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March 01, 2013
We look forward to NAHBS and Denver's 2013 edition was no exception. Why? So many reasons. But best is the family atmosphere that overcomes inconvenience like 9" of snow.
For Wheel Fanatyk, Donna and I were joined by daughter Kristina and brother Jon. We worked hard, met a zillion folks, and had a great time. Same as Portland, Austin, and Sacramento.
The whole show resonates a family theme. Builders are a clan without bias towards seniority or skill level. There's an embracing attitude that includes 40 year veterans and first-timer's. Some formerly young pups now play grandfatherly roles, mentoring another generation of recruits: Tom Ritchey, Steve Potts, Carl Strong, Paul Brodie, Craig Calfee, Richie Sachs, Steve Hed, Andy & Steve Hampsten, Henry James, wow and that doesn't scratch the surface.
What explains the generosity? Why are secrets so freely shared at seminars? Why are so many who suffered without support handing over the jewels of knowledge they earned? The bicycle brings us together into a community that covers this planet. Behavior that builds lasting culture. While it lives throughout the year, a concentrated dose is worth the trek.
Shinichi Konno, a winner again this year, notices a bike we brought. For frame nerds, it is a lugless bike with dropouts by Art Stump, a very small radius fork rake, full wrap seat lug junction, circa 1980, an aluminum frame Ideale saddle, JP Routens aluminum headset, Cinell M-71 pedals, Avocet track crank, Odom hubs, Ghisallo Corsa rims, Tufo tires. Notice the graceful wood track stand propping up the bike from the left rear. More to come on that.
Even the absence of important voices like Sam Whittingham, Sacha White, Mark Dinucchi, Bruce Gordon, Ben Serotta. and others, does not diminish the message. In fact, their influence is everywhere present. One big collective.
Naturally, I'm exaggerating, but how much? You'll have to attend a NAHBS when you can. Then this family concept will be fully revealed.
Of course, people run away from families and many don't want the intensity (and expense) of NAHBS participation every year. No one loses credibility by passing one or more of these reunions. But attending and helping guide and advise the up and coming is rewarding and enlightening.
As ever, the dazzling P&K Lie truing stand was a big hit.
Ghisallo rims won awards and attracted attention.
A Gallus (Jeremy Shlachter, Fort Worth) road bike turned heads.
We saw wood in the 21st as well as 20th century style.
Ghisallo sent beautiful bamboo rims at the last second. Clearly big news for 2013, more on that to follow. In general, the floor was non-stop busy. Perhaps less foot traffic than Sacramento but more attendees were focused and informed.
What did I notice this year? Less than I wish since our booth, despite four healthy hosts, was constantly busy and I gave two seminars to boot.
(1) Japanese have arrived. More entrants, award winners, and attendees than ever. Few cultures celebrate hyper-perfectionism and honor the past like Japan. NAHBS attracts their best and we're lucky some make the effort to attend.
(2) Titanium is popular. Impressive how many have mastered this tough material. Are we seeing a resurgence? Wait and see.
(3) Fat rules and double wide and 36" wheels were on every aisle. Not hard to appreciate the benefits these bikes offer. Heavy, slow wheels but a world of handling possibilities. I'm always dazzled how messing with a bike's specifications can loose benefits but create unexpected fun.
(4) Journalists flock to this event and 2013 was no exception. They, plus a brigade of freelancing photographer-bloggers, ensure some of the best coverage of any cycling event.
(5) Bigger companies are showing up. Shimano was title sponsor with a large profile. Also present were FSA, Selle San Marco, SRAM, Mavic, Zipp, Merlin, Continental, Schwalbe, Brooks, and Chris King. Far from crowding out new builders, they add to the diversity.
(6) Many stones remain unturned. It wasn't hard to see gaps. Where were experiments with road disk setups, CCX bikes with original solutions to their classical problems, alternative componentry, bikes for the disabled, and more of the free thinking we expect from design schools (futuristic, impractical)? Come on folks, take more risks with the overall concept, not just with details!
All in all, the show resisted the continuing depression, an unexpected snowstorm, rising costs, exhibitor ennuie, a venue that dwarfed the event, and a couple miss steps (downloadable app in place of a program??). Bravo once again to Don Walker and his intrepid and increasingly experienced team.
Thanks to everyone we met and stopped by. Hope it was as fun for you as for our family.
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