A whirlwind final day of prep and loading saw Kalten and I headed down the road to Nahbs 2013 in Denver. I had hoped to have a low stress prep this year, bringing the resurrected X frame, the orphaned Candy road bike, Dave's classic Single Speed Cruiser, and the Zombie Road bike with the ceramic finish. As always, it was down to the wire...you would think I'd learn that EVERYTHING always takes longer than you'd like.
In my focused perspective, I failed to pay attention to the weather which correctly identified a horrible storm sweepin through our route of travel. Mikey had tried to warn me but his cautionary advise got lost in the shuffel of my short attention span. It wasn't until texting with Drew (Engin cycles) that I became aware we were headed into the maw of the storm. Regardless, we were committed.
The storm just getting started...
We passed more than 12 cars on their roofs, countless vehicles spun out and mashed off the road, drove at 15 mph in whiteout conditions for hours, and had more than our share of exclaiming "holy crap, where is the road???"
After battling our way through the "storm of the decade", as it's being called on the news, for more than 25 hours of driving, we have landed safely in Downtown Denver.
Once here, the downtown capital area was closed by police for a standoff with shooter from a balcony. All this as I walk around in my Birkenstocks, maybe shoulda brought some footwear that covers my toes.
Thursday was set up day and it was interesting at best. 200 exhibitors and a limited load in area made it a day for patience and cooperation. Fortunately, paying the price by arriving early placed us in prime position to get our stuff unloaded, set up, and allowed us to help some of our cherished friends during this hectic time.
Our empty space ready to be adorned with Groovy swag...
and the final product...
(Note that I move Kalten around periodically so as not to congest the same frame of the picture...that's professionalism!)
Friday began with early admittance for the media. The coverage this year tended to be leaner than in the past, with lots of folks attending virtually stating that outside the Nahbs site, they had to work to find good coverage. Personally, I felt we had a good response from the majority of the press...Velonews, BikeRumor, DirtRag, UrbanVelo, and a few others spent quite a bit of time with us, to which we are very grateful. No doubt that in the weeks to come more will filter out, as our media brethren need time to get their thoughts together as well.
The show had a good turnout for a Friday, with lots of Media and Industry folks enjoying the first couple of hours before the doors broke open for the public, who proved to be enthusiastic and engaging. It was a pleasure to meet so many of you who I've only known through 1's and 0's.
Saturday, was pretty killer, as the vibe in town for the show was vibrant and folks are embracing the handbuilt craft. It was a constant stream of supporters throughout the day. The Frankenstein bike and it's colorful story was of interest, as many asked me to bring it and see the reincarnation in person,
as was the Zombie bike, which had folks remarking that they were told they "had to come over and see the bike with the Zombie theme".
Saturday night saw a new addition to the schedule of events, as Josh brought his Velocipede Salon's Smoked out to Denver for a live streaming broadcast. Set up as a panel discussion that took questions from the audience and web alike, it was an excellent effort to bring an inside look at our industry to both our peers and the masses. I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate at the last minute, which allowed me to forward my agenda of spreading meaningless drivel and having fun. If you missed the live broadcast, you can check it out below. The panel discussion begins about 26 minutes in ...
Smoked Out LIVE
It was odd talking about the business while those with far more experience, those that I look to as mentors, sat in the audience. It was my hope that I added to the overall conversation and helped move our small circle of craft forward.
Sunday, round two of the storm made it's way to the Rockies and beyond, slowing down the attendance. It was a nice pace, but honestly, by mid afternoon, all the exhibitors are feeling the pain from talking and standing for three days and begin to get angsty to pack up and get moving, but alas, the award ceremony holds everyone's attention to the end.
The awards and their relevance to the show always sparks an emotional response. Despite the efforts of Don and the group that regulates the categories and judging, there always tends to be hard feelings from those that participate and do not receive the affirmation they feel is deserved. I conveyed to more than one fellow builder that they need to look no further than the smiles and accolades of those that spend time in their booths for the affirmation they seek...the customers are the true critics and judge. Regardless, I've shared their frustration in the past and am empathetic. Nuff said.
Definitely the best part of our annual gathering are the people. The opportunity to hang with friends that I only get to see once a year and share a meal and adventure is one of my cherished activities while at the show. We hung at some great restaurants while in the mile high city and had some stimulating conversations with old and new friends alike.
So with the big show over, there was nothing left but to drive home.
The trip home was horrible, as we were enveloped in 24 inches of snow in Kansas, finally forcing us off the road just outside of Kansas City to wait it out.
When we saw a break in the radar, we scooted out to the van to get moving...only to spend the next 45 minutes trying to get out of the parking lot. Two guys, one shovel, and a pair of sandals do not a quick escape make.
We finally rolled into home Wednesday at 0745, glad to be in the safe confines of the shop again. Thanks to all on Facebook for the positive thoughts and well wishes.
Next year...Charlotte, NC.
Thank God I don't have to drive across the country again.
Final tidbits and odd thoughts that don't fit in the above story line...
In speaking with other exhibitors, most felt that the on site sales were down this year (tees, accessories, etc...). Most thought Denver would be a slam dunk, as it is rich in cycling culture. A product of the still recovering economy? Our two best years were Indy and Richmond, all else have failed in comparison. My thought is that areas that are already so bike crazy have customers that are well ingrained in the culture. The Rocky Mnt. Bike show takes place here each year, drawing many of the same exhibitors. Less new glitz/glamour/exposure response means less desire to spend money to obtain a part of it to take home. This is the first year that the trip did not pay for it's self for me, despite that, I feel it is an investment well worth the effort.
It has been a great pleasure to watch a few young builders mature and really find their own place in the market. Two that I've really enjoyed watching mature and refine their craft are John Calleti of Caletti Cycles and Erik Rolf of Alliance Bicycles . Both should be on your radar for a custom bike in the future.
Two young men who have made the leap from hobbyist to new builder that I've had a chance to watch through the forums are Chauncey Matthews and Eric Dozwell ...great to see them going for it.
I brought the fixture along this year for a few builders who have seen it online and wanted to get some hands on time. Yes, Bill and I are going to produce it. It will be available beginning June 1, 2013. More info forthcoming.
A big thanks to Don, Lesley, Paul, Robin and the Nahbs crew for making it all possible.
Looking forward to NC next year..gonna be the 10th iteration of the show and I'm planning on making Charlotte home with some fun and different ideas. I'd really love to be surrounded by like minded friends, if y'all want to get together for a series of booths, please let me know asap. Would like to rock it out with like minded folks.
Thanks all for supporting us, I'm glad Groovy can be part of your lives.
In the news...
Urban Velo review
Prolly is not Probably review
Cycling tips review