Tuesday, March 18, 2014

BadNAHBS and Bikechicks.

I know. I said we'd get to part two of Frostbukake. And we might eventually, but windows have passed and other things have happened. (Shocking)
And honestly... this is all you really need to know about it:

Ow. That prolly hurt.
photo cred: John Murdoch

This past weekend, the North American Handmade Bicycle Show came to Charlotte NC. A mere hour and a half from here, it felt like a pretty big deal. I know that there are many jaded people out there with many reasonable and unreasonable (cough) reasons to feel very little enthusiasm for such a thing. But for myself, living in a region where it all too often feels like there's a dearth of remarkable bike-culture events happening (or is that just my own jadedness speaking), it meant something to me. Enough so that I closed the shop on Saturday so that my various associates could attend. Parsnips did, and for that, he gets a raise. Just kidding. He gets a high five. Or a hug. Or 60 seconds of unadulterated eye contact. Or a stern talking to.

Rich was my host for the weekend, and I arrived at his house Friday evening in time to have a beer, meet his buddy Jimmy, meet The Pie and the pups, talk some nonsense, and have another beer before we headed to the Sram party at BikeSource. 

"I made this."

It's a trap!

Rich and Jimmy, hence forth known as Jimmy G.
As a champion of the little guys and gals, it's not really my style or my model or my cup of pee, but I'm still blown away by the sheer size of Bikesource. They had more kids bikes on the floor than I have inventory. 
Is this what big shops are like in big towns? Is there really that volume of riders and sales to support something like that? Even when I lived in Atlanta I don't remember anything this big. I think that contained within this shop was the entirety of all bicycle retail in Greensboro. It boggled the mind.





Again... a little vast and sterile. (And rich and successful, probably)
But they certainly had a plethora of bike stuff. (coughspecializedcough)
And they were throwing a party and there was free beer, so....
We got there right when the keg was being tapped, and we helped ourselves. Soon enough, other people began arriving and it started raging. (See below?)


Party til you poop.
It was pretty tame, but there were some good folks there. Just as we were making plans to head to the Chris King Party at Bikesource, Tyler of Biketumor texted me that they were out of beer and everyone was leaving. Well damn! By that point I desperately needed foodstuff calories in my body, and an oddball assortment of us (including Tyler, Trey of the Hawley Cult... er... Company, and Steve Domahidy formerly of the Niner and now of... the Domahidy) ended up at what Dicky kept slurringly referring to as "Siraz." Turns out he was trying to say Sir Ed's and that he actually wasn't slurring at all... I just couldn't make heads or tails of anything happening at that point. 

Trey's jug of moonshine likely having something to do with that.
Apparently we ate dinner and successfully left the restaurant under what I assume were legitimate circumstances.
And apparently we successfully rode our bikes back to Rich's. 
And apparently, other things happened.

And apparently Rich took these photos?
We woke up the next morning feeling a wee bit roughish and Rich was close to nixing our barely planned ride. But I knew that I needed to get out and move, as my hangovers are not the kind of thing that mesh well with being a guest in someone else's home, involving, as they do, terrifying sound and fury and the general, violent monopolization and destruction of the bathroom.
So we slowly pulled on bike clothes, ate poptarts and headed out to the Back Yard Trails.
I was pretty impressed with BYT. They didn't flow particularly well in some sections, and some of the punchy climbs were a little oddly paced, but they had lots of options, features and technical aspects that we just don't have in the 'Boro. If they were in my backyard, I'd be pretty stoked.
Jimmy crashed immediately upon leaving the parking lot, and I crashed trying to ride a wacky section of old, narrow railway beds.
Crashing aside, it was a good ride. We refueled at Mama Foo's, cleaned up and rode over to the show.

I'd dragged two bikes down to Charlotte, as well as brought Glenn Vanzig, unsure of sleeping arrangements and company and whatnot.
One of them was my handmade, custom Cysco, complete with handmade Industry Nine wheels and a handmade Watson bar. (I'll let you guess which one.)

 The other bike was a Surly Troll that I'd bought at the scratch-and-dent sale at Frostbike... Tyler of Pearl Velo and I both coveting it for reasons neither of us quite understood. I think we just wanted the bar, honestly. 

We navigated our way through the St Patty's Parade, then into the venue.

Hmm.... Pictures of the show? Nah. I don't really have those. I mean. I snapped a few, but they were honestly so piss poor that there's no reason to include them. This weekend, if it did nothing else, galvanized the occasional thoughts of a new camera into a burning necessity. What I have just isn't cutting it. At all.
See for yourself:

Awesome pic, dude. 

And then there's this thing, that I completely failed to gather any information about...

...save for what I garnered eavesdropping on Crazy Larry's phone conversation...
...which I then promptly forgot.

And I saw this guy, as well as Paul and Tamie, to whom I said a number of incomprehensible things.

And Brooke and Matt of Rolf.
(Matt has the high honor of occasionally being allowed through my impenetrable shield of obfuscation and avoidance reserved for any and all sales calls.)

And of course, these bastards... Jon Danger of the SpokeEasy and indefatigable Nick Barlow. 
By this point Nick was so completely obliterated that he'd been escorted out of the venue at least once. A case of Busch Lite in his bag was gone, and outside of Dicky getting the second to last one, all of the others had been shotgunned into Nick's body. He was seething with friendly belligerence.
Followed by a repeated litany of challenges and inquiries.
"Seriously... you think you can beat me arm-wrestling?"
"Want to shotgun a beer with me?"
"Seriously.. you think Dicky would fight me? I'ma fight him."
"I'm going to pick you up."
This last one resulted in a minor skirmish between the two of us on the showfloor. I barely registered the tense reactions of some pedestrians, too busy as I was with not being hoisted in the air by Nick.
Honestly...I had no real issue with him trying to pick me up off the ground... but in his state, I had very serious misgivings about his ability to stay upright after the fact.
So we tussled... and tussle promptly being over, we high-fived... and I wandered around, seeing many a people and many a bike.

I'd ride one of these.

A blurry picture of something neat.
(But why come it don't have a modern gooseneck?)

And this. Really. I took this. Why? 
Once I get my decent camera, I'll bother taking pictures of the bikes. But for the time being, I just don't. I'm not going to catch anything that you can't or haven't seen elswhere, and I'm certainly not going to take a picture of it that does it any justice.
There's tons of good NAHBS bike coverage. Like this, from Jason Boucher.
Ian Joyce took some good photos of some of the bikes. 
Bikerumor took some good pictures and strung boring tech words together about things..

And I'm guessing this guy prolly got some decent photos of stuff.
(I am hilarious.)
Needless to say there were a number of insanely talented people out there who make beautiful bikes.... plus a number of good friends and peripheral acquaintances from faraway lands. I saw Sophie of the Evil Empire and her man Sean of Ritchey. I saw fellow Pisgah racer Yuri helping out his friends at 44 Bikes
I saw New Antartica Kyle and Sad But Drew of I-9 and Matt Case of Cyclone and Jimbo of the Stans and Trina of DirtRag. There were tons of Boro folks down there too... friends, frenemies, fools, fops, fawning sycophants, F-ing nutters (David of Sarif, I'm talking bout you!)
There were so many familiar faces that it was hard to focus on the bikes.
And then, before I knew it, the show was over... and we were asked to leave

Parsnips, Dicky, Jimmy Gestapo and myself made our way to Fuel Pizza for some calories.
Sitting there sipping my beer, I took note of a particular character nearby. I forget why, but he just stood out. Highwater gym-pants.. long hair... a mustache... at least 10 bracelets adorning his right wrist. But outside of a marginally noteworthy appearance, he was just acting... odd. Furtively looking around, carrying multiple pizza boxes at odd angles and in odd directions. Or not. And then I saw him walk out of the restaurant with a shaker of parmesan cheese... and just keep on walking.
Pointing him out to Dicky, he laughed. "That's _______. He's totally nuts."
Seems he has a bit of a reputation in the Charlotte area. ('member this for later)

Sophie invited us to join her crew, along with Tom Ritchey, for some dinner... but we had our social obligations at the Spoke Easy and the Official Unofficial NAHBS party on the opposite side of town, so we rode off into the sunset and toward chaos.

I'd been trying to get down to see Jon and Kevin at the Spoke Easy for a while. I like what they've done. Kevin has an architectural firm and set up shop in the empty space next to his office. It's an odd place for a bike shop, and you'd never find it if you weren't looking. But he's carving out a pretty unique slice of the pie down there... And I fucking love shops that do that. 

Jon Danger

After we killed the second keg in 15 minutes, everyone mounted their bikes for the 1/4 mile jaunt to the goldsprints and the party proper. Spoke Easy has an agreement with a local caterer to use some of his warehouse space, wherein they've set up an absolutely bad-ass partyplace.

One thing that very much stood out over the evening was the feeling that Charlotte really had a solid cycling scene. That as fractured as it was, and disparate as its various components were ...dirtbags, roadies, racers, yuppies, yippies, guppies, fixies, foxes, Dicky....they were still all part of a larger cycling community. 
It felt like a healthy and relatively diverse scene. 
And a lot of them were here tonight. At least the ones I wanted to talk to.
And yeah, it was a total sword fight, but there were still a ton of women involved, from millennials to gen y's to gen x'ers to boomers. Just women... everywhere! 
And sure, people can hate and whine about hipsters and bikes and all that. And sure, there's an influx of scenesters in the bike world. But in my experience, the ones that bitch about it the most are either classic examples of all that they hate...
Or just part of a rival scene.
Mods vs rockers, squares vs drapes, momjeans vs mullets... played out over eternity.
It's samsara duuuuuuddde.
And as far as cycling scenes go, this is infinitely more appealing than having a Mich Ultra with Lance at a Country Club followed by a Dave Matthews concert.
To me.
And that's all that matters.


Hmm.... I'm not sure.

Nope. Still not sure.

Jimmy Williams.

Andrew and Abbie of New River Bikes.

Great minds....

Trey Cool.

Lil Lady Rachel and Toree.

Gaze into the face of chaos.

Rich having a grudge-match with Toree.

He totally lost. Maybe. I have no idea, honestly. I wasn't paying attention.
To him.

Victor from the 'Boro.

You wearing bibs? Why?

Zac Avant and... ohmygodiforgothisname.
 Then.... the piece de resistance...the drunk off between Nick and Jurwayne.

 Here's a few real photos of the night by Street Ghost.

cred: Street Ghost

cred: Street Ghost

cred: Street Ghost

Cred: Street Ghost

So... remember _________? The dude who absconded with the parmesan cheese? Yeah. So... at a point, I became aware that he was lurking among us, and that he was starting to feed the fire with whatever he found. He happened to find a pallet that did not fit, in any way, inside of the fire pit. And didn't let that stop him. See above.

cred: Street Ghost

cred: Street Ghost

cred: Street Ghost

Grudge match: Ted vs Chad.
If Chad won, he got to shave Ted's facial hair in whatever configuration he wanted. If Ted won, he got to shave his facial hair and glue it on Chad's face in whatever configuration he wanted.
Chad won.

Ohmygosh it's ME! Nice armwarmers, Shanna. Where can I get some of those?
cred: Street Ghost
More of le Ghost's awesome photos HERE.

At some point way past my bedtime, the official unofficial party was shutting down, and it was time to follow the caravan wherever the party was moving. Rich and I were starting to drag, (as we are both old and fatherly) but were willing to buck up for a little more... until Rich threw down some basic math and calculations:
(distance + time) = what?
  shitty beer

When they turned left, we turned right, and kept on riding. I felt a little bad about bailing on the night....
Until I woke up and saw the text Jon Danger had sent me at 2:30am.
It was just a picture of his bloody, mangled hand.

I woke up, chatted with Rich over coffee, and headed back to the Boro and to the Milo.

Later that day, checking Facebook, I saw that a bike had been stolen from NAHBS.

Word went out and soon enough, Beth responded that she knew who had that bike. After leaving the party, she'd been sketchily followed around by none other than our parm-thief and fire-lord, ________, and that she hadn't made the connection before, but that he'd been riding a bike with crazy pencil-like tubes.
Soon, other people corroborated that they'd seen the bike at the party, and pretty soon it was back in the hands of HERO Bikes.
How that happens, I don't know. I mean, my alarm went off when I saw him carrying a pizza box. How in hell someone could see that dude walk off the show-floor with that bike and think, "This checks out." is beyond me.
They probably thought he was Dario Pegoretti.

Next year, NAHBS is in Mobile, Alabama. That'll be fun. Maybe I'll see you there.


  1. I love your writing Watts! ... and for real, I neeeeeeed another set of those sweet black and pink armies.

    1. Awww.... Thanks Shanna. I'll get some headed your way.

  2. That waaaaaaaaas so rad! I already miss you Watts. And since Shanna is getting all needy, I might as well too. I want punch shirt. Also, do you do any custom skin suits? Like the "rubs the lotion on its skin/or get the hose again ones. People keep hanging up on me.