I may be somewhat biased since everyone working on that magazine is a pal of mine and my words sometimes show up on Jan's pages, but the man does know what he's talking about. He can write and talk and RIDE. This year Jan was the first American across the finish line at Paris-Brest-Paris. He seemed a bit embarrassed when asked about that at the end of his talk and sounded almost like Yogi Berra when he explained "I wasn't really that fast, it's just that the others were slower."

I mostly resisted geeking out on the equipment side of the Expo, but I love my Ergon grips, so I had to stop by to see Jeff Kerkove at the Ergon booth. Last year Jeff hooked me up with a free set of grips for my green bike and I liked those so much that I actually went out and paid full retail for a second set for my M2 Stumpjumper. This year Jeff is showing off Ergon's new backpack which has an astounding harness system that really changes the way you think about weight on your back. Matt, John and I all had to try the pack, which Jeff loaded up with Ergon brochures. The dang thing feels lighter on your back than it does when you lift it and because the pack pivots in the harness as you move, it almost feels like you're not wearing a pack. My wife will tell you I'm a sucker for a neat pack and only my thin wallet and the thought of explaining to her why I bought yet another pack kept me from walking out of the Expo with one of these babies.

This year's Expo was a lot of fun. I could have spent much more time talking to folks and easily could have spent a ton of cash on some very cool things. The Expo is still going on today and if you're in Seattle and haven't been to the Expo yet, it's worth the trip.
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