Thursday, March 3, 2011

BSNYC Field Trip: The North American Handmade Bicycle Show of Two Thousand and Eleven

As a young child growing up on an Idahoan tuber farm in a strict Jainist household, I used to dream of three (3) things:

1) To get one of those cool novelty license plates for my bike;
2) To one day move to New York City;
3) To never, ever see a freaking potato again for as long as I live.

For years, it seemed as though I would never achieve any of these goals. As the bearer of an unusual first name (it's Increase if you must know, my parents were deeply interested in Puritan culture), I would browse the novelty license plate racks fruitlessly before collapsting in tears. Also, New York, that fabled land immortalized in cinema classics such as "Tootsie," "Big," and "Midnight Cowboy," was impossibly far away, and it seemed as elusive to me as a novelty license plate that said "Increase" on it. And as for escaping the crushing ubiquity of the potato, let's just say when even your bed is a giant hollowed-out yam, the notion of a tuber-free existence can seem like nothing more than sweet potato pie in the sky.

Nevertheless dreams do come true--though be careful what you wish for, and other clichés. For example, after winning multiple scholarships I eventually obtained simultaneous liberal arts degrees from Bard, Sarah Lawrence, Wesleyan, and Oberlin, and I did indeed move to New York City, though I was tremendously disappointed to learn that it's actually bereft of culture and is instead full of beard-and-flannel-wearing "hipsters" who like to pretend they're living in Idaho. Also--and who'd have thunk it?--I actually miss potatoes very much (you can't buy them legally here, they were banned under the Rockefeller Drug Laws to discourage the use of potato bongs) and often cry myself to sleep while cuddling a Mr. Potato Head. And as for that license plate for my bike, it looks like I may finally get one after all, though since New York State would actually force me into it the proposition has lost all of its appeal to me:

The only thing more insulting than some boneheaded politician trying to make you put a license plate on your bike is some hokey journalist equating bicycles with children's toys. I'd almost rather register my bike than perpetuate the notion that bikes are for toddlers and belong on the sidewalk.

Of course, we all know that not only are bicycles a legitimate form of transportation for grown-up adult human beings, but that they're also Serious Business. That's why I was in Austin, Texas last week, testing crabon fribé toys for grown-up adults with the editorial staff of Bicycling magazine. I'll share some of my bike-testicular experiences with you at some future date, but this trip also afforded me an opportunity to visit the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (or NAHBS), which took place last weekend and which I visited on Friday.

Cycling is full of paradoxes, and the NAHBS is no exception. Just a few contradictions I found myself puzzling over included:

--How come it's called the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, yet the biggest news to come out of it is that Ritchey is bringing back the "Swiss Cross" and it will be mass-produced in Taiwan?

--How come everybody seems to hate show organizer Don Walker, yet somehow he remains in power, like Muammar Gaddafi?

--Why doesn't the NAHBS simply adopt the tagline "Sassy, smart solutions for everyday living" and admit that it's the new Interbike already?

Unfortunately I'm no closer to answering any of these questions now than I was before the show. However, as a NAHBS virgin I knew I'd have to fortify myself before engaging in all that lug-slavering, and so I visited one of Austin's many food trucks:

Food trucks are one of those things people get way too excited about these days, like boutique embrocations and designer axes, though I did enjoy both my lunch and the idle conversation the guy in the black t-shirt was having with the food truck "curator" about his nascent handmade jewelry enterprise. (Austin and Portland need to have an artisanal craftsperson cage match on Pay-Per-View already.) I also enjoyed the Jamis something-or-other I borrowed for the afternoon:

Yes, in addition to vast quantities of crabon, as a bicycle tester I had access to a number of "townie" bikes, and for my trip to the NAHBS I opted for the bicycle above, which (and I can't even believe I'm saying this, but I guess I've finally attained full-on bike-dorkdom) sorely needed a kickstand.

By the way, Austin is famous for its live music scene, and mountain bike pioneer Gary Fisher was gracious enough to provide the lunchtime entertainment:


By the time I finished my lunch Fisher had raked in two whole dollars and a single cent:

That's almost one dollar after taxes. [Insert cynical Obama joke here.]

Having finished my lunch, I straddled my Jamis and headed off to the Austin Convention Center:


The bike was equipped with an Exitement-O-Meter, and as I drew closer to the NAHBS my anticipation went from a "3:"

To a "4:"

And eventually topped out at a "6" before I managed to calm myself down and return to my default state of pessimistic nonplussitude:

Until I encountered a man riding a motor-assisted bicycle chopper:


In true "Cat 6" fashion I tried to get on the chopper's wheel, but unfortunately I lost him when I got stuck behind one of Austin's many cowboys:

By the way, you haven't seen trackstanding until you've seen someone do it on a horse.

At the convention center I parked my Jamis next to a Vanilla:

And locked it up Pee-Wee Herman-style with my 500-foot cable lock:

This was more difficult than you'd imagine, since I was actually trembling with excitement by this point. Yes, finally, after years and years I was about to see the show everybody talks about--the Texas Middle School Association's annual conference:

Stepping into the convention center, I was afforded a closer look at the chopper that had eluded me earlier:

And then I entered the show itself, where Birkenstocked bike dorks shuffled about in a steel-induced daze, like extras in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest:"


I'm talking about the Smell of Steel:

Yes, those ferrous pheromones have compelled even the most aloof bike dork to crawl into his own giant messenger bag and emit heaving sobs of joy.

Now, by way of dispensing with the obvious, the NAHBS is filled with talented builders and very appealing bicycles, and I'm certainly not above admiring them. The first bikes I admired were from Engin Cycles of Philadelphia:

Drew Guldalian of Engin built the above bicycle for someone who will ride it in Paris-Brest-Paris, which is for retrogrouches what Monster Track is for "hipsters."

Next, I ambled over to admire Chris King's line of bicycles, Cielo, where they were showing a bike with an integrated charcuterie tray:

In Portland, cutting boards are the new fender:

There were also many important personages, such as Sam Whittingham:

Not only is the the curator of Naked Bicycles, but he's also the world's fastest recumbent rider:


Yes, he's the guy inside the suppository:

I'm sure by now Whittingham is incredibly tired of people saying to him, "Hey, almost didn't recognize you outside of that gigantic sperm bike!"

There were also heroes of the upright cycling world, such as Grand Tour winner Andy Hampsten of Hampsten Cycles. As everybody knows, Hampsten won the Vuelta a Espana after a truly "epic" sandstorm stage:

It's inspiring to see someone of Hampsten's stature getting his hands dirty by manning a booth in a convention center--and he did get them dirty, because he actually shook my hand. (Ordinarily I do people the courtesy of handing them Action Wipes after they shake my hand, but unfortunately for Hampsten I had just given my entire supply to someone who was totally "skeeved out" after meeting Don Walker.)

Speaking of dirty things, security tried to eject this guy's dog:

However, the owner flashed his "service dog" credentials and so the canine was allowed to stay. As the owner was not blind I'm not sure what service the dog actually performed, but since he seemed to be very interested in the Richard Sachs cyclocross bikes my best guess is that he was one of those lug-sniffing dogs.

But NAHBS isn't all about sweet bikes and even sweeter celebrities. It's also about exercises in pointlessness, like this bamboo tall bike from Craig Calfee, the man who starved a thousand pandas:


There were also these:

At first I thought they were cocoons, but I stood there for almost an hour and a frame that wasn't horribly ugly failed to emerge, so I can only assume these things are actually the finished product.

And who wouldn't want a crabon tnadem?

Meanwhile, Vanilla's wait list is now so long that they didn't even bother showing any bikes and instead brought a huge booth in which they recreated the entire city of Portland:

Here's Sacha White laughing at an aspiring Vanilla owner and telling him to come back in 30 years:

By this point I was already getting tired, so I stopped by the Chris King back massager:

The whole assembly rolls on precision sealed cartridge bearings, and all you do is lean against it and rub.

Thus reinvigorated, I mistakenly thought I could handle the Geekhouse booth, where "hipster" cycling had reached its apotheosis in custom form. Here is the touring bike they built for former fixed-gear freestyle impresario turned aspiring traditional Fred Prolly, which is finished in a bruise-purple-to-raw-steel fade "colorway" and may be one of the ugliest custom bicycles I have ever seen:


Though it's positively classy compared to this custom polo bike:

If bike polo had one thing going for it, it was that it was one of the last remaining bastions of cycledom in which people didn't use expensive equipment. However, with the advent of the polo showbike, it would seem that those days are officially over, and poloists have finally evolved into agoraphobic roadies.

In search of relief from this heady atmosphere of bike dorkdom, I stepped outside for some fresh air, only to be attacked by a phalanx of people on Segways:

Like UFOs, they hovered for awhile in a way that somehow seemed both haphazard and choreographed:


As their numbers swelled, so did the general sense of menace:


I stood there frozen with terror until, worldessly, as if in possessed of some sort of hive mind, they suddenly rode away on their dork podiums:

Even now, it's as if it happened in a dream.

98 comments:

mpetry912 said...

Podium suckas!

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

This site and its content is so nice, i appreciate you from my heart & sole, nice job.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back!!!!

Stephen B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
le Correcteur said...

Podium!

Dr. Feel Good said...

Top 10!

le Correcteur said...

Well, at least top ten!

Anonymous said...

welcome back!

Jaeger

jp said...

canada makes top ten!

samh said...

Back for another round of weird style diktats.

Astroluc said...

winner winner chicken dinner... :P

mikeweb said...

Wowwee! Lots of pitchurz. Does that shifter go to 11?

Welkum bak!

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CSZR

-P.P.

Anonymous said...

Our long national nightmare -- is over!

Kenny Banya said...

Top 20 GOLD!

hillbilly said...

welcome back!

Comment deleted said...

I've been extremely busy with work the last week, and so I'd like to thank you for not posting your distracting blog during that time, Snobby. I'll get back to you with my schedule so that you may note future busy times for me, and not post accordingly.

Solipsistically yours.

crosspalms said...

Between Chris Calfee and the lug-sniffing dog, I'm surprised PETA wasn't picketing. But maybe they figured Naked Bicycles was close enough.
Welcome back! I'm exhausted from actually earning my pay the last week...

Anonymous said...

Top Twenty?
Ugly Bamboo Frameways at Calfee booth.

Must go vomit now.

Neil said...

called it.

ps top 25

PawnShop said...

Meh. The Jamis' wheelbrows got waxed into uselessness.

Anonymous said...

best post ever

Anonymous said...

Steve Tilford was in Austin and managed to post at least 5 updates.

Anonymous said...

Dork podium!

Rob said...

see the bats while in austin. and please keep posting; i can't annoy my co-workers by laughing and then reading "funny" things aloud to them nearly as easily without your posts.

otherwise i have to join in their charlie sheen talk.

Duppy F said...

At first I thought they were cocoons, but I stood there for almost an hour and a frame that wasn't horribly ugly failed to emerge, so I can only assume these things are actually the finished product.

NICE. Glad to see that you returned from your sojourn with venom glands intact, BS.

Anonymous said...

" lug-sniffing dogs. ". Laughed so hard I nearly collapsted.
Missed you, snob.

xyxax said...

I thought polo was a vaccine-preventable disease.

Oh, and I went to middle school in Texas before there even WAS an annual convention.
My nurse is here now to express my anal glands.

Johann Rissik said...

Dork Podiums indeed.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I think i have discovered the first dis-embodied foot

http://www.bikeradar.com/road/gear/category/bikes/road/product/dark-plasma-vr-11-44343

Marcel Da Chump said...

I love looking at bikes almost as much as riding them. Thanks for the pictures.
I thought Hampsten won the Giro.
Anyway, WELCOME BACK!

The Los said...

Welcome back. Hope you enjoyed Portland South.

Anonymous said...

Any epic burrotis ?

grog said...

Best post of the week!
Good show report.

Something about the name? said...

I knew a guy named Don Walker long ago. Boy was he a jerk. Snob was apparently not too impressed with the one who inhabits bike dorkdom. Weird.

Anonymous said...

The Segway sequence, with commentary, is one of your best moments EVer, Snobby ... almost woofed me cookies!

MyWorld said...

Like most Scattante riders, a gentle soul:
From Wiki-World,
"Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes pacifism and a path of non-violence towards all living beings."
Wow, who knew. Once again, culture and cornball all wrapped up in one neat two wheeled package.
Next life-do you believe it?-try some ketchup on them spuds!

mikeweb said...

Dork podiums? Indeed.

Meet, my friends, the Dork Barstool.

Asshole Al said...

There almost was a bush shot in the most recent edition of Bicycling magazine. They either air-brushed it out or the lady shaves her pussy. Either way it was a bit disturbing.

Concerned 2.0 said...

I would have easily had diarrhea in my pants if I saw a Segway hive. Makes a recumbent peloton look like a pigeon to a eagle. Your coverage on NAHBS is the only one I can stand since there is too much of the same recycled shiz from everyone else.

Are you toning this blog down btw? A reference between naked cycles and world's fastest recumbent rider doesn't include any pictures of nude recumbent groupies. come on!

Fribe said...

"And who wouldn't want a crabon tnadem?"

I have no fucking idea what that might be.

ant1 said...

ant1st!

dirty_business said...

You borrow a Jamis street-something-or-other at the NAHBS.

You realize Jamis is all OEM-ordered stuff, right?

Anonymous said...

Blasted google! I'm looking for the Handmaiden Show and it sends me here?

LK said...

Brooklyn is New York City's potato patch.

INCR EASE

mikeweb said...

Snob, you don't happen to have a son named Cotton, do you?

Anonymous said...

Dork podium!

Bertin said...

Welcome back, BS (err hmmm); we missed you.

Mason said...

Sorry snob, Jain's don't eat tubers. Root vegetables damage too many small organisms to harvest. Also Jain's avoid most plants you have to kill in order to harvest. I expect your family was about as successful as a Mormon coffee house.

ant1 said...

they could have painted the other side of the rotors on that polo bike.

mikeweb said...

That guy's service dog's 'service' could possibly be to lick his beard clean after meals(?)

Just postulatin' here...

superfred said...

pack-fill...

Anonymous said...

Bogus service dogs are the new fixies

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703652104576122461180284204.html?mod=wsj_share_facebook

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Sorry Snob, no full on bike dorkdom status for you until you come over to the bent side. I suppose a unicycle in your collection might get you in the door as well but you will have to learn to ride it not just lean it against a wall.

Test Tickle said...

Birkenstocks, tye dyes, beards, dogs, back rubs, food trucks ... are you sure you weren't at Woodstock?

BIKE DORK

balls.

Reggie said...

Finally! Segways are creepeeeee

I am the happier engine said...

Snobby, did you go to the same show that I did?

There were some very slick Eye Candy Bike Porn things. Fun to see what some extremely creative people can do when they have way to much time on their hands.

Shitting on Walker, not necessary.

Shitting on those that pretend that they make things when the really collaborate with China, very necessary.

Not the usual Bike beards as in the past, seemed like too many businesses just trying to survive.

Why was the beer so shitty, vendors seem to be in a bad mood, probably was the warm Texas sun.

I guess it needs to go back to Portland.

Bumstuffer Billy said...

Shaved pussy in Bicycle magazine? You've got to be kidding me.

Test Tickle said...

I thought Bicycling always featured shaved pussies ... Have they changed their format recently?

balls.

Anonymous said...

Good one!

Anonymous said...

That breed is a "spoke nipple pointer." I didn't just fall off the potato truck, you know.

leroy said...

My dog claims he doesn't bother trying to pass himself off as a service animal because no one would believe he's a domestique.

Honestly, two beers and he thinks he's Cipollini.

I told him to go back to sniffing his lugs.

The King of Park Slope said...

I just bought one of these ...

... so watch out.

Amega said...

I feel compelled to look for myself in the background of all those pictures. I also didn't have my glasses on at the show, and thus made the mistake of originally reading Hampsten as "Hampster". Which I thought sounded like a fantastic name for a custom bike brand. All the people slavering over Mr. Hampsten disagreed my sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

The time traveling nu-fred strikes again in the map-my-ride newsletter

http://static.mapmyfitness.com/d/marketing/march2011/springchallenge_ride.html

Anonymous said...

"Craig Calfee, the man who starved a thousand pandas" That's some funny sh!t

Anonymous said...

So how's Lance?

Juliet Papa said...

You blew it not eating at the food trailer in the background of your first pic, the Mighty Cone. Not only is it ridiculously tasty, spoken quickly their name sounds exactly like http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=maricon

My Chilean bro was very confused when I told him repeatedly that we should go eat the MightyCone...

Prolly said...

But the burning question that must be on everyone's lips is how many 'Nor Cal Top Tubes®©' did you see at the show? I know they're called that 'cause I heard someone say it one time.

my2hands said...

@BSNYC,

Did former American Jihadist Adam Gahdan escape prison and disguise himself a janitor with a fake seeing eye dog? Nice touch with the pot-head attire and multiple keys hanging from the belt loop.

Mattburn said...

Dork Podium... not sure if that's original or not, but it's classic!

Jonathan said...

http://www.selectism.com/news/2011/03/03/margaret-howell-sam-hecht-cycling-shirt/

Seriously, off the subject, but you have to see this travesty on Selectism. A cycling shirt? Selectism is getting paid to post! Wow!

Again, sorry for the out of context mode here. I just saw while reading here.

Lug-sniffer said...

Surely having a fairing like that on a recumbent means you can't see the beard and sandals.

Twistyface said...

A welcome return!

Did you see that the first North American Handmade Segway show was on in the next street?

Must dash - I am close to perfecting my bespoke artisanal axe and manbag holder for Segway. Pics soon!

Jim Moore said...

Laughing and learning so much at the same time. They do say that we only learn when we're having fun and this post is a great example of that. Can't wait for the next post.

ce said...

Segways, and particularly swarming Segways, are inherently funny. You could have been lazy with that photo sequence and got away with it, but instead you deftly massaged the funny to another level. The UFO parallel was apt and succinctly drawn.

I also really liked the "Excite-O-Meter". Realistically though I find my excitement is best expressed in 14 evenly spaced increments, perhaps some Germanic trait showing through.

At first I thought the Cielo charcuterie board was yet another Snob creation. But then I remembered in other photographic coverage of the NAHBS (Not Australian Hob-cobbled Biek Slaverfest) I saw a porteur rack mounted "Boos Block"... some fancy brand name cutting board that my wife thought justified temporarily diverting disposable income away from bicycle mounted bottle openers for. If I had known that Boos Blocks were also bicycle mountable I wouldn't have denied her request. Anyway, further research revealed that the block was mounted to the "Gary Fisher Taco Transport". Maybe you also saw this example of the Port-n-Paysanne trend. The good news is that I'll soon be riding the trend as the Gary Fisher looks a lot like my Big Dummy will after my wife gets that Boos Block she wants for our next wedding anniversary.

Anonymous said...

3 things:

welcome back

Is Hampsten wearing a piece of Fat Cyclist apparel?

So pleased to see motobecane making a comeback - I've had one since I was 12

Anonymous said...

Welcome back!

The time-travelling tridork is now flogging TVs for Britians, premier, high-street, directory-based, department store (think Macey's)

http://www.next.co.uk/shopping/electric/televisions/2/

Along side real cyclists....

NJB, UK

ringcycles said...

I'm amazed that growing up in a strict Jainist household in Idaho you did not dream of owning a pair of warm socks or a winter coat. Religious nudity is not an easy lifestyle in the nothern climes.

Spence said...

Disrespecting rich arrogant folk!
Is nothing sacred?

also said...

If I'm not mistaken the Fleetvelo Joust was at the 2009 NAHBS and at Interbike 2010. Bike Polo has cared about performance for a longer time than BS has been making fun of it.

Damp Heat said...

Actually, that is a crackhead-sniffing dog. I know her.

tim said...

SEGWAY CAMPPPPPP!!!!1

Stiveaux said...

I sure would love a Hampsten bike, but that bottom bracket looks pretty lean...why???

Anonymous said...

btw the dog was hecka chill, it wasn't interested in my umm.. lugs. it followed the beard everywhere and then it would just lay down.

Anonymous said...

Idaho's not so far behind the rest of the U.S. anymore. Why, just today I saw a triathlete on a Cervelo. Our Freds stand tall.

Anonymous said...

Deepest underwater cycling
?!?!

http://travel.ca.msn.com/international/photogallery.aspx?cp-documentid=27878579&page=6

Anonymous said...

What's the collective noun for Segway dork podiums?

Mark J. said...

Funny, that's what caught my eye too - that Any Hampsten was wearing a Fatty hooded sweatshirt.

Green Idea Factory said...

"North America" is mistakenly used to mean the United States and Canada. But of course it includes Mexico (with way more people than Canada), Bermuda and the West Indies. Were these regions represented at the NAHBS? Jingoism - or whatever this is - is among the worst forms of douchebaggery.

Anonymous said...

I like how something can be posted on this site to slander another person and they can do nothing about it. Joshua karicher wants to know why the person who writes this page will not help him remove lies that a crazy family member posted about him. Why does the author of bike snob nyc seem not to care about his readers or fellow humans

Anonymous said...

Joshua karicher says bile snob nyc will not help remove the bullshit lie from their web site. Boycott bike snob nyc they will not remove lies that other people post. An anonymous post on this site can ruin a persons life and they can do nothing about it. I tried for 5 years and this crap still comes up on my top 5 google hits

Anonymous said...

Riding bikes is cool if your twelve

jhamani i said...

This has been one of your funniest post that I have read. It kept me laughing. I was also in Austin at the NAHBS and enjoyed both it and the city a lot.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a btichy snob!

RS Gold said...

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Fixie Bikes said...

That's a cute bike.