NAHBS 2013 was a success. Success is like, your opinion, man.
How does the saying go? “Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one, but mine smells better than yours”? Yeah, I think that’s it. Anyways, from my perspective, which was admittedly much skewed as the result of ultimate bike fanaticism mixed with sleep deprivation and alcohol consumption, it was a good day. I think the other Dicky had a similar experience at the Richmond show.
It started off with a 9am bus ride from Boulder to Denver on Saturday morning. I’d been up since 7am waiting for my buddy from Fort Collins to arrive. I’d also been up until 3am the night (morning?) before working like a monkey on crack. I felt good at 3am going to bed. I did not feel good at 9am boarding the bus. My mind was in a daze of epic proportions. Coffee had no effect. Good conversation had little effect. It was just going to be one of those days, so I rolled with it. Walking into the show, with the excitement of hours of bike-gazing and industry talk ahead of me, part of the daze disappeared. At least that was my perspective. For all I know I looked and sounded like a drunken sailor as I babbled on with the first set of builders.
Let me regress for a second. This would be my 3rd NAHBS. The experiences have all been largely different. The first one was in Indy. I was probably most-impressed, most-wowed, and least-informed during this event. I knew (or thought) I liked track bikes. The word hipster comes to mind. Every lugged steel frame I saw had me oooing and awwwing. It is not to say that I didn’t appreciate the craftsmanship, because I did, but just that I was there for different reasons. The hipster after-party in an old warehouse-turned-apartment-turned-art studio was the highlight for me; Macaframa showing, gold sprints, PBR and flannel. My next NAHBS experience was in Richmond, VA. I don’t have much recollection of this event, only that I didn’t get to stay for as long as I would’ve wanted, indulge, and immerse myself in the scene. Word to the wise: don’t go to bike events with girlfriends who don’t care about bikes. Even though the overall experience wasn’t something to write home about, something happened at that show that would change my life forever. I was just starting to enjoy mountain biking at this time, but still knew very little about it. This one rigid singlespeed 29er from Engin Cycles forever changed my worldview on mountain bikes.
For some reason it caught my eye and stuck out as the show-stopper for me. Upon getting home from Richmond and going through my NAHBS swag, there was an ad from Niner bikes on some page of some magazine.
That was it. I was sold with one picture. Anyone who tells you advertising doesn’t work is full of shit. It wasn’t but a few months later that I had a gold Niner frame and rigid carbon fork. The rest is history.
Back to this year’s NAHBS. Now that I’ve had a little time to let the bike-world-maturation process take place my experience this year was way different from the rest. Hopefully the maturation process of someone in the bike industry is like a fine wine, although I’m afraid it’s more of a pickling. This year I was less wowed by the innovation and design of various bikes, and much more interested in meeting the builders themselves, where they come from, why they build what they build, and hopefully building some relationships in the industry. I was completely in my element here just nerding out on bikes. The conversations I had with builders and industry people were something unexpected and wonderful. These people whom I may have looked at as gods before are just bike junkies like me. I had a good time hanging out with Chris at Generic Cycles. The bike he brought was basically the exact frame he is building for me, so it was whetting my chops to look at.
There was a ton of titanium there, literally. There were also some fantastic bamboo-carbon bikes from a few different companies. Overall, there was plenty of eye candy, but I enjoyed most the opportunity to meet and talk with some of these people. I even got the opportunity to “test” a prototype bar-end integrated shot glass made by King Cage at the Black Sheep booth. The Bulleit bourbon went down smooth, so I'd say it passed. And then I passed out against a wall in a slumber of sleep deprived intoxication.
The after party was what it was. Nothing special, besides the tap wall at Star Bar in Denver. They had about 6 Lips of Faith series beers from New Belgium along with about 15 other exotic choices. I remember drinking 2 Tart Lychees, because it was more delicious than anything else to my palate, sitting in an outside patio lounge and talking to builders from various companies (or more so listening when the conversation turned to specific brazing techniques) as the snow fell on our heads. I had a quick meet and greet with Todd at Black Sheep whom I share mutual friends, and that was it. NAHBS 2013 all rolled into a ball and thrown out of the window. Splat.