Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Nahbs 2012 wrap up

Every year I say I'll never do this to myself again, the lack of sleep, stress, and expense is just not worth it...but two weeks later at the close of the show I find myself filling out the registration sheet and telling Leslie and Don "I'll see ya next year".

So what the hell is wrong with me?  I think it's a mixture of sleep deprived euphoria, being immersed in a positive vibe with encouraging attendees, and the warmth of being surrounded by friends I only get to see once a year that shoots me into a tailspin and ends me up facing 180 degrees from my prior perspective.  Seems to be a formula I can't break...nor wish to.

Sacramento was an awesome event; a city full of enthusiasm for everything cycling, a clean easily accessed venue, and folks who were interested in all aspects of the cycling genre, not just their chosen niche they pursue.  That combination made for stimulating conversation all weekend long, keeping me fueled and upright for those long days on the floor.

So, now that it's over, lets rewind a bit and work forward.

A tight work schedule at the fire department coupled with a back injury kept me from getting many of the projects completed that I wanted to share at the show and made for just getting the minimum completed an arduous task. 

Pushing out the steel and ti bars, welding like a madman...

And a one piece bar/stem combo for the belt drive bike...

The last kick in the balls was when I was building the retro belt drive bike I built for Gates, as they were the sponsor this year.  Besides pushing to fabricate the frame, ti fork, ti bar/stem combo, ti seat post, paint and get the wheels built, the final straw were the Magura MT-8 brakes.  Around 2300 hours Wednesday night I pulled them out of their box to put them on and was blindsided by the fact that the brakes, normally a subtle black and silver, had bright red highlights...quite the contrast to the vanilla base with pink, brown and blue frame I had prepared.  Sh*t!!!

One of the blessings of being able to fabricate the entire build in my shop is that I could disassemble the brakes, remove the painted graphics, sand the parts, and airbrush them all a complimentary color...the downside is that to do that all takes time.  Regardless, it had to be done.

I pushed right up until 0100 Thursday morning, pulling the last of the parts out of the bake box before wrapping everything up and heading for the airport at 0400. 

Once in California, Ty, who had driven out the other bikes and the booth, met us at the airport and shuttled us right into the city so we could begin setting up...

We had a great spot, adjacent to the lovely ladies at Rickshaw Bags (Crystal, Lisa, and Christi) who make custom messenger bags and commuting gear, across from Baum Cycles (Darren and Ryan), and caddy corner from the Dirt Rag crew.

The hall was packed all three days.  It was a pleasure to spend time chatting with all the fine folks who stopped by the booth, but was especially pleased to meet many of our VRC crowd and a few folks that I've looked up to through the years and were an inspiration to me.

One of the draw backs to the show is that I tend to spend the majority of the day inside, so I only get to see the sunrise and exit in the dark...
Not really into the beer swilling party scene, I amuse myself by ferreting out the most desirable, honest food in the city.  The adventure of getting into the local neighborhoods, meeting the fine folks who welcome us here, and chowing down some spectacular grub more than makes up for not seeing the sun each day.  This year was no exception...we were able to dig out some true nuggets.

Jim Denny's hosted us for breakfast day one.  With only 20 stools, no bathrooms, and huge tasty cakes and omelets, I'd go back to Sac just to experience this eatery again.
 Kalten took on the mini stack of cakes...that's a 12" diameter plate under that mass of fluffy goodness!
For supper, one of our great finds was Luigi's Pizzeria...established in 1952 in what was the Italian neighborhood, it now is in the heart of Sac's Latino district.  We piled 9 brave souls into the Toyota truck and headed out. When we arrived in the dirt parking lot, those brave souls in the back were greeted with a head pounding bounce into the truck cap as Ty failed to negotiate the 2' deep pot holes.  Pouring out of the truck bed, dizzy and a bit confused after the parking lot pummeling, we looked like a group of day laborers emptying out.  It was about this time a round face female at the door started yelling...   "look out!  there's white people coming in here!"  Regardless, it was a warm welcome, super awesome food (home made garlic sausage rocked!), and warm friends.  By fate, Steve was celebrating his birthday...the same year Luigi's was established, how cool is that?
Other places not to miss...Chando's Tacos, who's grill is outside on the sidewalk, make tasty, authentic tacos.  There's no dining room, but you can eat around back on some picnic tables.  Totally tasty fish, abodabo, and carne asada with pico and chips that made you want to fill up your dessert side too.

A nod to back home, we finished out breakfast at the Stagecoach...a gritty 70's cowboy themed diner with the cutest ghetto waitresses around.  Killer food, big portions and lots of unneeded gravy covered calories, fueled us up for the last day...
evidenced by the home made country fried steak, home fries, eggs (minimum of three to an order), and the 6 pieces of toast I could not fit in the picture.  Kudo's to Bo for going big and cleaning his plate, a disappointing frowny face to Steve for ordering from the senior menu, and a hearty "hell yeah" to Pete for diving in and trying the fried grits.  Andy, had on his girly panties that morning and choose not to partake  :)

Thoughts on the show, in no particular order of importance...

Sac was a great venue and the producers continue to refine the brew, making it an enjoyable show for all. 

The booths continue to be filled with "show specials", bikes built not for the customer base but to catch the eye...frustrating, as I've always believed you should show up with examples of what come out of your shop every day, not what you can make given no constraints.  Many of these builders, desperate to find a place in the industry, are selling their work at prices that do not support a stable business model, thus the reason you see many of these folks closing their doors after the shine has worn off.

So heartening to spend time with like minded folks who desire to share information, to see each other prosper, rather than hold their techniques close to their chests.  This is how it should be.  Kudos, you guys, you know who you are.

When will "Best Finish" actually go to the guy who paints the frame, rather than the builder who sub contracted the work?

Denver next year...I like the state, don't particularly care for the city.  Given that we are coming up on our 9th iteration of Nahbs, it would be nice to see it come east again...7 to 2 hardly seems balanced.

In speaking with a friend on the Nahbs board, it was disconcerting that we could only name two builders present who complete the entire fabrication process themselves...our industry is changing from a mastery of all the aspects of the process to the methodical commissioning of sub contracted parts and paint from others to complete the finished product. 

Funny how we develop our individual techniques and it's hard to break out of the mold due to customer demand...Joe Bell asked me to share some airbrush techniques with him.  In return I'd love to know his tips on traditional pin striping.  In the same industry but so different.

Kalten really stepped up this year and was in the booth working his butt off...when he wasn't chatting and dancing with the girls next door at Rickshaw.  Oh to be 17 again :)

See y'all next year in Denver.



NorthStar said...

Everything looks awesome! When I weld like a madman, it looks like a madman welded it! You are the man Rody!

WPVelo said...

Thanks for the Chandos!

see you in CO if not sooner-fer sure.

Dan O said...

Cool write up!