Phew. What a weekend.
First off let me say that Pedal Party was awesome. A couple hundred folks showed and we got rad. So pumped to see everybody- and I’m sure next year will even take it to a higher level.
The Seattle Bike Expo, which I’m told is the largest consumer based trade show for bicycles in the US took place last weekend and I paid my $2 to Bike Works to park the bike, and my $10 to Cascade Bicycle Club to walk around for a while as a light rain fell outside. I go to a number of things bicycle because I’m a velophile- not really much else for a reason except I like bikes- and I guess that’s enough. I like to support as many bike events as I can because I want bike culture to grow in Seattle.
Of course it should be said that over the years I’ve become much more jaded and harder to impress when it comes to bike expos and fairs. I’ve been spoiled by attending shows like NAHBS or Interbike, where new product is introduced- and everything is stepped up a notch when it comes to presentation. Even shows like the San Francisco Bike Expo seem to attract a more diverse group- 2011 having outdoor dirt jump demos and a massive Bike Swap that was quite possibly more impressive (to me) than the show itself. Some of this has to do with the location of course- San Francisco bike culture being decidedly more hip than Seattle, some has to do with the vision of the organizers. There are a number of ways of doing things as can be seen by the various expos that take place. Cascade Bike Club has what is very likely the largest grossing bike expo in the US and so I’m sure there isn’t much motivation to change the program.
I was once again blown away by the number of cars that attend the event. Shuttle buses are used to bring drivers from one part of the parking lot to the front door. With a 2500 car lot that sure seemed to me like it was full there are a lot of people there. $5 a car for the day, and $10 to get in ($8 for members,) there is some serious coin being made.
Seattle Bike Expo has in years past felt like more of a clearing house for shops to unload overstock and last years merchandise. It can be a total madhouse- racks and boxes being torn through by people standing or crouched shoulder to shoulder, half a dozen hands digging deep for treasures made of spandex and 3M. I personally don’t do well in these situations. Moving down the line you’ll be told about this ride or that- why you should visit Oakridge, Oregon for mountain biking or Switzerland for road riding. There is a benefit ride for everyone, a hostel, or a training camp. Adventure companies, tour guides, energy drinks, snack bars, recovery drinks, massage implements… Nothing you NEED to ride, but lots of things that according to the seller will make your ride better- make YOU better. There are so many companies and by extension- booths, with bad branding at these expos- companies that don’t have large marketing budgets and it shows. There are gadgets and gizmos that look like you’d see them on late night television in between reruns of Three’s Company and Night Court. Few booths attract my eye or pique my curiosity and I generally try sneak by the majority of them. Then there are the booths that have no direct relation with bikes- I’m referring to the chiropractors, foot doctors and discount sun glass booths. It may make sense to the business exhibiting- as they do have something of a captive audience at an expo like this. I guess if my back was hurting while walking around the Bike Expo I may grab a card from the chiropractor. It just seems to detract from the overall feel of a BIKE Expo. But that’s just me…. The show is obviously a success and it’s what Seattle has- so that’s that.
This year I did see a handful of newer companies- local companies in fact- that are doing good things and it definitely lent a more homegrown feel to the Expo itself. Tarik (left) of T Leatherworks is making mudflaps of leather and I was happy to see him there. T Leatherworks will also will be at Pedaler’s Fair which takes place in April. Ben Rainbow, of Back Alley Bike Repair was also wandering the show looking for things of interest.
Max Kullaway and 333Fab was in attendance- bringing along his 200 year old woodworking bench along with some beautifully crafted bicycles. You may remember Max and his amazing work from the little Seattle Channel edit that was up recently.
Cascade Bicycle Studio went big this year with three 10×10 spaces- that may even be more square footage than the shop itself has. Their selection of bikes is damn impressive- and that Focus Mares 2.0 is looking mighty fine. They were giving out $500 discounts on new bikes at the Expo. With gas prices climbing this summer, it won’t take long to pay for a bike worth $1000… Just sayin’.
My favorite single thing that I saw at the Seattle Bike Expo had to be the stem/bar combo found on one of the bikes that Winter Bicycles brought up from Eugene, OR- which also happens to be the town where I was born. So clean. It even has a light bracket integrated (though from my experience that position limits what front load you can put on the bike.)
After a little while making the rounds at the Expo- collecting some prizes for the Pedal Party raffle from the good folks at Cascade Bike Club, as well as some snacks from Clif Bar- I was off. 2012 was the third year of Pedal Party, this year I worked with Good Sport Promotion and Filmed By Bike to make it happen. It surpassed our expectations in both attendance and beer consumption- all rounded out by a great DJ and a crowd that really showed the diversity of Seattle’s bike community. With the first attendees arriving an hour before the start time- way before we were ready, we started pouring beers and getting our trivia on early. By 7:30 Jackson, DJ with the Party Tribe Trolls was done with sound check and getting it started with some rare soul tracks that put a smile on my face. With that came the prompt ones, yellow jackets and all- braving the very wet weather that Seattle sometimes has. Shortly thereafter came the exhibitors- slowly at first, then in waves. Ayleen and Brad did a great job in getting the word out to the Industry folks at the show, leaving me time to collect the beer and set up the venue. We had dueling projectors going- one playing clips from Filmed by Bike, the other playing a loop of trivia questions that I put together. By 9:30 we just went down to the FBB visuals, dimmed the lights a bit and the music picked up to something to get people moving their bodies.
By 11:30 we had polished off 3 kegs of beer- raising almost $700 for The Bikery who were pouring for the crowd. We had a speed raffle with prizes from Ortlieb, Ryderz Eyewear, Schwalbe, Outdoor Research, Coal Headwear and Go Means Go.
The dance party commenced and it was really rad to see people moving through the projections on the wall. Jackson can really throw down some good music and did an amazing job. If you are looking for a DJ in Seattle- you should look him up.
We started wrapping up around 12:15, with people heading in different directions- many back to their hotels to get ready for Sunday at the Expo, some out in search of more libations.
It was great to see all the folks that came out to Pedal Party- those in the bike industry that were in town for Bike Expo and those that call Seattle home.