Thursday, March 4, 2010

Nahbs 2010...random thoughts and musings

Hey y'all,
a little later putting down some thoughts than I wanted to be, but had to direct my focus on getting back to life; that meant organizing the mess I left behind in the shop and getting back to shift work at the Fire Department.

Nahbs flew onto the radar with much less time than I'd anticipated this year, as customer work took me right up to the buzzer with little time to focus on getting the bikes together.  With vacation time from the FD, I was able to focus the six days before the show strictly on shop duties.  I think this year was a harder push than all the previous I've attended, as I ended up with a miniscule 11.5 hours of sleep in the week preceeding the show.  There was a point early Thursday morning where my eyes were so swollen that I could no longer focus...never experienced that before and it was quite freaky.  I slept a quick hour and then welded up the raw frame I wanted to take along for demonstration purposes at 0630, two hours before hitting the road.  Yep, too damn tight this year :)

a view of my mental state in the middle of one of the nights after painting non-stop for hours...


Overall, I was moderately happy with what I had to bring to show.  Two of the bikes offered full on custom work; fabricating the dropouts on both Christi's and Steven's bikes, a custom belt gate that did not require any frame manipulation or stress to allow access, the custom triple crown fork with bored and butted tubing and unicrown fork with ovalized sections at the crown, a custom machined direct mount front derailleur, rolled, ovalized, and hand bent tubing, and of course personalized paint for all.  Overall, more than just buying stuff from vendors and sticking it all together..really what I believe this show should be all about. 





Thanks to Brad at Urban Velo and Justin at Dirt Rag for the pics...

Fortunate for me, Kalten came along to help, as his main focus Thursday was to keep me awake on the road.  With a Monster Energy drink in hand, we left the snowing skys of Wooster and headed south toward Richmond.  The drive was eventful enough, with K laying the smack down on me a couple of times to stay awake.  It was very nice to see the climate change, however, from the snowy conditions to warmer/blue skys...why do I live in Ohio again?

Once at the show, it was full throttle setting up, chatting with friends, and preparing for three long days of standing on concrete smiling and pressing flesh.  I had a really nice location this year with some solid folks to share the space with; Tim and the Shamrock boys on one side of the aisle, Paul from White Brothers across from me, Seven cycles to my left, and Carl and Loretta of Strong frames as my back door neighbors.  Sharing exhaused glances and giving each other encouragement made the weekend pass wicked fast. 

A hip attitude helped too...

Add to that all the great people who took the time to come through the booth and it bolsters the success of my participation in the show.

Some of the definite highlights of the weekend had to be the food.  Mike, a local shop owner and show volunteer, hooked me up with a list of the must hit local spots...no shitty chain restaurants or over priced bars with bad food, just the cream of Richmonds best homegrown eateries.

Two of the standouts were Kuba Kuba (authentic Cuban quisine) and Edo Squid (awesome Italian), both located in the Fan section of town, so named for the direction/shape of the streets as they move away from the downtown area.  A righteous little area, full of period row housing and fresh young faces.  Both places were small, packed to the gills, and offered food that had my stomach turning inside out while we patiently waited our turn to be seated.
A shot of the inside of Kuba Kuba, tightly packed tables surrounded by two galley kitchens where you could watch the artists at work...YUM!  Y'all I asked along who did not go, you missed out :)
Edo Squid was located in the second floor of an old Brownstone.  Climbing the stairs I was not sure we were in the right place, as the top landing offered only some stacked crates of pop and a mop/broom hanging on the back of the door.  Once you opened it up, a whole other world waited inside, with fresh made pasta, bread, and lovely seafood.  Too good!  Handpainted decor added to the visual flavor...

The Fan also boasts quite a bit of night life culture, quite the groovy place to hang...

A bit of a tradition is to make a point of hitting a kicking breakfast spot on Monday morning.  Last year, a benchmark was set with Maxine's Chicken and Waffels in Indy, so I was out to grab at least an equal experience.  Rounding up as many fun folks as I could who were still willing to get moving early after a night of rowdy fun (The First Flight crew and PVD), we ended up piling 12 people into the rental Town and Country van for a quick trip to Diner 64.  Unbeknownst to us, Sunday morning breakfast has a whole 'nother time line in Richmond.  After hitting every bump and dip I could on the way just to hear the guys in the back, who happened to be packed in like a clown car at the circus, groan and moan with each irregularity, we arrived to find out the diner did not open for breakfast til 1100.  WTF?  Ever enthusiastic, I plowed into the neighboring ghetto to find a suitable local scene with plenty of culture.  Although the immediate neighborhood offered more hoods than eats, we eventually found our way to the Riverside diner, 40 minutes later but ironically only about 6 blocks from our starting hotel...who'd a figured :)

Exiting the car was a bit of an ordeal, with folks bailing from every door...




Sunday afternoon wrapped up with the typical awards given on the show stage. I really hesitated to put my feelings down here, as I don't want to sound like there are sour grapes, but each year I find myself a bit dissapointed with the judging process.  For what should be the ultimate opportunity to show the ability of a fabricator to bring a customer's vision to reality through truly one off work, the pieces that are selected, while equisite in their own right, seldom accomplish this.  Don't get me wrong, it's beautiful work and deserving of recognition, but as I look around the floor, I'm taken with handmade work that sets a standard beyond what is selected as award worthy; Villan's forged Damascus steel fork crowns and hand hammered lugs, Jame's swooping curved Ti that adds great complexity to the build, clean silver fillet brazing on stainless tubes by new exhibitor Joel of Clockwork, vivid creative paint actually layed down by builders like Tim at Shamrock instead of farmed out for contract paint, and so many other examples.  All folks who are making an effort to provide something unique for their customers, toil silently along daily, and deserve special recognition.   Rant over, thanks for listening.

Getting up to leave Richmond Monday morning was tough cause we were bushed (as demonstrated by Kalten), but we were blessed with a beautiful sunrise...



So, another year down.  Hope to see as many friendly faces in Austin in 2011.

rody

10 comments:

rmb said...

So funny, van of neverending people.

Daniel said...

I hear you on the judging. I didn't go to the show but have been following the coverage pretty closely and I was really disappointed with most of the winners. At least your fans that follow your blog know how great your work is!

Rody said...

Daniel,

It really is not about me, but there were so many fabricators there who were doing really unique work that I feel set them apart...too bad that creativity is not often recognized even by our own industry. I did like many of the winners, others I felt like there were better examples of handmade work. One winner who did move the craft forward was Drew of Engin who worked outside the box, making custom bilaminate lugs for his piece, something that is not often seen as typical for customer work. Personally, I'd rather the awards be slimmed down to just "Peoples Choice" to place more of the emphasis on the focus of the show, the consumers. Not to be diminished, Don and crew did a fabulous job again this year, representing our small niche profession well.

r

ShamrockCycles said...

Rody,
It was great and humbling having you next to me. I bust my butt to build functioning bikes and stretch my creative legs in the paint booth but the stuff you had on display under your banner was amazing.

You are pushing the bar higher for the craft.

Looking forward to seeing you at NAHBS Austin.

Garrett said...

The amount of work you do never ceases to astound me, you deserve a nice long nap. Are you gonna have a spring open house again this year? I've got my El Cheapo Monocog finished and ready to go.

laffeaux said...

I agree with you on the Engine bike - that's a really nice frame. I also like the YipSan quite a bit. Some of the others, while nice bikes, didn't seem like they were a stretch from the norm.

Your Aloha bike's paint was a head-turner for sure. :)

Rody said...

Thanks guys...

Garret, plan on May 22 for the open house. Free grub, a tour around the shop, and then off to the Knob for riding/racing, Chipolte, and DJ Madnote til the wee morning hours.

r

grantloveshisbike said...

Was that a Luv Handle with rubber plugs on a Seven single speed??

EnginCycles said...

Rody,
Thanks for the kind words.

I have to say your cruiser was one of the best executions of a retro I have seen. The drop outs really added the missing touch. The fork was super clean. Paint as usual was great.

In defense of the judging and judges they were very retro bias (which does not discount quality) and tended to hesitate on stuff that seemed to be done just to be done. If the order came first and the product second people should make a point of showing that. I think it would explain that it is a viable product and people are paying you to do it. James at Black Sheep is an incredible fabricator and I believe even including his 36" bike everything is bought and paid for. That says a lot. Unfortunately his style is off the radar from people that prefer the Classic Rendezvous style.

With that said it is hard to question the quality of the winning work. It is just not everyone's style and that is the problem with anything judged. No difference than watching the Olympics. I get upset but will always tune in.

See everyone in Austin or hopefully sooner.

Cheers,
Drew

Petr Hausbeck aka (DJpHbalance) said...

That Polkadot mountain bike is one of the coolest paint schemes I have EVER SEEN. I really hate you for that because I want that paint scheme for my bike now. Everything is a dead-on match. Time to start saving. I wonder if Serotta would repaint mine like yours???